Using Technology To Improve Project Visibility in Construction

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In construction project management, visibility is all about keeping everyone informed and on the same page from start to finish. It’s more than just good communication, however. Project visibility relies on effective data sharing, delegating responsibilities, managing risk, and real-time status reporting. It means better documentation and more eyes on critical steps of the project, which helps stakeholders make informed decisions and foster trust.

As any supervisor knows, multiple moving parts and various stakeholders on a large project can make clear visibility tough to maintain. When you’re already strapped for time running crews on the ground, it might feel like pencil-pushing should be your lowest priority.

But thanks to project management technology, record keeping and reporting can be less tedious and more effective, improving project visibility as well as efficiency and profitability overall.

With mobile technology and software that integrates across devices, contractors can easily share insights from the field, allowing managers and the broader network of stakeholders to stay in tune. The ability to report and analyze data in real time, by team members both onsite and off, can be a game-changer for project visibility in several different ways.

Real-time data updates

At the end of a long workday, it can be difficult to remember everything you accomplished onsite, so being able to update reports in real time can be crucial for ensuring efficiency the next day. Real-time data can also streamline the process for orders and requests since contractors can ensure accurate onsite documentation of any issues that arise.

Data collection can be tedious and time consuming. The key to efficiency is utilizing a program that’s specialized for field reporting—one that’s easy to use and can be integrated across devices via a mobile app.

All workers should be able to intuitively navigate the interface and record data quickly, so as not to compromise time on the job. This way, the minutes taken by contractors to take photos and jot notes can save hours at the end of the day for managers and ultimately save money on the project.

Visual documentation

When the goal is to improve project visibility, visual documentation is naturally one of the first things that comes to mind. Photo and video are some of the best ways to document progress and ensure quality, even when managers can’t physically be onsite. Visual recordings can also help stakeholders monitor safety remotely and save timely data for more comprehnsive review down the line.

With 92% of construction workers using their smartphones and tablets at jobsites daily, most workers can draw markups on photos, write captions, and add other attributes for clarification with ease.

Management software can then catalog all this data and auto-generate reports, saving a significant amount of time on record keeping. Photos and videos can even be automatically timestamped and saved in a project gallery to enhance productivity reporting, promote compliance, and settle disputes fairly.

Standardized reporting

Project reporting has come a long way since the days of hardbound log books filling rows of bookshelves in the back office. Although good old fashioned pen and paper will always have its place on the jobsite, integrated tech solutions have forever changed daily reporting in construction for the better.

Standardized reports used to mean stacks of printed papers in the field and extra hours in the office to type it all up. Now, mobile apps allow multimedia information to be added by any crew member anywhere onsite, then automatically formatted and displayed online. This digital documentation enables accurate and timely professional reporting and cultivates trust among all members of a project team.

Streamlined communication

A core element for building trust and project visibility is good communication, which technology has certainly improved on every jobsite. The benefits of radios and phones are obvious, but there are even better tools available today—like file sharing, video conferencing, collaborative documents, and auto-generated reports. Advanced tech allows you to talk to your teammates whenever necessary and also keeps everyone automatically updated while you’re getting work done.

This continual communication is key when accidental problems occur and when unexpected costs come up. If an owner or designer feels like they’ve been left in the dark, these issues can quickly shatter trust and damage business reputations. It doesn’t have to be that way if visibility is maintained throughout the project. When key stakeholders feel plugged into every step of the process, you can avoid a lengthy and uncomfortable explanation when budgets or schedules inevitably need to be adjusted.

Production and time tracking

Though the term “punching your card” may never go away, most timesheets are now completely digital thanks to payroll tools built into management software. In addition to improved visibility via digital time tracking for both individuals and crews, these apps can schedule tasks, allocate hours, and assign to cost codes, saving time and effort for payroll, HR, and management.

Likewise, with production tracking, integrated tools can help managers stay on top of progress with less effort and fewer trips to the jobsite. Field crews can quickly track progress, record material quantities, log equipment use, and add photos so the office can see clear visual records updated in real time.

Material management

Dealing with materials and inventory can be one of the biggest management challenges on any project. One wrong order or delayed delivery can cost a fortune on some jobs.

With so many moving parts and parties involved, managers must ensure visibility at every level of the project. Using technology to keep everyone updated helps with error-proofing, scheduling, waste reduction, and last minute adjustments that need to be made.

Even with the day-to-day tasks of inventory, technology can help immensely. For example, management software has greatly simplified submittals and transmittals. These once tedious documents can now be delivered, signed, and filed electronically with almost no extra effort once you establish a system.

Risk analysis

Safety is always a top priority on any jobsite. Technology has made construction safer in many ways, including simplifying and standardizing risk assessment with integrated tools. This also improves project visibility by saving checklists and reports that can be referenced from anywhere.

For example, creating a digital library of safety checklists in a database allows crews to pull up the relevant risk assessment on a mobile device before starting any work. In the same way, workers can log all important data and potential hazards onsite as they work. This immediate documentation allows for responsive risk mitigation and also ensures verifiable completion and compliance.

Safety and compliance monitoring

When it comes to compliance management, all assessments and incident reports must be stored, organized, and in some cases, submitted. Instead of messy filing cabinets, however, you can use project management technology to streamline and even automate many of these processes. This enhances accuracy while saving countless hours on paperwork.

In addition to diligent record-keeping, no crew can neglect their onsite safety talks and training. Any supervisor wants to maximize the effectiveness of these meetings while minimizing the time, both in planning and execution. Keeping a digital library of safety talks can be the perfect solution. That way, you can browse topics on hand at the push of a button, and even be ready to fill unexpected gaps in the schedule with no prior preparation.

Maintain better visibility

Visibility is a growing need on complex projects with a variety of stakeholders. It is notoriously difficult to maintain with traditional methods of recording and reporting.

With integrated technology and collaborative workflows, however, managers are discovering ways to promote visibility across crews and sites more efficiently than ever before.