Construction contractors are increasingly adopting technology to track their daily costs and activities from the jobsite. Some will refer to this as tracking their daily LEM – which stands for Labor, Equipment and Materials – however others may call it Field Data Capture; and some may call it the Daily Field Report, or Site Superintendent Report. Although we’ve adopted an industry term, “Construction Cost Tracking” as a general name to describe the activity and process, we tend to use “LEM” as the term that describes the final document(s) that contain all the jobsite data that gets tracked.
If you’re familiar with 4castplus at all, you’ll know that the system enables contractors to track much more than labor, equipment and materials. There’s clearly much more going on than that – so a “LEM” is just a term used that encapsulates the broad variety of everything that gets tracked. Other data that gets captured in the LEM includes: labor expenses like subsistence and meals; along with 3rd party vendor expenses; material field receipts; daily log and the weather. Field personnel can also input production quantities as progressed items that are completed. It also allows field personnel to upload any number of documents into organized document repository categories. There’s additionally a very powerful Vendor LEM option to track the costs and expenses from subcontractors.
Any organization that executes on major projects will know the importance of gathering information on how far along they are on a project. In other words, evaluating Percent Complete. Evaluating that by activity, by phase, by project, etc. At 4castplus, we refer to this as a "Progress Measurement" and it serves as a critical function for calculating analytics such as Earned Value Management (EVM) metrics. Measuring progress however, is a tricky thing to do; and can cause companies to not bother with it if they don’t have a good system and process in place. This is unfortunate as it is a vital part of project management and project controls on major projects. Without it, you’re flying in the dark.
Successfully managing construction projects is highly dependent on the quality of the data that’s captured about those projects. Whether you’re using the data to manage costs, bill your clients, pay your subcontractors, determine progress – or all that and more – the quality of that data is crucial to the success of the project. Current, Accurate and Complete – these are the key cornerstones of quality information. What’s more, getting quality data right from the start – i.e. from when it’s first entered into the system – saves organizations tremendous time, money and effort in executing on projects. Not only that, it reduces the chances and effects of any potential claims, disputes, safety issues and delays. Mistakes and omissions bleed energy and money from your organization. The result is not just costly, it’s often embarrassing – and you are particularly vulnerable if you have any manual “double-entry” of data from system to system.
If you’re like most companies that run construction projects, you know that getting accurate and real-time cost data from the jobsite can present many challenges. If you’ve never considered a software system to take on the heavy lifting of that process, here are the top 9 signs you need construction cost tracking software.
Top 9 signs you need construction cost tracking software and how 4castplus can help:
#1. You have way too many spreadsheets
Your Site Foremen probably use one or more spreadsheets to capture the daily hours and activities of your crews and equipment for each of your jobsites. You may also have a few contractors working for you that submit their spreadsheet to your site personnel for approval. Then there are the expenses, documents, scanned receipts, safety and inspection reports, etc. that you need to include into the mix, and if you’re a contractor yourself, everything needs to be combined and organized for your client’s Site Superintendent to sign and stamp.
Before I get started on the details, I’ll give you a quick definition: A CPI Forecast allows project controls professionals to predict the performance of their project using a subjective CPI value rather than the calculated CPI that’s determined based on past performance.
Project controls professionals can spend endless hours discussing, debating and tweaking the required codes for their project and for good reason; there are so many layers to consider in designing the ‘right’ cost coding system.
Find the Right Cost Coding System for You
Predicting the future is what we’re all about. But when do you use ETC versus FTC – and what’s the difference?
I was visiting a client yesterday helping them get started with some new projects they were planning. They’re a fairly new client and are still working through some of their internal processes with respect to how they’re going to take full advantage of this enterprise software they've just adopted. They were engaged in a very productive, but heated dialogue about how to manage this transition. The challenges they face are similar challenges that most companies would in this situation, so I thought it’d be worth writing about.