How construction companies use mobile field reporting to beat competition

Written by LetsBuild

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Digital tools are rapidly transforming construction. A significant shift towards new technologies is observed in the effort of construction companies to come up with a new normal and deal successfully with competition from both inside and outside the industry.

The sooner players in construction realise the need for making their projects more agile and accessible the easier it will be for them to see more on site, boost productivity and eventually deliver sooner and increase their profits.

Free ebook: Why WhatsApp and Excel aren’t enough for running complex construction projects

Of course, finding and implementing the right tools in your projects isn’t always a walk in the park. Many project managers tell us that they still rely on WhatsApp, Messenger, or even Excel and emails for their project communication.

Good as they are, such tools aren’t made for construction and can’t provide you with the context you need when you receive an update from the site. The result? Fragmented communication between the site and the office, excessive admin workload, and information overkill for stakeholders involved in the project.

This is why industry-specific tools are so important. You should always be able to stay in touch with your teams on the field without losing sight of both the 3-6 week planning and the master schedule.

To achieve that, though, you need two things: digital solutions built for the construction industry and a single source of truth. Like that, you can bridge the gap between the site and the office while you keep your project safe against never-ending claims that can push your project back both in terms of time and budget.

So it quickly becomes clear that effective mobile field reporting is of paramount importance not just for the success but in the long run even for the survival of your construction company.

Before we dive into more information about how you can beat the competition by increasing site visibility, it’s a good idea to have a closer look at the main problems that the industry is battling against at the moment.

Common construction project problems

Construction projects are becoming more digital and agile day by day but, unfortunately, there is still a long way to go. As suggested by Dr. Jan Mischke, Partner at McKinsey Global Institute, the productivity gap between construction and the average economy is more than $1.6 trillion a year.

In that sense, there is significant room for improvement and many pitfalls to be tackled. In a few words, here are the main problems that the building sector should focus on:

Broken communication

Lack of collaboration is a big problem in many construction projects even today. The inability to connect in real-time with the numerous members of your team hurts your project both in terms of money and time.

Limited access to valuable project information naturally leads to broken communication and serious coordination problems which can force your schedule to fall behind.

Learn more: How to increase the speed of response in your construction sites

Furthermore, task updates and crucial project details aren’t delivered on time, as coordinating through emails and phone calls can simply take too long. Efficiency rates of 30% and budget overruns of 80% are only a few of the statistics that document the serious problem that construction is currently facing.

Digital tools can help the building sector with becoming more effective by establishing a faster and more straightforward communication process.

Poor management of resources

The lack of visibility in the field often generates a number of problems when it comes to resource management. More specifically:

  • Subcontractors might arrive on site in vain.
  • Materials might not be available the moment they are needed. Or they might be ordered too early leading to unnecessary waste.
  • Site teams might be double booked leading to task delays.

An industry-specific reporting tool will allow construction companies to avoid such issues, due to the powerful project insights that it can provide. For instance, tracking materials across the supply chain with the help of sensors can facilitate the automatic ordering and delivery of new bunches on site. Like that, construction managers can always be confident that everything will be on the ground at the right time and place for the next task to begin without any delays.

Time-consuming claims

In construction, documentation is key. Many project and site managers spend a lot of time responding to claims that block their work and cost them thousands of Euros. The reason?

  • Lack of alignment between the site and the office.
  • Information overflow that fuels admin workload.
  • Absence of standardisation in QHSE processes.

Relying on a construction-specific tool, like LetsBuild for example, could help you and your site manager to regain the site visibility you need so that you can Trace everything that takes place on the field, help your teams take ownership of their tasks, and avoid interruptions that can increase the duration of your projects.

Data waste

The construction industry is throwing away almost 95% of the data that generates. In other words, construction throws away valuable knowledge and project intelligence which could be critical for the development of the sector.

Many opportunities for the industry to improve are going to waste and it comes as no surprise that the building sector keeps bumping against the same problems. Predictive analytics is an excellent example of how data could empower the way construction works.

Read also: How to reduce admin work and endless meetings in construction

Thanks to its use, construction companies could save a lot of time and effort when it comes to designing and executing a new project. And that’s because they could have access to important information about past projects where the same problems were met (eg. weather conditions, building regulations on a particular area, etc.).

Excessive admin burden

Project managers tell us they use up to 40% of their days on writing reports, jumping from one meeting to another, and chasing people on the site for updates. This practically means that:

  • They get buried in details and miss the full picture.
  • They can’t focus their attention on getting the project going.
  • They have no time to focus on tasks that really matter.
  • They continuously have to deal with bad collaboration between stakeholders.

The use of an industry-specific digital tool could make their mobile field reporting much more agile and allow them to identify problems early so that they can reduce their impact, and produce reports at the click of a button.

How to ensure the success of mobile field reporting in your construction company

By now it becomes evident that mobile field reporting can give a significant competitive advantage to your company as long as it is used in the right way.

However, similarly to any other aspect of a construction project, you should not aim for digital just for the sake of it. You should be extra careful to choose the right tools that can support such a digital shift.

In an effort to help you make the right choice, we present below the main things you want to look for when you focus on your mobile field reporting:

1. Use a single source of truth

You must have already read in many of our blog posts about the importance of having all project information in a single source of truth. There are multiple benefits behind such an approach.

First of all, you can remarkably reduce admin workload as all project communication will be gathered in one place. This is also the smartest way to ensure that all stakeholders in your project are facing the same direction. The reason is simple. Everyone will have access to the information they need so that they can plan their upcoming tasks and make adjustments in time when necessary.

Furthermore, a single source of truth is also a single source of proof. In other words, you can always stay aligned with your site manager and mark critical issues on time. Like that, you will be able to raise or respond to claims within hours instead of days or even weeks. No more looking in a million different places for that one photo or email that will keep your project safe.

2. Connect site updates to your planning

Linking all updates from the field to your 3-6 week lookaheads and your master schedule is one of the smartest things you can do to ensure the success of your projects. In that way, all stakeholders can react to updates from the site much faster as they won’t lack the project’s bigger picture. Simply put, it all goes back to context as we mentioned above.

Connecting site updates to your planning in a direct way enables faster decision making and makes it considerably easier for project managers to navigate through the numerous tasks and requests they have to keep an eye on every day.

Moreover, it also gives a great opportunity to raise the bar of your quality management. Project managers will be able to connect non conformities directly to the plan allowing for site teams to resolve safety and quality issues as they go. That can save your projects both time and money as there will be no unpleasant surprises waiting for you during handovers.

3.  Rely on an easy-to-use app that is made for construction

Last but certainly not least is the choice of the digital tool that you are going to use in order to manage your mobile field reporting. Considering that it will be mostly used by people on the site, it has to be an app that is easy to work on and that can understand the time and data-fragile processes of a construction project.

This is, again, why it’s so essential to find a tool that is construction-specific and not simply an app that allows you to exchange information in real time. Because at the end of the day it’s not only about real-time updates but about how these updates affect both your short and long-term planning.

How to connect everyone and outrun the competition in construction

If done right, mobile field reporting can be one of your most valuable weapons against negative margins and eventually against the competition in construction.

An industry-specific digital tool, a single data source, and reduction of excessive admin workload are undoubtedly three vital components of success for this tough mission.

In order to help you gain complete on-site visibility, accelerate decision making, and increase your profitability we have put together a detailed ebook that you can download for free just by clicking on the photo below. Deliver successful projects sooner without compromising on quality and without relying on tools that are not tailored for construction.