Digital ID’s and the race against time.
A note on the meaning of efficiency
‘Efficiency’ is such an overused marketing word that it’s easy to hear it and gloss right over it. We’ve been all advertised to on the merits of a more efficient solution, many times over- but the word bounces right off of us, a stimulus that has long since proved to to provoke an emotional reaction.
Efficiency isn’t sexy either. Buzzwords like big data, leverage, paradigm shift, synergy mission critical, alignment, and automation are the bombshells that have been stealing the show. Efficiency, by contrast, is thought to be passe and boring, like a stuffy professor tucked away in a dusty backroom, an artifact of an era now deemed unfashionable.
Unfashionable, however, is never an excuse to pass up on the fundamentals, and efficiency is always fundamental.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines ‘efficient’ as:
1: productive of desired effects
especially : capable of producing desired results with little or no waste (as of time or materials)
2: being or involving the immediate agent in producing an effect
Lean, and it’s cohort, building lean, are newer buzzwords, capturing some of the original spirit of ‘efficiency’ and offering a clue to its meaning. Lean, which can mean ‘containing little or no fat’, implies that an operation contains only what is necessary- without baggage, or friction. In construction, building lean means only having the necessary materials, not duplicating efforts, cutting out all that is redundant, and adhering to scheduling as closely as possible.
The slow banana
A friend of mine is a vendor at large scale entertainment events. While he’s working the event, he has a limited window of time to maximize the amount of sales he can generate. His set up process is long and involved, and any delay in time can affect his bottom line. He once spoke aloud to me after being frustrated by his own occasional negligence:
“It’s not any one mistake that holds you back; they all add up. Every minute counts. It’s the fact that you went to sleep two hours later than you should have, that you didn’t have all your tools organized in the right place, that you sat there that one time and decided to eat a banana for fifteen minutes…”
We’ve since started calling anything that is an avoidable waste of time a “slow banana”.
While my friend is a bit more distracted than a business owner ought to be, I’ve taken to seeing slow bananas as one of those universal principles that you can apply across a whole range of experience.
When a project is placed on a schedule and decreed to be finished at the schedule’s end date, all parties anticipate a successful completion. But in the process of project management, every inefficiency becomes friction, a waste of time, and every waste of time adds up. Wasted minutes can become wasted hours which can become wasted days- days will add up into weeks and (hopefully not) into months. The longer/larger a project or the worse the inefficiencies, the greater the chance there is for all the ‘slow bananas’ and all the waste to snowball into one massive scheduling delay. And scheduling delays mean cost overruns and disputes.
Digital ID cards: cutting time off of the flight to the finish line
Your relationship to efficiency and inefficiency will make the difference between completing a project on time, and accumulating all the penalties of all the mistakes you’ve made on the project. Some solutions address one inefficiency at a time.
Luckily, digital ID badges can address a whole range of inefficiencies. They may be utilized for identity management, access management, employee time tracking, compliance management, communications, and as a workforce management tool. The flexibility of the digital ID enables the centralization of numerous efficiencies, and thus acts as a time saving force-multiplier for any kind of project.
As identity management software, digital ID’s enable personnel to self-onboard, reducing the time it takes to process new workers and grant them access to the work site. Time is saved, doubly so, by the capacity to onboard large numbers of workers at once, avoiding processing bottlenecks. In addition, self onboarding relieves managers of some of the time it takes to process the variety new hires, contractors, vendors and visitors.
As a compliance management tool, a digital ID badge card system allows managers to automate the collection and tracking of certifications, licenses, qualifications, and other compliance documentation, along with site rules agreements, employee handbook agreements, and so on. In addition to protecting against risk, this feature helps to reduce the time that administrators would ordinarily spend managing compliance and cajoling workers.
As workforce management software, digital ID’s remove unnecessary steps in the communication process, allowing messages to proceed faster between management and labor. The back office may instantly task workers in the field, as well as send them emergency warnings, meeting information, and other messages. Workers can quickly submit work completions, site surveys, safety incidents, and other data- giving the back office instant knowledge of conditions on the job site. Individual worker or subcompany progress can be tracked to determine if their pace or work quality is acceptable. In addition, clients can instantly submit requests through the software. This kind of direct communication among all parties allows for instant feedback and response times, speeding up the coordination and correction of work conditions.
With digital ID’s badges, employee time tracking can be automated from the moment employees step onto a site. Instant knowledge of how many employees are working on a project and their aggregated time at work can be weighed against the pace of work. This kind of data allows project managers to assign more workers, make corrective actions for the existing workers, or head-off future scheduling disputes with adjusted expectations- and budgeting. The digitization of time cards and automation of time tracking also prevents wasteful disputes that occur when employees forget to clock in, lose their time cards, or sub in for each other.
As a construction management tool, digital ID cards can integrate with umbrella contract management software to securely capture change order issues as they arise. By securing documentation of change orders in the field, parties can avoid time that would ordinarily be wasted in disputes and arbitration over payments. While this may not directly slow down scheduling, it is of crucial importance to completing a contract in full.
We’ve covered a basic and obvious truth in this post that still needs repeating, due to its sheer banalty: The more inefficiencies you allow, the further away from the deadline you end up.
Many practices at the company level exist sheerly because better alternatives have never been developed. With the emergence of digital ID badges on the construction scene, a whole host of efficiencies are now available to both managers and owners.
A digital ID system has the power to cut our several obstacles in the abiding quest to meet deadlines and schedules (and to avoid cost and wasted energy). For those tasked with finding a way to improve their company’s process, these technologies offer aggregate leverage.