Payment Protection: Transitioning Subcontractors from Written Notes to a Digital Site Diary
While construction projects are often big in scale – from multi-level buildings to freeways and everything in between – in reality they are made up of many small tasks being done to a plan. Generations of subcontractors have relied upon their memory and a stumpy pencil scribblings on a notepad to record the day’s happenings. However, the risks of a vulnerable paper record, which can be damaged, lost, or have information altered, simply can’t keep up with the needs of today’s industry.
The evolution of record-keeping
Accurate record-keeping of work done, deliveries, or problems on site is crucial, both to make sure that the tasks are done accurately and to get paid for it.
Paper-based systems have the benefit of handwritten information, which can be sketches, as well as handwritten notes. However that’s about it – handwritten records can’t capture much more. The limited information they can capture also stays just there, in the paper diary. No one else can benefit from the information that vulnerable set of paper pages has recorded until that piece of paper makes its way back to the office and is physically shown to others.
A digital site diary captures different types of information, and sends it straight into the business’ central construction project management system. From photos of work done, site conditions and deliveries to text on a page, or markups on a PDF document, all these different types of information can be collected by the team throughout the day and retained against the project records. With the right information, and sharing it immediately with the office, solutions can be found faster, so everyone can get on with the job.
Records as proof for payment
Records are needed both onsite and offsite. “An image tells a thousand words” is an apt saying, as having a photo of a problem on site, or a product incorrectly supplied can quickly show the state of play on site. Accurate information with strong evidence can prevent a dispute from disrupting work and ensure that invoices are paid.
The Security of Payment Act has made a massive difference in the protection of payments for work done, however it still relies upon records as proof of fact of what has happened on a project. Capturing records throughout the working day into a digital site diary, which are ready anytime management needs then, can put out a fiery payment dispute before it affects cashflow.
Sliding right (and left) into the digital era
Every tradie has a mobile phone and uses dozens of apps on a daily basis – some for work and others not for work - so half the job is done in terms of getting the team to use a digital site diary. They already take photos and tap out messages, so the transition to going digital for a site diary isn’t a big leap.
A construction management platform that has been developed by subcontractors for contractors, such as Neo Intelligence, is designed to be easy to use, especially in a busy site environment. Keeping the apps simple to use means that it's easy to bring in the use of it to capture information on site, as part of ‘how we work’.
Different apps designed for different members of the team keep everyone focused on the job. Supervisors see project information, including which staff are scheduled to be on the site that day, review and confirm fieldworker attendance and edit timesheets, and add digital site diary entries. While field workers see their schedule and confirm they will be there, sign in and out, add digital site diary notes, and see the key daily details they need. The administration version of the platform brings it all together with tools for scheduling and reporting, plus integrating the information captured into other systems, such as payroll, accounting, and more.
Keeping up with the industry
Construction scheduling software and digital site diaries help an individual subcontractor business to reduce its admin time, be more efficient and have the records they need when they need it. Moving into digital also helps the business to keep up with the industry, as it continues to bring technology into all aspects of the work.
In a time of talent shortages and competition for skilled workers, moving your business into the digital era also keeps your business current with industry trends and more appealing for attracting new staff. Young ‘digital natives’ who have been raised with mobile technology already see the limitations of a manual information system and are less comfortable working with a vulnerable paper-based system. They already know how helpful it is to have a world of information in their pocket, and being about to leverage that at work keeps them engaged and working efficiently.
Construction moves fast, and using a construction management platform will mean that your business can benefit from the administration time savings, and improved record keeping it offers – setting up your subcontracting business for growth. With your team already half there in their use of mobile devices, plus the simple interface of a purpose-built platform, the transition to a digital site diary as part of a construction software specifically for subcontractors will be quick and easy so that you can benefit from the upgrade soon.