Materials management is one of the most time-consuming, labour-intensive aspects of any electrical project. As an electrical project manager, your materials have to be procured, transported to the site, and then managed as inventory.
That’s a lot of complex steps, with a lot of scope for things to go wrong – and they do.
Here’s some of the most up-to-date advice from successful electrical project managers on how they avoid lost time and money in the materials ordering process.
Set up proper order processes
You’ll know how vital it is to any electrical project that the materials arrive on site on time. Defining a clear procurement process enables everyone to understand the steps required to get them on site on time.
A procurement process may involve defining a list and getting a quotation before the actual order is made, all of this takes time but ensures a competitive price.
If each individual understands a clear process then late last minute orders can be avoided.
A solid order process can make your project much easier, and also make sure that no time is lost waiting for materials to arrive, or that you don’t order more stock than the project needed.
With a great order process comes improved demand forecasting, which lets you plan, budget and set order processing goals more effectively.
Embrace Software to Save Money
Are you getting the best market price for your materials? Does your inventory get accounted for properly? Does it get replenished as needed?
If not, you risk a hit to the project’s profits.
Getting to grips with great construction procurement software will make sure that your orders don’t just arrive on time – it will surface any financial questions around them, too.
The best electrical project companies implement tracking around all aspects of inventory – procurement, inventory, purchases, deliveries invoicing and financials – to save money at every stage.
For example, the cost of just carrying the inventory can often exceed 10% of the inventory value. Software can help identify issues on the current state of your processes, so you can see where profit is being lost.
Use Reliable Suppliers
A reliable supplier will make sure that you receive the materials you need, when you need them.
This is most critical not at the project outset, but in the replenishment stages of the project. A delay in inventory delivery mid-project means dead time, which can significantly cut into your margin.
Many electrical project managers have found it useful to have the lead time for any stock replenishment written into the contract with their supplier, with discount clauses in the event of a late delivery.
Use Construction Project Management Software
Sinead Lew of PwC, speaking to LiveCosts about their recent report on the outlook for the construction industry in 2023, explained how the Covid-19 pandemic spurred a rapid adoption by construction companies of construction project management software.
Why? Because a sharp increase in the cost of materials and labour means that construction firms can’t afford to be relaxed about their construction costs. So many have turned to costs-tracking software to protect them from large or unexpected costs.
Here’s some vital criteria for choosing your next construction project management software:
Use Automation: Automation around construction project management comes in many forms, but most critical to any electrical project manager is automation around purchase orders, invoices, and on-site delivery tracking. Using the right construction project management software will keep your project running smoothly and efficiently.
With integrated, end-to-end automation software, you can more effectively plan and budget around your supplies, their costs, and delivery. For example, ensuring that the promised inventory arrived on time, that it was to the specified quality requirements, and that the correct price was charged.
Use The Cloud: Project management software is only as good as the data that it holds. A cloud-based system’s unique advantage is that every member of staff using it is looking at the same data.
No emailing across updated information. No risk of two staff members working off of different information. A cloud-based system is, without question, a must have for any construction firm or contractor that wants to compete.
It Has An App: The best construction project management software has a smartphone app, with specific on-site purposes. For example, the LiveCosts app allows accurate tracking of labour, purchase orders and recording deliveries as it arrives, to ensure that your project is running smoothly.
This is especially useful if you’re project managing multiple projects using inventory from the same suppliers.
Think of the time saved by not having to go back to a supplier to correct a mistake – those are the kind of benefits that using an integrated smartphone app lends to any construction firm.