What’s an Electronic Order and How Can it Help in the Life Cycle of a Construction Project?

August 13, 2020 Karli Langner

Why Should the Construction Industry Shift From Paper-Based to Electronic Ordering Processes?

The construction industry has long issued paper purchase orders (POs), which, in theory, flow from a buyer to a material supplier to confirm orders for construction materials. They also routinely use painful manual, paper-based processes to track tickets.

But, in an information-intensive industry like construction, paper documents are often a hazard since they can disappear and be difficult—or impossible—to locate, share, or distribute in their correct, most recent version.

All these issues can cause work delays or create new struggles with managing daily costs and yield.

How Does a Connected Jobsite Helps With the Construction Project’s Life Cycle?

The move from paper-based POs to electronic orders can be a lifesaver for most construction businesses, many of whom are already moving to digitize their paper-based processes for better transparency and increased productivity.

Throughout the project life cycle, digitization enhances communication. It helps to avoid delays and waste by ensuring all parties involved  including contractors, suppliers, haulers, logistics providers, and buyers  are on the same page, working from the most recent document, using open communications.

During the building conception and initiation phase, the project owner initiates the job idea and gathers designers, contractor, and trades on a team to assess project feasibility and demands. The team uses a feasibility study to look at the goals, costs, timeline, and resources required and develops a business case document, which defines the reasoning for starting a new project and the financial benefits, and issues a project charter to describe the project.

Next, the plan needs to be outlined and put into writing, so the entire team understands the steps required for practical project completion. Designers, contractors, and trade partners work collaboratively — often remotely  to achieve the project owner’s goals, ensuring better alignment on cost, scope, duration, and quality, and including a thorough risk mitigation plan.

During project launch and execution, the team collectively develops deliverables to satisfy the customer. The plan serves as the project guide, and team members will assign tasks, execute project management plans, conduct status meetings, update the project schedule, and modify project plans. With most work taking place on the jobsite, it’s triply crucial for project managers in the office, designers, and owners to rely on the field team’s updates to gauge execution — and the ability to track inbound materials starts from the time those materials are ordered . Standardizing the process with cloud-based construction software from the moment an order is made can help companies track and share every aspect of the project’s life cycle.

Next, project managers track the project’s progress and make any necessary mid-stream adjustments to keep the project on track. They will use key performance (or project) indicators (KPIs) to measure actual cost, time, and quality results vs. the original project goals. These KPIs keep projects on track and, again, require extensive communication so project managers can adapt and modify.

During the close of the project, team members evaluate, document, and learn from the project. This project post-mortem helps members identify issues so they can make future improvements. Project managers must also create a final project budget and report to close out the project. By reviewing actual hours on specific labor activities instead of the estimates, the team can use it to improve future project estimates.

Given the number of parties involved in construction projects today, excellent communication and information-sharing are critical to keeping materials costs in check and keeping all parties on track.

Learn more about how Command Alkon’s CONNEX Jobsite transforms the way you interact with your suppliers, haulers and trade partners. CONNEX Jobsite is the easy way for building contractors to optimize planning, production, and payment processes for inbound heavy materials deliveries.

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