If something seems too good to be true, it often is. Point solutions for managing project safety can pull you in by offering a quick solution to one of your pain points, and often at an affordable cost—but is this the whole picture?
For companies looking to digitise their processes and improve safety, quality, performance, and productivity metrics, a single integrated platform software solution is a far superior and safer option than multiple point solutions.
Point Solutions vs. Integrated Platform Solutions
In the pursuit of digitising construction processes, businesses have two options: multiple point solutions or a single integrated platform solution.
Points solutions are software or tools that offer a singular function an organisation needs. For example, software that manages just defect lists or inspection paperwork would be a point solution. It is the central hub for a specific project process and does not integrate with other software. Because of this, companies must deploy multiple point solutions to fulfill all of their needs, creating a clunky workflow and demanding separate lines of communication with multiple vendors.
Integrated platform solutions are comprehensive software that offers all of the functions an organisation needs. For example, a centralised project management software that manages everything from RFI's, design information, quality to costs would be an integrated platform solution. Platforms are robust software that enable streamlined workflows and integration with third-party tools.
While both are much better than antiquated pencil and paper methods, integrated platform solutions offer several advantages over point solutions.
Why Points Solutions Fall Short for Safety Management
In construction, poorly managed workflows and data often ends in tighter margins, overblown budgets, missed timelines, increased human risks, poor reputations, and limited company growth. Point solutions contribute to these inferior results because: point solutions don’t standardise or scale.
With the multiple apps comes division in processes. A number of point solutions divide people and processes across tools re-enforcing silo’s between roles or the jobsite and the office. Standardisation also becomes difficult and presents a major problem when companies try to expand or extend their footprint beyond a few projects or onto larger projects.
A lack of standardisation also opens up a company to more risk. Ambiguity in processes for critical operations like safety, quality, and training will undoubtedly impact performance, productivity, and employee management and skew key insights that drive valuable business decisions.
Standardising operations is achievable with a company-wide integrated platform software solution. With all people and project information captured in one location, data is accessible and connected. As a result, workflows can be standardised, streamlined, and scaled as companies grow and expand.
Point solutions are often one-size-fits-all—customisations cost extra.
At face value, point solutions seem like an affordable software option to manage a specific task, like digitising inspections or defect lists. The ‘per user’ charge that amounts to just two cups of coffee per day makes these solutions hard to pass up.
Over time, however, these small charges do add up, and the monthly or annual service charge is just for basic-level services. Once you add in customer support charges, upgrade fees, and customisation expenses, the total cost can easily exceed the cost of implementing a SaaS platform with more impressive capabilities.
As your company headcount grows or more users require access to each tool, costs continue to increase—the bargain of a point solution quickly becomes a financial burden, sinking your ROI.
Point solutions lack interoperability.
Interoperable systems and tools can exchange and make use of information from other systems. Platform software is commonly interoperable with all project tasks into one app, leaving more time to walk the site, managing manage culture, and gain buy-in from field crews. Data automatically syncs between functions, with all project data in one place, reporting capabilities are powerful and offer complete visibility into project performance.
Many construction site operations suffer from app overload. With one program for safety procedures, another for cost control, and another for time management, more time is spent looking for information than learning from it. This lack of communication and app interoperability plagues workplace performance.
In 2020, 22% of construction workers surveyed said they used six or more construction-based apps, up from just three in 2019. The lack of integration between the programs required more work for the contractors, with 49% inputting manual data and 44% using separate spreadsheets. As a result, companies are losing access to data that directs day-to-day decisions and points out inefficiencies critical to continuous improvement.
Safety requires an integrated platform approach.
Safety is more than an operational process and requires integration across trade partners, the field and the office. It’s value and how well it is integrated affects culture, performance, and ultimately, profits.
“Safety has been evolving… go back 20 years it was a separate topic. Think about schedule, costs, safety, all in their own siloes,” explained Kimberly Schumaker, Project Manager with DPR Construction. “Safety needs to be integrated as a part of everything else. It has to be considered in everything and how it all interrelates.”
Effective safety management requires a platform approach using software capable of handling all project functions from personnel, time, and equipment tracking, to online enrolments and orientations, to equipment, document, and risk management, and beyond.
What would require dozens of point solutions can be achieved with a single, robust integrated platform. When it comes to technology that enables operational excellence, less is more.