How do you use your construction contract as a means to get that precious data you need?

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The following is a guest post written by Jen Hunter, Director of Operations for Project Recapture, Inc. For more information on Jen, please see her full bio at the end of this article.

Construction project owners are facing a big problem: paper based progress reports and invoices are making it nearly impossible to quickly find and address errors. The tool kit of the past included a magnifying glass, a pencil (and eraser) and a calculator. Armed with endless human resources, project owners would diligently review paper based documentation for discrepancies. This MO is no longer feasible in the modern construction environment.

Being able to leverage your project data has a huge impact to your: costs, project team, visibility and effectiveness of your business decisions.

Short of finding a forward thinking contractor that will share this data with you freely, nothing is quite as effective as the language you choose to include in your RFP and your contract agreement. This is an owners best opportunity to set requirements and expectations. Contract Managers, Lawyers and Supply Chain Management teams do a great job of mitigating risks and incorporating learnings into future contracts. It's time to start being specific with the format and delivery of cost and productivity data in your contracts.

Today ‘preparing’ and ‘submitting reports’ as well as ‘preserving records’ are common contract requirements. The list of what needs to be ‘recorded’ or ‘reported on’ continues to grow, but the industry generally omits prescriptive language about  how we ‘report’ or the ‘record’ format isn’t stipulated. The status quo is paper based reports which ultimately adds a hefty burden on the owner to retrieve or extrapolate data when trying to use these reports to manage outcomes; for historical learnings; or routine audits.

The construction industry is (finally) moving into the digital age, and with this shift ultimately we expect to see innovative project owners to start to include some pointed language into their RFPs and contract agreements.

Owners should consider the potential benefits associated with including the following points when revisiting their standard contract & RFP:

★         Provide full access to records, electronically, native file, or hard copy (csv, xlxs, xml, pdf [data rich]) with pertinent source data

★         Granting this access to a company, its agents or a third party of the company's choosing to access the data on regular intervals to drive data analytics or reduction of value leakage

★         Right to review or audit any aspect of services, in house or outsourced services for which are being billed to the company. In support of a review, provide access to invoices in the formats mentioned above

★         Invoice and cost validation with right to dispute, and obligation to revise invoice while dispute(s) are resolved

★         Obligate contractor, subcontractors & material suppliers to allow of the above

The next phase in the digitalization of our industry will see the increase in efficiency, accountability and transparency that will accompany plenty of learnings.

Author Bio: Jenn Hunter is the Director of Operations for Project Recapture Inc, a construction technology company based out of Calgary, Alberta. Jenn is an industry leader and innovator with extensive expertise is in project costing, contract compliance and finance in the industrial construction sector (Oil & Gas, Petro Chemical, Clean Energy & Mining) In addition to leading the development of Project Recapture’s automated cost validation software, Jenn is passionate about driving innovation into the construction space and was a co-founder of Construction Tech YYC, a community of active construction professionals in Calgary, Alberta.