Making use of the connected jobsite to help owners manage each stage in the project lifecycle.
There’s a lot of buzz around the connected jobsite. With all the software offered to the construction industry, determining how to use each tool for the correct job can be a challenge. One way of thinking this through is to look at each stage in the construction project lifecycle from initial design to project commissioning. Many tools overlap and are as helpful in the pre-construction phase as they are in managing the build.
In this article, we examine 12 workflows that will help project owners and general contractors design a tech stack that addresses their priorities. Our data comes from Dodge Data’s recent report, Connected Construction: The Owner’s Perspective, which does an excellent job of breaking down individual workflows throughout the construction process. Secondly, we referenced Thomvest Ventures’ Construction Technology Market Map for examples of software companies specializing in each workflow. As you read, keep in mind that all of these tools require internet connectivity.
1. Project Intake/Request
Gathering project requirements, design ideas, environmental impacts, planning, and permitting considerations is an exercise in administration and collaboration. Think of yourself as a field marshal moving an army. The logistics in a construction project are similar and require strong coordination between architects, contractors, subs, and owners. Platforms like Social Construct, Alice, and Mosaic offer specialized functionality to drive collaboration. Most have an integration with project management tools like Procore and Autodesk to help streamline the flow of information.
2. Design Review
For project owners who want to utilize a Target-Value Design approach, bringing architects and contractors together is critical. Tools like Join.build utilize building information models (BIM) to let owners make real-time decisions by dynamically updating the combination of building materials, design elements, and fabrication costs to get the most value for each dollar spent.
Obtaining accurate bids has been the bane of many a project owner, and most general contractors will tell you how tough it can be to get an accurate estimate from trade contractors. Add in today’s fluctuating cost of building materials, and even the best bid is still going to be as much alchemy as it is science. Look to tools like SmartBid, 1Build, and BldBox for bid management.
It’s difficult to find a jurisdiction anywhere on the planet without some form of permitting requirement. In many metropolitan areas, there is a deep bureaucratic layer of city-, county-, and state-required permits. Environmental impacts can bring in federal agencies that can further complicate the process. Thankfully companies like GovPilot and FastTrackGov help track progress and automate workflows with inspectors and building departments.
SmartBid, Thunderbolt Pipeline, and Building Connected offer bid management tools to help track bid submittals. Where integrations with project management software are possible, these tools are essential to tracking budget data from bids and tracking actual costs against baseline.
Transparency and the open sharing of information between owners and general contractors is perhaps the largest opportunity for leveraging software in the construction industry. For many, the challenge lies in optimizing the tech stack so that the various software used integrate. Requests for information typically pull data from project management tools like Procore and Autodesk Construction Cloud.
7. Field Inspection/Daily reports
Field inspection encompasses data from a variety of sources and generally focuses on managing construction progress against incurred costs (budget v. actual). This can tie in financial data from timecards and payroll, and information from walkthroughs. Companies like Rhumbix and LaborChart offer advanced field management features. Avvir, OpenSpace, and Doxel utilize building information models and LIDAR scanning to compare as built construction and track progress. This is one area where a connected jobsite is a must for capturing digital information on the construction site.
8. Change Orders
Oh, the dreaded Change Order. Tracking the approval of change orders is central to keeping owners informed on additional costs and protecting contractors from eroding margins. The digital workflow for managing change orders generally falls under project management software like Procore and Autodesk Construction Cloud. What is most important is establishing a protocol for how the Change Order process will be managed.
9. Budget Approval/Change
It all comes down to money. For project owners, this means building an operating asset that will show a return on investment. Controlling construction costs involves tracking and approving any changes to the budget. These workflows are available in project management software and in an increasing line of financial management tools dedicated to the construction industry.
10. Releasing Milestone Payments
Before releasing payment, both project owners and general contractors need to protect themselves by confirming the work they are paying for has been completed. Payment and financial management apps like Billd, Siteline, Flexbase, and Harbr are just a few of the players in this space.
11. Invoice Approval
Matching invoices with purchase orders and receiving documentation is a standard best practice in accounting. Digitizing this workflow helps expedite the process by getting information from field teams when they receive material on the jobsite back to the accounting department. This controls building material costs by preventing unauthorized purchases and overpayment for damaged material.
12. Project Closeout
Managing the handover requirements during project closeout is an important final step. Owners will want updated building information models that reflect any deviations from the original design so that maintenance teams have a representation of “as built” construction.
The connected jobsite helps project owners manage construction.
‘Digital workflow’ is just a fancy term for using software to manage the same information that has always been important to project owners: cost, progress, and change orders. To get the most out of these tools, it is important to spend some time developing a tech stack that works well together and is as simple as possible. Secondly, making sure the connected jobsite has adequate Wi-Fi coverage will ensure that these tools work, in the field, where they’re needed most. Most general contractors have developed technology teams focused specifically on understanding emerging software capabilities and integrating selected tools into a cohesive solution. For project owners, setting construction management priorities will help frame a conversation around which software tools will best do the job.
If you are looking for more information on establishing a reliable internet network for your jobsite, our blog contains many resources. You can also skip straight to the source and contact our experts for help with developing a connected jobsite, no matter how simple or complex it may be.