Construction Technology Improves Workflow

October 20, 2009

Imaging and workflow technology allows construction companies to improve crucial workflow processes and gain more insight into projects—either by adding a new module as part of a larger ERP (enterprise resource planning) system or as a standalone application.

WIMCO Corp., www.wimcocorp.com, Washington, N.C., decided to add a document imaging and workflow application to its larger ERP system. Specifically, the company found the workflow technology was needed in its accounting department.

“Like many accounting departments, distributing paper invoices for approval put WIMCO in a position to experience several risks such as the risk of paper invoices getting lost or being accidentally hidden from view—under a set of architectural drawings, for example—only to be discovered after the month had been closed and financial statements generated,” says Darlene Moore, vice president, finance, WIMCO.

There was also the problem of staff members having a huge bottleneck of data to enter at the end of each month and no realtime cost available for project managers to refer to at owner billing time to ensure they billed enough.

Moore found the solution for WIMCO’s problems with imaging workflow technology integrated into its financial system from Computer Guidance Corp., www.computerguidance.com, Scottsdale, Ariz.

“Once the setup was complete, we immediately started scanning and associating owner contracts/change orders and owner billings and payments in accounts receivable,” says Moore. “At the same time, we deployed imaging into our accounts payable department associating invoices, subcontracts/change orders, release of liens, and purchase orders to records there. We also started associating timecards, employee tax documents, employee photographs, and HR (human resource) information to the payroll and human resource application.”

WIMCO chose a fully integrated solution, which was tailored to integrate the document imaging and workflow technology with other aspects of the ERP system. Other ERP providers offer similar modules within a larger system.

While WIMCO uses document imaging and workflow technology as part of its ERP system, Lisa Gilbert, IT (information technology) manager, Elford Inc, www.elford.com, Columbus, Ohio, has implemented a standalone imaging and workflow application to help improve communication and project oversight.

With project managers and superintendents working at remote locations around the Midwest, the company places great importance on the ability to communicate various quality and productivity reports to its executives, who are constantly on the road.

The company uses technology from Cabinet NG, www.cabinetng.com, Madison, Ala., to provide a repository for such documentation. According to Gilbert, Elford achieved higher levels of consistency, pointing to the need to not increase staff as one of the biggest benefits. This efficiency keeps overhead down, as far as numbers of people, at the same time allowing them to grow geographically.

Other standalone applications for the construction industry include technology from Construction Imaging, www.construction-imaging.com, Rocky Mount, N.C., and Paperless Environments, www.paperlessenvironments.com, Baton Rouge, La., among others.

Construction Imaging recently released Invoice Router Web Access, which allows users to access the product via a standard Web browser. The product is built on Microsoft's ASP.NET/IIS platform, meaning Invoice Router Web Access can be deployed to hundreds of users quickly. This provides a new way for users to retrieve information when they need it.

While imaging and workflow technology within an ERP system offers easy integration capabilities to accounting, project management, and HR, among other construction processes, a standalone application allows construction companies to implement a system specially designed to meet the challenges of document management.