C+S March 2020 Vol. 6 Issue 3 (web)

Common Construction Administration & Inspection Issues That SaaS Can Fix

The construction contract administration phase for unit price contracts is often full of inefficiencies thanks to outdated, manual processes. While the general complexity of infrastructure projects can lead to unavoidable conundrums, a vast number of issues can be eliminated by redefining an agency’s process within a Software- as-a-Service (SaaS) environment. Engineering firms and owner-agencies have been criticized for being slow to adopt new technologies and generic project management tools like Microsoft Word, Excel, and paper have overstayed their welcome under the banner of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Still, many agencies are beginning to recognize the value of aligning their process with the best technology at hand. The following situations and processes can be greatly streamlined with the right cloud-based construction management platform. Managing Multiple Funding Sources Funding for many horizontal construction projects comes from a mix of state, local, and federal funds. Budget tracking for multiple sources can be a major headache involving innumerable spreadsheets, physical ledgers, and specific project items that require manual updating on each progress payment. SaaS platforms offer a better way to automate this process by trackingwhat funding source is paying for each itemand automatically pushing that information to the daily report. Though spreadsheets have that capability, they require complex macros and a knowledgeable staffer to manage the process. If that person leaves, the process leaves with them. Many SaaS products allow for individual fund tracking by itemwith comprehensive reporting to keep stakeholders apprised of the funding status, with a minimal learning curve to streamline the process through unforeseen staff changes or new hires. WorkingWithout Internet Connectivity Some agencies implement a SaaS-based construction management solution for mobility in the field, only to find themselves limited by weak internet connectivity on rural job sites. Technology is funny that way — without the infrastructure to support it, we’re almost better off with a pen and pad. Keyword: almost. Many SaaS-based solutions offer an offline mobile app, an invaluable tool for field inspectors. These apps allow field staff to enter daily work reports in the field which saves valuable time that it would have taken to travel to an office to enter reports. Disputes, Audits, and Project Closeouts Construction professionals spend dozens of hours a week looking for project data, handling disputes between project stakeholders, and assessing mistakes that require new work to be done. Accuracy and quick access to data are both paramount to resolving disputes, but when there are thousands of paper documents to sort through, the lengthy process can lead to tension rising on both sides of the dispute. The solution is better record-keeping in a digital system that’s well-organized, searchable, and designed to handle specific situations like budgetary conflicts. Since most services keep comprehensive digital records and track daily activities, these issues are easy to eliminate when contractors, consultants, and owners are bought in on using the service correctly. Managers find that projects are “finaled” out quicker since there’s less back and forth with suppliers and contractors for common issues like lost certification statements.


csengineermag.com march 2020

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