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Why you should integrate your construction software data

Construction project managers and company executives need data from multiple sources to see the big picture and assess the health of their projects and their company. Searching multiple software programs and platforms for the construction data they need takes time, which could be better spent strategizing for the future of the business.

By integrating data sources, stakeholders are able to see a larger view of their company, spot trends, and proactively respond to potential issues. Integration allows team members to see data relationships they can’t see when looking at siloed data reports. Software platforms like Assignar help PMs and executives get a better picture of the health of the whole company, not just certain departments.

Construction data software and sources

For many construction companies data comes from a variety of sources. Purchasing and using separate software packages to collect all the data they need to track can make running a business time-consuming. The more a company is able to integrate its data collection and reporting, the easier it is to analyze trends and learn from the data.

Let’s look at some of the data sources that construction companies have to deal with.

Accounting

An accounting software package often is responsible for tracking job costs and general business expenses. It can also be used to track:

  • Job billings
  • Accounts payable invoices
  • Customer payments
  • Vendor payments
  • Bank account balances

Some software packages have the ability to track fixed assets, equipment usage and maintenance, and process payroll.

Payroll

Some contractors integrate payroll processing into their accounting software package, while others outsource their payroll to make things easier on their staff and save on software costs. When companies use job costing to allocate their expenses to projects, outsourcing payroll can become more difficult.

Timecards

It’s important for contractors to have accurate records of the hours and work performed by their employees, especially those in the field. Many companies rely on paper timecards that must be physically turned in or electronically sent to the office for processing. Timecards often get lost or misplaced, delaying payroll processing and making accurate record-keeping difficult.

Project schedules

Scheduling software allows construction teams to plan and update their project schedules throughout the life of the project. Schedules are shared with subcontractors and workers in the field. Creating a schedule for a project is a collaborative process, with input required from all parties.

Project management documents

Project documents such as:

  • Submittals
  • RFIs
  • Punch lists

Drawing specifications need to be cataloged managed and distributed throughout the project. Team members must have access to them at all times and need to be made aware when new documents are available or they need to take action.

Project management correspondence

Construction projects create a lot of correspondence, whether by email or written notice. Contractors need to have access to these communications and be able to catalog them for future reference. Multiple platforms may have to be used to communicate between project team members, depending on the type and level of technology available to each one.

Project reports

There are several reports that are regularly transmitted from the job site to management to keep them updated on the progress of a project. These reports may include inspections or daily field reports. Reports from all contractors need to be aggregated to get an accurate picture of the progress of work during each day. This is difficult when everyone uses a different platform to log their reports.

Contracts

On large projects, there are multiple contracts and subcontracts that govern the relationships between the project owner, design team, general contractor, subcontractors, and material suppliers. Each one has different terms and conditions that apply to that particular scope of work or relationship. Contractors at every level need to have access to these documents and be able to review them at any time in case of a dispute.

Compliance documents

Owners and general contractors must ensure that everyone on the project is properly licensed and has the correct insurance and bonding as per the project specifications. Ensuring that these documents are complete, accurate, and up to date requires the ability to access and maintain a database of this information.

Benefits of data integration

Instead of using multiple software programs to handle all these different data sources, companies strive to find software that is able to integrate the data so it can be shared across platforms. Integrating construction data helps companies:

  • Detect anomalies
  • Save data entry time
  • Improve data accuracy
  • Spot company trends

When data from different sources are available for review and comparison, anomalies and problems are more easily spotted. For example, when a project schedule is reviewed beside a cost report, a project manager may notice that costs are out of line with the level of progress on the project. The PM can then further investigate to determine why costs are so high or why the work hasn’t progressed as far as it should.

Companies save time and money when project data can be quickly shared between software platforms. When programs aren’t integrated, employees have to spend time entering data from one system into another. The process of gathering and entering the data multiple times takes time and creates the chance for errors to occur.

When data is shared between platforms through integration the accuracy of that data is maintained. There is less chance of a keyboarding error or incorrect formula calculation creating incorrect data. If an issue is found, teams can quickly review the source data to determine its accuracy and address any concerns.

Companies that review project data regularly are able to spot trends within their projects, allowing them to be proactive in addressing them. For example, a subcontractor may notice that material costs on projects are going up significantly, while estimated costs are not being adjusted. They can address this issue by shopping around for lower prices on materials or increasing their projected costs on future estimates.

Getting the whole picture

It can be difficult for managers to view the state of the company when data comes from different sources. They may be able to see how the company is doing financially or how productive employees are, but not at the same time. Without this overall comparison, managers may miss key insights, like seeing how production rates affect profit margins.

It’s important for management to view a company’s overall performance in one location. With an integrated company dashboard, report managers can quickly see:

  • The status of projects
  • Customizing the data to fit their needs
  • Spot trends
  • Be more proactive in addressing issues

With automated scheduling of dashboard report distribution and the ability to see the data you need in the way that makes the most sense, Assignar offers extraordinary flexibility and consistency in data reporting. Managers and executives can get all the information they need to make informed decisions that affect their projects and the company as a whole, without having to search through multiple reports or collate information from several sources.

Dawn Killough is a freelance construction writer with over 25 years of experience working with construction companies, subcontractors and general contractors. Dawn has held roles such as a staff accountant, green building advisor, project assistant, and contract administrator. She writes for several construction technology companies, contractors, and material suppliers. Her published work can be found at www.dkilloughwriter.com.

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