Identifying the Tasks to be Performed
Every contractor knows that precon is made up of hundreds of individual steps that work in concert to create budgets, produce reports, manage data and prepare teams for the actual construction phase. Many of those tasks require knowledge, experience and the kind of nuanced judgement only seasoned pros can bring to the table—but many others don’t. When your people are spending too much time and effort on precon tasks that don’t require ideation, creativity, problem-solving or other uniquely human skillsets, you know it’s time to automate.
So, how do you determine which precon tasks are the best fit for automation? First and fore- most, they’re rule-based, involving the same steps every time, over and over again, with no variation. Second, they’re tasks that quickly become monotonous. In other words, repetitive, boring tasks that don’t depend on critical human thinking can—and should—be automat- ed. The reasons are clear: when you remove the burden of unrewarding, repetitive work, your employees are free to pursue business-critical activities that can drive engagement and do more for your company overall.
Just as important, when you automate routine precon tasks, you can expect that the results will be uniform, consistent and accurate. Like it or not, manual errors are all too common when information is entered, re-entered or transferred during the preconstruction phase; technology that automates those processes can be counted on to do a better job—and in a lot less time.
Case in point? Jon Silling, an estimator with Florida-based Curran Young Construction, used the ProEst software platform to create detailed cost assemblies that cut the company’s budgeting time by 50% or more. “I wanted to revamp how we could do budgets at a quick- er pace,” he said. “I loved the feature of doing takeoffs through an assembly, with the back- end populating all of the values preset in the database... we just clicked on “Reports,” and it was finished.” Thanks to that level of automation, says Silling, the time and cost associated with highly skilled estimators and engineers was substantially reduced, and the accuracy of their proposals was virtually guaranteed.