Construction projects today produce mountains of data, from job costs to material quantities and equipment use to labor and production stats. Because of this, project management has become incredibly complex.
Project managers are tasked with knowing a project’s plans inside and out as well as all of the players, tasks, goals, budgeting, and more — not to mention representing the company’s mission statements and reputation by producing a finished product that meets or exceeds expectations. They’re involved with everything from labor and payroll issues to accurate accounting and job costing, to inventory and materials, safety and compliance issues. Then there’s the project itself, which typically involves staying on top of multiple subcontractors and dealing with RFIs, change orders, submittals, transmittals, and more. Ensuring that ever-changing project plans remain up to date for everyone working on the project team can be a full-time job in and of itself.
Interestingly enough, despite all of the time-saving tools and advancements in technology that can help automate a project manager’s work, many continue to rely on outdated processes and systems. These outdated methods can’t deliver the day-to-day visibility required to make timely and informed decisions that help avoid profit fade. It becomes difficult to accurately track project progress, productivity and key workflows. Without access to project level costs, revenue, and allocation of company expenses, contractors have little insight into profitability. At the same time, limited access to underlying financial transactions and weak internal controls lead to miscoded costs and reporting.
A Real-World Story of the Benefits of Modernization
To streamline project management, many contractors are moving to a fully-integrated, cloud-based construction management platform. This is the case for Turnagain Marine Construction, which uses Viewpoint Spectrum, a web-based construction ERP solution, to streamline and balance its operations and most importantly, boost productivity and profitability. “With Viewpoint Spectrum, we’re able to track project progress and costs in real time so we can make smarter decisions.”
Managing its operations with the ability to instantly capture, share and analyze data proved to be especially useful when Turnagain Marine was contracted to develop a second berth in the remote Alaskan port of Hoonah. The company was selected based on its success in developing Hoonah’s first berth in 2015.
In the years since the first berth was constructed, vessels have increased in size, pushing the limits and setting global records by holding as many as 4,000 passengers. The $25M Icy Strait Point Berth II would allow Hoonah to accommodate the largest ships in the world and welcome more tourists without requiring the ships to tender.
The construction of Icy Strait Point Berth II consisted of a mooring float, two reaction dolphins, four mooring dolphins, a 300-foot long approach trestle and a 160-foot transfer bridge. In addition to pile installation, Turnagain Marine installed steel fabricated dolphin caps and prefabricated timber approach trestle sections to complete the structure. As an add-on, small boat floats were also installed on the shore side of the main float. “ISP Berth II, like any project in Southeast Alaska, was extremely difficult due to unpredictable subsurface conditions and the remoteness of the project”
Measuring Modern Success
Turnagain Marine completed the project seven months ahead of schedule. In addition to its experience and understanding of the subfloor and bedrock in the area, the company also attributes its success to real-time visibility into project data which streamlined project management and informed important decisions. “On any given day we could pull up current cost and labor data,” said Chris Nielsen. “With the project data in one place and easy-to-access, we had daily insight into project cost and health, which allowed us to make smarter decisions, reduce risk and communicate more effectively.”
Working with data in real time not only reduces unnecessary costs and avoids delays, it gives project managers insight into where problems might exist so they can be addressed quickly. “Spectrum gives us access to the latest data so we don’t have to rely on information that is days, weeks or even months old,” Chris Nielsen said. “Anyone on our team, in the office or the field, can get a real sense of how a project is going at a moment’s notice.”
The power of data and its potential to transform the construction industry is becoming crystal clear to contractors who have left behind paper reports, cumbersome spreadsheets and out-of-date software and embraced a modern approach to collecting, managing and analyzing project data. With construction-specific integrated software platforms that process data in real-time, contractors like Turnagain Marine are delivering safer, more efficient projects, increasing revenue and building a reputation for outperforming the competition. “The utilization of Viewpoint software more efficiently tracks project costs, affording Turnagain personnel the opportunity to more precisely develop project and work planning, returning enhanced project success.”