To the outside world, a construction company is probably not perceived as the domain of information workers. But those within the industry understand the importance of knowledge in growing a construction business, specifically reducing risk, increasing efficiency in a highly competitive industry, ensuring compliance, and winning bids. Connecting Bid teams, Project Managers, Clients, Site Teams, and Contractors with the information needed and sourcing the information required from them can be difficult, particularly if email, paper-based forms, file servers and VPN’s are the primary knowledge tools used. While there are industry-based systems to manage projects, they tend to lack integrations with other systems which are often plugged with workarounds that require separate passwords, multiple logins, additional training, and extra maintenance demands. This can be tedious for both users and administrators alike.
Construction companies can improve their operations in a number of ways using a Modern Intranet and business portal with Microsoft SharePoint. Some examples of these include:
A Site Diary is essential for recording a field engineer’s daily site activities and can be used as a basis for future claims or disputes, safety audits, or quality inspection. It can be cumbersome to organise and complete every day, with many organisations still using paper records that can be difficult to interpret, tedious to search for, or can just get lost meaning those records are no longer available. You can however use your intranet and mobile forms to simplify this process. Without having to access a separate site, your users can simply log in to your intranet to fill in their diary.
You can create a Site Diary on SharePoint or Office 365’s PowerApps using built-in forms and workflows. Typical information such as the date and time, shift location, work completed for the day, weather or physical condition and supporting photos or videos can all be captured using a simple, customised form on your intranet.
A site diary is centered around a construction site not a staff member. It is for recording who worked on that location for a given day along with the weather and who was in charge.
Trade Knowledge Base
In a cutthroat market such as the construction industry, being able to maintain and utilise your trade secrets and best practices is a huge competitive advantage. Your intranet can be used as a knowledge base centre for all your projects, where you can keep a history of lessons learnt, toolbox talks, and any other related information about the construction trade, sites or materials for easy reference.
An intranet can speed up searching for documents or files either through SharePoint’s powerful Search capability or by utilising a chatbot to answer frequently asked questions quickly. SharePoint is designed to be accessible on any device, therefore you can make your trade information available whenever you need it, wherever you are.
The key to the safety and compliance of your construction site is a comprehensive orientation to your site workers about work health and safety requirements. Records about the site layout, safety documents and policies, and incident, emergency or evacuation procedures, including owners and responsibilities, can be best stored and monitored in an easy to access intranet.
You can create Task Lists on SharePoint to ensure that your site induction checklist is carried out completely. Here, you can assign who will lead the site induction and when it will happen, monitoring its status in real-time.
Safety Messages and Alerts
Construction sites can be a hazardous workplace so employers in this industry need to be able to safeguard their employees and mitigate the risks of accidents by promoting workplace safety. This starts with driving awareness and communicating safety precautions with your people. These can be quickly disseminated by posting in either a specifc Team Site or company-wide announcement in your intranet and turning on its alerts to keep everyone informed in real-time.
Equipment or Subcontractor Registers
The maintenance and allocation of your equipment and being able to quickly identify who has which tools at which site is one of the keys to ensuring efficient operations. Equipment Registers containing the maintenance records, inspection status, location and ownership of the equipment can be easily captured. You can turn on SharePoint’s alerts so you are instantly notified for maintenance and inspection due dates on your equipment, ensuring safety standards are maintained.
Similarly, Subcontractor Registers containing contact information, accreditation, insurance details, etc. can also be housed and quickly accessed online via your Intranet Portal to best determine the right teams for the right job.
Whether using an editable template or a list in SharePoint, keeping track of your Equipment or Subcontractor Registers can be done more efficiently using an intranet.
Your engineer’s and architect’s drawings, diagrams or schematics may change over time. With several people using these files at the same time, it is good practice to keep an audit trail of who revised it last, what changes were made, and when.
SharePoint has built-in document versioning capability so you can say goodbye to multiple versions of the same file or adding ‘v1, v2, v3’ in your file names. You can have a single source of truth for all your documents and can do away with confusing email exchanges.
When you have multiple offices or when most of your people are onsite or in the field meeting customers, having a centralised Staff Directory becomes handy so it is easier to locate people in your organisation. A typical modern intranet already has a built-in Staff Directory where you can store your employees’ photo, contact information, location, skills, or who they report to.
Project Schedules and Reports
Managing and maintaining a project schedule is one of the most important but complex parts of a construction project. Keeping track of the resources and budgets are essential for increasing productivity and reducing costs. If your company is already using SharePoint as an intranet, you can move on to using it next for simplifying your project management operations. Not only will it save you from additional software costs, but also the time needed for your people to learn a new tool.
You can create a Project Team Site in SharePoint to serve as your central project hub where you can plan your schedule, assign tasks and deadlines, monitor progress, and collaborate on documents. Using a timeline view, it can help you easily identify where things are at from start to finish of your project. You can also choose to integrate SharePoint with a project management software such as Project Online for a more robust project management and reporting capability.
In conclusion, modern intranets help your teams to collaborate effortlessly and brings them together easily so they can stay focused on the things that matter most. Get in touch with us today to learn how your construction business can experience significant business operational improvements with a SharePoint-based Intranet. Sign up here to book a free consultation.