Best Practices

Living in a Materials World

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Effectively managing the materials on jobsites with modern software can have a significant impact on contractors bottom lines.

Every built environment turns raw materials into polished projects. It’s the skill of the labor, the creativity of the design and the intricacy of the engineering that shifts steel, concrete, brick, glass and so many other materials into finished work. But along the way, those material costs can start to add up, especially if the materials aren’t procured and managed properly.

Project managers face challenges in managing materials through the construction process — from constantly changing costs, dealing with lost or erroneous paperwork in the field and ensuring the right materials get to the right jobsite at the right time. Relying on manual processes in today’s modern construction era is no longer going to be a feasible option. Construction materials management software has helped ease materials burdens, and with advances like the cloud, it’s getting even easier for contractors to take control of their materials processes.

Maximizing Materials Management

Accounting for all of the materials tickets produced by aggregate and lumber haulers can be a challenge. Spectrum Ticketing (below) streamlines the processes with real-time tracking.

The cost of materials can rise and fall daily, whether during the bid progression, the procurement process or the building phase. As new building materials enter the general construction discussion or become more readily accepted, contractors have increasingly turned to robust software solutions to better track pricing and availability of the widening array of material options. And with a throng of materials flowing through any one company to a number of potential jobsites, having a software solution helps ensure the right materials get to the correct jobsite at the proper time Having the right software in place, such as Viewpoint’s cloud-based, integrated suite of solutions, helps those in the field and the office better track materials costs. Being able to access real-time information about materials costs, the status of materials orders, allocation to jobsites, tracking of materials defects or excess inventory and much more provides a more seamless experience in the field, while streamlining work for back-office teams.

For instance, many projects require the use of selected materials only and limit certain types of materials or additives. Tracking those requirements and requests offers a painstaking proposition that begs for the help of technology. Construction management software can assist in the research and logging of the proper materials, keeping a job in line with the specificity of an owner’s needs.

With better foresight into a project’s needs, project managers can order materials and schedule deliveries to stay ahead of the game, keeping a project on schedule and on budget without frustrating the delicate balance of on-site needs, all by keeping the right materials flowing. And newer materials management software solutions can help automate processes, ensuring that material-related workflows are seamless throughout the organization.

Coupled with the ability to forecast a project’s upcoming material needs, these software solutions can add new levels of business intelligence to projects, advising contractors on the right time to buy materials based on the ebb and flow of costs or anticipating quantities and types of materials for future projects.

Ticketed for Improvement

Spectrum’s intuitive Spectrum Ticketing solution.

Many jobsites still use paper tickets to order, deliver and track materials. Lost, illegible or simply erroneous paperwork leads to mistaken orders or even no orders at all. Using Viewpoint’s Spectrum Construction Software, contractors like Manhattan, Kan.-based Midwest Concrete Materials, Inc. are streamlining the process to mitigate risks.

“Every time you touch a ticket, there was a chance for error,” said Mike Sanson, Midwest Concrete’s IT and HR manager. After researching a solution to one of his most vulnerable time- and cost-sapping areas, Sanson found that using the Spectrum solution streamlined the flow of data into and out of accounting and billing departments. “Now when we go through and batch all of our concrete, we simply edit all of the tickets and make sure they are correct.”

Spectrum Ticketing features three convenient ways where ticket data can be collected and automatically entered into the web portal: a scale-house PC client, a kiosk allowing drivers to self-serve as they’re collecting or delivering materials and a mobile ticketing application allowing smartphone-based ticketing and printing ability.

Throughout Midwest Concrete Materials, the power of Spectrum and a two-person accounts receivable team does what would have required as many as eight data-entry personnel, helping the company realize continued growth. “Without Spectrum, and the powerful functionality it brings to the table, effectively managing these operations would be next to impossible,” Sanson said. Not any longer.

These software solutions aren’t just for the back-of-house workers or the top-level project managers. With cloud-based framework providing real-time data on mobile applications, every worker can engage in the process, if needed. The online solution lowers the cost to maintain and support the material management infrastructure, prevents the unwelcome inevitabilities of a paper ticket, reduces errors and mistakes and secures data to ensure no ticket information gets lost.

In a world where materials mean so much to a contractor’s bottom line, effectively managing them to maximize time, investment and productivity can make all the difference.

What is your company’s approach to materials management? Let us know in the comments below. Or, contact us today to learn more about how the right construction and materials management solution could benefit your organization.