Why You Should Stop Manually Tracking Construction Inventory

6 min

Tracking construction inventory is a must for contractors seeking to increase company efficiency and improve contact with clients.

However, many construction companies still track their construction inventory manually.

While this might seem comfortable and familiar, relying on manual tallying requires additional use of resources and is more likely to result in mistakes.

Manual tracking cannot provide updates in real time, and full inventory audits are an expensive and labor-intensive task.

It might seem overwhelming at first to switch to automatic asset tracking, but its efficiency alone is an excellent reason to move your company into the 21st century.

Manual Tracking Is Inefficient

Manually tracking construction inventory is inefficient because it demands a full recording of the company’s resources and requires a great deal of effort.

First, employees must manually count the inventory, then record the total using pen and paper, which, in and of itself, is a frustrating experience that might require hiring expensive temporary workers.

The time and the resources required to complete a thorough inventory are almost certainly better dedicated elsewhere in an expanding construction company.

After the laborious trial of the physical inventory, the job is still far from finished, and the room for error remains.

This is because the inventory process then calls for transfer to an Excel spreadsheet, which is a laborious and time-consuming task that will put additional pressure on the office staff, beyond their usual duties.

Manual inventory tracking is especially detrimental to growing construction businesses.

It is difficult to have an accurate idea of how much warehouse space is necessary or which inventory to reorder if the company must depend on manual counting to study this information.

Since manual inventories are time-consuming and might involve bringing in extra assistance, most companies conduct them infrequently.

This means that, the majority of the time, the company is working from data that is weeks or even months old, which thwarts its operational efficiency.    

The infographic below sums up the negative effects of an inefficient process on a business:  

Source: Quandary Consulting Group

Note that these outcomes are only the immediate result of inefficient processes.

For example, if the staff are not proficient in using Excel, yet are made to rely on it for conducting inventory, that can snowball into delaying the completion of other tasks and projects.

None of this even begins to address the eventual and long-term problems that manual inventory tracking can bring, such as poor data analysis and the inability to shift business practices as necessary.

When a construction business refuses to modernize its inventory management system, still other dangers present themselves. Inventory audits carry several other drawbacks as well.

The right automatic asset tracking system can address most of these rapidly.

Higher Chance of Inaccuracies

Nowadays, clients rightfully expect accuracy in every aspect of a construction job, from initial timeline estimates to final measurements for cabinet doors.

Providing correct information to third-party contractors, employees, and government agencies is often the deciding factor between a successfully completed project or one that turns into a constant headache.

Safety, client satisfaction, and precise calculations for permits or taxes all depend upon a construction company’s ability to present precise data at crucial moments.

Construction professionals who lack the many benefits associated with asset tracking often waste the time they can’t afford to lose.

Not only does manual tracking using programs such as Excel take longer to complete, but it’s also demonstrably less accurate.

Conversely, while relying on easy-to-scan asset tracking systems like GoCodes to manage inventory, the system provides information that’s automatically calculated.

Manual tracking, on the other hand, invites frustrating or even dangerous errors.

The Harvard Business Review revealed that in 2016, bad data led to three trillion dollars in losses—in just one year.

This flow chart demonstrates the extra steps companies are forced to take when bad data derails daily business operations:

Source: Harvard Business Journal

Just one inaccuracy can result in a wrong total for the entire project.

Not only does this create aggravating mistakes, it means that employees must waste time in a maddening hunt for the origin of the error.

It is far better to ensure the right count in every aspect of conducting daily business and occasional physical inventory counts.

Lack of Real-Time Updates

Real-time updates are important to companies in a number of ways.

Their first obvious benefit is the ability to gather information on a situation as it unfolds, which is especially important in an era in which clients and partners expect instant answers or updates.

Tracking services can provide a number of other advantages, but they all lead to better customer service.

Few developments in the growth of your construction company will pay off so comprehensively.

An automatic asset system can help to provide geographical updates on employees, shipments en route, and expensive machines and tools.

Through the use of GPS, each scan of an item provides valuable information regarding its location. This is especially useful if the need arises for tracking down stolen or lost equipment.

Real-time data is also useful when resolving a legal dispute with a client, proving proper asset use information to law enforcement, or proving the validity of insurance claims.

In addition, this technology is especially useful for guarding items that often travel from place to place, as is often the case for construction companies.

When a construction company is privy to updates in real time, analysis can take place far more rapidly than otherwise.

This allows stakeholders and decision makers to pivot quickly during unforeseen events, such as severe weather or temporary stop-work order due to site safety violations.

Real-time updates also provide instant data visualization and better marketing—companies can change tactics quickly if, for example, they notice that a social media ad campaign is underperforming.

This infographic points out a reality that many employers overlook when deciding on investing in a robust asset tracking system:

Source: Salesforce

An investment in the right automatic tracking system is an investment in your employees.

Providing them with the best possible tools to complete job-related tasks leads to better performance.

Automatic tracking can play a role in employee motivation and a greater propensity to complete unpleasant tasks.

Since manual tracking inventory is inconvenient, time-intensive, and frustrating, using spreadsheets or pen and paper to undertake a full count might discourage your team from auditing.

Not only does this lead to chronically out-of-date information, unexpected inventory shortages are possible in the middle of a construction project, which can have dire consequences, particularly when the supply chain is unreliable or slow.

Difficulties Performing Inventory Audits

Carefully conducted inventory audits are a must in nearly any business. They provide a comprehensive and current report of the items the company has in stock.

While many might connect inventory audits primarily with companies that provide goods to customers, such as retail, even service industries such as construction can benefit.

Every construction company, no matter how large or small, should strive for inventory accuracy—the recorded inventory levels matching the amount of inventory actually available in the field.

With manual tracking, that correlation is often more difficult to achieve. What is more, additional problems can creep in from many sources.

Since manual inventory tracking is less efficient, it usually involves more steps than automatic tracking.

That means more opportunities exist for mistakes, particularly when relying on tired or distracted employees to undertake each phase of the shipping or inventory procedure.

Construction companies are especially vulnerable to such errors when relying upon temporary workers to conduct the inventory count, as is often the case when automatic tracking systems are not used.

Since these employees, who are often provided by a third-party temporary worker agency, are usually new to the company’s procedures and physical layout, they are more prone to mistakes and could slow down a process that longtime employees have performed many times.

However, even the most seasoned company employees can commit these errors.

For example, during the inventory count, a staff member might double-count inventory items.

Or, while manually copying the inventory count into an Excel spreadsheet, a momentarily distracted worker may transpose or incorrectly transfer some numbers.

These missteps compound when the time comes to perform mathematical functions, even simple addition or subtraction.

Pen and paper or data sheet programs are rarely scalable for auditing inventory, meaning that you might experience several technology-related roadblocks as your company grows.

If physical inventory counts are not accurate or behind the actual count, your company is constantly forced to work with lagging information.

Since this situation is often a direct route to overbuying or underbuying inventory, construction companies might find themselves constantly putting out fires, always one step behind the project itself.

They can find themselves inefficiently (and unprofessionally) scrambling to unsnarl a tangle of misdelivered items, address the lack of necessary tools, or find missing raw materials.

In contrast, an automatic tracking system such as GoCodes is ideal for avoiding inventory audit nightmares.

Automatic asset tracking keeps a real-time, measurable account of inventory regardless of when the last physical audit took place.

The system is accessible by employees as needed, and can even provide alerts when inventory drops to dangerously low levels.

Conclusion

Although the construction industry is sometimes resistant to change and adapting to new technologies, it’s important for contractors to transition from manually tracking inventory.

Manual tracking is inefficient and leads to many drawbacks, such as project completion delays, increased costs, and damaged relationships with clients.

Using paper or online spreadsheets leads to impractically high incidents of error.

Relying on manually tracking inventory also lacks real-time updates, which can negatively impact decision making and lead to confusion.

Finally, continuing to depend on manual entry for inventory tracking often results in difficulties in performing important inventory audits.

About GoCodes

GoCodes is the industry leader in tool tracking. We provide customers with the ultimate single vendor solution that includes cloud-based software, top-rated smartphone scanner apps and rugged QR code tags.

We pride ourselves on delivering a personalized service, cutting-edge technology and software that is easily used by your entire team.

GoCodes ensures our customers achieve success in their tool management projects every time.

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