Blog Post

Understanding the Productivity Problem in the Construction Industry

Posted by Brett Long

Device Magic forms app on tablet on construction blueprints workspace

The rate of productivity growth in the construction industry has fallen dramatically behind other sectors.

Between 1947 and 2010, the U.S. agriculture industry had a cumulative productivity growth of 1,510 percent, according to MarketWatch. For the manufacturing industry, it was 76 percent growth, while the construction industry has seen only 6 percent productivity growth over the 63-year time span.

While this presents a major problem for the industry as a whole, it can also be an opportunity for your construction firm to lead within your markets. After all, productivity is directly tied to profits, so strategic productivity improvements can give your business the competitive edge.

Using the Construction Industry’s Problems as Your Advantage

While many issues contribute to the construction industry falling behind on productivity growth, industry analysis reveals that easy solutions exist. A report by McKinsey and Company names digital collaboration tools as one of the top five ways that construction companies can see massive productivity gains and disrupt the industry.

“Project planning, for example, remains uncoordinated between the office and the field and is often done on paper,” said the report.

It also stated that the problems with the current system are extensive, saying, “The use of paper makes it difficult to capture and analyze data; that matters because in procurement and contracting, historical performance analytics can lead to better outcomes and risk management. Mismanaged paper trails also routinely spur disagreements between owners and contractors on such matters as construction progress, change orders, and claims management. Finally, paper trails simply take more time.”

While these project management issues are an irritation and a hassle, the analysts explain that digitizing workflows is a net positive approach that can have a direct effect on the time and money spent on construction projects.

After one American tunnel project switched to a single digital platform to manage its nearly 600 vendors, it was able to streamline and unify the bidding, tendering, and contract management processes. “This saved the team more than 20 hours of staff time per week, cut down the time to generate reports by 75 percent, and sped up document transmittals by 90 percent,” according to the McKinsey report.

In another cited example, a $5 billion rail project switched to using automated workflows for reviews and approvals. The result was $110 million in savings plus a boost in productivity.

Digitizing Construction Workflows Starts with a Smartphone

Switching from clipboards to a mobile app is the first step to improving construction project management.

Using a mobile forms app for the information point of entry is a smart way to gather structured data across many systems and projects.

With the Device Magic mobile forms app, data that’s entered at a job site is automatically relayed back to the main office, instantly communicating about project status. In fact, Device Magic was recently named as one of the top field service solution providers by CIO Applications.

One of the ways that Device Magic leads is in its ease of use. For those doing the data entry on the job site, Device Magic provides easy access to job forms and an intuitive interface. When one business changed its data collection from clipboards to mobile forms, the rate of participation among workers improved to 95 percent. In addition, with offline access, users working in remote areas or underground can enter data even when they don’t have a signal, and the app will automatically sync when internet is restored.

For administrators, the drag and drop form builder lets you build completely customizable mobile forms that contain multiple data types, including text, photos, images, GPS coordinates, signatures, bar codes, and more. The form builder also provides tools for conditional data entry and Excel-like formulas. While some form builders require outsourcing or a high level of IT support to build forms, our interfaces make it easy to build and update them yourself.

Hands-off Information Processing with Automation

With Device Magic, the information entered in the field can be processed instantly and automatically using the workflows feature. It’s a way you can set it and forget it. Simply establish the rules for what you want to do with the entered information, and then let the technology do the work for you.

You can create an unlimited number of destinations for you data, including customizable PDFs that recreate your existing paper form templates. A wide set of built-in integrations let you seamlessly use the information that’s captured in Device Magic to update your other data systems. For example, using information that’s entered into Device Magic, you can send automated email notifications, update project management software, sync photos to Google Drive, and add data to Salesforce.

Additionally, Device Magic provides analytics and reporting tools, including an activity dashboard and a real-time submission graph. Enterprise users have maximum analytics and insights capabilities with a wide set of tools and customization options.

Device Magic is a completely scalable solution. The per-device pricing plan gives you the freedom to use Device Magic within a single department or scale it to an enterprise data solution for wide-reaching productivity gains.

5 Types of Mobile Forms for Your Construction Company

If you’re just getting started with mobile forms, there are five easy forms to build within Device Magic to streamline information communication and improve the productivity of your construction project. Here’s how you can start using this data-gathering technology to improve your business productivity.

  1. Daily job reports: Improve your communication with digital status reports, so all players will be in the know about the project’s current status. McKinsey says, “Due to the lack of digitization… owners and contractors therefore often work from different versions of reality.” Digital job reports resolve that divide.
  2. Safety checklists: Digitizing safety checklists creates a methodical process that can integrate notes, drawings, photos, and signatures. Additionally, you can use a conditional workflow so managers only receive notifications about issues or if a site inspection fails.
  3. Material logs and time sheets: Keep better track of your assets and operations by using mobile forms inputs to automatically integrate with your project management and accounting systems. This provides managers with real-time snapshots of expenses and inventory.
  4. HR forms: Mobile forms are a better way to onboard new hires. Especially for distributed companies that are hiring across multiple job sites or multiple states, mobile forms provide the location flexibility to enter data anywhere and the unified data tools to streamline processes.
  5. Vendor Management: Even small construction projects require that time be dedicated to managing vendors and outside contractors. From material suppliers to electricians and engineers, you can use Device Magic to streamline the bidding process, status updates, and deliverables.

Learn more about Device Magic and start a free trial to see for yourself how your construction company can use automated workflows to boost productivity by 33 percent.

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