Posted by Virginia Lucett on Jan 7, 2019 11:27:49 AM

We’ll cut straight to the point. Point solutions for managing your safety, aren’t safe.

They may seem less expensive.

They may seem a reasonable solution to a paper and process problem you want or need solved immediately.

But they aren’t a safe solution for growing companies who want to truly evolve the safety, quality, performance, and productivity of their companies.

 

The danger lies here:

  • Point solutions can create content chaos

  • Point solutions don’t provide standardization for processes

  • Point solutions are one size fits all with limiting configuration capabilities

  • Point solutions lack interoperability

  • Point solutions require varying user interfaces

  • Point solutions make it easy to lose key data

  • Point solutions don’t scale

Those are serious risks to understand. But here’s the biggest one… point solutions inhibit operational excellence. And for construction, that’s a huge problem that manifests in tighter margins, overblown budgets, missed timelines, increased human risks, develops poor reputations, and limits company growth.

And you thought technology was supposed to make things better in your company, right?

 

Too many apps, too much time.

You have one app for your inspections, another for your safety reports, and yet another for your time management. Your meetings data is held in another app, with your drawing files in yet another. The average company now uses six or more solutions for various operations, with little data integration between them. This means that companies are lacking standardization, losing key data, and limiting their ability to scale processes to regional, national or global scales.

 

Why is this bad for your safety program?

Safety requires spending more time on site than in the trailer. For management, that means less time gathering, searching, and storing paperwork and more time walking around, managing culture, and gaining buy in from teams on site.

While most apps today are mobile, having to go into too many apps and find or extract key information, takes too much time, and creates more challenges. Risks are hidden, data is incoherent, and there’s no way to configure your point solutions to standardize your processes.

 

Hidden costs sink your ROI

At face value, point solutions may seem a more affordable option for companies who are looking for software to solve singular problems, like inspections or punchlists. And while shopping for a solution, a per user charge that amounts to two cups of coffee may seem ideal, but companies are often amazed how these small charges add up over time. Plus, once you add in any customer support charges, upgrade fees, and/or customization charges, you might be looking at an overall  cost that heavily exceeds the cost of implementing a SaaS platform that enables more than one or two job functions.

Once you add more than a handful of users in a company, and realize that your functional requirements for your programs will mean purchasing two to four more point solutions to solve your issues, you’ll notice the bargain quickly becomes a financial burden.

 

With multiplication of apps, comes division in processes (and teams)

Software will help you mitigate issues, but too many solutions can bring about new problems as well. When you are trying to expand, or extend your company footprint beyond a few projects, or even onto larger projects, multiple point solutions create issues of user operability, vendor relationship management, data silos, and lack of standardization.

Learning to operate software is often a challenge for field teams who may either be tech-newbies or tech-averse. Multiplying this learning curve throughout several teams may only lead to greater challenges and frustrations. Between the time dedication they’ll need to learn several new apps with differing interfaces, and having to train or onboard new team members, the once “quick and cost efficient” solution becomes exactly the opposite. Let’s not start talking about version control issues or multiple upgrade requirements per vendor…(ugh).

Anyone who has sat on the phone, sent an email or relied on chats to fix a problem happening in a software solution, while standing in the field, can relate to the fact that not all software companies provide the same level of customer service or support. Each point solution has its own unique Service Level Agreements (SLA) which can hinder support when you need it most. Some solutions require the appointed administrator to contact them, some provide email only support, some won’t take calls before or after a certain time period. These SLAs differ by provider, and with that comes frustration, confusion, and it degrades the user experience. Not to mention, cobbling together various solutions, diagnosing the issues and finding the origin of the issues becomes its own nightmare for construction companies.

Data is an even bigger issue when it comes to implementing and using point solutions. Point solutions are appointed to serve one function within the business unit and they often lack integration or interoperability. This means that the data does not automatically sync with other software often creating silos of information that require double data entry to aggregate key data (which has its own risk), reduction in insight due to limited reporting capabilities, and clouds the overall picture of production and performance construction needs to make informed decisions and get the project done safely.

When it comes to growth of a construction company, one area stands out as proposing the most overall risk to the company, and that is a lack of standardization. That carries issues from employee management, to training, to employee turnover, to safety, to quality, and of course, lack of usable data to ensure standards are being met. If your process and software solutions are all over the board without one standard within the company, so too will be your performance, your productivity, your employee management, and of course your key insights that you need to help you drive valuable business decisions.

How can you establish a baseline, if you can’t standardize your processes? And moreover, even if you establish multiple apps throughout the project or regions, how easy is it to aggregate key data to ensure you have the full picture of your business? Your risks are hidden among the forest of multiple applications without a true picture of your leading and lagging indicators. Key insights into your business have the greatest chance of getting lost amid the point solutions you implemented to support your business.

 

And let’s not forget, safety is more than inspections, permits, hazards and safety plans...

Safety is an operational process that requires integration across all channels of field and office management of your projects.

Safety has been evolving… go back 20 years it was a separate topic. Think about schedule, costs, safety, all in their own siloes. Safety needs to be integrated as a part of everything else. It has to be considered in EVERYTHING and how it all interrelates. By putting management processes together it makes management much more streamlined.” - Kimberly, DPR Project Manager

Safety can’t be a siloed process, often an afterthought, begrudgingly followed or worse, ignored because it takes too much time, money,  or energy to meet standards. It’s not just plans, permits, and inspections to keep people safe. It is a strand of operations tightly woven into everything contractors need to do each day to ensure they meet deadlines, stay on budget, and keep their teams productive and safe.

This means that cobbled together point solutions can’t provide the big picture into your operations you need to ensure you’re meeting your standards, keeping teams safe, and producing a quality project.

Safety requires a platform approach that enables all the functionality required to ensure operational excellence from project start to finish. From personnel tracking, time tracking, equipment tracking, to online enrollments and orientations/inductions, to machinery and equipment management, to HSEQ inspections, risk management, daily reporting, data intelligence and document management... what would require companies to cobble together multiple point solutions, one platform can manage and more.

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