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Workflow Management Tips to Scale Commercial Construction Companies

workflow management

Even the best and largest commercial construction companies face workflow management challenges. According to Dodge Data & Analytics, the top commercial construction companies complete 25 percent or more of their projects ahead of schedule and 50 percent or more of their projects under budget.

How can your company improve on those numbers? Dodge Data & Analytics surveyed top commercial construction companies and learned that they prioritized improving their work processes and their technology. They used a variety of strategies to optimize their workflow management.

Tip #1: Use a single cloud platform to manage project workflows

Many commercial construction companies use several different technology solutions to manage their project workflows, but the top commercial construction companies optimize their workflows with cloud construction management platforms. Why? Each separate software system can add time to job stages and functions. Some programs don't communicate effectively with other programs and are also labor and time-intensive, like Excel spreadsheets or data management programs.

Consider using a single cloud platform to integrate all of your commercial construction company’s processes and functions. Adopt programs like ProEst to integrate bidding and estimating seamlessly with your change orders. Use a cloud platform to manage design reviews, document storage, inspections, and BIM.

As one example, ProEst integrates RSMeans Construction Cost database to optimize project teams and stay up to date with estimates. ProEst's integration of the RSMeans construction database means up-to-date information on labor costs and commercial construction-specific costs and estimates. The necessary information is all at your fingertips within the program. The costs are stored seamlessly in the cloud and are included as part of ProEst's estimating software.

Look for cloud data management or SaaS (software-as-a-service) platforms that have security for your data. The platform should also make it easy for you to integrate the multiple partners, subs, and stakeholders on your commercial construction projects. It should also allow you to use any device, from cellphones and tablets to laptop or desktop computers.

Tip #2: Make workflow management visible and collaborative

Having workflow management visible to everyone helps the top commercial construction companies finish jobs ahead of schedule and at or under budget. In the past, cost and time overruns often occurred because stakeholders were firewalled from each other and didn't communicate effectively.

Firewalls get built and stay up because of conventional ways of doing business: paper drawings, pen-and-pencil take-offs, and hand-written reports. The paper and pencil methods practically guaranteed long, weekly project meetings that never covered everything that needed to be covered.

Cloud-based commercial construction workflow management helps to shorten long meeting times. It can even let you have meetings online, saving time on the job site and at your office. Collaboration becomes smoother and easier using cloud-based construction management software and tools. Cloud-based document storage, information management, and data tools can make unproductive, time-consuming meetings a feature of the past. Increasing collaboration among team members will improve efficiency and time management.

Tip #3: Open administrative and construction bottlenecks with technology

E.C. Concrete, a Florida-based commercial, industrial, and mid-rise residential contractor, increased its business by including logistics into its bidding phase and carrying the information throughout job workflow management. The company improved its profitability by including work schedules, inspections, safety, and job site layout in its pre-job meetings.

Putting job site information and logistical details into construction workflow management software helped them to reduce bottlenecks resulting from unexpected site conditions once jobs began. Asking a lot of questions before jobs start and incorporating the answers into the bidding and start-up phases opened up bottlenecks and improved profitability.

Tip #4: Seamlessly manage contract obligations

Up until the 1970s, RFIs were usually informal and took place during project meetings or even over the phone. Today's need for information and legal requirements have formalized the RFI process. They’re a given for every commercial construction project.

In some cases, RFIs can hold projects up. Worldwide, a study of commercial construction projects showed an average of 9.9 RFIs per $1 million construction cost. In North America, the average reply time for an RFI was a little over 8 days.

If you can shorten your time for RFIs, your efficiency will increase and you'll improve your ability to bid on, win, and execute more commercial construction projects. According to a Sage survey, the average cost to receive and respond to an RFI is $1,080. You can cut RFI response time and costs by streamlining your information processes and using estimating software like ProEst.

It would be great if commercial construction projects could be finished with no change orders, but change orders are likely even on smaller projects. You can increase your efficiency and let owners know that change orders aren't unlimited or free of charge by using construction workflow management software to its best advantage. Use the software and estimating information to determine a percentage cost for the total change order. You can attract higher-quality subs and increase your profitability by being professional and proactive with your change order policies and processes.

Understanding all aspects of the construction process, from the initial bidding process to completion, is one of the most important steps in increasing your company’s competitiveness in commercial construction. You’ll gain the advantages that the most successful, highest-efficiency commercial construction companies have.

If you would like to learn more about how you can improve your construction estimation accuracy in order to gain more profit, feel free to reach out to ProEst and schedule a free 1-on-1 walkthrough session today!