The secret to saving money using contemporaneous records

April 1, 2022
Discover how digital records cut costs in construction by optimising workflows, reducing errors, and automating manual tasks.

In the fast-paced world of construction, efficiency and cost management are key to maintaining a competitive edge. The secret to saving money may very well lie in the adoption of contemporaneous records and the digitisation of processes within construction projects. This article delves into how manual processes can inflate costs and how the integration of digital solutions can streamline operations, reduce errors, and ultimately lead to significant financial savings.

Key Takeaways

  • Manual processes like spreadsheets, paper-based systems, and handwritten data can unnecessarily increase project costs, but are often overlooked due to a resistance to change from established practises.
  • Digital workflow automation allows project managers to efficiently prioritise tasks and provides greater insight into project progress, leading to cost savings and improved operational efficiency.
  • Electronic invoicing is not only more cost-effective and simpler than paper invoicing, but also contributes to sustainability by reducing paper consumption.
  • Automated systems minimise human error, which can be costly and time-consuming to rectify, while investments in robotic process automation (RPA) support financial saving goals.
  • Reducing manual labour through automation can lower labour costs, enhance productivity, and allow employees to focus on more strategic and complex problem-solving tasks.

The Impact of Manual Processes on Construction Project Costs

The 'If It Ain't Broke' Mentality: A Barrier to Optimisation

In the realm of construction project management, the adage 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' often leads to a complacency that overlooks the potential for improvement. Common manual processes, such as relying on spreadsheets and paper-based systems, may not immediately appear detrimental, but they can significantly inflate project costs over time. These practises, deeply ingrained in some organisations, are frequently left unchallenged by decision-makers, who may not recognise the inefficiencies they introduce.

The reality is that avoiding optimisation can be a costly oversight. For instance, manual data entry not only consumes a substantial portion of an office worker's time but also diverts attention away from more strategic tasks. Consider the following:

  • Office workers spend approximately 10% of their time on manual data entry.
  • Over half of their work time is dedicated to creating or updating documents.

This excessive focus on repetitive tasks can be alleviated through the strategic implementation of automation tools. By doing so, organisations can shift their resources from mundane activities to addressing customer pain points and improving overall operations. The question then arises: why should businesses care about these repetitive tasks? The answer lies in the untapped potential for efficiency gains and cost savings that automation can unlock, transforming the way construction projects are managed and ultimately enhancing profitability.

The Hidden Costs of Traditional Paper-Based Systems

While the construction industry has long been characterised by a reliance on traditional, paper-based systems and fragmented communication channels, the true cost of these outdated methods is often underestimated. Manual processes such as using spreadsheets for accounting, maintaining paper records, and relying on handwritten data not only increase the risk of errors but also lead to significant inefficiencies.

The consequences of sticking with these systems are multifaceted:

  • Safety and Security: Paper documents are vulnerable to loss and damage, increasing the risk of data breaches.
  • Speed and Reliability: Manual processing is slower and more prone to errors, delaying payments and project timelines.
  • Sustainability: The environmental impact of paper consumption is considerable, with digital alternatives offering a greener solution.
  • Simplicity: Managing data across disparate systems is cumbersome, whereas digital platforms streamline operations.

Moreover, the cost of inaction, particularly for small subcontractors, can be substantial. By clinging to the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' mentality, businesses may overlook opportunities for optimisation that could lead to significant savings. It's crucial to recognise that being functional does not equate to being optimal. As the industry evolves, those who fail to adapt may find themselves at a competitive disadvantage, with increased labour costs and time wasted on low-level, automatable tasks that could be better allocated to strategic roles.

Why Decision-Makers Hesitate to Update Outdated Practises

The reluctance to move away from established methods is not uncommon in the construction industry. Decision-makers often grapple with the perceived risks of implementing new technologies, fearing disruption to ongoing operations and potential downtime. The comfort of familiarity with manual processes, despite their inefficiencies, can be a powerful deterrent against change.

  • Concerns over the initial investment required for digital tools.
  • Uncertainty about the return on investment and the time needed to see tangible benefits.
  • The challenge of training staff to adapt to new systems.

These factors contribute to a hesitancy that can stifle innovation and growth. Yet, the potential for significant cost savings and increased agility through automation is compelling. As the construction industry evolves, those who embrace digital transformation may find themselves at a competitive advantage, with streamlined workflows and improved financial efficiency.

Embracing Digital Transformation through Workflow Automation

Streamlining Project Management with Software Solutions

In the dynamic world of construction, the adoption of software solutions is revolutionising the way project management is conducted. Digitising your workflows not only enhances the efficiency of project managers but also empowers teams to swiftly prioritise and update assignments. This digital shift is pivotal in fostering a more collaborative and transparent environment.

  • Instant reporting or automated updates quicken workflows.
  • Enhanced insight into project progress compared to traditional methods.
  • Clear structure and routine established through automation.

The integration of tools like Procore facilitates stakeholder collaboration and streamlines document management, offering a real-time visibility that is indispensable for timely decision-making. Moreover, the automation of repetitive tasks liberates the workforce from the drudgery of manual processes, allowing them to concentrate on tasks that add greater value to the project. By embracing such innovations, organisations can not only minimise costs but also significantly improve operations, leading to a more agile and competitive business.

The Tangible Benefits of Automating Construction Workflows

The advent of workflow automation in the construction industry has brought about a significant shift in how projects are managed. Digitising workflows allows project managers to swiftly prioritise tasks, leading to a more efficient allocation of resources. Workers can report on project progress in real-time, or have updates communicated automatically, enhancing the speed and clarity of workflows.

Automating workflows not only establishes a structured routine but also instils a sense of accountability within the team. While manual reporting has its place, it is often time-consuming and less reliable, particularly for midsize businesses that may struggle to monitor processes over time.

The integration of automation tools into existing systems may require initial customization and testing, but the long-term benefits are clear. These include a reduction in manual errors, an increase in profits, and the ability for employees to redirect their focus towards more strategic tasks. As businesses strive to balance streamlining operations and minimising costs, automation emerges as a key ally in achieving these objectives.

Key Statistics: The Financial Upside of Workflow Automation

The adoption of workflow automation in construction projects is not just a trend; it's a strategic move with measurable financial benefits. Market research firm IDC highlights a staggering loss of 20% to 30% in annual revenue due to inefficient processes, a clear indicator of the potential savings through automation. CEOs, often inundated with operational tasks, could reclaim nearly 20% of their time by automating routine work such as data analysis and status reviews.

The financial implications are significant, with the workflow automation market projected to grow from USD 21.70 billion in 2024 to USD 34.18 billion by 2029. This growth reflects a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.52%, underscoring the increasing reliance on automation to drive efficiency and profitability. Moreover, the impact on productivity and employee satisfaction cannot be overstated. A ServiceNow survey of over 6,000 knowledge workers revealed that business process automation (BPA) not only enhances productivity but also job satisfaction, with 74% of employees in highly automated companies reporting increased satisfaction compared to 53% in companies reliant on manual processes.

In practical terms, automating workflows means project managers can swiftly prioritise tasks, and workers can report project updates instantly or through automated systems. This leads to quicker workflows and deeper insights. Additionally, the time spent on low-level, automatable tasks, such as manual data entry, which consumes 30% of IT departments' time, can be significantly reduced. This allows businesses to reallocate resources from repetitive tasks to strategic roles, further enhancing financial efficiency and productivity.

Electronic Invoicing: A Gateway to Financial Efficiency

Simplifying Invoice Management with Digital Platforms

The transition to digital platforms for invoice management marks a significant step towards operational efficiency in construction projects. Electronic invoicing is not just a technological upgrade; it's a strategic move towards a more streamlined business model. By adopting digital solutions, companies can enjoy a host of benefits:

  • Simple: Centralising data on a single platform simplifies follow-up and processing tasks.
  • Cost-Effective: Digital invoicing slashes expenses related to printing and postage.
  • Safety and Security: The risk of loss and human error is greatly reduced with secure digital storage.
  • Fast and Reliable: Digital processes accelerate payment validations and transactions.
  • Sustainable: It significantly cuts down on paper usage, aligning with eco-friendly business practises.

In the context of construction project management, platforms like Gather, formerly Raildiary, are revolutionising the way projects are delivered and costs are managed. The integration of automated site data capture and reporting enhances productivity and ensures that financial management is both accurate and efficient. As businesses look to begin their digital transformation, electronic invoicing stands as a gateway to modernising operations and setting the foundation for a comprehensive digital strategy.

Cost Comparison: Electronic vs. Paper Invoicing

The shift from paper to electronic invoicing is not just a step towards modernisation; it's a strategic move that can lead to significant cost savings. Electronic invoicing streamlines the entire billing process, from transmission to archiving, reducing the need for physical storage and the risks associated with manual handling. Here are some key points to consider when evaluating the cost benefits:

  • Safety and Security: Digital storage mitigates the risk of loss and reduces human error.
  • Fast and Reliable: Electronic systems process and validate payments more swiftly than their paper counterparts.
  • Sustainable: A marked decrease in paper use is not only cost-effective but also environmentally friendly.
  • Simple and Cost-Effective: Managing invoices on a single platform simplifies follow-up and cuts out expenses related to printing and postage.

Embracing electronic invoicing is the first step in a transformative journey towards digital business. It's an opportunity to not only overhaul invoicing practises but to also re-evaluate other business processes. As we Automate project reporting with Gather software, we not only save costs but also improve schedule adherence and enhance productivity, a testament to the efficiency that digital solutions bring to the table.

How Electronic Invoicing Contributes to Sustainable Practises

The shift towards electronic invoicing is not just a step towards financial efficiency; it's a stride towards environmental responsibility. Green invoicing minimises the need for paper, reducing the ecological impact of construction projects. By embracing digital invoices, companies can significantly cut down on paper consumption, aligning with sustainable business practises.

Key advantages of electronic invoicing include:

  • Safety and Security: Digital documents are less prone to loss and greatly diminish the risk of human error.
  • Fast and Reliable: Electronic processing allows for quicker validation and payment completion.
  • Sustainable: A substantial decrease in paper use is not only cost-effective but environmentally friendly.
  • Simple: Centralised data management streamlines invoice tracking and processing.

Initiating the journey towards digital transformation with electronic invoicing is a strategic move. It's a foundational element that enhances operational efficiency and sets the stage for broader digital integration within the business. As we continue to navigate the digital era, the adoption of electronic invoicing stands as a testament to a company's commitment to both fiscal prudence and ecological stewardship.

Minimising Human Error to Enhance Profit Margins

The Real Cost of Human Error in Construction Projects

The inevitability of human error in construction projects can lead to significant financial repercussions. Mistakes in manual data entry, for instance, not only consume valuable time in rectification but also impact the overall project costs. Automation stands as a beacon of efficiency, offering a reduction in these costly errors and an improvement in profit margins.

Consider the statistics: automated systems are likely to make between 1 and 4.1 errors per 10,000 data entries, whereas human operators could make between 100 and 400 errors. This stark contrast highlights the potential for automation to enhance data quality and reduce the average costs associated with poor data, which can be as high as $12.9 million for organisations.

The adoption of automation technologies is not merely a trend but a strategic move to eliminate unnecessary costs. By automating tasks that are prone to human error, businesses can redirect their workforce towards more complex and rewarding work, thereby increasing productivity and reducing labour costs. Moreover, with companies investing in robotic process automation to achieve their financial goals, it's clear that the shift towards digital efficiency is well underway.

For those seeking to embrace this transformation, training programmes such as Gather's 12-week boot camp for construction site data capture software can be instrumental. Such initiatives not only support digital transformation but also offer world-class reporting and cost-saving strategies, ultimately contributing to an average saving of 11% on project costs.

Automated Systems: Reducing Mistakes and Saving Time

In the fast-paced world of construction, time is a resource just as valuable as any material. Automated systems are pivotal in reducing the frequency of human error, ensuring that projects progress smoothly and efficiently. By minimising the risk of mistakes, such as misread data or incorrect key entries, companies can avoid the costly process of rectifying these issues, which often leads to project delays and budget overruns.

  • 81% of companies are investing in robotic process automation technology to achieve their financial saving goals.

The implementation of automated systems extends beyond error reduction. It also allows for the reallocation of human resources to more strategic tasks. For instance, IT staff previously occupied with repetitive tasks like device provisioning can now contribute to more complex problem-solving activities, thereby enhancing overall productivity and profitability.

Moreover, automation provides a wealth of data that can be analysed to further refine processes and customer service strategies. By understanding patterns and common concerns, businesses can proactively address issues, leading to improved operations and customer satisfaction. The key takeaway is that automation not only saves time but also transforms the way we approach construction project management, paving the way for a more efficient and profitable future.

Investment in Robotic Process Automation for Financial Goals

The landscape of construction project management is evolving with the integration of Robotic Process Automation (RPA), a technology that is no longer exclusive to large corporations. The affordability and accessibility of RPA tools have levelled the playing field, allowing businesses of all sizes to reap the benefits of automation.

RPA implementation typically involves a few key components:

  • An RPA robot to execute specific tasks
  • Management software to direct RPA bots
  • Development tools for designing automation processes

These elements work in concert to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, freeing up human resources for more complex and valuable work. By doing so, companies can achieve significant time and cost savings, which directly contribute to their financial objectives.

The adoption of RPA is gaining momentum across the industry. A staggering 78% of companies have already incorporated RPA into their operations, with an additional 16% planning to do so in the near future. This trend underscores the competitive advantage that automation brings, particularly in enhancing efficiency and data leverage.

Furthermore, investing in RPA is a strategic move to minimise human error, which can be costly not only in terms of rectification time but also in its impact on the bottom line. With 81% of companies investing in RPA to meet their financial saving goals, it's clear that the push towards automation is a calculated step towards economic resilience and growth.

The Economic Argument for Reducing Manual Labour through Automation

The Financial Implications of Increased Labour Costs

In the competitive landscape of construction, managing labour costs effectively is crucial. Eliminating unnecessary costs is a major priority, particularly when tasks can be automated. Paying staff for work that could be easily handled by software is not just a financial drain; it also squanders valuable time that could be redirected towards more impactful activities.

Automation stands as a beacon of efficiency, offering a solution to the costly manual processes that burden many construction projects. Consider these points:

  • Manual data entry and the inefficiencies that follow are cited as significant challenges by nearly half of accounts payable professionals.
  • Automatable tasks consume approximately 30% of IT departments' time, representing a substantial opportunity for cost savings.
  • By automating timesheet and payroll processing, businesses can often reduce the need for manual labour equivalent to 1.5 full-time employees, allowing for a strategic reallocation of personnel.

The transition from manual to automated processes is not just about cost savings; it's about enhancing the overall productivity and satisfaction of the workforce. A survey by ServiceNow indicates that employees in highly automated companies report greater job satisfaction compared to those in manual environments. The message is clear: investing in automation is investing in the future of your construction projects.

How Automation Transforms Data Entry and Strategic Planning

The advent of automation in construction project management has revolutionised the way data is handled, shifting the focus from tedious manual entry to strategic oversight. Automated systems are not just about replacing human effort; they're about enhancing human capability. By automating low-level tasks, which can consume up to 30% of IT departments' time, resources are freed up to concentrate on more complex, value-adding activities.

  • Automated timesheet and payroll processing can significantly reduce the need for manual labour, allowing businesses to reallocate personnel from data entry to more strategic roles.
  • The efficiency gained translates into a 75% reduction in the time required to create and manage employee schedules, mitigating the risk of costly overtime hours.

Embracing automation tools not only alleviates the burden of repetitive tasks but also provides a platform for better data analysis and decision-making. With digitised workflows, project managers can prioritise assignments more effectively, and workers can report updates instantaneously, leading to improved operational insights and outcomes.

Boosting Productivity: The Shift from Repetitive Tasks to Complex Problem-Solving

In the dynamic world of construction, the shift from repetitive tasks to complex problem-solving is a pivotal step towards enhancing productivity. By automating mundane tasks, workers are liberated to apply their skills to more challenging aspects of a project, fostering innovation and strategic thinking.

Consider the case of an HR worker who, rather than spending the day on manual data entry, can now engage in more impactful activities such as employee training or education. This not only improves job satisfaction but also adds significant value to the organisation.

  • Time spent on repetitive jobs would be better spent on more complex tasks where the worker is needed.
  • With automation, tedious jobs can be alleviated, allowing staff to focus their energies on more skilled labour.
  • Overall, automating repetitive tasks enables businesses to boost productivity, minimise errors, increase profits, and allow employees to focus on more valuable tasks.

By embracing automation, construction firms can ensure that their workforce is not bogged down by inefficiency. Instead, they can contribute to the company's growth by engaging in work that maximises their potential and drives the business forward.


In conclusion, the adoption of contemporaneous records and digital transformation in construction projects is not merely a matter of keeping pace with technology—it's a strategic imperative for cost savings and operational efficiency. The evidence is clear: manual processes and the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' mentality are costing businesses more than just money; they're leading to increased labour costs, reduced productivity, and a host of inefficiencies. By embracing digital workflows, automation, and electronic invoicing, companies can streamline operations, reduce human error, and reallocate resources to more strategic roles. The secret to saving money lies in recognising that optimisation is not about fixing what's broken, but about pursuing continuous improvement and innovation. As we've seen, the benefits of such an approach are not just theoretical but are supported by compelling statistics and real-world outcomes. It's time for businesses to take the leap into digital transformation and reap the rewards of a more efficient, secure, and sustainable future.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do manual processes like spreadsheets and paper-based systems affect construction project costs?

Manual processes such as using spreadsheets and paper-based systems can significantly increase project costs due to their inefficiency and lack of optimisation. Despite the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' mentality, these outdated practises can lead to bloated spending and missed opportunities for cost savings.

What are the benefits of digitising workflows in construction project management?

Digitising workflows allows project managers to quickly prioritise tasks and enables workers to report updates instantly or through automated systems. This results in faster workflows, better insights, and can lead to a structured routine that establishes accountability within the business.

How does electronic invoicing save money compared to traditional paper invoicing?

Electronic invoicing is cost-effective, as it eliminates the need for printing and postage costs associated with paper invoices. It also simplifies invoice management, reduces the risk of human error, speeds up the payment process, and supports sustainable practises by reducing paper consumption.

What is the impact of human error on construction project profit margins?

Human error can have a significant impact on profit margins by causing delays and necessitating time-consuming corrections. Automating processes can minimise preventable mistakes, enhancing efficiency and improving the bottom line. In fact, 81% of companies invest in robotic process automation to achieve financial savings.

Why should businesses consider reducing manual labour through automation?

Reducing manual labour through automation can help eliminate unnecessary labour costs, especially if the tasks can be easily automated. This not only saves money but also allows staff to focus on more complex problem-solving tasks, thereby increasing productivity and reducing the likelihood of costly errors.

How can automation transform the role of personnel in a construction company?

Automation can shift personnel from repetitive data entry tasks to more strategic roles, enhancing productivity. For example, the time taken to create and manage employee schedules can be reduced by 75%, and costly overtime hours can be significantly decreased due to automated alerts and efficient task management.

The secret to saving money using contemporaneous records

Will Doyle


I am an experienced RICS chartered Quantity Surveyor​ with first-hand experience of how the consistent capture and analysis of data can transform global project delivery.

Raildiary LinkedIn
Table of Contents

Keep up with Gather

Make sure you never miss out! Sign up to our monthly newsletter to keep up with the biggest news stories in construction and the latest Gather updates. Full of our latest case studies, blogs and fun quizzes!

Thank you for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Gather needs the contact information you provide to us to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at anytime. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, check out our Privacy Policy.