Trailer Trouble

DIGITAL WORKSITEThere are four reasons to manage your worksite digitally.   

By John Kennedy and Richard Bergfeld

The construction business, with all of the contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and other vendors, manages more critical documents on a day-to-day basis than nearly any other industry. As a result, construction work trailers often become a storage and management nightmare, reduced to document warehouses with little to no room for contractors to conduct business. 

On larger projects, costs are driven up by a need for more space to store all of the necessary documentation, not to mention the time wasted at all job sites sorting through paperwork to find critical information.  Multiple areas are open to improvement: 

• Paper gets in the way – The sheer space and expense required to store all necessary documentation (often multiple copies of each document) is substantial – and this storage can interfere with jobsite operations. Think of the last time you stepped into a construction trailer and thought, “There’s plenty of room in here to conduct a meeting,” or the last time you said, “Let me get those out of your way” as you shuffled a stack to the side to make room.

• Closeouts take too long – The closeout of a project is significantly longer and more complex because of all of the files to handle. Once a project’s build is complete, it can take a few weeks to several months to shut down an office and get all documentation archived. It’s been estimated in an interview with Hathaway executives that it takes an average of seven months to close out a large project. That is a lot of overhead to absorb. In addition, many projects require archiving all documents at least 10 years out, which can be a costly logistical hassle. 

• “Document Manager” isn’t your job title – Managing all of this paper is daunting, especially on large jobs. When multiple copies of documents require distribution to multiple locations, copying, mailing, managing and storing, all this information becomes a full-time job. 

• The old way is inefficient – Contractors are always looking for ways to become more operationally efficient. Under the traditional paper-based system, efficiency is a challenge. How often do you wait for a document to be mailed, faxed or carried by someone in their truck just to get a signature to move forward? What happens if he hits a speed bump and spills coffee on it? Is waiting for that worth holding up a multimillion project?

With so many great reasons, what’s keeping the construction industry from moving toward digitization? According to the MGI Industry Digitization Index, construction businesses possess one of the lowest levels of digital adoption among all industries. Still, there are signs that more contractors are beginning to recognize the critical value that digitization provides. 

Those in the industry that have adopted digital technology quickly recognize the benefits of a cloud-based document management system: increased efficiency and lower costs. Overall, industry leaders cite the following as the top reasons to go digital: 

1. Make room for more important things – Digitization virtually eliminates paper filing and the need for large amounts of storage. Construction trailers can now be used for more than warehousing of information, and finding and retrieving important (and current) documents is smooth and efficient. Best of all, large jobs no longer need to spend money on additional onsite trailers to store documents.

2. Get to the next job faster – Capturing all of a job’s documentation from a project’s start to finish makes the close out process simpler. Instead of spending weeks or months essentially cleaning up after the completion of a project, take a few hours to upload/download whatever is necessary and move onto the next project. 

3. Do the job you like – Leaders on the jobsite no longer have to waste hours shuffling around papers. With digital documents, it only takes a few seconds to locate information using keyword search. This gives leaders more freedom to actually make the critical decisions required to effectively manage projects. 

4. Literally save documents – When documents are archived digitally, construction companies save thousands annually by cutting out storage rental and upkeep. Plus, in the case of an emergency — flood, fire or break-in — vulnerable documents are secure. 

In today’s competitive marketplace, the old ways of doing business simply do not make sense. Contractors are responding to customers’ desires for more lean operations that improve efficiencies and reduce wasteful and costly job management issues. The future of successful construction industry operations is digital adoption. 

John Kennedy is a managing partner and Richard Bergfeld is Managing Director of Hathaway Partners, LLC, resellers of Digitech Systems. Between them, Kennedy and Bergfeld have more than 70 years of construction management, accounting and consulting experience. They formed Imaging and Dataflow of Texas which is a service bureau providing document management service for the construction industry imaging files and providing access to any document, any place, and any time. In addition, Imaging and Dataflow of Texas will create databases from documents resulting in management information far beyond going paperless to multi-project, multi-year analysis tools. For more information, contact John Kennedy at Jkennedy@hathawaypartners.com or Richard Bergfeld at rbergfeld@imagedataflow.com.

 

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