For most businesses, a paperless construction company is a pipe dream rather than a reality. Although many businesses have taken critical first steps to reduce their use of paper in the workplace, it remains a dominant material for construction professionals.
You most likely do not rely on obsolete technology and systems such as floppy disks or pagers any longer. Even with the advent of Google Maps, you probably don’t use paper maps anymore. So, why are modern construction firms still using paper to build?
While the construction industry as a whole has made significant strides in adopting technology and digitising certain aspects of the job, most builders still use paper in some capacity. Paperwork, for example, becomes involved in construction processes during the drawing of a set, documentation, contracts, and so on.
While it can be difficult to go completely paperless, a paperless construction company is not an impossible goal. In this article, we’ll look at how to turn your construction company into a paperless one.
We’ve put together a 5-step plan to help you transition to a paperless construction company.
1: Choose your new software
Once you have decided to make the switch to paperless, it’s time to decide which software to use. This isn’t a decision to be taken lightly because your choices will affect the way your business operates – and you will be trusting them with your valuable data.
Firstly, conduct an audit of all available platforms. Ask around what other companies are using and why? Do some research, list pros and cons, and be as detailed as possible.
You should carefully consider the following:
Productivity software: Construction productivity software can help you dramatically increase your productivity by eliminating paper processes.
It can improve document control by storing all your blueprints and documents digitally, enable real-time reporting, and save you time. It can also help your team communicate faster and more efficiently without sending documents back and forth on paper.
Accounting software: Good accounting software packages will include payroll and general ledger.
A good accounting software will also help you keep the employees accountable, analyse their progress, and help them make timely decisions. Once the employees are quick with decision making, then it cements the credibility of the HR department as well.
For instance, IFCA’s cloud-based construction software ContractX covers both payroll and general ledger seamlessly and helps to save the environment at the same time.
2: Prepare and organise
Since you have chosen your platform, now it’s time to get everything ready for your new system. Every company is different, so how you go about preparing to switch to a digital solution will vary depending on how you operate.
We recommend—where possible—digitising your paper documents and plans. Moving them from physical papers to a secure cloud storage solution is probably your best bet. Other options include onsite server storage or backing everything up on external hard drives. With a good document software solution, you can easily access any document or associated files with a few keystrokes on the computer rather than having to locate and sort through bulky files.
3: Keep learning
The best software is easy to use, but it should also be powerful, and integrates well with your existing systems. As part of your selection process, you should also select a platform that offers good support and training.
Ensure that you:
Consult with your team to decide how you will use the software to maximise its return on investment.
Document your processes so that anyone can refer to them in the future.
Use all resources available to you (training, consultation, etc.) from your chosen platform, so that you’re prepared when it’s time to go live.
4: Roll out
Once your company has selected a new tool and done its due diligence, it’s time to implement the solution and roll it out to the rest of the business.
It’s best to start with a single project, learn best practices, and then expand from there.
While using your new software system, record as much as possible, and attach dollar values wherever you can (material costs, labour costs, etc.):
How much time are you saving?
How much rework are you avoiding? What were the potential costs associated?
What isn’t working/what should you have done differently during rollout?
Which tools are being underutilised, or not used at all?
Is everyone on the project team following the standards put in place during training?
The more you record now, the easier it will be to evaluate the success of the rollout later.
The evaluation process is the most important of all the steps but is often overlooked. There’s no point in continuing to use a paperless solution if it doesn’t save you time and money.
If you’ve taken Step 4 seriously and have recorded time and money savings, you might be able to calculate ROI. This is an important number, since it is likely you spent money on acquiring the system, training, and rollout—but exactly how much did you save?
Hold a meeting after the project is complete. Get your team together and ask yourselves:
How much money and time did you save with the new system?
Did the training and preparation make a noticeable impact on the success of your rollout?
Consolidate your feedback, pass it on to the software company you’ve used, and plan for your next project to make the whole process even smoother.
The lack of investment in technology within the construction industry and a reluctance of businesses to embrace innovations have caused productivity to stagnate for decades.
Adopting new technology will allow construction managers to save time and money as well as free contractors from paper dependencies that threaten their competitive advantage.
While many software options will help you improve your productivity and your bottom line, no matter which solution you choose, going digital will help reduce risk, increase ROI, and boost productivity.
The construction industry is experiencing a digital renaissance that has the power to influence how construction is managed for the next 100 years. We hope you’ll join thousands in the industry who are experiencing the benefits of transitioning to a paperless construction company.