As software technology continues to play an increasingly important role in construction, integration is emerging as both a challenge and an opportunity. Specialized applications clearly drive efficiency and productivity gains that are simply not possible with paper- and spreadsheet-based processes. These gains increase exponentially, however, when applications used to manage individual workflows in the office, field and shop communicate with each other automatically, without manual handoffs or intermediary steps. Here are six practical examples of what is possible with a unified approach.
These gains increase exponentially, however, when applications used to manage individual workflows in the office, field and shop can communicate with each other. Here are six practical examples of what is possible with a unified approach that eliminates manual steps for transferring data.
- Transfer Bid Data to the Field
The handoff to operations once a bid is won has historically involved a lot of redundant data entry to move information from the estimate to schedules, field logs and the accounting system. This manual process is time consuming. Worse, it creates opportunities for miscommunication, errors and costly inconsistencies between how jobs are envisioned in the estimate, how they are resourced and built in the field, and how they are accounted for.
With unified software applications, bid data, including costs and phase codes, can instead move seamlessly from an estimating application to the applications used for scheduling and dispatching, performance tracking and accounting.
- Bid Based on Actual Performance Data
Likewise, a unified approach allows actual production data to move from the field application back to the estimating application. This data is essentially a record, captured in electronic field logs, of what crews accomplished in the past or are accomplishing currently on similar jobs. Being able to access and filter this information from within an estimating application gives estimators a big advantage. They can improve their accuracy by adjusting according to relevant actual past performance.
- Request Resources and Repairs from the Field
Field tracking systems are designed primarily to help contractors record production, labor, equipment utilization and other information in the field. Specialized software allows them to capture more and better data with less effort than with paper or spreadsheets and to analyze it faster and more thoroughly.
Advantages of these tracking applications increase when they are linked with systems used to manage equipment maintenance and the scheduling and dispatching of resources.
As they track progress versus plan, and as those plans change, leaders in the field invariably need to request more or different resources. With a live connection, they can use the tracking application to communicate those resource needs directly to the scheduling and dispatching application. Having the software applications talk to each other is more efficient and error proof than relying on phone calls, texts or emails. Lag time is eliminated, and dispatchers can respond more quickly. There is also an electronic record of the “conversation” that anyone with proper credentials can see and follow in real time.
- Request Equipment Repairs from the Field
Equipment repair requests can be made the same way and with similar advantages within a unified software platform. From the field, where and when defects are usually detected, mangers can use the field tracking software to document the problem and send a notification to the maintenance application. That information from the tracking application can then be used to create repair requests in the maintenance application, again bypassing phone calls, texts and other offline communications.
- Maintain at the Most Efficient Times
The maintenance team and the employees handling scheduling and dispatching gain reciprocal benefits when their software applications talk to each other.
Maintenance mangers do not always have flexibility in when they schedule preventive or repair work. However, real-time visibility into the scheduling software allows them to see when equipment is being used or moved. That information gives them a chance to plan work, whenever possible, at times that will maximize the efficiency of mechanics and minimize jobsite disruptions due to equipment being down for repairs.
- Assign Equipment Around Maintenance Schedules
Schedulers and dispatchers gain similar efficiency and uptime benefits when their software is linked to the maintenance software. They can see when repair work is scheduled and work around those times as they assign the equipment.