We may have entered the age of artificial intelligence (AI), but businesses around the world are still using paper. Although 80% of businesses are trying to go digital, only 18% of companies consider themselves paperless.
Construction businesses are no exception. According to Construction Business Owner, 70% of construction businesses would fail in three weeks if they suffered a catastrophic loss like a flood or a fire. Why? Because so much of their important data and documentation is paper-based.
Is it Possible to Go Completely Paperless?
Realistically, offices won’t be going completely paperless anytime soon. People still use paper print-outs for all sorts of things. Presenters often hand out paper reference materials during meetings and many decision-makers still prefer to sign paper contracts. But that hasn’t stopped the global push for going paperless at work. There are now more possibilities to go paperless than ever before.
New applications allow for legal documents to be signed, dated, and notarized without ever being printed. Transactions can be conducted electronically, and important files can be shared in easy-to-access cloud environments. Even timekeeping, once done solely on paper or using punch cards, is almost entirely paperless.
The best applications of paperless technology go toward those business functions that are most essential. Using the latest paperless applications, construction businesses and contractors reduce risk and get closer to going completely paperless.
What are the Benefits of a Paperless Construction Office?
One of the key benefits of going paperless is helping the environment. The construction industry has evolved significantly to reduce its impact on the planet. Construction equipment is now more efficient and building practices have changed to limit any negative impact from job sites.
Going paperless is just one more worthwhile initiative in that regard. There are plenty of other tangible and monetary benefits in going paperless. Here are a few:
Some of the cost savings of going paperless are obvious. Paper and ink cost money. If you don’t use them anymore, you don’t have to spend money on them.
Managing paper itself has many costs. Not only are you paying for labor costs for printing, filing, and aggregating paper documents, but you’re also paying for the space to store those paper documents.
Time Savings and Increased Productivity
Anyone who has ever been around a construction office is used to seeing large stacks of paper. Having to sift through these documents is a timely process that can lower productivity.
If all your important documents are digital, you can easily look them up on a smartphone or laptop. There’s no need to physically file your documents. All of them can be saved in their respective folders or accessed through their respective apps.
Mobility and Accessibility
When your office is paperless, it’s also mobile. You have no need to cart around stacks of paper everywhere you go. Simply use your device to access documents when you need them.
With all the recent data breaches in the news, securing documents electronically may seem counterintuitive. But with some simple security precautions, storing data electronically is much safer than having loose documents lying around.
There are three primary risks to your paper documents:
- Natural disasters
- Improper disposal
Confidential financial information, client files, and other types of private information can harm your business if lost or stolen.
Become More Data-Driven
Being data-driven means harnessing data in the field using apps. You can leverage that data to gain insights about your labor productivity to draw up plans of action.
With the right software, you can even integrate your field data into your accounting systems. This eliminates time-consuming manual processes and helps you understand where you can boost efficiencies.
How to Go Paperless in Your Construction Office
If you’ve relied on paper for years, switching to a paperless system may feel daunting. But the benefits of a paperless office aren’t just nice to have. More and more construction companies are using software, cloud computing, and mobile technology to become more efficient and gain an edge on their competitors.
Going paperless could be just the push you need to claim your share of the market. Here’s what to do:
Identify Opportunities for Going Paperless
Identify manual processes and physical documents within your company that can be converted to digital. These may include:
- Approvals and signed documents
- Project management
- Document and file aggregation (file sharing)
Get Buy-in From Your Entire Company
You can’t go paperless alone. You’ll first need buy-in from decision-makers at your company. Once you have your executive team on board, you can take a top-down approach.
Employees will be more accepting of paperless initiatives if they are trained in new digital processes properly. They’ll also be more enthusiastic about the change if they understand how the benefits can make their jobs easier.
Get Buy-in From Customers
You likely have multiple customer touchpoints in your business. Some of your customers may still rely on fax machines and physical documents. There’s no way you can change your customers, but you can change your touchpoints. When possible, encourage your customers to use your new processes. They may be willing to sign contracts using a digital tool, for example.
Evaluate Software Solutions to Replace Paper-based Processes
You should begin evaluating new tools to replace your paper-based processes. For example, you may need new timekeeping software or accounting tools. Do cost/benefit analysis of all the software available, create shortlists, then choose your best option.
Train Your Staff on New Paperless Procedures
Most software is relatively intuitive, but it could help to set time aside for training purposes. Your software vendors may also be able to help with training.
Put Your Field Data to Work
Going paperless opens new opportunities for operational efficiencies and data collection. Digitizing all your office processes can give you a bird’s-eye view of your operation. This will help you identify efficiencies and inefficiencies, so you can act to save on time and costs.
If you’re still curious about how to go paperless at your construction company, request a free demo from Rhumbrix. Our field intelligence program helps you capture field data, measure labor productivity, and improve project outcomes by making data-driven decisions.