Software and Technology
Streamlining the Masonry Industry
It’s no secret: Software and technology play an important role in how mason contractors not only run their companies, but perform on the jobsite. According to a recent report from Sage Construction and Real Estate, “Information Technology Trends Summary Report – North America Construction,” information technology is key to how construction companies are able to thrive and survive on lean budgets, working smarter and doing more with less.
The survey was conducted in 2014 among Sage customers in the United States and Canada who are in the construction business. A total of 838 people responded. FMI’s Phil Warner and R. Tyler Pare collaborated with Sage on the project. Key reasons for IT investment include streamlining processes, improving communication and collaboration, and attracting new customers. Here are a few nuggets of information we learned from Sage’s thorough report.
- Social technology: “While the use of social technology is growing in construction, its adoption is still relatively small. Many contractors are still unsure of the tangible benefits social technology brings to their company.”
- Obtaining new business: “Competitive pressure is pushing contractors to use technology to bid faster and with greater accuracy. Relatively few, however, have yet adopted CRM software as a way to improve their marketing, sales and business development efforts.” The top two technologies contractors use to obtain new business are estimating/bidding software and CRM software.
- Big data: “Big data is a relatively new term for most construction professionals, yet it promises to significantly improve how a construction company can forecast projects and predict what will impact their business in the future.”
- Business visibility technology: “Construction professionals are expanding their use of business visibility technology as an efficient means to improve decision making and company performance. Standardized reporting, dashboards, and alerts/notifications of changes were rated most important.”
- Popular types of technology: The most-used types of technology include mobile technology, tablets, smartphones, cloud computing, big data, and laptops.
Thirty-five percent of construction companies have no in-house staff for IT, and 42 percent have only one person. Today’s information technology includes networks, communications, field reports, accounting and compliance. This indicates a greater need for more in-house staff or a dedicated outside vendor versed in computer technology and responsible for results, says the report.
A successful contractor usually operates with sophisticated systems and processes. Well-developed software platforms aid in managing project challenges and tracking pertinent information. Well-developed IT capability and personnel can have an impact on the scalability of a business as well. This may be something to keep in mind as you manage the growth of your masonry company.
Following are a few reviews of some of the construction industry’s most helpful and functional software products. We hope you’ll get an idea of what is out there for you and your business.
American Institute of Architects’ ACDFThe American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) ACD5 is an online contract document service that offers anytime, anywhere access to more than 180 AIA Contract Documents forms and agreements. ACD5 enables users to create, access, edit, share and store contract documents instantly from any computer, delivering accessibility and flexibility. The new platform also offers upgraded document management features and more purchase options.
ACD5 offers document bundles tailored to contractors and subcontractors. The ACD5 Contractor Essentials Bundle provides unlimited access to the payment applications and change orders for masonry professionals. It also includes the A401 Contractor-Subcontractor Agreement, in addition to nine of the most commonly used documents by contractors and subcontractors.
ACD5 incorporates new and improved features, including Mac and PC compatibility; simplified document collaboration; online/offline editing; enhanced security and protection; and new document management tools. ACD5 contract documents and forms deliver complete risk management and legal protector throughout every phase of design and construction.
Supplementing BIM With PDFBluebeam Software, a developer of PDF-based markup, measurement and collaboration solutions for the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry, says engineers, architects and contractors are transforming industry workflows by using the universal PDF format to go digital. PDF technology can bridge the gap among project partners in communicating and collaborating on BIM data. The powerful 2D and 3D PDF creation and markup capabilities of Bluebeam Revu, combined with the integrated cloud-based collaboration solution, Bluebeam Studio, enable structural engineers, detailers and estimators to work better. With Revu, users can communicate more easily in the field, minimize the risk of costly rework and complete fabrication schedules faster. Bluebeam Software products are sold direct and through a global network of resellers.
Cloud-Based Equipment Management Software for ContractorsConstruction software provider Dexter + Chaney has released a complete equipment management solution for contractors that includes features for preventive maintenance, equipment tracking, and a mobile app. This equipment management software works with the company’s Spectrum Construction Software, which works in the cloud, requiring no software download or specific hardware devices. The latest updates to Dexter + Chaney’s equipment management offerings also include an app that can be downloaded for use on Apple and Android mobile devices. The app allows field staff to easily enter equipment information from the job site and synchronizes automatically with Spectrum Equipment Management. Dexter + Chaney said that, when designing Spectrum Equipment Management, the company started by looking at the fundamentals of good equipment management. These best practices are built into the software, creating better information flow and providing more financial, operational and field management data.
ExakTime Mobile 2.0 for iOS DevicesExakTime has released its latest mobile app for simple time tracking on the go, ExakTime Mobile 2.0 for iOS devices. The new iOS version of the mobile time tracking app presents an optimized user interface on all iOS devices, for easy and convenient time tracking on your own iPhone or iPad product, including iPad Air and iPad mini.
ExakTime Mobile’s new iOS version also enables easy management of remote employees and crews with a powerful new GPS-enabled oversight option. Team View, available exclusively on the new iOS version of the app, allows a supervisor to view a map showing the clock-in coordinates of all company employees who’ve punched in via ExakTime Mobile. Supervisors are able to quickly confirm the whereabouts of single workers or small crews clocked in elsewhere in the field right from their own device.
Mobile App With Coverage CalculatorH.B. Fuller Construction Products Inc.’s TEC has released its first mobile app. The free TEC Installation Systems Coverage Calculator App includes product videos, contact information and a mobile version of the Coverage Calculator, which estimates the amount of tile and flooring installation products needed for a specific job.
The TEC Coverage Calculator allows contractors to calculate the estimated amount of surface preparation products, mortars and grouts necessary for a project. Contractors simply enter their project’s specifications – including square footage, tile size and size of grout joint – and product estimates are reported in pounds and gallons and bags and pails. Users can save a product’s coverage summary to the “My Saved Jobs” section on the app. With the new iPhone App, contractors can more conveniently access the benefits of the TEC Coverage Calculator, allowing them to plan for projects from virtually any location.
- 45April 2011 Business Building Are You Keeping Up With Tech? By George Hedley Are you finally convinced computers are here to stay? Many construction companies still haven’t embraced technology as a required business tool to be a leading company that stays ahead of the competition, maintains loyal customers, and always makes an above-average profit. In…
- 45April 2012 Software Efficiency at Your Fingertips By Jennifer Morrell Software companies continue to top one another, and the number of electronic devices available to load and house all of that software climbs as well. Keeping up with it all can be frustrating, but let’s face it – this is a good problem to have.…
- 43April 2013 Software Leaps and Bounds By Jennifer Morrell It’s amazing: Project management and estimations software have never been more advanced. And whether you need it on your laptop, iPad or smartphone, it’s available. As software platforms designed to make contractors’ lives easier continue to improve and expand, masonry industry manufacturers of all types are…
- 43October 2011 Best Practices The Arrival of Integrated Project Delivery By Diane Haines Historically, the building process has been extremely fragmented, with architects, designers, contractors and subcontractors working independently. In the last few years, the need for increased collaboration has come to the forefront as a means to reduce waste, minimize construction delays and achieve…
- 40May 2011 Software Executing Projects Profitably By Mike Gillum Mobile Connect project view No one ever said managing a construction project was easy. A successful mason contractor must be able to efficiently and profitably manage everything from materials and labor to equipment, budgets and schedules. Traditionally, contractors have managed their projects by keeping all…