The earliest stages of any project, including before and during site preparation, are critical to its ultimate success. 

Preparing a site includes several integral steps, such as determining where and how deep to dig and identifying whether there are any possible obstructions. Every step that follows in a project is built on this literal and figurative foundation, and missteps at the early stages could spell problems later, prompting frustrating—and expensive—headaches.

The first step of a project isn’t “turning dirt.” It’s coordinating all the assets a project needs: the equipment, crews, resources, and materials that bring a project from paper to possible.

All of this requires accurate and real-time data.

Every jobsite function is interrelated, and technology can help companies coordinate the many roles and processes, saving time and money while reducing their team’s stress. With the right tools and platforms, operators can feel confident that they are performing their jobs correctly the first time.

Advanced Digital Construction Management (ADCM) is changing the game for contractors and helping them better prepare and execute projects. ADCM’s eight core elements—design; revisions and change requests; back-up of IT, data, technical and components; terrain; resources; data management; as-built information; and team preparation—will vary from project to project but are designed to ensure seamless coordination of assets on a jobsite.

Once the grading begins, operators no longer need to rely on their intuition to determine if they have properly graded a site. When they use technology to help them, they quickly discover how much it can improve their operations and speed it up in the process.


Projects are only as good as their plans. Before turning the first shovel, contractors must estimate the time and cost of completing a project.

Estimates are more than a frustrating task or a necessary evil of the bidding and design process. They provide a baseline for measuring success and ensuring projects remain on track—and, perhaps more importantly, on budget.

Because workers come and go on every site, estimates help contractors coordinate with their teams and subcontractors. By knowing who should be where and when, contractors can eliminate workers waiting for their turn to perform a task and ensure they aren’t in a place they should not be.

Ensuring the entire team is performing the tasks they are responsible for avoids errors that could force rework and incur costs. 


Many workers start site prep without conducting safety checks. Project success necessitates first understanding the potential hazards, whether underground utilities or other obstacles.

These checks, which don’t take much time in the scheme of an overall project, should include eradicating trip or fall hazards, identifying equipment without safety guards, and inspecting tools and machinery to confirm whether they need maintenance. These details allow crews to proceed confidently and work around potential hazards as necessary.

It would be dangerous to start digging and hope there are no underground utilities in the area. Although completing safety checks before starting excavation is an extra step, it could save time, money, and lives in the long run.

Thanks to technology like ground-penetrating radar, contractors can more quickly and accurately confirm these details.


The most successful professionals spend more time preparing than executing. Unfortunately, too many companies commonly forego proper training, assuming everyone knows how to approach their responsibilities.

However, workers won’t be able to perform their best without proper training. Attending training sessions, staying updated on the latest technology, and seeking expert advice can give teams a competitive edge when performing the job. Training also helps teams identify potential problems as the project progresses. 


While contractors have employed paper plans and manual inspections for generations, the latest technology allows teams to perform these checks quicker and more accurately. 

The first step in grading is often stripping the topsoil off the site and stockpiling it for later. To accomplish this, operators must know how much to strip off and the required volume for re-spreading.

Machine control technology eliminates dozer drivers’ reliance on grade stakes and gives operators greater detail than 2-D paper maps.

Moreover, mobile apps ensure everyone on site has the latest information, confirming that everyone is working from the same up-to-date plans and that no one is relying on outdated data.

As work progresses, solutions such as drones can help evaluate jobsites and verify the accuracy of the work performed. They can also quickly identify any course corrections, stemming small problems before they become major headaches.

Instead of relying on supervisors and surveyors to oversee and confirm excavation work, arming the operator with information streamlines the process. Teams can make quicker decisions because they don’t need to consult others to confirm their decision.


Accurate, real-time data is necessary to ensure successful construction projects, and should be available to everyone who needs it when they need it. This will allow construction to proceed with fewer disruptions and stay on time, on specs, and within budget.

Technology empowers companies to proactively monitor every aspect of a jobsite, but information is only useful when readily available, so it needs to be kept and delivered in easy-to-use and accessible formats.

The data collected at the start of a job also provides a foundation for ongoing maintenance. Keeping track of actual costs and comparing them to initial estimates can help companies avoid the “project creep” that erodes profit margins. The loss of revenue is particularly troubling in an era of persistent inflation and increased recruiting and retention costs.

Tracking actual costs also lets teams know where they’ve succeeded and fallen short.

New technology coupled with proven solutions that tackle longstanding and unexpected challenges ensures site preparation isn’t another worry contractors face when they tackle a job.

About the Author:

Troy Dahlin serves as the vice president for the heavy construction segment of Leica Geosystems. For more, visit

Modern Contractor Solutions, May 2024
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