How to Track all T&M work, Create and Track Fixed Price COR’s/Quotes and document all schedule delays, without any paper.
As the construction industry turns to apps and software to help eliminate paperwork and streamline company flows, there are many questions that you might be asking when trying to identify the right platform. Will my team utilize the programs and understand how to work with them? Will these platforms really help streamline my business? And the most common one, what’s wrong with how I am doing business now?
In the world of construction, there are many things that are important to running a successful project. The quality of the product and timeline of the project will always be number one, these helps make sure that you are profitable. But above and beyond that, you need tools that help with documentation. You need the ability to see where your projects and outstanding items stand. With the technology in today’s age, a project manager should not need to drive out to a project to identify if things have been done, they shouldn’t even needs to pick up the phone and make a call – they should be able to do all of this by through an app on a phone or a web portal.
There is an abundance of tools available, with new apps and software for construction released daily; nevertheless, it is important that you understand your company’s needs when finding the best app for you. Some apps will streamline your entire company – but these come with a larger price tag. Others will digitize parts of your work flow, but they may not talk to other apps. You must understand how you want your company to flow when making these important decisions. For this article I am going to be highlighting Change Order Work specifically and how you should no longer be tracking it via paper.
The dream of project managers and companies is a dynamic Web-based app that would eliminate all field paperwork required for T&M work, i.e. a web based/paperless system with 24/7 access from any smart phone, tablet, laptop or desktop. And it now exists. You can now create Fixed Price COR’s/Quotes, Schedule Delay Notices and access a real time COR Log and Report log. I’ll be talking about the system we developed at DataStreet.
Paper T&M tickets should be a thing of the past! If your company is still tracking T&M work on paper you are losing money, and you are losing it in multiple ways.
First let’s talk about those paper tickets/tags, the ones that always seem to be lost, late or damaged. With digital tickets, nothing shows up late to the office, tickets don’t get lost and everything is legible and complete. Because tickets can typically be created from the mobile app or from the web, your tickets are always safe, accessible and easily added to. Your field personnel can track Labor, Material, Equipment and snap photos in seconds. If you prefer your office personnel to do the tracking, it’s just as easy to add these items from the office. Flexibility is key.
Next, let’s discuss processing a ticket and creating a Change Order Request. Typically, some tickets may take 10 minutes to process, others may take 20 minutes, and then you might get those real nasty tickets that are half missing and may take 45 minutes or more to process into a formal Change Order Request (COR). If your company is doing a high volume of T&M work, this could cause a PM or office employee to dedicate needless hours each week to deal with all of the paperwork brought in from the field – and fingers crossed that “All” the paperwork actually made its way to the office. Reviewing and processing a T&M Ticket digitally will only take seconds. All Man Hours, Material, Equipment, Photos and notes are all consolidated into a formal COR with just a few clicks. Your employees who previously had to deal with processing all those paper tickets are now freed up to help with other tasks.
Generating Fixed Priced COR’s/Quotes
If your company is consistently doing T&M work, then I am sure that you are also being asked to provide fixed pricing for proposed changes to your scope of work. Digital platforms allow you to quickly generate Fixed Price COR’s/Quotes and send them to General Contractors with just a few clicks of the mouse. Your “Fixed Price Change Order Requests” can be emailed directly to the General Contractor. Any changes / updates that may be required to a fixed price COR once it’s been submitted can easily be accomplished. And revisions are tracked as well. All original & revised COR’s are automatically stored in real time. No more digging through Excel files or Outlook to find quotes that you have sent in the past.
From your real time COR Log, you can view, update, edit, send & or re-send all of your T&M and Fixed Price COR’s as needed. When a new T&M Ticket is created, it is immediately housed in the COR Log. From there, your office personnel can view & track any and all additions to the ticket. This includes all man hours, material, equipment, photos and any Authorized Signers signatures that may have been required. Locating a single COR or a group of COR’s takes just a few seconds via the built-in filters. In addition, our COR Report feature allows you to view, download and or send custom reports such as: Open Items, Submitted Items, Change Orders Rec’d, Work in Progress, No Charge Items, Rejected Items, etc.
Documentation and Signatures
When completing extra work, we highly recommend capturing an approval signature for the scope of work, as well as for all labor/hours worked each day. When setting up a new project, you will identify who is an authorized signer – who on the GC has team has the authority to sign off on authorizations and hour logs. DataStreet allows you to capture these important signatures in multiple ways, and at different times during the ticket’s lifespan. This can be done via a mobile device or through email approval. What this means is that your field personnel can capture signatures from the field at any time, or if your authorized signer is not available and you need their signature, you may capture their signature via email. Flexibility is Key! Providing these signature options is a necessity in today’s world as the GC’s authorized signer(s) may not always be available right when you need them, however your work must continue as there’s always a schedule that must be met.
Documenting delays is helpful for subcontractors for many reasons, sometimes you may be reimbursed for “lost/down time”, other times you may just want to document why you were not able to start or continue work in a specific area. Whatever the reason, it’s worth documenting. Some digital applications allow you to track and document any and all lost/down time, failed inspections, trade delays, equipment failures, owner changes, etc, that have negatively impacted your ability to perform your work in a timely manner. In addition, you’re able to add photos to the Schedule Delay notice if needed. With a few simple clicks, all the data and photos are combined into a straight forward, easy to understand email. When you are setting up your project preferences, you can determine who receives these emails. This means that you can have members on the GC team receive schedule delay notices immediately as they are created, or you can opt to send them out manually at a later date and time. Again, flexibility is key! We know that there is a fine line that General Contractors and Subcontractors walk from time to time and so the digital world is starting to provide the tools needed to maintain a successful, strong & fair relationship with all of your clients.
Chris Kinghorn is a partner at DataStreet, which provides a web-based a solution for Change Order Needs. For more information visit DataStreetApp.com