The construction contract administration phase for unit price contracts is often full of inefficiencies thanks to outdated, manual processes. While the general complexity of infrastructure projects can lead to unavoidable conundrums, a vast number of issues can be eliminated by redefining an agency’s process within a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) environment. Engineering firms and owner-agencies have been criticized for being slow to adopt new technologies and generic project management tools like Microsoft Word, Excel, and paper have overstayed their welcome under the banner of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Still, many agencies are beginning to recognize the value of aligning their process with the best technology at hand.
The following situations and processes can be greatly streamlined with the right cloud-based construction management platform.
Managing Multiple Funding Sources
Funding for many horizontal construction projects comes from a mix of state, local, and federal funds. Budget tracking for multiple sources can be a major headache involving innumerable spreadsheets, physical ledgers, and specific project items that require manual updating on each progress payment. We’ve developed a better way to automate this process by tracking what funding source is paying for each item and automatically pushing that information to the daily report.
Though spreadsheets have that capability, they require complex macros and a knowledgeable staffer to manage the process. If that person leaves, the process leaves with them. Many SaaS products allow for individual fund tracking by item with comprehensive reporting to keep stakeholders apprised of the funding status, with a minimal learning curve to streamline the process through unforeseen staff changes or new hires.
Daniel Medeiros, a Construction Administrator for Montgomery County, Ohio, found fund tracking with Appia invaluable on a roadway improvement project he managed:
“Appia has the capability of setting up funding packages, making it much easier to track pay items which may not be eligible for reimbursement from certain funding sources.” Read More.
Working Without Internet Connectivity
Some agencies implement a SaaS-based construction management solution for mobility in the field, only to find themselves limited by weak internet connectivity on rural job sites. Technology is funny that way — without the infrastructure to support it, we’re almost better off with a pen and pad. Keyword: almost.
Many SaaS-based solutions offer an offline mobile app, an invaluable tool for field inspectors. Take it from Nick Taylor, a Project Manager for Smith Seckman Reid, Inc. His team implemented Info Tech’s Appia service on a highway project in Tennessee.
“The iPad [app] allowed the field staff to enter daily work reports in the field which saved valuable time that it would have taken them to come into the office to enter their reports.” Read More.
Disputes, Audits, and Project Closeouts
Construction professionals spend dozens of hours a week looking for project data, handling disputes between project stakeholders, and assessing mistakes that require new work to be done. Accuracy and quick access to data are both paramount to resolving disputes, but when there are thousands of paper documents to sort through, the lengthy process can lead to tension rising on both sides of the dispute. The solution is better record-keeping in a digital system that’s well-organized, searchable, and designed to handle specific situations like budgetary conflicts.
Since services like Appia keep comprehensive digital records and track daily activities, these issues are easy to eliminate when contractors, consultants, and owners are bought in on using the service correctly.
Managers find that projects are “finaled” out quicker since there’s less back and forth with suppliers and contractors for common issues like lost certification statements. And since stakeholders can be granted “read-only” access to a web-based platform like the Appia service, they can keep track of the project without interference. Using a SaaS-based service for construction management gives project owners like Daniel Medeiros confidence in otherwise sticky situations like project audits or claim disputes.
“Whenever claims or disputes arise, usually the one with the most accurate and complete information prevails. With that in mind, negotiation of change orders or extra work in Appia is extremely accurate and simple, thus saving time and money.” Read More.
Daily Reporting Errors
SaaS-based construction management platforms come stocked with a litany of reporting functions that generate automatic reports from information inputted in the field. Not only does this eliminate transcription errors when moving field reports from paper to spreadsheets, it also compiles large amounts of live-data that stakeholders can access to get ahead of possible issues.
For example, in the Appia service, Info Tech created the Insufficient Materials Report so project owners can easily view what pay items did not have sufficient material test reports. From there, it’s easy to forward the report to the contractor so they can see what needs to be submitted to receive payment. Another popular feature is the Item Overrun Report, used by Nick Taylor, Project Manager for Smith Seckman Reid, Inc. on a heavy highway project.
“The client was a big fan of the Item Overrun Report. Each month we provided this report to the client which documented the running total for each contract item. This report provided key information to the client and helped them make important financial decisions relating to the project.” Read More.
The reality is, these are just some of the common grievances that can be eliminated with the right SaaS-based construction management and administration solution. As leading developers in the field, we could talk about it all day — but we’d rather show you. Visit https://www.infotechfl.com/appia#contact to schedule a demo and find out what Appia can do for your organization’s productivity, efficiency, and peace-of-mind.