By {{Article.AuthorName}} | {{Article.PublicationDate.slice(6, -2) | date:'EEEE, MMMM d, y'}}
{{TotalFavorites}} Favorite{{TotalFavorites>1? 's' : ''}}

Could it be that the most commonly used organizational tool in constructionin any industry, reallyis the Excel spreadsheet? And what’s not to love about Excel? It’s versatile, powerful and relatively easy to use. Because it’s so versatile, Excel is often used as a tool to manage a lot more than just financial tasks. This is especially true for small-to-medium businesses with relatively small technology budgets. But what happens when the business growseither in scale, complexity or bothand overwhelms the functionality available in Excel? How does one know that it’s time to invest in a more sophisticated technology tool?

Static Reports vs Real-time Collaboration

At its heart, Excel is really a reporting tool. It’s a great way to organize and analyze information, “crunching numbers” in order to gain a deeper understanding of something that’s already happened. In a pinch, Excel can also be used as a “tracker” of sorts, keeping tabs on the statuses of various aspects of a project. However, Excel is not as good for managing ongoing processes and tasks.

For the most part Excel requires manual data entry. (While the functionality exists to automate the manual data entry aspect of Excel, it can be quite challenging to engineer.) For example, an excel spreadsheet has a pay application marked as “unpaid.” When the payment is made, chances are it will be “received” in another program such as accounting or project management software (or even manually received). But that static Excel spreadsheet is going to still say that pay application is “unpaid” until someone manually changes it. And when a company is dealing with lots of projects and moving parts, relying on Excel can be a real problem.

Real-time Collaboration Is Essential

Construction is different from other industries -- in fact, construction is not an industry at all. Construction is a process in which many different industries must come together for the work (which is the project) to happen. Therefore, the technology tools for construction must be different as well.

One of the essential requirements for any construction technology is that it must be able to facilitate communication and collaboration among the many different parties that must come together on a project to make it happen. This is the main reason BIM technology is so valuable -- it allows architecture, engineering, construction professionals and other parties to collaborate in real time on the project from the earliest conception to project completion.

Collaboration is essential among the back offices on a construction project as well, especially when it comes to payments. Without collaboration, small issues can explode into full-blown payment fires. In his recently published payment manifesto, “lienzero,” zlien CEO Scott Wolfe discusses the importance of collaboration on construction projects (and how collaboration is sorely lacking in the current industry status quo).

A real-life example of where collaboration is needed is the process of exchanging lien waivers. There’s quite a bit of confusion in the industry around this process. For example, GCs have to collect signed lien waivers from everyone on the project, not just the parties with whom they contracted directly. Additionally, parties are often unsure of which lien waiver form should should be used, whether the documents must be signed and/or notarized, and so on. The right technology can greatly help this essential task, streamlining a process that is otherwise a major roadblock when done manually.

Today’s fast-paced construction environment is going to increasingly require industry members to be able to collaborate more quickly, often in real time. Whether that means investing in BIM technology or another collaborative platform depends on a variety of factors. However, the days when an Excel spreadsheet was all that was needed for a construction company to stay on top of things are definitely numbered.


 Comments ({{Comments.length}})

  • {{comment.Name}}


    {{comment.DateCreated.slice(6, -2) | date: 'MMM d, y h:mm:ss a'}}

Leave a comment

Required! Not valid email!