Materials costs rose by 4.8% between February 2016 and February 2017. This coupled with a chronic shortage of skilled labour, means construction firms across the UK are reporting increased pressure on margins, leading many firms to absorb these costs in an attempt to stay competitive. But how sustainable can that be?
Considered one of ‘least-digitised industries in the world’, the construction industry has an enormous opportunity to add value to their sector by adding technologies that improve productivity.
PwC published a report last year, ‘Engineering and Construction Trends’, which claims smart construction technology and management techniques could add £1.2 trillion in value to the industry worldwide, as well as bringing dramatic gains in productivity.
Free your team and help offset shrinking margins
Let’s start with taking a look at what modern site management teams look like. They’re highly mobile and likely to be spread across several projects, each with varying degrees of complexity. Team members will spend time in the office, onsite in the field as well as lots of external client meetings.
The last complication is that a site management team is also likely to be comprised of subcontractors, employees, and specialists from various firms, encompassing surveyors, engineers, architects, foremen, inspectors, and more. Any technology deployed needs to be highly secure yet highly flexible to allow for remote access across all types of devices, and be simple enough to guarantee rapid user adoption.
‘When I create a folder in Dropbox, I can share large files with subcontractors, and they can upload their submissions right back—so I have those as soon as they’re done. It’s a lot easier than using an FTP site.’
Steve Swanson, Centric Projects
One of the major advantages of using a file, sync and share platform like Dropbox in a business context is that it enables real-time collaboration, cutting down on back-and-forth communication. Contractors who rely on server-based systems have to either work from the office — removed from the construction site without real-time information — or use VPNs, which can be slow and cumbersome, even for simple tasks.
Dropbox also has the ability to integrate with Autodesk, breaking down content silos and bringing the latest version of your files right into your AutoCAD workflow. Users can open and save projects in Dropbox directly with the AutoCAD desktop application, making it easier for teams to collaborate around their content throughout the lifecycle of a project.
Smart construction technology making RFPs cheaper, quicker, and easier
The combination of shrinking margins, fewer accepted orders, and a higher number of turned down projects means the challenge is on for construction companies to be able to respond quickly and easily to requests for proposals in order to win business. Embracing technology can help make the RFP process simpler and easier, give your team immediate access to files, and help everyone work better, together.
Here’s how Joe, a project manager with Everett J. Prescott in the US, has found smart collaboration technology helpful to his day-to-day work:
‘We’ve challenged the status quo on a number of processes with Dropbox, but the most impactful changes have been to our bid workflow. For a long time, we relied on paper photocopies, pen and pencil mark-ups, scanning and emailing documents to submit bids.
‘Almost immediately after deploying Dropbox, we realized how different this process could look. Now, we organize, edit and assemble all submittal packets right in Dropbox, then share those packets externally with engineers using shared links. That change alone has freed up over 500 hours of project manager time, allowing us to focus on providing better service to our clients.’
Your competitive edge doesn’t have to compromise quality or your profitability. By providing mobile access, fast, reliable sync, and smart content aggregation, your bid team can handle more bids, thus gaining your firm valuable exposure and ultimately, winning more business.
Take your construction project to the next level with Dropbox Business. To request your free trial, click the image below.