For years, lean principles of business have created lasting impacts within manufacturing environments. By identifying new workflow and manpower efficiencies, companies utilize lean business practices to improve quality while cutting costs. It wasn’t very long before these same principles began to spill over into other industries.
Construction was one such environment where lean business practices made perfect sense. Now, lean construction has become a household term for those businesses looking to cut down on waste and eliminate procedures or products that fail to add value for the customer.
In an industry hamstrung by lack of manpower, going lean in construction doesn’t necessarily mean trimming headcount. Instead, going lean takes on new meaning by pursuing strategies that help construction teams work smarter, not harder.
The Inefficiencies of Manual Processes
The use of lean building principles is not just a fad. Recent reports show a majority of construction companies now rely on lean strategies to build better outcomes for customers. The AGC’s 2017 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook report reveals that 57% of contractors use lean construction principles, which includes strategies such as early-stage collaboration among project team members or utilizing prefabrication and modularization as a means to increase quality and reduce safety risks.
But what about going lean within internal project management processes? This is an area some construction companies may not realize is a key area for applying lean principles. Take, for instance, the use of Excel spreadsheets to track everything from field worker time entry to preparing bid estimates. The process is cumbersome and slow, often forcing accounting teams to rely on field staff to physically visit the office with new reports, while bid documents can be more prone to miscalculations due to worker error.
In addition, the need for lean can be seen clearly within project teams that send service workers out to perform repairs or other time-sensitive projects without any data about the jobsite they’re visiting. By not investing in solutions that give those workers key project details in the palms of their hands, construction managers can quickly rack up the costs of repeat visits and relationship damage due to unhappy customers.
How the Cloud Drives Lean Project Management
These challenges are why some construction companies are getting ahead – and going lean – in their approach to project management. New cloud-based construction technology makes it possible to put real-time project updates in the hands of project managers and superintendents so less time is spent calling the office or searching for project files. In addition, cloud-based service management tools enable teams to visit client sites without needing to wait for details from dispatch, as the status of every jobsite can be accessed from a mobile or tablet device.
Perhaps the most powerful tool that cloud-based project management software brings to the table is the ability to drive higher levels of collaboration than ever before. How often have inefficiencies entered the project management process due to not having consensus from key team members, or from discrepancies arising because of lack of information? By using construction project management software that centralizes data and keeps every team member informed of changes as they occur – regardless of their location – the benefits of lean construction can be realized both on the jobsite and in the office.
United Solutions provides unmatched software solutions and support for more than 3,000 clients in the construction, real estate industries. We enable our clients to operate at peak efficiency and maximize their profits.Read More
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