Technology & Innovation

A technology checkup: Just what the doctor ordered

The health of your construction company depends on keeping your finger on the pulse of your business. And just like with people, warning signs can tell you when and what you need to change to keep your business in tip-top shape. So, when it comes to making sure you have the right technology in place, an annual “checkup” seems like a good idea.

Where do you start?

Watch for symptoms

Over the years, I’ve worked with a lot of construction companies, all in different stages of maturity. It seems that the same symptoms often signal a need to take technology to the next level.

  • Blurred view into job cost numbers. This is a common ailment as construction companies grow and can no longer manually keep track of critical project details such as current job cost. If you don’t know if you’ve made or lost money until after project closeout, consider changing to software that automatically tracks jobs costs as part of your accounting process.
  • Low productivity. Is your team bogged down with time wasters that keep them from more productive work? A process walk-through can help you spot inefficiencies that may have become your company norm. Some common time wasters include taking off dimensions and quantities from paper plans, tracking subcontractor insurance and lien waivers by hand, and handling government reporting and union requirements manually. All of these can be automated with the latest software tools.
  • Finger stress from too much data reentry. Not only does redundant data entry increase your team’s workload, it is a leading cause of errors. Identify weak areas in your process where the same information has to be entered more than once? Integrating your software systems is the remedy here.
  • Lack of mobility. Your team is on the move—whether workers are walking the job site, driving to service calls, or boarding a plane for an out-of-town conference. If they can’t get or submit information wherever they’re at, your company could be at a disadvantage. Mobile devices and software apps can provide that flexibility.
  • Paperitis. Okay, that’s not a real word, but you get my meaning. Tons of paper plague construction firms every day—from contracts, to invoices, to work orders, and more. You can rid yourself of paper—and improve efficiency—with the today’s document management systems.

Evaluate IT vital signs

An audit of your IT system should also be a part of your annual checkup. “A review makes sure your IT applications and infrastructure continually support your business goals and allow your team to be as efficient as possible,” said Steve Handly, of Aktion Associates, in a previous Sage Advice blog post. Not only can an audit make sure you have a more cohesive IT system, it can also uncover software capabilities you may not know that you have. “Many times, companies install software upgrades without realizing the enhancements that are included,” Handly explained.

Make changes

Your IT checkup should reveal a number of improvements. Set priorities based on which changes will provide the biggest benefit to your business. And don’t feel that you have to implement all the changes at once. As in life, sometimes the best way to achieve your goals is to improve things a step at a time.