This post was a collaboration between Replicon and our friends at Handle, who offer an automated collection process of unpaid construction invoices.
It’s easy to look back and say things were better “back in the day”, when simpler times afforded less screen time and smart devices – but that would be discrediting the tremendous advances regularly made today thanks to modern technology. There are few facets of society left untouched by the flood of innovative tech in recent decades, and perhaps none more affected than the workforce. While slews of new careers and even whole industries now exist due to perpetually evolving technologies, some work has remained, at its core, more or less the same throughout the decades – such as construction.
As a matter of principle, construction is understood to require some time – after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. But the nature of the work doesn’t preclude the industry from enjoying the many transformative developments in time management enjoyed by workforces around the world. Read on to learn six ways tech is reshaping time management in construction today:
Time Tracking in the Cloud
Once the industry standard, punch cards and paper timesheets are effectively obsolete in today’s time tracking landscape. Inflexible, time-consuming, and prone to human error, they do not prevent time theft and can easily cause payroll errors. Employees working within traditional time and attendance systems are often stuck punching in and out on location – a practice fraught with buddy punching, considerable paperwork, and the alienation of field workers such as those in construction. Moreover, they are expensive to buy, maintain and replace. Otherwise, the foreman is traditionally left to manually enter time on behalf of their entire crew.
Digital time clocks, on the other hand, deploy quickly, minimize maintenance, provide real-time visibility to supervisors, and assure accuracy – as well as some unnecessary headaches for those in IT and HR. With data sent electronically from the clocking terminal on site to the time tracking software, digital time clocks are manageable, innovative, cost-effective and integrated. Some of the more advanced digital time clocks are AI-enabled, include 24/7 uptime monitoring, use geofencing, can work offline for more remote construction sites, and incorporate crew-specific timesheet features for peak efficiency.
Accurate time tracking can reduce payroll errors by 7%, and reduce administrative overheads by a staggering 90%.
The initial steps in all construction projects involve estimating the cost of the entire project using its blueprint, a list of materials and their associated costs. The process is simple but it is very time-consuming if done manually. In addition, manual estimation is prone to data entry errors, which can potentially cost the company huge expenses.
Using digital files, referencing historical project information, and construction takeoff software can significantly reduce the duration of the estimation process. These tech capabilities automatically make the necessary calculations and ensure the accuracy of the measurements, resulting in a reliable cost estimate for the project.
Drone technology has expanded its use across multiple industries, including construction. Although the industry can be somewhat slow in integrating new technology into its processes, construction businesses have been quick on the uptake in using drones for site inspection.
Drones are indispensable tools for all types of construction projects. For huge projects like skyscrapers, businesses use drones to conduct site surveys and enter areas that may be otherwise dangerous to humans. Compared to human-led site surveys that may take weeks of analysis, a drone can be used by a single pilot offsite in a shorter amount of time. Residential builders also use drones to collect aerial shots that can show them a detailed picture of how their subdivisions or single home projects are coming along.
When combined with 3D mapping software, drones can provide precise measurements useful for detailing and modeling. They can also acquire critical information on the terrain and create high-definition maps which project managers can easily access for reference.
Client Management & Project Billing
When businesses have no visibility into the clients they have vetted and accepted, real problems can arise. Losing track of project profitability and progress can result in inadequate resources, inaccurate project estimates, or improper pricing – just to name a few.
Maintaining a healthy client relationship can benefit from using a modern solution, dedicated to real-time project monitoring, project management, control over project status, margins, and resource usage. This lets businesses reference current and historical data to better manage invoicing, cash flows, pipeline requirements, and profitability. Using a proper project billing solution will ultimately reduce the time in billing customers, enabling faster payments. This improved transparency and detail throughout the transaction will encourage trust and strengthen rapport with clients, while allowing the company control over what exactly is being billed.
At BC Preferred, an emergency restoration company, using a cloud-based project time tracking and client billing solution helped cash flow management and reduced the time to bill clients by 90-95%.
Accounts Receivables Management
The construction industry is the leading industry when it comes to late payments. The lengthy period between billing the client and the subsequent collection puts construction businesses at risk of experiencing cash flow issues. Because of this, the construction industry benefits from optimizing the efficiency of the collection process.
There are several ways companies can use technology to make accounts receivable management efficient. For example, companies could employ dedicated software in using their accounting data to automatically identify client accounts that are at risk of delinquency. This can then be used to send invoices and follow-up emails for payment, as well as issue notices for liens.
Technology also makes billing clients faster and more convenient. Using online billing options, construction companies can reduce friction in the payment process and promote faster collection.
Customer Data Management
One of the cardinal rules in the construction industry is to vet clients before closing the deal. In an industry marred with payment delays and even nonpayment, it is important to research a client’s credit history to ensure a smooth partnership. If some clients are unable to pay on time, the company will experience cash flow woes.
Manual research can be time-consuming, however. Fortunately, there are software solutions that let you manage customer data and compile them for easy reference. Before bidding, you may use software solutions to pre-qualify contractors and get insight into their project histories and credit scores.
Tech Paving the Way
Time management in the construction industry has seen significant changes over the years, and with every new advent in technology, it will continue to evolve for the better. Whether it’s enhancing efficiency, improving accuracy, or simply just saving valuable time, tech has elevated the trade to new heights – bringing an age-old profession seamlessly into the fast-paced, cutting-edge climate of today and tomorrow.
Looking to make life a little easier for your construction company? Check out Replicon’s TimeAttend Solution for more information:
About the Authors:
Aki Merced is the Content Manager at Handle, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and materials suppliers secure their lien rights and get paid faster by automating the collection process of unpaid construction invoices.