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Field Guide to Optimizing Workflow in Construction Business
Anyone in the construction business can tell you that there are lots of moving pieces to every job. Staying on schedule and within budget while ensuring that the work is completed in a quality manner is enough to keep even the best superintendent busy. But throw in managing customer relationships and subcontractors, tracking expenses, and marketing for new jobs and you might wonder how any company could keep track of it all. Through the proper use of technology is the answer. While many construction companies still manage their documentation and processes in the traditional manner with perhaps one software product for one of the lines of work, the possibilities enabled by technology nowadays are much broader. Not only can your construction business keep track of all the items we just discussed, but it can excel at them. Here is a field guide to help you get started.
No two construction jobs are the same, but many of them follow the same steps and milestones. Maybe an inspection is due after the electrical work is done on every new house project you work on. Perhaps you always need to schedule your framing crew as soon as the foundation is poured. Whatever the specific steps are that your company needs, you can make sure that things are done properly with custom workflows.
Think of a workflow as a recipe card for your construction business. Just as you follow a recipe to make food, you can follow your custom workflow to ensure that the project is done correctly. While the steps might be different for a house versus a commercial building, you can customize different workflows depending on the type of job. You can even automate certain pieces of the workflow. For instance, when you mark the electrical work complete, your workflow can automatically email the inspector to get on their calendar or even schedule an inspection at an available time. Having custom workflows for your construction business is an easy way to help you stay on track and make sure that nothing falls through the cracks.
Scheduling is one of the biggest concerns for most construction businesses. Aligning schedules for your framing crew, your finishing crew, and other subcontractors is difficult – especially when some of the work depends on other work being completed first. With the proper project management software, scheduling becomes much easier! You can also list dependencies on certain tasks, so if the date changes on one item, you know exactly which downstream tasks will be affected. Project management software can help you track costs and stay on budget as well. Project management software not only makes things easier on you, but it can provide a better customer experience as well. When a client calls you to check on the status of a job, you can quickly give them a detailed update on both schedule and budget instead of spending hours digging through records or calling the foreman about the job.
Do you have trouble remembering that conversation you had with a customer last week? Or maybe you would like to email a special offer to all your previous customers but have no idea where to start with a task that large. A CRM, or Customer Relationship Management software can fix those problems! A CRM allows you to store customer information in a single place where it is easy to access. You can easily log touches as well, so you will have a record of each time you have reached out to that customer and the outcome of the conversation. Plus, a CRM will make your marketing efforts so much easier! You can send an email to every potential customer who was interested in a fence within minutes. Or perhaps you want to text all your previous customers who expressed interest in a new deck. Done! To maintain a solid relationship with your customers and potential customers, a CRM is an absolute must!
While construction might seem like a very manual business, there are many aspects of it that can be automated to save you time and money. For instance, you could automate the onboarding process for a new customer or the contract signatures. As previously mentioned, many workflows throughout the construction process could be automated, or the least partially automated. In some cases, the ordering of additional materials and supplies could be triggered once a certain milestone on the job is reached. It may require you to update the way you do things, but the payoff to automation is well worth it freeing up time to problem-solve and expand your business.
AI and Analytics
Artificial intelligence might sound like a stretch for construction industry, but don’t judge too quickly! In a nutshell, AI allows a computer to analyze lots of data and use it to make predictions about future behavior. It can recognize patterns and trends that the most experienced human may overlook. Here are a few examples just to get your wheels turning about how you could use AI and analytics in your business. What if your computer could predict which of your leads were most likely to sign a contract? Would you reach out to them more than you do today? What if you could use AI to predict when the cost of materials was going to increase? Would you be able to keep expenses lower by buying before the increase? What about cost optimization or market trend predictions? These are just a few of possibilities, and there are likely hundreds of other potential uses for AI in your business. When it comes to AI, the possibilities are almost endless!
So, what do you do now? The first step would be to devise a comprehensive technology strategy that fits your business. It doesn’t matter if you start small with integrating a few pieces of commercially available software or invest in a custom network and software for maximum security and efficiency — a trusted managed service provider (MSP) like 3nom will allow you to rip all the benefits of introducing IT into your business without spending resources on in-house IT staff. It all starts with a free consultation phone call—schedule yours with 3nom today.