Construction is on the cusp of change. Technology options are exploding—with apps, drones, and smart tools available to help a sector that’s struggling with productivity. There’s a lot to learn in this new digital world—and there are a lot of software options to choose from.
It’s exciting to hear about new construction innovations. But are construction teams actually using all this tech? Studies suggest they aren’t. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, construction is one of the least digitized industries in the world, and our investments in information technology are low compared to other sectors. For an industry lagging in digitization, the explosion of new options is exciting, but also overwhelming.
Feeling overwhelmed? Start small
Even the biggest innovations start with a single action. In fact, many of today’s innovative companies have built their construction software stacks one tool at a time. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are 3 simple technologies that can make a big impact on your processes and bottom line. Start with one of these and slowly add more to transform your construction productivity.
1. File-sharing software
File sharing is one of the easiest ways to start using digital tools. With software like Dropbox and Google Drive, you can share important documents, reports, and photos instantly. Because your documents are securely stored in the cloud, you can always access them—no matter where you are or what device you’re using. Plus, you’ll get control over who can view and edit files.
Here are some ways to use file-sharing software:
Instantly share invoices, estimates, and budget updates with the office
Keep an updated schedule of work that the entire team can access
Securely send information to subcontractors
Share progress photos with your clients
2. Signal boosters
According to JBKnowledge, construction professionals consider mobile capabilities to be an important part of their job. But many sites still aren’t equipped to support mobile devices seamlessly. Wifi and cell signals can be extremely unreliable on construction sites. Luckily, there are some simple devices that can help to improve your signals.
For a solution that can take you throughout construction, you’ll need something wireless with a large range. Here are some options to look into:
Cell signal boosters
Prob4Grant signal booster by Verizon Wireless
Drive 4G-X by weboost
Sierra Wireless AirLink boosters
Netcloud manager by Cradlepoint
3. Smart spreadsheets
You might already use spreadsheets to track your site’s work and progress. Many contractors use Excel as a tool to collect information and present it in a list. But this doesn’t take full advantage of Excel’s capabilities. Once your spreadsheet is filled with some information, you can use various functions and formulas to sort your lists, calculate valuable metrics, and analyze your data.
For your punch lists
Keep track of which tasks are incomplete, and which ones have been closed out. With this information, you can easily sort your punch items by their status, pulling all incomplete items from the list. Or, create an easy-to-read graph that summarizes the number of complete vs. incomplete items. Get started with this free punch list template.
For your budget
If you keep track of your costs, simple formulas like SUM and SUMIF can help to keep your budget accurate and up to date. Get started with this free construction budget template.
For subcontractor management
By keeping an accurate record of due dates and tasks, it’s easy to monitor performance and hold subcontractors accountable for their work. For even more insight, add a created date to each task to monitor the pace of work.
Ready to jump in with spreadsheets? Start by downloading a construction template that fits your needs. If you aren’t comfortable with using formulas and functions, there are many online courses for Excel that you can complete quickly.
Looking for more? Try a construction app
If you’re ready to ditch manual processes and want to make the most of your mobile devices, an app is the way to go. We suggest choosing one process or goal to focus on before rolling it out across your entire project. You may want to create a site quality plan, improve your inspections, or reduce the time to resolve safety issues.
Whatever your goal, choose an app that is easy to set up and use.
If you’re ready to explore construction apps, Bridgit’s construction management software could be for you. Voted a top construction app of 2018, our software has simplified task management and communication on more than 7500 projects across North America.
Lauren Lake is the COO and co-founder at Bridgit. She holds a degree in Civil Structural Engineering and is well-versed in construction workforce management and resource planning processes. Lauren has been named to the Forbes Manufacturing & Industry 30 Under 30 and Best Of Canada Forbes Under 30 Innovators lists. Lauren has presented at industry events and conferences, including BuiltWorlds, Canadian Construction Association, Procore Groundbreak, and more. Follow Lauren on LinkedIn and Instagram.
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