paper-is-the-problemA guest post by Steven Toups | Cleargistix

“Is this an 8 or a 3?”  Spend enough time in the office of a construction company and you will hear that or a similar question asked with inordinate frequency.  Often, the next step is for someone to get on the phone to try and figure out the answer.  First a call to the supervisor and next a call to the field personnel.  Before you know it, an hour has been spent, possibly spanning across a couple of days, trying to answer this simple but ultimately very costly question.

Construction businesses have a need to capture a variety of information in the field, including  revenue, safety, payroll, inspection, activity, and project progress. Even as “digital” is taking over more and more of our lives, much of the field information from construction companies is currently captured on paper.

And…paper is the problem.

Paper needs to be transported.  Paper is expensive to produce.  Paper is not smart, it does not know that a new price was supposed to go into effect today.  Paper gets lost.  Paper gets dirty and mangled.  Paper does not know when it is incomplete or inaccurate.  Paper also does not know that the white copy was changed and therefore a change needs to be made to the pink copy (wherever that may be).

And it is not just paper.  Many construction companies have made the step to utilizing spreadsheets to capture information from the field.  Spreadsheets have many of the same troubles as paper.  In addition, many companies utilizing spreadsheets find that instead of standardizing their information capture, multiple versions of the “standard” spreadsheet are in use, adding additional variability into their business processes.

Companies utilizing paper and spreadsheets to capture field information also are further adding costs to their processes by documenting the same transaction twice, once when the form is filled out in the field and again when that form is keyed into the billing, accounting, payroll and/or other back-end systems.

As a result of these myriad issues utilizing paper and spreadsheets, companies experience revenue leakage, lengthy service-to-cash cycles and increased costs, especially costs related to rework, transportation, duplicate entry and printing.

Construction businesses that are still using paper and spreadsheets to capture field information are not only saddled with increased costs and inefficiencies, they cannot take advantage of the many, constantly evolving benefits of technology by having their information in a digital format.  While the construction industry has historically been a laggard in the adoption of technology to improve business processes, customer-driven adoption of digital tools is accelerating.  In a recent survey by AIIM, the Global Community of Information Professionals, 46% of those surveyed believe their single biggest productivity improvement for most of their business processes is to remove paper.

Paper is the problem… technology is the solution.