A paperless construction office is actually a risk reduction measure. With all contracts, change order documentation, invoices, proposals, and architecturals in hard copies, Construction Business Owner presents that “An eye-popping 70% of businesses would fail outright within 3 weeks due to a catastrophic loss of paper documents in a fire or flood.” This alone makes a pretty strong case for cloud-based document management and digital construction progress tracking tools.
From a process management standpoint, I spoke with JH Greene’s estimating and PM team about the topic and they ran me through their experience of the digital shift making life significantly easier. The first words out of their mouths were, “Quicker, more efficient, and easier.” Can gaining answers and information in a matter of minutes simplify construction as a whole?
Kevin White of the JH Greene team replied a unanimous yes. He gave the example a subcontractor once mentioned to him about the way things used to run “back in the day.” All trades would pass off a physical set of plans from one company to the next, and owners would allow an exponentially longer time to provide a proposal, given all the back and forth.
Without physical signatures required, projects can move forward without delay of scanning, mailing, or transport. Everything is interconnected by having technology streamline processes. Tim Sommers, another member of the JH Greene team, mentioned an additional example of paper slowing things down seen in the case of a global corporation partnership in regional expansion. The same paperless benefit can be extended to invoice routing and approvals, especially in communication with a larger corporate entity. Through eliminating the risk of manual processing, unnecessary inefficiencies can be completely avoided. There is even opportunity for customization in the flow of approvals that allows for a smooth, clear process.
Paperless is also a valuable pursuit within daily timesheets for on-site workers. With staff who complete these forms and submit them to the office, there is timely data entry required on the administrative end. Remote timesheet entry can electronically transfer these hours and automatically update labor costs associated with a project.
For times where tablets and smart phones are possible, there is potential for valuable analytics. Tech Crunch emphasizes the all-too-common reality that there is little visibility to the field from the office.
“One of the most frustrating things about running a construction company is that you are constantly writing these huge checks, but you have no idea what is actually going on in the field. No field computing, means no field data, which means you have no idea that your electrician, who you picked because he was 10% cheaper, is 30% slower than the other electrician you used last time. The Google Analytics/Palantir for construction is going to really change how things are done.”
Although we’re not there yet, complete paperless construction is a world that wouldn’t be as difficult as initially imagined. If the proper tools are sought and trained, long-term success is within sight.