Streamlining subcontractor data
By BRIAN POAGEConstruction Software
General and subcontractors can both benefit when their reporting aligns.
Managing large-scale construction projects that involve multiple subcontractors is no easy feat. In order to accurately predict a project’s status, project managers need to assess productivity on a daily basis, but without consistent, organized data, it can be difficult to gain accurate and timely insights from the field.
Modern technology is designed to help general contractors streamline subcontractor reports and make more informed decisions about budget and schedule. The use of digital construction management software allows for the consolidation of on-site updates, improvements in accuracy and simplified communications.
COMMON REPORTING CHALLENGES
Complex projects have many moving parts and when several different subcontractors are working on the same job, stakeholders spend a significant number of hours collecting field data. These hours rise when a GC must intervene at a granular level.
Additionally, each subcontractor has their own process for completing and delivering reports, and it’s often the GC’s time-consuming responsibility to consolidate information that’s submitted in several different formats.
The goal of effective project management is to mitigate risks, but when GCs are spending more work hours on data collection and organization rather than assessment, they may struggle to reach that goal.
Consistency is key, which is aided by leveraging tools that make it easy to receive fast, detailed data from the field on a regular basis.
FAST DATA CAPTURE
With the right tools, effective reporting doesn’t have to add more work. Software with mobile data capture capabilities helps subcontractors collect quality data fast with less room for communication errors than pen and paper. Some may even offer voiceto- text features.
Using digital software, GCs can create and provide checklists or templates, and assign tasks to specific subcontractors, giving them clear guidelines for how their day, and their reports, should be structured. They can even add custom cost codes to timecards so subcontractors can easily track hours in a way that makes sense for their particular job or business.
And, when GCs receive digital information from the field through a consolidated reporting system, they can see daily progress at a glance without having to spend time translating handwriting or completing data entry.
Digital software improves not just speed of reporting but also accuracy. The two go hand and hand, because when daily reporting is a quick, painless process, subcontractors are much more likely to consistently provide higher quality data.
With some digital reporting solutions, subcontractors can even take photos and videos and attach them to reports directly within the software.
When reports go digital, they are more quickly and easily shared from the field. Project management software with cloud storage capabilities allows for some of the fastest insights possible, since anything uploaded to the cloud can be viewed by anyone with access to the system instantly.
Real-time data can mean the difference between a massive schedule delay and a slight adjustment. General contractors who get day-to-day updates from the field have an incredibly accurate picture of how a project is truly progressing. They can closely track productivity and ensure deadlines are being met, and they can react right away when an issue develops.
With digital storage, general contractors will also have access to a variety of historical data that can be searched and reviewed without having to sort through hard copies of files. In the event of a dispute, they can quickly locate the digital “paper trail” of reports and prove exactly what occurred on-site and when it happened.
ENCOURAGING ADOPTION RATES
Some subcontractors may resist using digital project management software, especially if they are still using paper reports internally. Digital reporting will only help GCs if subcontractors participate, so how can general contractors encourage adoption?
Subcontractors will embrace new technology if they realize it will also help them. When deciding on a digital reporting solution, make sure to choose a system that is easy for the field to use, that cuts down on the time it takes to complete reports and doesn’t overcomplicate the process.
Field-focused software is designed for easy use on the job. It helps protect subcontractors as well as GCs, giving them an easy way to ensure their work is completed as expected and on schedule.
Improving the quality of data received from subcontractors takes effort, but it is easier with the right technology, and with the right understanding about how digital documentation and reporting helps both the subcontractors and GCs. When buy in happens, both have the opportunity to save time and money while providing more accurate insights into project progress.
Brian Poage is the senior construction support manager at Raken, where he helps construction companies gain better insights and build more profitable projects.