Tech-driven workflow changes bring ROI for contractors
By Kyle Slager
Work smarter, not harder—a principle many strive to put into action, but how can commercial contractors put it to use?
People who pursue construction careers typically believe in working hard and giving their all. It’s built into their professional DNA. But with construction costs continuing to rise, working harder can only take you so far.
A recent study by project management firm Rider Levett Bucknall showed that U.S. construction costs rose by 5.7 percent in 2018, but some metropolitan areas like Chicago and San Francisco were hit harder, with costs rising by as much as 7.6 percent. And many of these costs, like materials and labor, can’t be addressed by simply working harder.
This is why it is vital for contractors to streamline workflows and find efficiencies in day-to-day field operations. And that’s why I founded Raken—to address real-world challenges faced by workers in the field and at the same time give company leadership the data they need.
Ideally, a mobile solution will help superintendents and foremen spend less time creating reports and more time doing what they do best, putting their time and expertise to the best use. But Raken doesn’t just address efficiencies. Our enhanced communication and reporting capability results in an overall better work product. With the touch of a button, leadership in the field can create professional, detailed reports, keeping clients happy and helping construction businesses grow.
EASE OF USE
Superintendents and foremen belong in the field, but being away from the office can mean communication problems. Construction projects are complex and chaotic, and all parties—including stakeholders, executives, subcontractors, and project leadership—have to maintain communication through daily reporting if the project is going succeed.
This puts a huge burden on superintendents and foremen, who often spend hours creating reports at the end of the day after everyone else has gone home. This is a recipe for failure. All too often, daily reporting is rushed or forgotten altogether. Mobile field reporting technology offers one solution to help get reporting done easily, getting these professionals out of the trailer and home to their families sooner.
Raken’s mobile tech automates the reporting and documentation process, allowing superintendents to collect information on their mobile devices as they walk the site, seamlessly incorporating photos for even better documentation and communication. This information can be instantly communicated with the office and with stakeholders like clients and investors, managing expectations and keeping everyone informed.
EYES AND EARS ON THE JOBSITE
Just as superintendents and foremen need mobility, company leadership, project managers, and office staff need communication from the field. They need eyes and ears on the jobsite, and the quicker they can get needed information, the better.
When done right, mobile technology makes reporting from the field easier and faster, providing an up-to-the-minute snapshot of what’s going on at the jobsite. Workflow bottlenecks, like time cards or documentation of toolbox talks, all need to be included if a mobile solution is actually going to streamline operations. The needs of the field should come first for technology to see long term use and generate return on investment.
While the technology definitely streamlines office workflows and gives executives deep insights into operations, instead of designing from the top-down, Raken is built from the ground up. We consulted with workers in the field, then put our technology in their hands for testing. We made sure it is easy to learn and to use, removing barriers to adoption by the workers who need to use it.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Adopting new technology can require a significant investment of money and time, but the right mobile tech can mean significant ROI.
One area where you will see ROI is labor costs—a critical line item due to the construction labor shortage. Time worked will be more productive, with more hours spent on revenue-generating projects instead of paperwork.
Allowing supervisors and foremen to focus on their areas of expertise instead of paperwork leverages their true skills and creates better job satisfaction, lowering employee turnover. Making paperwork as easy as tapping a button on a smartphone means they can get back to what they enjoy—and they’ll be more productive doing it.
Richer, more immediate reporting from the field can make for smoother relationships with clients. Even if the reporting contains bad news like weather delays or a subcontractor mistake, getting the news quickly and proactively will grow their trust in your company. You’ll be able to use data from that software to fine-tune all aspects of your organization, from bidding to scheduling, resulting in fewer budget overruns, less waste, and greater profits.
All of these benefits are key factors to consider when looking for ways to streamline workflows and burst bottlenecks within your organization. If you’re ready to work smarter, mobile technology like Raken is the solution you need.
About the author
Before founding Raken, Kyle Slager was a research associate in the investments group of Brandes Investment Partners, a leading global value-based investment management firm. While at Brandes, Kyle was responsible for making investment recommendations to Brandes’ portfolio committees, which was responsible for investing more than $120 billion in assets under management. Kyle grew up working in various trades with residential subcontractors, and that experience was the inspiration behind Raken.
Modern Contractor Solutions, August 2019
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