Announcing new online reports and features for ICT Tracker

We have been busy at ICT, and I want to make sure you hear about our latest updates.

New Online Reports

First, we now have online reporting for ICT Tracker that has received high praise from our customers that have been testing out the report. As a customer, you will receive a link to the online Power BI reports and have immediate visibility into your projects. It is automatically updated with your tracking information. No longer do you have to update individual Power BI reports (although you still have that option). Your choice!!

Watch this short video to learn more about online reports.

New Date Feature

Second, a new update to our software now includes a date feature that has been at the top of our “most requested” features. You now have the option, when tracking, to use the current date or post date it for when the actual work occurred. This adds much more flexibility and accuracy of project status.

Watch this short video to learn more about the new date feature.

Remember, it is important that you update the app to take advantage of these new features and continue working with your existing projects.

For support or answer to your technical questions, please contact help@icttracker.com If you want to learn more about ICT Tracker or expand your use, please contact info@icttracker.com

9 Numbers You Need to Keep Your Company Profitable

When I ask a construction business owner or manager: “Why are you in business?” He usually answers: “To make a profit.” Then I ask: “How much profit do you make?” Most of them don’t really know.

Great article by George Hedley of Construction Business Owner on the importance of data in managing your business to truly know if you are postioned to make a profit.

I particularily like point number 5. “Next, you must have an accounting system and software to track your actual job costs or work task.” He goes on to say, “If you don”t know what it costs to build it is almost impossible to ever make any money!”

Hmmm, sounds like ICT Tracker would be a good system to start with. Read George’s complete article here.

A Case for Power BI

As many of you know, ICT Tracker utilizes the power and visibility into your project data with Power BI.

 In a recent article written for Construction Business Owner by Marish Godha entitled “Why Now is the Time to Modernize Your Construction Business“, the author highlights the benefits of high tech to run an efficient business.

 In the article, he points out the importance of strengthening your business intelligence and the need for interactive visualization of construction data.  

 As the author states, “A technology like Microsoft Power BI will enable you to retrieve easy-to-understand, interactive data visualizations and analytics for business insights so that you can quickly understand your project and make fast, strategic decisions.”

Accumulating intelligent and accurate data is critical for any business manager to make timely decisions. Data like budget vs. actual work performed, manhours based on measured productivity rates, or precise percent of work performed is intelligent data that ICT Tracker provides in an interactive Power BI report.

Future of Construction Technology: 10 Technologies and Trends to Watch in 2021

An interesting article recently published by Construction Executive highlighted the amount of disruption that construction faced in 2020.

The author highlights technology to consider in 2021 and states that many companies need to consider the following ways to address and adapt to the challenges, obstacles, and changing methods or standards in construction:

  • Expanding Digital Twin Adoption
  • Digital Construction Grows
  • Construction Investigates AR and VR more seriously
  • Increased use of Data and Analytics Software on Site – my particular favorite as it is exactly where ICT Tracker fits!!!!
  • Stakeholders Experiment with Robotics to Alleviate Labor Shortage Pressures
  • Supply Chain Disruption Sparks Blockchain Innovation
  • Recycled Resources Gain More Interest
  • Modular Construction Makes Moves
  • Adaptive Reuse Grows
  • Developers Look to Mixed Use and Outdoor Spaces

The author closes with….

While it is possible to analyze and project, 2020 showed that it is impossible to predict with certainty what will happen in in the future. In the current climate of volatility however, one thing is certain, innovation is inevitable. Construction will continue to demonstrate its resilience through disruption and move forward with creativity and determination in the new year and beyond.”

HOW TRUE!!

By John Brown | Thursday, January 14, 2021

Read complete article here.

 

 

Construction Labor Productivity: Part 4: Impact of Implementing COVID-19 Protocols

ICT and SNIPS Magazine recently sponsored a webinar on the Construction Labor Productivity: How These Construction Managers Use Labor Tracking to Save Money, Build Success.

We had Guy Gast, President of The Waldinger Corporation – Iowa Division, and David Francis, CTO of ICT on hand for a discussion on this topic. In addition, Guy discussed the findings and objectives of recent reports issued by the New Horizons Foundation and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA).

Interviewed by Emell Adolphus, Editor of SNIPS Magazine, this four-part series covers many of the highlights of their discussion divided into the following topics:

  • Part 1: Benefits of Productivity Tracking
  • Part 2: Adopting and the ROI of Technology in the Field
  • Part 3: Process and Best Practices
  • Part 4: Impact of Implementing COVID-19 Protocols

You can listen to the complete webinar here.

Part 4: Impact of Implementing COVID-19 Protocols

Emell:

New Horizons recently did a study about contractors losing as much as 8.7% of productivity from implementing COVID-19 prevention protocols such as hand washing sanitizing putting on masks, social distancing as well. The study also stated contractors wouldn’t feel that loss until further into the future. Could you tell us a little bit about the grounds of that study and what did it mean that they would not feel it until the future?

Guy: There are two parts to the productivity study. Early this year we re-deployed resources as we needed to get some research done quickly on many man hours of work to see what is going on. That 8.7% loss was a result of studying a hundred thousand man-hours at work and measuring what we called mitigation exposure. That is fit for duty, getting access to the job site, getting in, new safety orientations and procedures, hand-washing frequency, tool cleanup. What I call non-productive tasks.

In addition, we discovered that on the direct labor installation. There was an additional 9.2% average loss and that was for things like putting one man on a scissor lift instead of two or what you refer to as social distancing – reallocating crews and changing our methods of getting material in and out of the building. Vertical access – putting less people on a on a skip hoist to get to higher floors in the building. So, all sorts of things that contributed to potentially a loss of 17.9%. Why is that important? Well, because frankly a very small needle move on labor is a big move on the bottom line. If we lost 10% of production on labor, we might lose the entire margin in the job. To the converse, if we improved labor production 10%, we would probably double our margin. So, it was a paramount issue because while we generally say at the Foundation to give contractors a chance to grow, you can’t grow if you don’t protect the bottom line right now in difficult times.

That was the genesis of the study and why we did it. The concept is that people don’t see these things until later. Often, we are not able to really reflect trends in labor production until we’ve had quite a bloody experience and that is not a sacred cow and not just for small contractor midsize or large. It sometimes takes a long time for us to recognize a negative trend in production. Ultimately those things don’t show up on the bottom line of the job financial or the company’s financials until the last 10% of the job. It is really a challenging event to manage looking forward. David, I know you’ve been there you’ve seen that.

David: I am seeing a lot of new and younger foremen out there that have never estimated before and do not understand how the job is supposed to run compared to how a job is really running in and they have lost time to correct issues. You hit it right, the goals of efficiency are to minimize labor loss and the more loss you have on labor it doesn’t take much to destroy a job. And the hard part is if you don’t find out until the last 10% and say, “Holy smokes, we really have an issue.” That is the scary part for any project manager.

Guy: I know contractors. Rose colored glasses will come out, they will be overly optimistic about their ability to drive an outcome. They will believe, of course, that I have all my best people now, so I’ll do the work even faster than I did in the worst of COVID. And yet, I’ll be managing against those protocols. I think the reality is you are going to be faced with taking work at lower margins with higher labor risk in a downturn market. I don’t think any of that is negative, but I think it means you need to be more selective, be careful. You must be willing to measure production early because if you don’t, later in the year, that work that you took with your rose-colored glasses on will not look so attractive. That’s what I believe. And that is why I think the motivation to manage production is even more desperate now than it was at the beginning of COVID.

David: From my experience, change is always hard for contractors. When things are going well, they don’t want it to change, especially if they see profit. If things are going well or if they’re getting profits, they assume things are good. But a lot of times they are leaving money on the table, because they are still doing old processes. There are new processes out there that or even simpler processes that you can put in place.

And then the flip side happens. When things get tight, no one wants to spend money on technology. The worst part is they go back to their old safe practices. But the problem is people are adjusting and moving to be competitive so if you go back to how you’ve always done things is a real dangerous trend. The COVID world is a totally different world and how things operate, how jobs go and, I think more than ever, you really want to know what’s going on at your job.

Guy: Well, I think in a year where everybody has been challenged by manpower and recruiting and attracting and retaining the best talent, I think you start with people and there are two kinds of people. There are customers and there’s employees. I want to keep the ones I have or both, the customers, and the employees so if I don’t focus first and foremost on the safety, health, and wellbeing of those two parties, my customers and my employees, I’m getting distracted because that’s what’s going to be important, at least I think as we go in the first half of the year

 

Takeaway: Stay competitive and protect your profits. No more dirty paper with ICT Tracker.

Construction Labor Productivity: Part 3: Process and Best Practices

ICT and SNIPS Magazine recently sponsored a webinar on the Construction Labor Productivity: How These Construction Managers Use Labor Tracking to Save Money, Build Success.

We had Guy Gast, President of The Waldinger Corporation – Iowa Division, and David Francis, CTO of ICT on hand for a discussion on this topic. In addition, Guy discussed the findings and objectives of recent reports issued by the New Horizons Foundation and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA).

Interviewed by Emell Adolphus, Editor of SNIPS Magazine, this four-part series covers many of the highlights of their discussion divided into the following topics:

  • Part 1: Benefits of Productivity Tracking
  • Part 2: Adopting and the ROI of Technology in the Field
  • Part 3: Process and Best Practices
  • Part 4: Impact of Implementing COVID-19 Protocols

You can listen to the complete webinar here.

Part 3: Process and Best Practices

Emell:

What procedure do you use to hold people accountable to work within set processes?

Guy:

Our production rates are still kind of mired in the old estimating system. What we are going to have to see change in the industry are ways of making those transfers and our contractors that have done that. But it is a lot of work to start shifting hours when your historical databases are based on an older methodology.

Well, at least for our company, and so I can’t speak broadly about the industry, but the key is to have standard processes. And to the extent that you can standardize the processes and get them ingrained in your company as best practices.

And we use that term, an awful lot around here, “best practices”. There are some days where I would go around and ask, “What do you think they are?” And frankly, I got different answers from different people.

But there are some that we would say are absolute gold standards in the industry and within our own company. Such as you must have meaningful short interval schedules, have solid estimate breakdowns, have standard cost codes. The field needs the ability to report against categories and the way they put the work in place. They need cost codes and activities that are of the right durations. In our case, I recommend no less than three days and no more than twenty. Twenty sometimes seems like a lot, but it depends on the activity. You must give the field guys the basis to report stuff, the way they are putting it in. If it’s hard to figure out what I spent my time on, it won’t get reported correctly.

This old guy told me once, “Know the score, keep the score, the score will improve.” Our people don’t run in the field from data, they are not afraid to talk about whether they are productive or not. And these folks are all learning together. Holding people accountable is about being willing to say, “Guy, what’s this? It’s not going very well, what’s up?” Some folks are afraid of that conversation. But you must be willing to have it. You must have the data. You need the data to have a good conversation.

 

Takeaway: Know the score with field accurate field data captured in real-time with ICT Tracker.