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5 ways field service software improves construction productivity

The construction industry has a major productivity problem. McKinsey reports that labor-productivity growth in construction has increased by a measly 1% per year over the past two decades. Meanwhile, the global average is 2.8% over the same period.

Just for comparison, the labor-productivity growth for manufacturing in that same time period was 3.6%.

Construction firms also consistently struggle to prevent cost overruns. When it comes to megaprojects, the statistics are even more alarming:

  • 98% of projects incur cost overruns or delays reducing customer satisfaction.
  • The average cost increase is 80% of the original value.
  • The average slippage is 20 months behind the original schedule.

Because construction projects involve multiple stakeholders, there are many areas that contribute to the lack of productivity. Miscommunication between project managers, firm offices, and field workers, as well as errors or clashes in scheduling, or improper handling of tools, are common culprits.

Fortunately, software solutions, such as QuickBooks® Enterprise for contractors and the construction industry, is tailored to increase efficiency and combat productivity issues. With the ability to know who is doing what and where in just a few clicks, construction businesses have more visibility into their people, cash flow, and costs.

With this in mind, here are the core functions that can help increase construction productivity.

Field service management software for improving efficiency

One of the most fundamental changes a construction firm can make to improve efficiency is field service management software (FSM).

Communication errors and delays are the most time-consuming factors that lead to cost overruns and missed milestones. With field management software, companies can address the primary problem points that create this loss of productivity.

The following features are just a few you’ll find in Intuit® Field Service Management software that make a meaningful difference in your firm’s productivity:

1. Real-time updates

Updates from the field are crucial in order to streamline scheduling and make efficient, last-minute adjustments. Knowing what’s happening at all times prevents guesswork and gives project managers the visibility to make informed decisions.

Another key aspect of field management is knowing when field technicians arrive on-site, when they’re on their breaks, and how many are on-site at any given moment. This timely data helps identify low productivity points and optimize resources.

For some growing construction firms with complex operations, more robust functionality can offer a complete picture of project profitability. With QuickBooks Enterprise Diamond, construction firms can utilize TSheets Elite to track and manage employee time on any device. TSheets Elite includes GPS and geofencing capability so field workers can get alerts to clock in or out when leaving or entering a job site. TSheets Elite also syncs with QuickBooks Enterprise Diamond job costing and payroll functions so you can easily monitor project profitability and labor expenses.

2. Clipboards replaced with mobile apps

Filling out paperwork on-site is not only time-consuming, but also prone to errors. The last thing field technicians need to worry about is keeping track of paper. That’s why Intuit FSM software runs on your Apple and Android phones and tablets.

Mobile-friendly software makes it easy and accessible for anyone in the field to gain all the up-to-date information they need by storing job-related documents in the cloud. This also eliminates the need for back-and-forth calls to request or get back with information from the office to the site and vice versa. 

3. Remote scheduling and dispatching

There’s a reason why scheduling and dispatching take up the largest market share in field service management. Construction is a time-sensitive field where hitting deadlines is crucial, which means inefficient scheduling leads to project delays, cost overruns, and client dissatisfaction.

Changes happen all the time during a project, from design changes to unexpected on-site conditions. Cloud-based scheduling software provides all the necessary information immediately to workers on the field so they don’t have to waste time waiting for further communication. By enabling workers to pull up information on their phones or tablets, you empower them to move ahead with the changes at once.

With real-time information and remote scheduling, it also becomes easier to organize the workday so that there’s minimum travel time between job sites. Your project manager can keep an eye on where materials are at any given moment, arrival times, and which workers are available nearby for dispatch.

4. On-the-spot invoicing and work order management

With work orders that are stored in the cloud, workers in the field can see them right away, which reduces travel times and increases efficiency. Dispatchers can see which work orders are assigned to which workers and reassign them elsewhere, if there’s a conflict of schedule or there’s a delay on-premise.

Similarly, on-the-spot invoicing through FSM software not only reduces paperwork, but also cuts the time it takes to process invoices. This, in turn, improves cash flow and increases productivity by minimizing time spent on paperwork, or following up with customers for payments.

5. Equipment service data

Lastly, FSM software with GPS and equipment data provides technicians on the job with everything they need to know, such as its location, its uses, and service history.

Firms can record all the equipment information necessary for better first-time fix rates and reduced waste. Having this information at their fingertips empowers field workers to do the job right the first time and keep jobs on time and under budget.

Preparing workers for the future

If your field service technicians haven’t transitioned to a software solution yet, it’s important to provide training so they’re equipped with basic skills that can improve their productivity. Some workers may prefer to stick to clipboards and papers. Yet, if the goal is to increase efficiency, a transition to a mobile app is a must.

Ideally, all new hires should either know or be trained to use their mobile apps to pull up information, modify documents with the latest information, and send what’s needed to the correct parties.

Basic troubleshooting skills also go a long way in reducing the time spent contacting support and waiting for instructions, causing further delays in the field. Just as construction workers must have basic knowledge of how to operate equipment and tools on-site, they now need to learn how to work with software as an inevitable part of the job.

With Intuit’s easy to start Field Service Management software, workers can use drag and functionality to reassign and reschedule work orders fast with the click of a mouse. Software solutions should simplify business tasks, which is why Intuit Field Service Management works seamlessly with QuickBooks Enterprise to keep you financial and field service data in sync and at your fingertips.

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