For project managers in construction, it seems there are always a hundred different ways you could improve your workflow. But, actually making a change and dealing with the disruption that can cause… that’s another story.
You’re working with thin margins as it is, so you don’t have a lot of wiggle room for experimenting with new tools or processes that require a learning curve. And, if there’s going to be a hefty investment up front, there had better be proven ROI in the very near future or there’s no way the boss is going to go for it.
So, the question becomes: out of all those hundred different possibilities for creating efficiencies and making improvements, which are both time and cost-effective for our current situation, AND can provide immediate returns upon deployment?
There are a few solid answers to that question, and one of the most popular is asset management software.
What is construction asset management software?
Every construction firm needs to manage its inventory of supplies, tools, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other valuable assets, in order to know when items need to be serviced or replaced, and to know who has which tools and where, and can decide whether it’s necessary to order new stock or rent a stopgap until an item is available again.
If your firm employs a dozen journeymen, handling a few jobs a month, managing the inventory could be as simple as keeping up a paper checklist on the storeroom wall, or an Excel spreadsheet on the warehouse manager’s computer. But, if your firm has grown to the point where you’re handling multiple jobs at once with a combination of reusable and consumable items in an inventory that’s constantly changing, those manual methods simply aren’t going to work anymore.
That’s where asset management software comes in: it’s a high-powered inventory database combined with some quick and simple means of keeping the database constantly updated with the latest status on each piece of inventory. The most common scanning methods include barcode and RFID, each of which has their own pros and cons.
The main benefits of deploying an asset management solution include:
- Eliminating the need for one or more full-time inventory personnel
- Speeding up the check-in/check-out process for reusable assets (like tools and vehicles)
- Providing deep reporting and analytics to inform procurement and identify trends
- Adding a significant layer of accountability to the process, thereby reducing shrinkage through loss or theft
All of those factors can be boiled down to the ultimate benefit of using an asset management software solution: time and money being saved from day one.
Where and when will you see returns?
Consider where time and money are being wasted right now if you’re trying to manage a large, complex inventory without a system that’s up to the task. Here are just a few areas where you’re losing cash:
- Purchasing tools and equipment for an upcoming job because you don’t realize it’s sitting, unused, or at a different jobsite
- Failing to buy a large enough stock of consumable supplies, forcing you to pay a premium price for the items and priority shipping when you run out in the middle of a job
- Paying one or more people 40 hours per week to walk around counting things over and over again, but still falling far short of real-time visibility into your inventory
- Finding that inventory items are disappearing (whether they’re legitimately lost, hoarded by workers who want to always have their favorites on-hand, or stolen) but having very little data or evidence to go on beyond a flawed manual system that’s prone to human errors
- Allowing an expensive piece of equipment to suffer a catastrophic breakdown (requiring expensive repairs or replacement) because no one realized it hadn’t been serviced recently enough
There are many other areas you can probably identify based on your own unique circumstances, but just this partial list helps to highlight the fact that asset management software can create dramatic improvements almost instantly upon deployment. That’s possible because it reduces the likelihood of human error and creates incredible transparency into exactly where your inventory is and what state it’s in.
How much of an investment is required upfront?
From a learning curve standpoint, most companies find that integrating an asset management solution into their workflow causes minimal disruption. These systems are easy to use, usually just requiring employees to log in (or swipe an ID card, if applicable,) then scanning a label on the item they’re checking out or carrying it through an RFID-enabled doorway. In most cases, everyone is onboard and seeing faster inventory processing time within days.
The time required to install and configure the system will depend largely on how extensive your setup needs to be and whether or not the new system needs to integrate with other existing business systems (such as accounting or invoicing software). But, generally speaking, most companies can have new systems up and running within a few business days of making a purchase.
Perhaps the most compelling fact is that most high-quality asset management solutions are not very expensive (generally a modest monthly subscription plus an initial setup fee that’s based on custom needs.)
So, if you’re looking for a quick, inexpensive, and simple way to add tremendous value by creating efficiencies in the construction process, consider investing in asset management software today.
About the Author
Matthew Ramage is Trimble’s Segment Manager for Asset Management and the MEP Global Marcom Director. He leads a new marketing approach for his team, specializing in inbound and content-centric marketing.More Content by Matthew Ramage