Tracking construction projects: The path to success
From this corner, we have many times highlighted how messy a construction project can be without the right systems and processes in place. Therefore, it is crucial that everyone on site is able to report progress, communicate problems and ask questions quickly and efficiently. In that sense, digital adoption is of paramount importance when it comes to production tracking.
Nevertheless, construction is an industry that still relies heavily on pen and paper. This may lead to serious misunderstandings as many project agents end up working on outdated versions of the programme.
On top of that, construction managers are, in many cases, unable to collect the data they need in order to improve the way the entire team design, communicates and eventually builds. But things are gradually changing!
The digital wave that is taking over the sector has started to have a decisive impact on progress tracking for construction. With the use of a reliable software solution, onsite personnel is now in a position to submit the latest updates from the field in real time just with the click of a button.
That can be paramount to cash flow and competitiveness, especially when a contractor has to manage multiple projects and navigate through a plethora of tasks and project data.
It goes without saying, though, that there is still a long way to go before we can claim that construction progress monitoring is where it should be. In this article, we dig a little deeper into construction progress tracking and the vital role of data in the building process.
Construction progress tracking 101: Learning the basics
An average construction project requires a vast number of stakeholders and resources in order to run smoothly and reach a successful outcome avoiding budget overruns and costly delays.
According to McKinsey and Company, eight out of ten commercial projects in construction are expected to go over budget. This comes as no surprise considering that the efficiency rate in construction is estimated at 30%. In other words, the vast majority of construction projects will at some point go back in terms of scheduling and budget due to rework.
This is why real-time construction field tracking is so important. If everyone in the project submits updates on a simple and timely manner, then it becomes easier for all teams involved to work as one and remain on the same page as the project proceeds.
After all, that is the number one priority for Project Managers, Project Directors or any other person in charge of project planning. To implement a planning process which will subsequently allow them to gain a clear view of each project’s status.
Such an approach will pave the way for real-time project reporting bringing the following benefits to the building process:
- Boosted productivity rates
- Accurate planning and project overview
- Data-driven decision making
- Better connection between the construction site and the office
- Fast and effective collaboration
Taking all these into consideration, it becomes easily evident that real-time tracking can transform construction and bridge the gap between the field and the construction site.
So at the end of the day, it’s all about finding and implementing the right tools as well as investing in its use on the field. Because no matter how strong and sophisticated a digital tool might be, it’s not a cure on its own.
5 steps to effective construction progress tracking
By now, it is clear that keeping close track of your construction project comes with many different benefits for your team. Nevertheless, it’s a very demanding process that requires a solid data culture, bold initiatives and a significant investment in digital solutions. In a nutshell, here are the five steps for impeccable construction progress monitoring:
1. Establish a digital ecosystem
Every construction project comes with great admin burden and a number of stakeholders, tools, and systems that should work together in harmony. Before your project begins, you need to establish a digital ecosystem where all project-related data will be stored and shared with the rest of the team.
By investing in a Single Source of Truth, every member of the project can remain on the same page and have a detailed overview of the latest status on their tasks. In other words, an open and collaborative data ecosystem can lock fragmented communication out of the supply chain.
Read also: How to stay in control of the supply chain
Most importantly, all project agents can be confident that what they see on their screen is 100% accurate and that they are not working on an outdated version of the schedule. Like that, subcontractors will be able to arrive on site at the right moment and start working on their tasks right away.
So regardless of how many channels and platforms are used during the building process, they should always be integrated so that nobody ends up working in silos.
2. Custom dashboards can add clarity
Customised dashboards can function as the bedrock of your construction progress monitoring process. With the help of the right digital platform, you can receive the data you need at the time you need it and effortlessly analyse trends, track delays and address any red flags.
One detail you should always keep in mind, though, is that these dashboards should be updated in real time and accessed on the cloud. In that way, you can access your data from anywhere at any time.
With real-time project insights, look forward to fewer errors and delays, faster completion times and lower costs.
3. Report from the field
Across every aspect of a construction project, there are now mobile applications to help. Be it pre-construction or scheduling, to project management, field reporting, and back-office jobs. All of these things can run more smoothly and efficiently, helped by mobile technology.
Mobile field reporting is one of the main components of successful construction progress tracking. Just by using their mobile or tablet device, field teams can report progress back to the office in real-time and address burning problems before they become a threat to the entire project. This is what mobile reporting looks like on LetsBuild’s tool:
What is more, mobile field reporting can put an end to endless meetings and unnecessary phone calls saving everyone involved in the project precious time.
Lastly, the automatic generation of daily progress reports could make production tracking much simpler and highlight instantly where workflows are ahead or behind.
4. Interactive Gantt-chart
A Gantt chart is an essential element of most major construction projects these days. With the advent of digital tools, Gantt charts have managed to evolve and provide plenty of features and functionalities to the users.
Gantt chart software can play a decisive role in connecting the boardroom with the construction site and improving the communication between the numerous project agents.
For example, a user can add milestones, create task dependencies and schedule a set of project objectives (i.e. critical path of a project) based on the latest data. It becomes easily clear, then, that the use of a reliable Gantt Chart software can have a significant impact on a project planning and management process.
As a result, an interactive Gantt-chart can help you gain back control over your project and remain up-to-date with the latest changes on the schedule. Like that, you will be able to clearly and quickly see if a project is developing as it should.
In the long run, this will allow you to improve your delivery, have more proactive meetings and reduce the micro-management that comes with paperwork. This increased transparency and accountability could pave the way for a more efficient building process with fewer budget overruns and project delays.
Here is an example of LetsBuild’s interactive Gantt Chart:
5. Listen to your data
At the end of the day, everything comes down to data. These precious bits of information will help you navigate through your project and see if everything goes according to the plan. For that reason, it is essential to establish a strong data collection and analysis process which will ensure that you are always one step ahead of any problem that might emerge on site.
What’s more, thanks to the captured data you can add predictability to the building process and by extension to your construction progress tracking process.
That’s the first step towards a standardised way of working in the sector as it allows you to use the transparency of shared information to your advantage.
In that sense, providing project managers with easy access to all project schedules in one place can take you one step closer to a construction industry with fewer reworks, positive margins and increased productivity.
The success of construction tracking software depends on digital adoption
Construction tracking software appears to be one of your most valuable allies in the effort to keep your construction project under control and ensure everything is progressing as it should.
However, there is one great obstacle for the successful implementation of your new digital tool(s). That is, of course, user adoption on site. A very common mistake done by many stakeholders in construction is that they see construction software as the magical solution to all of their problems.
Truth is, though, that the success of your strategic choice to “go digital” depends vastly on the acceptance that this new working routine receives on the field.
This is where your great mission begins. It is vital that you take the time to explain to your team how the use of construction tracking software could transform their day to day working routine and in what ways it could bring value to the entire project.
In the beginning, there might be many who are not willing to change their habits but with the right implementation process in place, the change can come faster than you expect. The key to success is to start small and expand fast. Like that, you give to your organisation the time to adjust and embrace this digital shift.
At the end of the day, one thing is sure. Turning data into real-time insight should lie on the core of your endeavour to track progress in construction in an accurate and profitable way for your business.