According to McKinsey Global Institute, the construction industry is among the least digitized in the world, second only to the agriculture sector. Many construction firms still rely on traditional paperwork on their projects. This includes large-format paper drawings, plans, contracts, invoices, and other documents that take valuable office and construction site space. There’s also the inefficiency in copying and sharing physical documents as well as their vulnerability to damage.
For these reasons, many construction firms are recognizing the benefits of digitizing documents. The digital transition may require significant investment and changes in the fundamental structure of a business but the competitive advantages it provides are undeniable. Here are some of the benefits of digitizing documents for your construction business.
1. Access to documents on the field
A huge part of construction work is done on the field. Project managers frequently travel from the office to multiple construction sites. Construction employees who will need access to these documents are also scattered across different locations. With physical paper, employees will need to carry around a lot of documents, of which some may be lost or forgotten, delaying the work or resulting in costly mistakes.
Digitizing paper documents gives construction employees the flexibility of accessing documents wherever they may be. As long as they have an internet connection, employees will only need a mobile device to access plans, drawings, and other documents that they need, even if they are far away from the office.
2. Minimized job errors
One of the biggest challenges in project management is dealing with unexpected changes in delivering a project. Over the course of a project, there will be revisions and updates from the initial plan. Consequently, all paper documents will need to reflect these changes before they can be used.
With paper documents, updating can be difficult to perform. A dedicated employee will need to check if contractors are using the updated plan. It will also be challenging to make changes on the fly to account for unforeseen variables. Sensitive information and success critical details for documents like preliminary notices, liens, contracts, and invoices also are better protected by going digital. By digitizing documents, it will be easy to update documents and ensure that a project’s participants are using the latest version.
3. Saved site and office space
Rows of filing cabinets filled with folders and documents just have no place in the office and on the construction site if there is a better alternative. Electronic storage is an inexpensive alternative and exponentially scalable compared to physical space. Digitizing construction documents will save much-needed office and construction site space that you can use for other equipment or even in expanding your team. In other words, transitioning your physical paperwork to digital documents will not only save you money and space but also provide opportunities for you to grow your business.
4. Improved work efficiency
Working with paper folders and unlabeled documents is inefficient. Searching for the right bit of information can take a long time if done manually. And in an industry like construction, this lost time can add up and cost a project thousands, even millions, of dollars. With document digitization, this search time can be reduced to just a few seconds. Even document sharing can be accomplished in just a short time, providing a huge boost to the productivity of your business.
5. Cost reduction
Aside from the associated costs of lost productivity, printing can also be costly. From the printing equipment and maintenance to the paper and ink used to print and copy documents, the cost of printing can make a significant dent in a construction firm’s budget. By digitizing documents, you will be able to minimize expenses by printing only what is necessary. This lets you focus on the core parts of your business and use your resources to expand your operations and fund growth opportunities.
The construction industry is on the brink of digital disruption. If you want your construction business to stay competitive, then you need to transition to digitization and automation. By digitizing your documents, you will be able to experience increased efficiency, improved productivity, and reduced costs, all of which can give you a huge advantage over your competitors.
About the Author:
Patrick Hogan is the CEO of Handle.com, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers with late payments. Handle.com also provides funding for construction businesses in the form of invoice factoring, material supply trade credit, and mechanics lien purchasing.