Technological advancements in computers, phones, and other electronic devices over the last 25 years have changed the way we do business in construction more than any other period in history. It wasn’t all that long ago when estimators would jockey for positions at the pay phone closest to the bid drop-off because cellular phones were too much of a luxury. It was during that same time that fax machines were considered cutting edge and typewriters were a fixture in every office.
In today’s world, you would be hard pressed to even find a pay phone or functioning typewriter. Fax machines aren’t far behind.
While we can look fondly back on the days when work wasn’t constantly at our fingertips, embracing new technology is the only way to compete in the modern world.
We have always been on the cutting edge of technology in our office, but our field management lagged behind. Up until about two years ago, we were using paper documentation for all our field reporting. It was a constant struggle keeping up-to-date, accurate information about jobsite progress and conditions. Our superintendents would turn in paperwork with their time sheet and it would be up to us in the office to sort through coffee stained, crumpled pieces of paper with illegible handwriting.
It was time for a new approach to jobsite management.
We gave our superintendents tablet devices and purchased comprehensive project management software. We can now receive information in real time that allows us to make better decisions on issues in the field.
For instance, we recently completed a project for a longtime customer of ours in New Orleans, Louisiana. While laying out our framing, our superintendent noticed a discrepancy between the drawing and actual field conditions. Through the use of our software, he was able to upload photos of the conditions right into our database for everyone on the project team to view. Within an hour, the architect had issued a revision to the drawings and our project kept moving forward.
While this may not sound like an unbelievable feat of technology, the beauty of the situation is that:
1) We were able to quickly resolve a situation that was costing us time and money,
2) We have an accurate record of exactly how everything was handled without generating any additional paperwork.
This same scenario 20 years ago would have idled the whole project for a much longer timeframe and generated stacks of paperwork.
Technology will continue to evolve infinitely in the future and we should be quick to embrace it. None of us want our businesses to join the ranks of pay phones and typewriters.
How has your office embraced technology?