It’s becoming harder for companies to improve construction project productivity as they are dealing with greater complexity across the industry.
This is largely for positive reasons – the dramatic increase in construction since the turn of the millennium has empowered construction companies around the world. In 2011, $788 billion worth of new construction was put in place in the US in 2019, and that number is expected to top $1.33 trillion.
The increased frequency of construction projects has made industry processes more complex.
“[Construction] is about harnessing technology to plan a full development virtually testing every scenario that may affect construction and operations, and building with components manufactured offsite,” states a recent Raconteur article on the evolution of construction and the digital nature of modern.
A higher demand for projects, more components to consider, and more avenues of communication can quickly lead to information silos and an overall lack of consistency. Automating common business processes in the construction industry through Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) can break down information and communication silos to improve construction project productivity.
In this blog, we will explore how.
Processes Within the Construction Industry
The following are some of the processes found in global construction businesses:
- Operations processes: Any task that supports the company in its operations. For example, the maintenance and operating of machinery, management of suppliers, or the onboarding of new staff.
- Management processes: Processes that affect managerial decisions like the peer review process, signing-off on contracts, strategic plans, and initiatives that support team building.
- Leadership and culture processes: These processes focus on creating a common culture across the business. This might include an internal communications strategy or the approval process for beginning major new projects.
There are many repeated processes underpinning activities, such as:
- Conducting site inspections
- Generating documents, contracts, and reports
- Creating project management plans
- Organizing project status meetings
- Initiating review and approval requests
Many of these processes continue to be manual and fairly informal in their nature, based on physical paper or in casual email chains. The manual nature of these processes quickly leads to problems if teams in different departments neglect to carry their duties or make human errors.
This is compounded by the fact that, increasingly, construction companies must deal with more dispersed workers—managing offices located across the globe, projects in multiple locations, or construction workers’ communications on the field.
As these processes continue to be carried out in an informal manner, they are more susceptible to breaking down and, in turn, creating information silos.
Information Silos in the Construction Industry
Information silos are extremely common in industries and companies with complex processes that remain manual. With offices and projects in diverse locations and employees with different skill sets (even speaking different languages), it is common for information to be confined to specific departments.
Silos impede the free flow of information, which can slow down or completely halt processes that would otherwise be straightforward.
Below is an example of how an information silo could form in a construction company:
- The legal team must discuss any legal implications of a project with local government and wait for approval before construction can begin.
- If local government won’t allow the project to begin, the two parties will have to undergo a negotiating stage, which will delay the project start date.
- The legal team must inform the project management team they will need to adjust the timeframe of the project to allow for negotiations.
- Unaware of this, the site project manager has already begun hiring workers before the project has been given the legal go-ahead.
- Upon learning of the changes, the project manager must make changes to budget and timeframes.
How Process Automation can Improve Construction Project Productivity
The back-and-forth mentioned above is common and, to an extent, unavoidable in project management. But process automation reduces the frequency and length of delays as information is passed from one team to the next, allowing companies to improve construction project productivity.
Let’s look at how automated workflows could expedite the example above:
- Document generation can automatically create agreements with recurring information that may come up in legal documents, such as terms and conditions, by dynamically ingesting content and data directly from systems of record.
- Once completed, the document is automatically sent to the local government (and the legal team is informed the document has been sent).
- An email is also sent to the project management team, letting them know the contract is under review and work cannot start yet.
- The advanced workflow routinely notifies the government organization of the pending review until they respond.
- Once local government has approved the document, both legal and project teams are notified the contract is a success and construction can begin.
Automated workflows are the most cost-effective method for improving the efficiency of business processes and combatting the risk of information silos. Ultimately, automating processes in the construction industry will save time for workers, speed up the timeline of projects, and provide value to construction companies and their clients.
Nintex Workflows are no-code in nature, meaning any member of the business can start creating and utilizing automated workflows and avail of all the benefits they bring.
Interested in automating your own business processes? Contact a Nintex representative today.