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In every industry, technological advancements are helping companies to be more efficient and save money. Construction is no exception. According to the 2016 report on the results of a global PwC survey, Industry 4.0: Building the Digital Enterprise, respondents anticipate a return on their investment in technology over the next five years. Participants in all industry sectors expect to realize a 2.9 percent increase per annum in revenue. Engineering and construction companies anticipate a revenue gain of 2.7 percent per annum. On average, companies across all sectors expect to reduce costs by 3.6 percent annually.

The use of technology in the office and on the jobsite is fast becoming critical to reduce costs, improve productivity and increase profits. Forty-six percent of the respondents in PwC’s survey from the engineering and construction industries have already reached advanced levels of digitization in product development and engineering. Construction and engineering companies plan to invest 5 percent of annual revenue per annum in technology during the next five years.

PwC says “the spread of the industrial internet and sensors has the potential to transform the construction industry in many respects—from equipment monitoring and repair, management and ordering, energy conservation, tagging and tracking to safety.”

A key component to effective workflow on and off the jobsite is document management. Everyone involved in a project benefits from having the most up-to-date version of permits, blueprints, material lists, change orders, incident reports and more for each job. A document management system will help to improve operations on a current project, and having this information available for future projects will also help to reduce waste. In addition, document management helps in the following ways.

Improve Teamwork
A collaborative document management solution will allow teams throughout the organization to work together. Data from multiple sources can be combined into master documents, problems can be electronically discussed and resolved in a timely fashion, solutions can be disseminated to project teams quickly and workers at various locations can be kept up to speed on new developments. Workers can share emails, images, faxes, contracts and other significant data quickly by accessing one source of information on projects company-wide.

Collaborate on Content
Workers can collaborate on content on mobile devices from any location. Contracts can be approved, material lists changed and Word documents or PDF files can be reviewed, marked up and annotated.

Increase Efficiency
Digital documents can help teams stay on course to reach project goals by using a faster, more accurate and less costly collaboration process. Work can be approved and contractor forms such as invoices, payroll, change orders and purchase orders can be managed.

Enhance Compliance and Security
Workers are more likely to comply with company policies and procedures because they can sign legally binding documents on their tablets. Signature certifications and biometric encryption keys will reinforce security.

Keep Better Records
Most contractors save documentation related to a project for a minimum of three years. Bid applications, scopes of work, contracts, blueprints, shop renderings, supply lists, payrolls, communications between contractor and client and reports can be stored and easily accessed when needed.

Save Time and Money
A document management system eliminates the need to file, print and store paper documents. It is estimated that companies can save $5,000 a year from cutting filing tasks. The need to invest in toner, paper, photocopying, filing units and storage can be reduced or cut out completely. The time it takes to find or recreate documents will be reduced. One document imaging company estimates that it costs $120 to $250 to recreate a misfiled or lost document.

A document management solution is one component of a digital strategy that construction contractors should consider. There are many excellent packages available to automate function such as estimating, project management, payroll, billing and accounting functions. Many of these systems integrate these functions into one system which will give you the ability to interchange important data. Before making an investment, consider how workflow processes can be enhanced by automation.

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