How Enterprise Mobility Creates The Next Generation Construction Company Today

  • Sep 14, 2017,
  • By Srini Sathyamurthy

When it comes to the construction industry, the benefits of enterprise mobility can be monumental. There are so many moving parts, so many people, and a ton of change requests, and yet, no real way to enable immediate responses and fuel quick decisions. On a daily basis, foremen face absent workers, city assessments that require new plans, building elements that need retooling, and a host of other issues that leave many hours, afternoons, and even days wasted. This not only impacts time schedules but client satisfaction as well. The next generation construction company is about speed and accuracy – ensuring on time and on budget projects. There’s no better time for the industry to revolutionize how it does business and mobility is the key to creating the next generation construction company, today.

Improving data visibility and accuracy

One of the biggest inhibitors to keeping projects moving quickly is the lack of visibility to information. Whereas most industries have moved forward with the digital era, the construction industry still rests largely on pen and paper processes which impacts data visibility and data accuracy. The first use cases that can be easily digitized for mobile access by foremen in the field are project plans and resource allocation documents. These help foremen effectively manage a project with real-time adjustments. For instance, if a worker whose task is slated for a specific day is absent that day, the foreman can look at the plan assess his onsite workers and make the necessary adjustments to keep the project moving. In addition, daily logs can be directly entered into an app with photo and video uploads, rather than by pen and paper, ensuring that up-to-date information gets accurately transferred during shift changes and enabling project supervisors to view progress more immediately.

According to Gregg Schreiner, Vice President, Gridor Construction, “Mobility is key to today’s construction world. Having the ability to enter detailed daily job reports with up-to-the-minute progress photos from your phone would be extremely valuable to any construction project.”

Connecting the back office to the construction site

Compared to the digitally-connected world in which we live, the construction industry is world’s behind. In addition to pen and paper tracking, another challenge of the industry is that many of the back office processes such as project approvals and purchase orders and other communications that keep a project in check, are not accessible at the job sites. This means hours and even days can be wasted, which impacts schedules and ultimately client satisfaction and revenue.

Mobility can help streamline processes and enable predictable delivery. For instance, POs are an easy use case to mobilize. Mobility provides an engagement layer to your ERP or other back office system enabling connecting authorized users to submit purchase orders for necessary equipment and materials straight from their mobile device. Purchase order software alleviates the need for the project manager to drive back to the office or wait until evening when he’s in front of a computer. Going a step further, you can make inventory/materials look-up accessible via mobile devices as well the ability to take an item out of stock.  These use cases make it easy to see what inventory the company already has therefore eliminating the unnecessary duplicate inventory spend.

Approvals are another area where mobility adds great impact on project schedules. Any delay with approvals for change requests, purchases, time, or adhoc tasks often means that part of the workforce, essentially has to stop working on their task at hand. In addition, delays can also add costs due to pricing differentials. With mobile approval software and push notifications, managers who are away from the job site and away from the office can help keep projects moving and maximize profitability. Schreiner adds, “Being able to enter daily time sheets and access the most current change and field order logs and documents from your mobile device would be a great time and money saver in the field and the office as well.”

How do you make the next generation construction company a reality today?

How do you make the shift towards becoming a technology-savvy company?  You can have to consider two factors:  one technology and the current systems and processes you have in place. The other factor is the mindset of your workforce. For the former, technologies like Capriza, enables you to quickly connect your existing back office systems and processes to the field. That’s why we at Element Five partnered with Capriza. Element Five has been delivering enterprise applications to construction companies for nearly a decade. We’re familiar with the types of existing infrastructure construction companies run their business on. What we like about Capriza is the ability to extend the existing systems with mobile apps to the field without having to rip and replace the systems.

The mindset, takes a real shift in how work gets done. The more senior and experience foreman may have a “always been doing this way and it works,” mindset. I have seen forward looking constructions companies, overcome this by coupling the senior experienced foremen with the younger technology-minded millennials as a way to transfer knowledge and adapt to the latest technologies. They learn from each other.

The construction industry’s labor force is aging faster than any other workforce and yet the influx of millennials entering the industry is lower than most, so there is big a labor gap occurring. The younger “digital native” generation seeks out technology savvy companies that move at a quicker pace, so the future of construction companies rests in attracting and hiring talent. Being a technology savvy construction company is a great advantage to out-hiring your competitors as well as out-performing them.

Srini Sathyamurthy

Srini Sathyamurthy is Executive Vice President of Element Five Solutions, a leading SAP value-added reseller that delivers valuable digital transformation projects specializing in the construction industry as well as several other key industries. Element Five Solutions is part of the Capriza partner ecosystem.

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