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Technology is evolving constantly, with brand new software, gadgets and services being offered every day to those in the construction industry. Contractors and construction business owners need to stay on top of the most important IT trends for one reason beyond all others: efficiency. Not only will efficiency help businesses save money, but it will also help them stay ahead of the competition.
Following are the most important trends in IT for the construction industry.

1. Mobile Solutions

Anyone can do almost anything from their mobile or smartphone these days. Mobile solutions are used for a number of different applications, such as:
  • equipment usage;
  • field timecard entry;
  • project management (field logs, weather delays, sending images of the jobsite back to the office, etc.);
  • quantities tracking;
  • materials usage;
  • service dispatch; and
  • GPS.

It has never been faster and easier for contractors to access and add data from the field. This means less chance of doubling entries, and a reduced chance of entering erroneous information, which often happens in manual-entry situations. Mobile solutions also tend to provide a much more accurate portrayal of financial information since it updates in real-time and it allows contractors to be more flexible in their work.

Most mobile solutions are all kept in a “cloud,” meaning the information that’s added through any mobile solutions software will be accessible by almost any device—anywhere, any time. No longer do contractors need to be on their home PC to access a file off of their hard drive; the information’s always available.

2. BIM Software

BIM is growing exponentially in the construction industry. This software allows users to have a consistent and coordinated 3-D digital representation of any building and its characteristics,. It can be accessed quickly and easily by all parties involved in the building process, such as the construction manager, subcontractors, engineers and architects. BIM allows construction managers to generate several crucial pieces of information for each project, such as:
  • constructability reports;
  • schedules;
  • plans; and
  • cost estimates.

Another example of how BIM is beneficial is it makes it easy for specialty contractors to receive the information necessary to prefabricate any products needed for a project. BIM simply saves companies a ton of time.

3. Project Management Solutions

Gone are the days of having to piece together several different bits of information from different programs and sources to try and make the best decisions within a company. With Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, companies and contractors don't need to buy some general accounting software and attempt to tweak it to suit their needs. With this unique software, managers can configure and fully integrate all information in one spot, giving them flexibility and increased analysis capabilities, and ultimately empowering them with the best up-to-date information that contractors and construction companies need to make the right decisions for their businesses.

Some of the other benefits of ERP include:
  • Reduction of waste
  • Improved project planning and monitoring
  • Better utilization of equipment
  • Better quality work
  • Easier scalability

4. Enterprise Content Management Software

The data that a construction company or contractor gathers with each job is invaluable, but as the vast majority of that data is housed in an unstructured environment, it almost always just goes to waste. Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is a software system that properly takes care of that data, allowing for such information to easily be used throughout the entire organization. This means an increase in workflow, better decision making and an increase in productivity. ECM also can:
  • improve the conformity and continuity of a business;
  • improve efficiency and profitability by ensuring an improved use of resources;
  • store and back up data (which is vital for a number of reasons, including legal reasons); and
  • consolidate business applications and data management.

5. Dashboard Views

If companies choose any software that offers a “dashboard” view, then all of its information is consolidated in one place. Most dashboards can be completely customized to show the specific information that a company wants to know, as well as provide tabs or links that will allow it to get more in-depth information about any given piece of data.

Quick Tips on Implementing and Managing IT

Technology has become incredibly important in the construction industry for many reasons, but to be useful it needs to be implemented in a way that it works for a specific contractor or company. Following are tips for getting the most out of technology.
  • Align the software with business objectives so everyone understands how the software will contribute to the company and benefit it.
  • Empower teams so they feel confident moving forward in adapting the new technology.
  • Ensure the business analyst understands the software and the business processes well to ensure the most seamless adaption of this new technology.

Lastly, before rolling out any changes, businesses need to make sure that they establish guidelines and make their goals for the new technology clear.
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