It’s certainly been a busy start to 2015. The economy is growing. Construction business is booming again and everyone in our industry—from owners to contractors to vendors—is scrambling to try and keep up with significantly greater workloads. While being busy is generally good news, what we need to be careful of is losing business focus in the meantime—not seeing the forest for the trees.
I’m reminded of several conversations I’ve had with construction industry professionals in the past few weeks. The consensus seems to be the same; there is now so much work and so much data to deal with that managing it all effectively is becoming a burdensome task. In many cases, either too much time is spent manually manipulating data or too much effort is needed to work the data in cumbersome or outdated business management software solutions.
While most contractors I know scrutinize their financials rigorously and strive for new ways to improve bottom lines, more work means more data to pore over. One emerging, and troubling trend a few contractors have noted with me of late is that there is less time to analyze data the way organizations would like to. Sometimes this means a project suffers from lack of important financial data that leads to delays or miscues, inaccurate billings, cost overruns and more.
As one professional put it, “I’m just too damn busy managing the projects themselves to worry about maximizing their financial performance right now.”
It shouldn’t (and doesn’t have to) be like this. Technology advancements in business management software have really broken some ground over the past few years. Automated workflows, intuitive dashboards and alerts, mobile solutions for collecting and analyzing data in the field, collaborative tools to share data instantly between the field and the office or contractor and subcontractor—all of these advancements and more have helped streamline operations. The goal of these technologies is to create an environment where construction professionals spend less time trying to make square data blocks fit in round analysis holes and spend more time working on how to build better projects and maximize revenues.
Of course, picking the business management software that best fits a company and helps it automate processes is not as simple as snapping your fingers. It takes time to assess your own needs, research the tools that are on the market, and ultimately get everyone in your organization on board with changes in process. I’ve noticed that the companies that do the best at implementing new software tend to undertake meaningful educational campaigns with its users to show them how the solutions will automate tasks or benefit departments when used effectively.
So, if you could automate any task or process in your organization’s exhaustive workload, what would it be?