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It's no secret that productivity is dipping on jobsites across the construction sector. In fact, the McKinsey Global Institute's early 2017 report, Reinventing Construction: a Route to Higher Productivity, the stats show that the global construction industry has averaged a lackluster 1% labour productivity growth annually over the past 20 years, placing it below the 2.8% growth for the total world economy. What's more, according to the Construction Intelligence Center (CIC)'s 2017 report, Canada's construction industry output value alone declined from US$294.1 billion in 2014 to US$289 billion in 2015.

There are plenty of reasons why jobsites aren’t performing at their peak. Yet while excessive bureaucracy and contractual roadblocks are certainly culprits, so too are outdated processes, misaligned departments, and a lack of coordination in the field to blame.

The solutions to these issues are equally widespread. However, as the McKinsey report highlights, one of the most effective ways of boosting productivity is by adoption new technologies: “Change in the construction sector cannot be achieved without investment in retooling a workforce that is aging and changing its makeup through migration. Construction firms and workers need to continuously re-skill and train to use the latest equipment and digital tools.”

And such tools exist. Viewpoint Software's Mobile Field Manager, for one, is an example of the tools some firms are already using to eliminate delays and streamline laborious operations.

“The key to increasing productivity is giving your superintendents and foreman the ability to seamlessly integrate everything they do on site with their back office operations,” said Aiden Dalley, Product Marketing Manager at Viewpoint. “That means giving them the ability to quickly and accurately track labour time, equipment usage, and production units, and communicate that information instantly with your back office team and get back to work.”

Dalley noted Mobile Field Manager does just that by allowing site leaders to track and document project data in the field and send it to a central administration hub (aka the Field Work Centre) where that data can be used by back office colleagues to accurately manage a workforce's progress, performance, timelines, and budgets.

“You need to make data entry simple and easy from the the field so our superintendents and foreman working in the field can do just that – work,” said Michael Preyss, Chief Financial Officer with Garmong Construction Services, sharing the company's experience with Mobile Field Manager in a recent Viewpoint webinar.

Where solutions like Mobile Field Manager offer an edge, he adds, is in not only streamlining the payroll process, but eliminating errors and wasted back office work: “It used to take hours to process our payroll and half of that time was dedicated to the actual keying of information, tracking down missing hours, or dealing with physical time cards that came in late or were illegible.”

Upon implementing Viewpoint's solution, however, superintendents were able to better track and record employee hours across multiple sites and instantly feed that information back to Preys team – either instantly while on wi-fi or through a one-click synchronization process after coming back from being offline. As a result, weekly payrolls that used to take 16 man hours to complete now take less than 4. 

“It's led to quite a bit of savings in terms of labour, which has allowed my staff to do more work elsewhere. That's something I really appreciate,” Preyss added.

Enhanced payroll hasn't been the only benefit. For example, said Preyss, “Superintendents now have far better access to what they need access to. And if we want to, say, close off a phase code, all we do now is simply log in, check a box, push it out to the field, and set it up for an auto-synch. It's pretty simple and it's given us a lot more control and efficiency than what we had with pen and paper.”

Together with more accurate reporting, the means for greater jobsite coordination, and the ability for back office professionals to have real-time visibility of the worksite, Viewpoint Point Solutions Sales Engineer Jeff Hix noted it’s solutions like these that will turn productivity numbers around: “It's about increasing production, reducing errors, synching data so you can increase  productivity out in the field and reduce wear and tear on the back office departments.”

For more about Viewpoint's Mobile Field Manager, visit https://viewpoint.com/products/mobile-field-manager.

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