By Tom Webb
How many days would it take your team to realize a small loss of $1,800 today on one of your jobs? Now imagine if those same processes from today are repeated during the job until the loss is noticed. Just three days of production would result in a loss of $5,400. Seven days grows into $12,600. If it takes a full 30 days, that’s $54,000 in losses that could have been avoided if the loss was caught on day one.
A skilled project manager is a master at managing production and taking jobs to the finish line, but construction has gotten more competitive over the last 10 years. Project managers are running more jobs than ever and at faster rates than in the past. How are the most successful PMs reducing their costs and staying on schedule? We know that at least one part of the equation is technology.
At HCSS, we’ve seen project managers struggling to keep up with day-to-day demands become industry leaders when technology allowed them to have instant access to their field information. Digital field tools, like HCSS HeavyJob, can give immediate insight to your team so there’s no guessing if you’ve made or lost money that day. HeavyJob provides a faster and simpler way for foremen to complete timecards and record progress daily. With this data being captured in only 10 minutes or less, you can see if production goals were hit or fell short that day. Even better, you can easily drill down to find the exact cost code that caused a loss.
Digital field tools also help to bridge the gap between the field and the office, providing on-demand access to detailed information like weather, annotated photos, and field notes from the foremen. This provides more context and allows the office to understand why losses might be happening without having to phone the field. However, when necessary, shared data makes it easy for everyone to get on a call at the end of the day to discuss how to adjust the plan for tomorrow.
With so much happening every day on the job site from late trucks and new crews to material deliveries, how do you begin to understand the scope of these daily changes? A timecard and project management tool like HeavyJob isn’t the only way to improve cost tracking. Teams that build quickly or have multiple plan revisions often find value with a tool for digital plans management like HCSS Plans. Digital plans give teams the ability to visualize the field and share information in a new way on their tablet or phone.
Project teams who use HCSS Plans can add annotations directly to the plan set to show what portion of the plan is completed, point out locations of issues (like mismarked utility lines), and save photos to keep a running record of daily activities. By having the visualization that digital plans provide, teams are better able to see where the numbers meet the road.
On the job visibility helps reduce minor mistakes that can add up to major costs. It can be difficult to print and deliver new plan revisions to every crew in the field. Unexpected rework costs due to outdated plan sets can be almost wholly eliminated with digital plans. Regardless of how far your job site is from the office, plans can be instantly updated so every crew is always using the most up-to-date sheets.
Foremen can also use HCSS Plans to ensure that they are building at the exact location specified in the plan sets. Tablets and phones can overlay the user’s GPS location onto the plan sheet so crews can walk the field and visualize where they will build that day. Rework costs can be better avoided when technology makes it easy for crews and foremen to know exactly where and what to build during each phase of the job.
All the information gathered in these digital tools can also help to improve your accuracy and confidence in future bids. HeavyJob makes it possible for estimators to review past projects and pull up their cost history inside HeavyBid. This allows estimators to start building their bid research in just minutes and become more competitive. Data can be filtered by date range, activity, and job to better predict their cost on a prospective job.
Utilizing digital tools can lead to increased efficiency and company-wide growth, helping you scale growth without the need for as much overhead. But between the current labor shortage and fast pace of production, many are struggling to find time to train new hires. Fortunately, technology provides fresh ways to train new employees and gives support tools that enable them to be successful.
For example, young estimators can follow along on current jobs in HeavyJob to understand where the estimate differed from reality through the photos, daily logs, and production reports. Ambitious crew members can be taught in HCSS Plans how to read a plan sheet, perform basic calculations, and learn to communicate issues or progress with the office. New project managers can better run their first jobs with tools in HeavyJob that help them track upcoming deadlines, simulate how to improve production with resource changes, and see the estimator notes related to the timecards for the day.
Across all the jobs your company is running right now, how many small daily losses get swept under the rug? In a world with tighter and tighter margins, how much more profitable could you be if those losses were noticed and fixed quickly? Imagine how your company could grow if there was enough time to be proactive with issues that could balloon costs. It’s not impossible.
The most competitive teams in the industry are seeking out technology partners with products like HeavyJob, HeavyBid, and HCSS Plans that can help them do more with less. With the daily hustle and bustle, issues can get lost in the field and go unnoticed for weeks. To become a team that can build with the best of them, it’s essential to lock down your costs and make it easy for everyone on and off the field to communicate better to save time, money, and boost your competitive edge.
Tom Webb is VP of Products at HCSS.