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The Efficient Use of Technology: Creating a Happier & More Productive Work Environment

This past year has brought significant changes to how the  construction industry works, with many companies adapting by increasing remote work capabilities. In an industry that is traditionally slower to embrace change, contractors must have the right tools in place to navigate the shift to remote work, keep employees connected, and help bridge the gap among teams.

This article will explore how the efficient use of technology can help improve key areas of a business – financial insight, business visibility, workforce management, and mobility – and overcome common challenges.

By taking a closer look at technology’s impact on these areas, we are better able to understand how it can help teams be more productive and thrive during this unprecedented time.

Financial Insight

Financial health is crucial to business success, but companies do not always have a real-time snapshot of their financials. Many contractors realize the need for greater financial insight and have moved away from manual processes and toward the automated benefits that technology provides.

An integrated accounting solution has many advantages, as it gives complete visibility into and control of all project financials. A cloud-based solution provides even more significant gains, including real-time updates, greater collaboration, and access to critical project information anytime, anywhere.

In today’s environment, it is not enough to only rely on the monthly close to provide insight into current financials. Technology is now capable of transforming the accounting profession with such advancements as the continuous close, predictive analytics, and transaction outlier detection.

CFMs need to know what is happening at any moment and are becoming more equipped to predict what will happen in the future. In fact, technology vendors are already incorporating elements of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning into their construction accounting solutions.

Some current technology solutions can flag general ledger outliers by combing through data and scoring transactions for the likelihood of an error or conflict. Being alerted to any potential issues immediately and correcting them as they come up helps ensure that financials are always up to date so CFMs can achieve continuous accounting. This enables contractors to consistently have a clear financial picture, freeing up more time to focus on business strategy.

Business Visibility

While strong financials are the backbone of a successful business, a company must dive below the surface to evaluate business health. Technology plays a large role in providing a heightened level of insight that companies need in order to remain agile and take corrective actions quickly, ultimately helping to improve their bottom line.

Taking the time to honestly assess a company’s business efficiency can help highlight which areas are going well and which could use improvement. Here are some key business areas to consider:

Reporting

For full visibility into the business, a construction company needs a solid reporting system that can synthesize all data into meaningful project summaries, field reports, and financial statements. This is critical for identifying and solving problems at both the project and company levels as well as creating a process that is made much easier with the right technology in place.

Monitoring

Construction companies have a lot of data across multiple projects – documents, e-mails, plan revisions, change orders, etc. Thankfully, technology is able to perform the tedious work of tracking and filtering this information.

An automated alert system that is tied to accounting and operations software can provide more immediate and actionable information by sending a text, e-mail, or desktop notification when certain conditions are met. It filters through large quantities of data and helps get the right information to the right people, at the right time, so a company can act quickly if an issue arises.

Analyzing

Analyzing data helps a company understand the “why” behind performance. To reduce or avoid analysis paralysis, first identify which areas need improvement and focus on only a few important aspects.

Consider building a robust dashboard to provide a visual snapshot of key performance indicators (KPIs) and other business metrics all in one place. An effective dashboard presents information clearly, quickly, and compellingly, providing more intuitive access to critical project and accounting details. 

Predicting

In today’s competitive and complex environment, proactively identifying business and project performance trends, considering the impact of outside factors, and planning for best- and worst-case scenarios helps contractors better manage projects and improve business forecasting. Predictive analytics and multiple advanced features, such as data mining, modeling, and machine learning allows systems to make predictions based on past results.

Winning Work

While improving the key areas of reporting, monitoring, analyzing, and predicting can go a long way toward increasing a company’s business visibility, an issue weighing heavily on many contractors’ minds right now is the ability to win new work. Technology, particularly a solid estimating solution, can help estimators produce more accurate bids in less time, often while improving the company’s bid-hit ratio.

Revisiting an assessment regularly and adjusting as necessary helps a company maintain its business health and puts it in the best position to survive times of uncertainty or crisis. The right technology can help seamlessly incorporate these considerations into everyday business operations.

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About the Author

Dustin Anderson

Dustin Anderson is Vice President and General Manager of Sage’s Construction and Real Estate practice in Beaverton, OR. Dustin is an active member of Sage North America’s executive leadership team.

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