It’s difficult for contractors to know how they’re performing in the field without true visibility across a project’s entire life cycle. Not having a cohesive picture of risks and issues can lead to busted budgets and lagging schedules.

Today, many of them are turning to technology for help. Many high-tech software programs have gone mobile, and can therefore provide real-time access to data in the field at a more granular level. This, in turn, enables contractors to make adjustments “on the fly” – sooner rather than later.

An integrated system using the latest in computer- and Cloud-based programs can assist contractors in taking a project’s productivity “pulse,” then help them take the necessary steps to keep a project on target. In the process, they’re able to more easily track manhours and measure time more accurately, often using mobile devices, and in turn create more accurate and timely analytics both in the field and back office.

Some contractors even send progress data from the jobsite to the office – on a daily basis – to develop realized revenue calculations. This provides an unprecedented level of analysis and forecasting, and lends itself to more accurate invoicing and improved cash flow analysis in the back office.

Resolving Productivity Pains

The better a contractor manages change the better they’ll be at mitigating risks to cost and schedule. Fortunately, today’s tools can help determine how changes – or even a single entry of data – will impact downstream systems. There are programs that can compare current and original estimates, as well as current and original budgets, through every stage of the project. This provides a better view of the impact of changes on cost and revenue, and allows a contractor to devise solutions earlier in the process.

Additions to scope – unplanned maintenance, unexpected obstructions, additional work outside the project scope, etc. – are another common challenge. Through the implementation of new procedures and processes, backed up by modern productivity software, an organization can more efficiently and effectively capture, manage and report changes.

The integration of this data components across the entire project spectrum is essential to protecting profits. After all, a single entry can feed multiple downstream systems and enable a contractor to instantly identify and understand the impact of the change on the critical path and budget.

Leaning on Artificial Intelligence

Additionally, planners can deliver more realistic project plans by incorporating Artificial Intelligence into their processes. AI essentially provides smart suggestions based upon an organization’s historical project knowledge – rather than them starting from a blank page.

AI is not some magic tool where a contractor pushes a button and generates a schedule, but is instead leveraged and manipulated to provide realistic, dependable suggestions. In effect, it improves the planning process by enabling a computer to emulate or mimic the way humans makes decisions.

In just the past five years, the speed and affordability of computing power has changed the AI landscape, enabling the technology to reside on a planner’s desktop or in the Cloud. That means a computer is not merely a mechanism for receiving inputs, but is now proactively guiding the planner.

Using an AI-enhanced approach, a contractor can begin the planning process with some reliable building blocks. Along the way, they can more easily identify the alignment or misalignment of a plan, and whether or not it’s being executed properly. For more information regarding your unique situation, contact your local CRI professional.