Improving Field to Back Office Communication with Inspection Checklist Software

by ED CALDEIRA & JC GATLIN, FTQ360

This article was originally published to the FTQ360 blog on April 26, 2016.

Communication between the field and the back office can make or break a construction company. Whether it’s take-off counts, blue print errors, subcontractor performance, or schedule delays, this information must make its way from the jobsite to the back office in a timely, efficient manner. Then back again to the jobsite with updates and resolutions. Unfortunately, this two-way line of communication often breaks down and leads to a lot of finger pointing.

Builders who are overcoming this hurdle are using Inspection Software as a communications system – on autopilot.

Because the Inspection Software is made up of a series of checklists, it essentially communicates a “question” the Construction Manager must answer, who then returns the “result.” Inspection checklists are one of the simplest forms of communication, as they are easily digestible for Construction Managers who are busy traveling to various jobsites, meeting with subcontractors and supplier, and overseeing construction.

Checklists also use simple, actionable language, and are custom-tailored for specific activities. And, while some builders may look at an inspection checklist as merely a record of task completion, the information collected is essential to many internal departments to make improvements.

[Improving-Field-to-Back-Office-Communication-with-Inspection-Checklist-Software_Share-information] For example, the Purchasing Department often needs take-off counts. With well-implemented Inspection Software in place, checklists and inspections can automatically prompt the Construction Manager to enter shortages and overages into the program. Then Purchasing can pull this data as needed, without having to send an email request to the Construction Team, followed by multiple reminder emails.

Utilizing the system that’s already in place can allow back office personnel to connect with Construction Managers who do not report to one office every day.

Another common communications issue is a lack of feedback (positive or negative) from the Construction Manager. This can refer to a wide range of issues such as:

  • Materials
  • Scheduling
  • Subcontractor crews
  • Blue prints

Again, Inspection Software provides a platform for the Construction Manager to enter problems and observations. If blue print errors are regularly input into a program while the project is under construction, the architect can pull this data and make corrections before the floor plan is built again. There’s no need to meet one-on-one, which often either never happens or happens too late to make a difference.

And, since the Inspection Software provides two-way communication opportunities, the architect can insert specific checklists and inspections for newly released plans. This allows the Construction Manager to identify problems with a new floor plan or design early on and avoid expensive work-arounds, call backs and warranty issues down the road.

The key to making this work though is consistency. The Inspection Software won’t work with just one or a couple of Construction Managers participating. It won’t work if checklists and inspections are performed randomly. It’s all or nothing, else Field to Back Office communication will continue to break down.

If the Back Office personnel can’t pull the needed data from the system for all jobs across the board, and must still send emails, make phone calls, and continue to wait, then improvement will continue to wallow. If Construction Managers aren’t seeing corrected budgets and plans, they will stop taking the time to provide feedback. Nothing will change.

Today’s builder can’t afford to underestimate the power of an automated communication system between the jobsite and the back office. Inspection Software inherently provides the source to connect the many roles within the construction company. And while traditional builders are distracted with inaccurate take-off counts and blue print errors, the organized builder is reducing cycle time and wasted costs with a synchronized team in place, all using the software for improved communication.