Errors in data entry are costly. Here’s how entrepreneurs can avoid them.
Former head of heavy civil project controls Matt Hardison is an account manager at Riskcast, a software company specializing in the construction industry. Opinions are those of the author.
With some of the slimmest profit margins in different industries, an occasional oversight could spell bad news for construction companies. It can be as simple as a rounding error here, a missed invoice there, or even an accidental overpayment. How do these errors occur?
Traditional construction processes and workflows have been linked with vital information that is not accessible in a timely manner. With the pace that teams move, and as activities are completed, businesses cannot afford to wait days, weeks, or even months for information to arrive from job sites and be analyzed.
There are a few typical pitfalls that teams run into when collecting information: duplicate entry, human error, outdated information, lack of communication, and distractions on the job site, among other issues. Any of these can cause businesses to report or use bad data to make decisions.
It sounds great to use the flashy, newest and best system or process for reporting and analysis. These should be able to tell stakeholders what is going well in projects and where the project may be exposed to a certain level of risk. But what happens when the information entered is not correct or even the correct information needed?
Accurate and timely information captured at project sites is the backbone of reporting on the health and performance of the project across the organization. Nobody knows what goes on every day better than the people with the boots on the ground who build and physically manage the job. Unfortunately, ever-increasing scheduling demands and other pressures can distract from an employee’s ability to record what is happening on site.
No two construction projects are the same, just as what works for one business may or may not work for the next. When thinking about what type of process will work for your business, there are a few key things to understand. Here are some of the most important:
Who will enter the information? For some companies it may be the foreman or the superintendent, but for others it may be an entirely different person or team.
What information do these people responsible for monitoring on a daily basis? What information are they not tracking, but should they be? This often includes things like time allocation, production quantities, allowances, delivery slips, equipment inspections, vacation hours, and more.
How and when will these articles be tracked? Does your team use phones, tablets, and laptops, or are they tied to desktops in the back office? How often do they use timesheets, journals, work tickets, and change orders?
Who is responsible for reviewing and approving information entered on the site? While certain standards must be met for information to be used in decision making on and off the job site, it is essential that it is discussed, understood and reviewed on a regular basis. Reviewers should also be clear on the criteria to be met before recordings are shared with the home office, owner representatives and others.
How will the information be shared with other departments or people within the company? If your data is siled and accessible only to certain people within an organization, it can create bottlenecks and lead to poor decision-making when key personnel do not have access to all the information they need.
Technology is transforming the way entrepreneurs work. By replacing manual processes and allowing software to capture and share information across the organization, construction companies can focus on delivering the project on time and on budget. Technology doesn’t have to be the answer to every one of these questions, but by using it where it makes the most sense, the entire system becomes more streamlined, simpler, and more efficient for both teams on the job. field, and those of the office.