Construction Forms: Which Should You Digitize First?
In 2015, McKinsey & Company identified construction as one of the least digitized industries. Sadly, not much has changed since then. However, a few companies are looking for digitization opportunities. Digitization may be daunting — where exactly should you start? The answer is simple: focus on transforming your paper forms into digital assets.
Why focus on forms? Forms, checklists and related documents are the workhorses of business administration. Nearly every important process and workflow — whether it is safety, planning or project management — has forms that are critical to getting work done. Given how much you use forms at work, isn’t it worth finding ways to make them more efficient?
3 Ways to Find Paper Construction Forms to Digitize
To find paper forms suitable for digitization, use these steps:
- Intranet Sites. Search your company’s intranet for Word documents that you are meant to print, fill in and deliver to somebody else. The same goes for PDF forms where you are expected to print them and send the form to somebody else at your company.
- Write a list of documents you have scanned. Every time you scan a form so you can email it to somebody else, you have just found a paper form that needs to become digital.
- Brainstorm a list of forms requested by other departments. Ask finance, human resources, and operations about the forms they ask you to complete.
Now that you have a list of construction forms in hand, you are ready to get started with digitization.
From Paper Forms to Digital Construction Forms Step By Step
1. Review Your Goals First
Look at your list of goals for the year. Common goals for construction managers include: increase efficiency, improve employee retention, and increase revenue. If efficiency is a top priority, digitizing construction forms is one of the easiest ways to contribute to that goal.
On the other hand, winning more construction bids may be your goal. In that case, digitize forms related to your sales and marketing activities.
2. Identify the Forms You Use Most Often
With your goal in mind, the process becomes much easier. What if you encounter an overwhelming number of paperwork that you want to digitize?
Simply focus on the construction forms that you use most often in your work, such as weekly construction safety checklists. Making heavily used forms digital will ensure that your efforts pay off in time savings.
3. Research the Problems Associated with High-Value Forms
What are high-value forms? They have two qualities: they support your company’s goals and you use them frequently. Before you digitize those forms, you will need to understand the problems your employees have with them.
Choose two or three high-value forms to discuss with your colleagues and review the following points:
- Which language and terminology on the form are unclear?
- Are there any questions or points that add little or no value?
- Are there any form sections that could be converted to standardized choices? (e.g., instead of blank space for “U.S. State,” you could use a drop-down menu listing all the states)
4. Create Version One of Your Digital Form Based on the Feedback
By this stage, you have a few high-value forms and comments on how to improve them. The next step is to create the first working version of the form using a construction form builder. Many digital form builders use a drag and drop interface, which makes creating forms simple.
Mobile forms solutions are designed to work on mobile devices, making them efficient to complete on the job site. Form data is then connected directly to your workflow (no more copying and pasting information).
5. Ask Your Feedback Group to Test the Digital Construction Form in the Field
In step 3 above, you asked other people at the company to provide comments about digital forms currently in place. Get in touch with them once again and ask them to test out your new digital form.
For the best results, encourage them to use the new forms in normal working conditions. For example, encourage them to test the form on their smartphone while at the construction site.
6. Repeat this Process to Continue Digitizing Other Paper Forms
Congratulations! You have digitized your first paper form and put it into the field. To continue seeing the benefits of digitization, go back and look for other forms you can improve. Remember, forms need to be easy to understand if they are to be used widely in the field.
Mobile forms make going from paper to digital easy. See how they can work for you.