Avvir Academy
April 21, 2022

Why Smart Owners and General Contractors are leveraging Automated Progress Tracking in Construction

Manual construction progress photography tracking requires owners, general contractors, and trade contractors to expend substantial resources at high costs — Here's how AI-powered automated progress tracking improves ROI, transparency, and communication.

 

Progress tracking: What is it?

Progress tracking helps general contractors stay on schedule, keep costs in check, and analyze team productivity by recording weekly or daily developments. It also gives owners a view into how projects are progressing, enabling them to make critical business decisions while helping trades get paid faster by demonstrating that work is complete. Progress tracking is typically supplemented with photography or someone manually taking pictures of each space or room during regular site walks to record progress over time.

 

Construction progress photography: What is the current process?

Construction progress photography is handled by Superintendents, Project Engineers, or the field team on most job sites. Armed with a clipboard and the floor plan, they walk the site and use a highlighter to note each subcontractor's approximate percentage of work. 

 

The notes and approximations are eventually entered into a computer when site walks are complete and subsequently translated into the project schedule. However, this activity often takes days, which translates into many stakeholders who aren't on the jobsite every day lacking visibility into current conditions.

 

In addition to manual progress tracking by walking the job site, some tools allow users to manually status BIM elements as Built; however, this is still a very error-prone and arduous task without any automation.

  

What's the difference between "manual construction" progress and "automated" progress tracking?

 

Avvir automated progress tracking can completely replace this manual and error prone process. With Avvir Progress, you can quickly and accurately generate % complete calculations, installed quantities, and work rates, and estimate completion dates for subcontractors on an entire project. This type of automation is achieved through Reality Capture & Analysis technology to create detailed records of the project and how it changes over time. 

 

Compared to automatic progress tracking, manual construction progress photography is highly error-prone and ripe with inaccuracies that cause schedule issues, disrupt workflow, and cause delays. In addition, manual construction progress photography can also cause discrepancies with invoices and payments if the recorded progress data isn't up to date, accurate, and reliable. 

 

With Avvir Progress, you can automatically visualize how your project is tracking compared to your project schedule. Avvir provides a number of dashboards that are updated based on the reality of your job site so that you can continuously monitor if trades are on track.

Why scheduling issues are caused by manual construction progress photography

 

Construction scheduling software can contain tens of thousands of individual items that require continuous updating. On the other hand, Project Engineers typically track activity status (completed or mark the percentage completed) on a mobile device during their construction progress photography walks. Still, in many cases, the estimates are written on paper. Since scheduling relies on proper accounting and sequencing for contingencies, the chances for mistakes exponentially grow based on project size and complexity.

 

A flawed project tracking approach that relies on manual construction progress photography can lead to many disruptions. Scheduling failures is a major one. For example, if a trade contractor shows up ready to work but the jobsite isn't prepared, they might still expect to be paid. For example, an artist might arrive at the jobsite expecting to install a mural only to find out that the drywall hasn't been installed yet. Unforeseen delays and rework cause construction budgets to spiral out of control.

Automated progress tracking helps with payment verification.

At the beginning of a project, a general contractor typically accepts bids and selects subcontractors based on the relationship, best estimate, and ability to complete the project on schedule. The contract usually extends for precisely that amount of time, with the general contractor paying the trade monthly on a percentage of work completed.

 

In practice, what commonly happens when using manual construction progress photography is that payments start to outpace the actual percentage of work completed. As a result, the general contractor has often paid 100% of the fees when the work is only 80% complete when the contract period is over. Not an ideal situation for managing cash flow. 

 

AI-powered automated progress tracking derived from a complete, regularly-updated digital record of the jobsite can remedy disparities. For example, suppose general contractors can easily find the discrepancy between the trade's recorded material install and the actual amount installed. In that case, they can reconcile it with the trade contractor, avoiding the embarrassment of addressing it with the owner.

 

With Avvir 5D, the BIM and schedule of values are aligned using the project work breakdown structure. As a result, there is little room for discrepancy regarding earned value when paired with automated progress tracking with a BIM-centric approach. This leads to more transparency, less friction, and a faster payment process for all parties involved.

How does automated progress tracking increase efficiency?

AI-powered automated progress tracking helps project stakeholders across the board. For example, once the progress tracking process no longer relies on walking and documenting the jobsite, the Project Engineer benefits from hours freed up to focus on other tasks. Construction progress photography can be extremely time-consuming for every project. In addition, project managers no longer need to spend hours weekly on payment applications with reliable progress tracking data and can quickly update status (with a click) from their computer without tracking down the right people to confirm this information. 

 

At the same time, Superintendents gain confidence in the accuracy of data that feeds the schedule, while Owners and Project Executives have more freedom to drop in on the project to view actual conditions, unfiltered by what the jobsite team intends to present. As a result, AI-powered automated progress tracking ultimately can be the game changer between a profitable, on-time delivered project to one with significant delays, cost overruns, and potential lawsuits. This is because AI-powered automated progress tracking provides consistent and accurate data that validates how a particular delay occurred, rather than fueling unproductive finger-pointing based on a stakeholder's gut feel.

Automated progress tracking improves communication

Lapses in communication or miscommunication on the jobsite typically cause the worst mistakes. Most general contractors have robust communication processes across stakeholders and teams, including OAC meetings, bi-weekly coordination meetings, and look ahead meetings, but errors are inevitable. Automated progress tracking mitigates risk and ensures checks and balances to resolve issues before they get expensive. For example, learn how Avvir enabled the DPR team to keep a data center project on schedule.

 

AI-powered automated progress tracking in tools like Avvir are rapidly changing the landscape for teams to build better.  By maintaining a closer watch on work as it's completed, Owners and their GCs can keep a better pulse on the health of their project and avoid schedule oversights.

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