Digitisation saves construction companies’ time. From SMEs to multinationals, computerising and automating employee tasks (bill of quantities, progress of construction works, timesheet, invoicing, etc.) increases the speed of execution and productivity, with an expected impact on margins. Today, every company benefits from it so long as the managers decide to use one or more IT tools.
We are seeing more and more online software serving construction companies. Their common objective is to relieve people of part of their workload and to reduce the time spent on each of their tasks. Logic dictates that automation should reduce everyone’s working time.
But have you seen employees gain any free time as IT evolves? So it is not at all obvious. The pace of work increases and the many burnouts are there to remind us that we are always running out of time! But what, then, is the real benefit of so-called “process automation” software?
Lower the risk
At the individual level, an optimised and properly used computer system lets everyone make handling some of the tasks more efficient. Take the example of engineers who use software to calculate quantities for a price list automatically.
By calculating some of the quantities automatically, the program frees them from a lengthy series of onerous and tedious tasks that can take up to 3-4 weeks. The time saved enables them to check many more quantities. It thus improves the estimate and reduces the risk of unforeseen costs emerging during execution.
The individual, then, benefits directly and concretely: for the same period of work, the “time saved” thanks to the platform is devoted to actions with a higher added value.
In our example, the engineers can simply focus on the action that makes them productive, the quality for which they were chosen for this position: carrying out reliable price studies that permit them to make the right decisions.
The results (good or bad) follow inevitably… So long as the process and the program are properly implemented. The quality of the implementation of this process, the choice and the robustness of the tools will have a significant impact on the scale of the company.
Have better information
The benefit to the individual is quite easy to see, but it is even more interesting to observe the effect on the system overall.
The number one enemy of the modern general construction company is the loss of information. Worse still, the presence of false information can have disastrous consequences. Between departments, between employees or between “turnovers”, it is common for information to go astray or deteriorate over time.
By computerising its processes, the organisation ensures that the encoded information is processed according to its own protocols and requirements. As a result, the quality of “feedback”, “knowledge” and “know-how” is continuously enhanced within the company.
This is a crucial point. Controlling the quality of the information available within the company allows people to speak credibly, both internally and externally. It leads to the execution of relevant actions. In other words, these actions are intelligent and useful because they are based on information that is processed methodically and is directly linked to the reality on the ground. In short, they can deliver a better service.
In project management, the real interest of using software is not necessarily what we thought of in the first place. Making better use of one’s time is clearly one of the advantages that everyone can appreciate directly. Controlling and processing reliable information throughout the transmission chains is undoubtedly an invaluable asset for every manager.
A little philosophy?
“Time can neither be gained nor lost. It is just a matter of what you do with it.”