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Construction and Covid19: Moving Workflows from Paper to Electronic

The Forced Evolution from Paper to Electronic Reviews and Approvals

Typical construction projects have hundreds if not thousands of simultaneous workflows happening in a project. The numerous contributors & layers of approval can sometimes cause a very confusing and difficult to track process. 

Whether it’s waiting on someone to manually approve a funding request or push a spec change in change orders, visibility into approval structure and workflow progress is typically very difficult — it can become clouded. Someone might have forgotten to sign a physical document or left an email unread in their inbox, which can cause delay after delay. When these processes are managed via paper and across multiple systems, collaboration becomes very difficult among key stakeholders.

When COVID-19 hit and forced everyone to immediately work from home, construction projects reliant on paper-based workflows were severely disrupted. Matt Perel shared how his organization has been transitioning to digital workflows within e-Builder:

“We still do paper contracts that go to our governing body for approvals, but that’s the end step after everything has gone through e-Builder workflows, and we’re at the final step of creating the contract booklet and getting it to the governing body to sign.”

Not only do digital workflows improve collaboration, but it also increases the speed at which final delivery can occur. In the end, projects are completed faster and on budget and contractors are paid on-time. Everyone wins. 

Managing Construction Project Bids in the New Normal

The construction bidding process can be a fiercely competitive process among subcontractors and suppliers. In an effort to find the best possible person at the best possible rate, general contractors will sometimes collect hundreds of bids before choosing to proceed with construction. 

Some organizations rely on paper submissions throughout the bidding process. For those who’ve already transitioned to a digital bidding management system, those owners were a step ahead the rest when COVID-19 hit. Matthew Perll elaborated on how e-Builder’s bid management module has supported his organization:

“And when we moved to e-Builder in 2016, that was actually one of the big things we looked at, was, can it do the same things we’re doing electronic bidding-wise, that the older systems we were using can’t. It did. It does everything we needed to.”

At e-Builder, potential project delays — whether it’s due to a pandemic or a lack of collaboration — are either mostly mitigated or completely eliminated

Closing Thoughts

For owners who had already made the investment in construction software, the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t cause a major disruption to their projects. Their proactive investment towards technology adoption ended up serving as a critical insurance policy for the survivability of their projects and the success of their employees in working from home. 

The one resounding takeaway we’d like owners to learn from this New Normal is this: frankly, no one predicted that a global pandemic was going to disrupt the world’s economic landscape across multiple industries. An initial lack of investment in technology was a reasonable mistake, but now owners and construction leaders don’t have the benefit of the doubt moving forward.

Investment in technology is not a choice, it’s a must. Which technology and software companies you choose to partner with is up to you, but the decision not to invest is no longer an acceptable one.