Tools for kicking your construction business up a notch in the technology department
Socrates once stated that “the secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” As construction professionals, we are well aware of the benefits of new construction, upgrades and renovations to existing structures, but when it comes to day-to-day business operations, you may find more “fighting” than “building” when facing new technology. Change can be difficult, especially when it comes to adopting new technology for managing projects and operations, but it is important to be open to the possibility of new tools that can help your business function more efficiently. Here are five tech tools that have been gaining ground in the construction industry:
- Drones – We have seen much in the way of drones and aerial technology and the many regulations required to operate them. Flying regulations and licensing have made jumping on the drone train a bit intimidating for many contractors. In addition to regulations, there is the actual operation of the device and the daunting task of choosing the right drone for the job. That being stated, don’t let the early stages of setting up discourage you. Drones aren’t going away any time soon; according to an article by Forbes, the evolving drone industry is expected to exceed $5 billion by 2020. Drones can serve a purpose well beyond simply taking some high-quality photos of your completed project. Drones can be useful with the initial phases of construction, from surveying and planning to viewing areas and property that may be difficult to access on foot. Along with recording images and data on the property and surrounding terrain, some drones can provide live-streaming footage so that you can access any area of your job site remotely.
- Mobile Project Management – Construction project management is a complex process involving planning, coordination, and direction over the many developing tasks and priorities that make up a construction project. Every project has its own unique set of intricate tasks that are dynamic and change from project to project, requiring solid communication and problem-solving skills. From task and time management to proposal and bid creation, there are apps and software to make it easier to collaborate with your team on-the-go. There are many apps available that are specifically designed with the contractor in mind. The more comprehensive apps and programs provide tools and support for every stage of a project’s lifecycle, starting as early as the bidding process through the scope of the project to completion. By having one place for all project activity, your team can create, share and modify project estimates, bids and proposals, plans and specifications, project budgets, schedules, change orders and more.
- Contact Management – Contact management is important in all stages of your projects. From the moment you have a lead to the closing of a contract, stages of communication and relationship development should be documented and tracked so that it is easy for any team member to know the status of a contact. The first step in contact management should be to verify your contacts and their information. For prospects, having verified leads like those offered through HBW’s Construction Data Reports is an effective way to save time and money by having the verification done for you. Next, you will want to choose a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system that allows the flexibility of mobile management, as well as customization for users. A solid CRM system will offer the ability to automate your list of leads, sales pipeline, sales follow up and forecasting. Other desirable and useful features to look for in a CRM system include: the ability import/export data; integrate with marketing campaign; synchronize with other systems such as MS Office and Outlook; collaborate and share with other users from remote locations.
- Automated Billing – Automated billing is by no means new, and it is certainly becoming more common and often expected by clients. Paper invoicing isn’t only outdated – it’s inefficient and a waste of resources. Mailing invoices and requiring written checks can lead to your business looking like a dinosaur. For those businesses that still prefer to keep it old school when invoicing, automated billing can prove to be a major time and paper saver. Automated billing is offered through general accounting software like Quickbooks, but it can also be processed through web-based programs and apps. Whatever method you choose, make sure it allows for customization with your business information and logo, professional appearance and an easy interface for tracking and processing payments.
- GPS Tracking –Global Positioning System (GPS) technology has experienced remarkable advancement over the last several years. Along with locating and getting detailed directions to a job site, the systems of today can be quite useful in lowering overhead and increasing productivity. For the purpose of improving safety, every vehicle in your fleet can be equipped with a GPS device. The device can notify managers and report on the speed of vehicles and speed limit violations. Beyond driving patterns, owners can even be alerted to seatbelt use (or lack thereof) and car maintenance requirements through monitoring tire pressure and setting automated reminders for oil changes. For insurance purposes, GPS is useful for tracking the location of a vehicle should it be lost/stolen or misused, as well as documenting and tracking delivery of materials.
Change is good, when properly executed. While technology seems to be changing overnight, changes to your business and operations should be planned and integrated over time. By ensuring that your team is ready and has the capacity to incorporate new technology into your operations, your business will be better positioned to grow with, rather than retreat from, new technology.
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