Survey: Paperless data collection fast becoming preferred method for contractors

Balfour Beatty iPads

Balfour Beatty workers at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport jobsite go over plans on an iPad. Credit: Balfour Beatty/Citeworld.

While the good old spreadsheet may have launched and sustained many a construction business, contractors are increasingly turning to the cloud and more advanced software to update, access and analyze their records.

That’s the findings of a new survey from Dodge Data & Analytics in collaboration with Viewpoint, a construction management software provider owned by Trimble.

The survey released last week—Improving Performance with Project Data SmartMarket Report: How Improved Collection and Analysis is Leading to the Digital Transformation of the Construction Industry—shows the percentage of contractors who use commercial software to collect data is up by a third (23 percent to 34 percent) in just the last three years and is anticipated to rise to 42 percent by 2022. (See Chart 1 above.)

Contractors in the survey also said they had significantly higher satisfaction using software rather than spreadsheets or paper forms, but many still have concerns about the security of storing their data in the cloud.

As to what contractors want from their software, project performance data takes the top spot, followed by payroll, productivity, safety and equipment tracking data in that order. (See Chart 2 above.)

The methods contractors use the collect this data include apps, cameras, sensors and wearables, says Steve Jones, Senior Director of Industry Insights Research at Dodge Data & Analytics. (See Chart 3 above.) The smarter jobsite will transform the industry, but companies need their data gathering and analytics fundamentals in place before they can fully profit from all of the technology that is now emerging, he says.

Another interesting finding in the survey is the personnel question: who is in charge of data management? Not surprisingly, almost all the largest companies have an IT director/manager in this role, whereas only about half of the smaller firms have a dedicated person in that role. (See Chart 4 above.)

Something we found instructive were the anecdotal reports. On page 20 a case study from Leander Construction, Canton, Illinois that noted many project managers and superintendents were burdened with administrative tasks that negatively affected production. The company’s software solution broke down information silos and assisted managers with obtaining more relevant and timely information.

On page 28 of the report, Mikeal Kanouff, operations manager at McClone Construction, says he uses data and analytics to manage his biggest risk factor—labor. The company links timesheet, cost reports and accounting platforms to get a projection that allows every supervisor to see where a job stands on a day to day basis.

Jake Pepper, vice-president of integrated construction services at Pepper Construction says being able to see his data at a glance in a graphic format, rather than line-by-line, makes it easier to understand the week-to-week strategies and upcoming opportunities. Pepper Construction is also experimenting with programs to extract value from daily site photographs and melding it with BIM information.

If you would like to do a deep dive into the details of the survey and report you can find it here:

If you would like more information on going paperless with your maintenance and fleet management processes, see our previous articles here: