Few things are less sexy than accounting in the scheme of things. And yet, as we’re building it in the construction industry, accounting keeps demanding greater precision and speed applied to construction management. Hence, the adoption of varieties of automation in accounting software that has moved the industry well beyond traditional office environment, as increasingly robust applications have found their way onto smaller and smaller devices. Now, for example, Viewpoint, the construction industry’s leading provider of accounting software, has put real-time tracking of labor and production indicators, purchasing, equipment and material costing, and a host of dailyoperations indicators into the hands of first-line field supervision through a simple web browser that runs on virtually any smart mobile phone or tablet.
The impact of this “migration” of accounting to the field, gives contractors the ability to identify the real-time cost of work for any project, with the added advantage of establishing and perfecting accurate performance indicators for future estimates. In essence, contractors have a tool for knowing real-time productivity. Meanwhile, project managers, foremen and superintendents are able to track expenses and manage receivables using software that’s specifically designed for easy touch-screen posting and monitoring of the unique indicators of value and performance in commercial construction.
Better Numbers Faster
In detail, contract cost reporting, change order management, tracking and evaluating labor and material costs are all made vastly easier for project managers and their direct reports. All gain what amounts to instant analysis of the impact of any of these factors on the original contract, and, as needed, on the direction of a managed revision process. Fiscally, management can track and age billing at the speed of work, maintaining the closest possible watch on contract performance over time, project by project for a better, more current view of company performance overall.
The quality of operations data improves on two levels. First, information concerning tasks and results travels faster with greater accuracy. Second, better data provides a better understanding of changing conditions, which gives leadership better choices sooner than has ever been the case before. The upshot can be seen, for example, as contractors enjoy more accurate anticipation of needs for labor and materials, as progress is monitored at near real time. Another benefit is improved coordination with partners whose own work depends on having a clear picture of the timelines involved for tasks and fulfillment of deliverables, especially as these factors become better understood.
Perfecting Project Life-Cycles
Increased granularity of the information driving the construction life-cycle yields better results for the company as well as a more timely assessment of methods applied within their processes. In essence, the people directly responsible for the craftsmen performing the work of a project can know, recognize and report to their superiors in very close to real time virtually any changing conditions as they happen on site or address constraints affecting planned stages of the project. What’s more, is that this kind of optimization of construction work-flow at the micro-level supports better assured coordination and teamwork between the contractor and their partners resulting in overall net improvement of schedule performance.
Convenience, Flexibility with Speed, Yielding Greater Responsiveness
Ultimately, the convenience and flexibility of Viewpoint applications accelerate responsiveness across the organization, which can ultimately mean that contractors can operate more efficiently within more aggressive schedules. The reason is simple. As the flow of information affecting efficiency and change becomes easier to transmit and utilize at lower levels of responsibility, teams get better at evaluating and scaling their work loads. In essence, the company becomes more balanced in its ability to handle assignments, to either take on more business or manage their existing backlog more effectively at lower cost. Improved access to project information also allows management at the lowest levels to address exceptions themselves more proactively. Additionally, it’s much easier for more senior managers to monitor vital information about progress without having to needlessly interrupt staff or break into work flows to get the timely answers they need.
Having fully migrated this year to the cloud, Viewpoint’s Vista™ accounting platform which has been augmented by the acquisition in June, 2018 of Keystyle™ which supplies the company’s advanced mobile toolset. Now construction accounting can be managed with touch-screen point and click data entry and note-taking by foremen and superintendents on their mobile devices: smart phones and tablets. This extension of the Vista application to users in the field supports real-time data entry of assignments, including current weather conditions and other constraints for fast-track reporting of changes and opportunities.
With these tools, contractors become more nimble, as vertical organizations grow increasingly horizontal, gaining speed and flexibility that enable them to press advantages with confidence as soon as they arise. Firms also benefit from the opportunity to develop talent internally, as the kind of informational firepower these applications provide, reinforces the confidence of users as they successfully exercise greater authority in handling daily operations.