Profit margins for commercial general contractors average around 4% — leaving little wiggle room for unplanned expenses. Effective construction planning helps project teams proactively manage the many factors that negatively impact profitability, but it is time-consuming and resource- intensive when done manually. There is an urgent need for planning software that will further improve operations, drive profitability, and mitigate risk without increasing the administrative burden on project teams.
Hobson & Company (H&C), a leading research firm focused on Return on Investment (ROI) studies, worked with Touchplan, a leader in construction planning software, to explore these challenges and learn how industry leaders are responding. H&C conducted independent research consisting of nine in-depth interviews with Touchplan customers and found that Touchplan addressed specific customer challenges to deliver a quick and compelling ROI.
Based on this analysis, a large general contractor managing seven projects with Touchplan would pay back the cost of Touchplan in less than 3 months and generate an ROI of over 430% in one year.
Construction Planning Challenges
Customers interviewed for this study noted that there are consistent challenges with effective construction planning. Below is a list of some of the most universal concerns.
Lack of Visibility
Construction projects are inherently complex, long-lasting endeavors, and owners rely heavily on the construction manager or superintendent to guide them through the process. When the planning is done manually on the wall of the job trailer, it can be difficult for owners to effectively digest the project updates, which often leads to losing confidence in the project.
Identifying and managing construction project risks, including those associated with schedule, budget, and safety, can be tricky. When risk turns into reality, it can disrupt or derail a project.
Inefficient Manual Processes
While robust short-term planning is critical to the success of any construction project, many customers reported that their manual planning capabilities were constrained by their existing spaces and the administrative burden of managing the process and data.
Customer research identified six benefits of the Touchplan software across three key business objectives:
- Improve Operations
- Drive Profitability
- Mitigate Risk
Reduce time spent in construction planning meetings
Touchplan’s collaborative planning software enables teams to work together to create detailed work schedules for the day, week, and month, allowing team members to own their activity and ensure accountability and responsibility. In addition, Mobile Ticket List lets teams quickly view and update ticket status (complete, late, etc.) directly from the field, allowing teams to know exactly where they are on the plan before the meeting even starts. This preparation not only saves time but also allows for meetings to focus on future events proactively.
“Trade partners can literally log into Touchplan themselves, do their tickets, and have their scope of work ready to go before the meeting even starts.
This has helped us shorten our 6 month phase planning meetings from 4-6 hours down to 2 hours and our weekly meetings from 2 hours down to approximately 30 minutes.”
– Justin Spafford, Senior Project Manager – Flintco, LLC
Reduce time spent aggregating, analyzing, and reporting on updated plans
Touchplan makes it easy to copy plans, replace plan elements, rename process flows, and cycle through changes on a collection of work items. Furthermore, all of the changes are immediately visible, and Actionable Insights provide instant visibility to accurate, real-time project metrics down to the field level, making it easy to distribute plan updates to key stakeholders.
“Now that we are using Touchplan, all of the administrative work in creating the weekly work plan is eliminated and everything is more accurate and the daily conversations are higher quality and much more efficient.”
– Lean Coordinator – Touchplan Customer
Reduce rework rates
Touchplan’s Variance Identification improves the flow of construction projects with enhanced variance and constraint tracking, increasing project predictability and reducing mistakes or out-of-sequence work that might cause rework.
“Touchplan’s ability to add QCs as constraints, talk about potential issues in the daily huddles, and add reminders, helps us to minimize potential rework. Once you make a constraint in Touchplan, it will re-ping the person responsible for answering it every time that constraint slides in the schedule.”
– Superintendent – Touchplan Customer
Improve owner satisfaction
Touchplan helps general contractors predictably deliver projects on time and under budget. In addition, it simplifies owner updates with easy-to-produce reports that help increase the transparency of the project.
“I was using P6 to communicate project variances with the owners, but they were not able to understand the variance issues from the information available in P6, so I found Touchplan online, and entered all of the schedule information into Touchplan in order to more clearly communicate the variances to the project owners. It only took one day of the new information for them to clearly understand. The owners loved Touchplan. They were like ‘this is incredible’.”
– Superintendent – Touchplan Customer
Avoid planning-related project delays
Touchplan’s Weekly and Daily Planning capability uses digital tickets to create predictable daily and weekly production plans that promote effective handoffs between disciplines and optimize the efficiency and flow of the project to avoid unnecessary delays.
“Touchplan helps us eliminate potential gotcha’s on the job like permits, proper equipment, etc, and the more constraints that we can be identified and proactively addressed, the smoother the job will run.”
– Paul Sznoluch, Quality Specialist – Henkels and McCoy
Improve jobsite safety
Touchplan’s Crew Size Tracking feature reduces the over stacking of trades at any point during a project. In addition, Touchplan facilitates improved planning and communication, which is vital to maintaining a safety culture. When trade partners regularly communicate openly and respectfully, they are more likely to be aware of potential safety concerns and take appropriate precautions.
“I did see a decrease in injuries. We have a real-time sense of what upcoming activities might require more of a safety focus because Touchplan houses data that is calculated by the subs, and the information in Touchplan is easily digestible by anyone that comes on the site.”
– Superintendent – Touchplan Customer
The value of validated construction planning software is immediate and demonstrable.
As an example, a large general contractor with the following profile:
- managing 7 projects with Touchplan
- an average size of construction project of $9.6M spending an average of 1 hour in weekly construction planning meetings
- spending an average of $96k on rework per project
can realize significant financial benefits from an investment in Touchplan. For this example, an annual investment of $64K generates a positive return in less than 3 months and a 1-year ROI of over 430%, with annual benefits exceeding $367,800.
In conclusion, an investment in construction planning software like Touchplan, that improves operations, drives profitability, and mitigates risks, will pay for itself within the first few months of use.