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The Top 3 Most Powerful Integrations in Construction Tech

Assignar Introduces New Platform Features To Improve Construction Operations

Your team is better when everyone works together. So is your technology. 

Integrations are the key to creating a tech stack that helps streamline operations, so you can build more. And when margins are tight, operational efficiency is more important than ever. In a recent survey of 100 construction decision-makers, 87% said operational efficiency is a top priority. Ninety-two percent also said data insights are a high priority.

You can’t take shortcuts on the job, but you can minimize administrative tasks and maximize time in the field with the right tools and technology. To optimize your time, the solutions you use must be able to work well together.

Let’s take a look at the top most powerful integrations that can transform your tech stack and improve your operational efficiency.

What’s an API anyway, and why bother with integrations?

Whether you have a robust tech stack or are just diving into the digitized world, you’re usually in one of two camps: You either work with an all-in-one solution or have opted for best-of-breed solutions for each aspect of your business. Because of the construction world’s unique software needs, the latter is much more common. 

Challenges pop up when you opt for best-of-breed solutions that don’t integrate with each other. And when margins are entirely enmeshed in efficiency, you can’t afford to enter information across systems that don’t talk to each other.

That’s where application programming interfaces (APIs) come in. APIs ensure your software systems work together, by sharing data and even triggering workflows.

Kendyl Campbell, Assignar’s Channel Partner Manager, knows how software integrations impact construction companies and stresses their importance.

“If you’re not integrating your software, you’re leaving so much room for error,” Campbell said.

What makes a powerful integration?

Information sharing between software products has exploded over the years. Shannon Ward, Assignar’s Global Head of Channel, has seen how tech integrations have changed construction operations.

“[APIs] allow the operational side of a construction company to be much more efficient, much more in tune with their data and be able to make much better decisions about the way they do things,” Ward said.

Integrations between best-of-breed solutions are generally much more powerful than they used to be. So, what makes a powerful integration? 

Here are two features to look for:

  • Two-way integration: APIs with two-way integration let both software platforms send and receive data from each other. You’ll always have the complete data set, no matter which software platform you use.
  • Automated data push/retrieval: The last thing you want to do is have to hit a button or refresh the screen to get data from one application to the other. In this case, the transfer of information is automatic and seamless, so you’re never working with outdated data. 

Keep in mind that the better the API, the more integration features you’ll have. These are important aspects to consider when choosing your best-of-breed software solutions.

“[APIs] allow the operational side of a construction company to be much more efficient, much more in tune with their data and be able to make much better decisions about the way they do things,” Ward said.

The top 3 most powerful construction tech integrations

There are three major types of software a small- to mid-sized construction company needs—and integrating them with one another will maximize your operations. And remember, a more efficient operation equals better margins.

Accounting/ERP systems

If you’re like most construction companies, your accounting software is probably the first software program you purchased. (No one wants to mess around with accounting errors.) Whether you’re still working with a simple accounting system or have upgraded to a full enterprise resource planning (ERP) program, this tech often acts as your central business hub. 

ERPs are adept at helping you build budgets, manage costs, run payroll and do a variety of project management tasks. What they don’t do well is handle field operations.

While your leadership and back office team have access to accounting and ERP systems, your workers in the field don’t. That means you’re probably running your business from your ERP system but using others to manage your field workers. To do that, you have to build projects from the ground up on each platform.

But why build it twice? Ward knows a powerful integration can cut your administrators’ work in half (or further if you have multiple solutions). 

“Why not just enter [a project] once into an accounting system and have it automatically created in a third-party product?” Ward said. 

Automatically importing new projects across your tech stack provides big benefits:

  • More time for thoughtful work: Without repetitive tasks, your administrative team will have more time for thoughtful work that adds more value to your projects. 
  • Better consistency across platforms: Did someone mislabel “The Johnson parking lot project” as the “The Jonson parking lot project” in your operations platform? Automation removes the potential for human error and ensures consistency across your tech stack.
  • Set up future workflows: Since your staff isn’t manually adding projects in multiple places, they can build in workflow automations across platforms to set the team up for future success. For example, you can have purchase orders automatically pushed from your ERP system to your accounting system.

You’re also increasing data visibility (when appropriate) across platforms. Accounting software and ERPs only get better with more information from other parts of the business. 

For example, Acumatica is an ERP cloud solution that integrates with Assignar’s operational platform. With in-depth APIs, Acumatica helps cut rework by 30% and helps you schedule three times faster than no integration at all. 

Assignar’s recommendation for accounting/ERP software integration: Acumatica, Sage, Xero, MYOB, and Quickbooks Online.

Payroll/HR systems

Payroll and HR are next on the list of must-haves for your construction tech stack. 

Running payroll requires getting hours from workers in the field to the back office and entering it into the payroll system. This is where we see things like paper timesheets and office staff driving to job sites to physically pick them up. Ward believes 60–70% of construction companies are still handwriting their time. 

Even digitized (but not integrated) software can pose challenges for effectively running a job. For example, a single job may need timesheet information in payroll systems for workers to get paid and ensure you’re on budget and managing resources properly. 

That could leave someone on your team entering the same information three times—and as Campbell explains, that creates too many opportunities for errors.

“Somebody misreading handwriting, somebody mistyping handwriting. Somebody copying and pasting and forgetting a row. An import failing,” Campbell said. “It can really have drastic effects on a business.”

Guarantee your employees get paid the right amount on time. Integrate in-the-field time tracking software with your payroll provider to instantly import timesheets. 

Another integration to your ERP and/or operations system can automatically add those labor costs to the project. Leadership will have daily labor costs to better track projects and prevent overages. These easy integrations will save time and help you protect your margins.

Beyond payroll, human resources can use operations software integrations too. If they need a new signature for compliance, insurance, etc., they can send it through the operations platform. They can even make filling out their form a requirement for subcontractors and restrict timesheet access until the form is completed. HR gets the form signed, and subcontractors don’t have to make the trek to the office.

Payroll/HR software that integrates with Assignar: ADP, Paychex, HRNow

Operations software

When you’ve grown too big to work with whiteboards and spreadsheets, you turn to construction operations software. This is where best-of-breed software shines. Construction has its own workflows and too many moving parts for an all-in-one solution to work. You need something built for the construction industry to truly elevate your operations.

But now, you’re adding more software to your tech stack and another place to enter data, find information and keep updated. By itself, operations software is a game-changer for your business. Integrated with your other systems? It’s revolutionary.

Campbell says getting operational data from the field has a tremendous positive impact across your workflow—from payroll to HR.

“The office is getting this really beneficial operational data to make better business decisions and ultimately save money and time,” Campbell said.

Here’s one big time-saving example. You want to use your operations platform to schedule your resources but don’t have any information in there yet. Instead of re-creating the job, pull clients, jobs, people and equipment directly from your ERP system to start scheduling. From there, you can create new work orders to share schedules and information with the rest of your team.

Then, workers receive their assignments and can track time within the operations platform. That information then connects to your ERP/accounting system and payroll to track your expenses and pay your employees. 

The operations platform is the missing piece that connects your workers in the field to your systems in the office. 

What’s next for the future of integrations

Right now, integrations work to connect your systems to each other. Ward envisions a future where integration can connect with your vendors and outside systems, too. 

He paints a picture of a future where vendor and supplier systems are integrated with your internal systems for automated, smart ordering. Imagine this scenario:

  • Workers track their use of materials in the field using an operations system.
  • Operations system automatically reports back to your ERP. 
  • When materials are running low, this automatically triggers a reordering sequence. No one has to manually go in and reorder, and it’s ready for you when you need it.
  • Likewise, if there’s an immediate need for more of a certain material on the job—concrete, for example—your general manager could easily notify your concrete supplier with the timeline and cement estimates with the click of a button. 

While software was the first big digital revolution, connecting across systems with integrations will be the next.

“The better the APIs get, the more functionality it gives you to tie into a broader spectrum of solutions across needs,” said Ward. 

Advance your construction business with powerful integrations

You can get by with standalone systems. But in an era where every dollar counts (which, let’s be honest, is every era for construction margins)—it’s worth looking at how tech integrations can level-up your operations and help you build more.

Working with siloed systems leaves you with only a small piece of the puzzle. You need powerful integrations to put it all together and make the smart, efficient decisions that will help you grow your business 

Assignar’s integrations work on multiple levels to help you connect with any system in your tech stack.

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