When JBKnowledge conducted its 2018 Construction Technology Report, more than 60 percent of the nearly 3,000 construction pros reported still relying on spreadsheets as part of their estimating process. In many cases, contractors will opt to use a proprietary, Excel-based tool for estimating.
When it comes to adopting construction technology, this is just one example of how easy it is to stick with what you know, rather than changing up your process. Instead of learning new software that would seamlessly integrate with existing project management and accounting systems, many contractors choose to cobble together spreadsheets or do takeoffs by hand.
Boost Your Productivity with New Tools
One thing is clear: with project backlogs averaging nearly nine months, today’s labor shortage sometimes makes it hard for contractors to capitalize on this demand. In fact, an AGC/FMI Risk Study found that 88 percent of engineering and construction companies are facing real risks due to the lack of skilled craft workers available. Of those, 67 percent reported having a limited number of available field supervisors.
Meanwhile, lagging productivity continues to threaten profitability. The construction industry is known to blow their schedule by 20 percent and their budget by 80 percent, yet still refuse to apply additional dollars into technology. In fact, the ConTech Report found that contractors continue to invest less than 1 percent of their sales volume on IT.
While experts say new digital tech holds the promise of boosting productivity by as much as 60 percent, contractors still choose to underspend on technology by 70 percent. Many of today’s owners, general contractors and subcontractors still find themselves doing takeoffs by hand rather than embracing powerful, new data-driven tools that offer real-time adjustment capabilities.
Three Reasons to Go Digital
We can all agree that there is no worse feeling than winning the low bid on a project because of an estimating error. At this point, any contractor must weigh the pros and cons of adding new tools that could save substantial time and dramatically reduce errors.
Here are three examples of why many in construction make the switch to digital tools:
1. Inaccurate Data Hurts Your Business
Human error and rough estimates based on old data, unclear notes, and keystroke errors can lead to less than profitable projects. How can your bid be priced correctly if you can’t easily refer to historical data from past projects? Even worse, spreadsheets offer no version control, which can result in substantial re-work. While spreadsheets may have the lowest bar for ease-of-use, they also make it more difficult to consolidate data input.
2. Going Faster to Improve Your Bid-to-Win Ratio
When you have digital-level control over construction input, costs, processes, and relationships, it is much easier to complete day-to-day tasks more quickly. Using software for takeoff, estimating, bidding, accounting, and project management means your construction business can immediately capitalize on efficiencies. If you’re no longer entering data by hand, you can spend more time generating revenue.
3. Greater Predictability Means Greater Profits
With integrated tools, you can more easily automate how construction projects get designed, planned, and built. Experts say this could result in cost savings as high as 20 percent annually. No doubt, greater predictability in construction timelines will deliver significant cost savings. When you standardize how every job gets bid, you can more easily price projects consistently by relying on historical data.
Step Outside Tech Comfort Zone
All contractors are hungry for speed, accuracy, and efficiency. Those who decide to purchase, implement, and get trained on new technology are finding the benefits are well worth the investment. They say omitting duplication of effort, minimizing errors, and quicker communication between the field and the office are helping them win the most profitable projects for their business. W&C