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The Efficiency Benefits of Automation in Construction

Although the industry is one that can benefit the most from automation, construction companies are still struggling with manual and paper-based processes and the limitations such processes incur. When formal document creation, request, and approval workflows are conducted manually, workers are slowed down and productivity suffers.

As the Economist recently reported, more than 90% of the world’s infrastructure projects are either late or over-budget. And the U.S. is no better off—American builders’ productivity has plunged by half since the late 1960s. A manual-based approach adds complexity to the flow of work, making processes more time and labor-intensive for construction workers.

Take, for example, a large construction project where proposals need review and approval by several different companies, agencies, and consultants before the project can be confirmed and actual work can start. Delays can occur true in multiple areas of construction:

  • Tendering
  • Procurement
  • Document sign-off

Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) in construction can simplify and expedite these processes to improve the productivity of workers and efficiency of projects. Let’s look at how.

Tendering Process

In construction, tendering will usually involve companies competing to supply goods, materials, or services to a contractor. To do this, they must create proposals and contracts that include mandatory information and explain how the company will meet (and exceed) the client’s needs.

When tendering contracts are paper-based, duplicate copies of content are rife as an original, unmarked copy of the tender must be retained. All key documentation must then be circulated to relevant team members, which involves sending paper copies around the business. Contracts must be reviewed and approved before they can be sent to the client, adding more steps to an already dense process.

How Automation Improves Efficiency

Automating the document review and approval process can cut down the length of the tendering process, creating a more efficient and reliable work system.

Notifications and email templates can enable more immediate responses, giving workers the confidence that approval requests will be dealt with more promptly. Cloud-based workflows can connect users with the necessary documents from multiple platforms, from document storage to customer relationship management.

Procurement Process

Even digital processes, when manual in nature, can still hamper worker productivity. In procurement, companies using email-based, manual processes will often experience delays from backlogs in employee inboxes, which can severely slow down the purchasing process.

How Automation Improves Efficiency

Automated workflows can create customer folders, manage access permissions, and notify relevant team members when new information is available to speed up the entire procurement cycle. Business rules can be applied within the workflow to make decisions based on the information, which streamlines tasks and outcomes.

This removes the need for much of the email ‘back-and-forth’ that typically goes on between seller and buyer, streamlining inboxes and the flow of work.

Document Sign-off Process

Theoretically, the process for the planning, executing and signing off on a single document isn’t overly-complex. But usually, it isn’t that simple. There are typically many documents that need to be created, edited, and approved – often including more than one company (each with its own set of documents and procedures that need to be approved). Project sign-off delays can lead to missed deadlines, budget imbalances, and poor client relationships. All of which negatively affect your bottom line.

How Automation Improves Efficiency

Streamlining processes across the organization mean document sign-off and other essential project functions can be achieved effectively and efficiently, without putting quality at risk. Adding automated document approvals to your workflows will speed up the process of getting document sign-off and ensures it is the right version of the document.

A Look Inside Automation in Construction

1.  Sift Through Information and Track Tenders Quickly and Easily

CONCO, a subsidiary of Consolidated Infrastructure Group (CIG), operate in South Africa to serve areas with unreliable electrical and Internet structure. The company were using file servers and physical folders to track more than 300 tenders a year.

CONCO deployed a combination of Nintex Workflow, Nintex Forms, and Nintex Mobile to better manage the flow of work and increase efficiency. The solution was built to automatically generate metadata, enabling workers at CONCO to search through tenders and past projects to find the information they were looking for when they needed it.

As a result, Nintex has helped CONCO save more than 5,000 labor hours each year, increasing overall business efficiency by up to 20% and saving the company more than $800,000 annually.

Find out more here.

2.  Reduce Paperwork by Digitizing and Automating Administrative Processes

Australia’s largest private construction company, Hansen Yuncken, were managing multiple disparate systems and manual processes across multiple site offices across the nation.

To improve their operations, the Hansen Yuncken team worked to integrate SharePoint as a collaborative platform, with data from multiple sources displayed in dashboards to improve the quality and efficiency of their decision-making processes.

They then implemented the Nintex Platform to ensure that their processes were consistent, remove inefficiencies, improve transparency, and manage risk. Existing forms and processes were reviewed, streamlined, redeveloped, and automated. A flexible approval workflow was designed, allowing actions to be reassigned while maintaining a visible audit trail.

The cultural change across the company was immense. Employees no longer needed to submit paper forms or manually maintain local spreadsheets, but instead could simply enter the data via web-based forms – whether they were at their desk or in the field. This reduced the time it took for administration on project and allowed Hansen Yuncken employees to focus on their clients’ projects, rather than tedious paperwork.

Find out more here.

Change Can Be Slow, But It’s Always Necessary

Beyond improved health and safety measures, a construction worker from the 1960s might not find much has changed onsite. Paper-based, manual processes still litter construction practices and the review, approval, and sign-off of documents within them.

Companies that implement automation in construction can look to start removing these slow processes. Automated, intelligent workflows can remove the repetitive and unnecessary steps within processes to increase worker productivity and improve the efficiency of construction companies.

To find out how automated workflows through the Nintex Platform can improve the efficiency of your business, get in touch with us today.

 

 

Dan Stoll

Dan Stoll has nearly two decades of IT experience and currently serves as Senior Technical Marketing Manager at Nintex, the world’s leader in Intelligent Process Automation (IPA). He has spent the last 10 years of his career helping organizations turn manual processes into well-run automated ones. Originally from Australia, Stoll relocated to the United States in 2015 after working as a Nintex technical evangelist for the company’s APAC and EMEA regions. Follow Dan on Twitter: @_danstoll.