In today’s modern world, where technology is becoming part of our everyday lives, construction is being forced to adapt. The UK government is pushing for construction firms to adopt more automated processes and improved digital trails to survive.
Some of the older ways of working must change, both to maintain compliance and competitiveness in a shallow recession. A construction business with strong operating efficiencies and good workflows can weather the financial storm and prepare for future requirements.
What is a Construction Workflow?
A construction workflow is a process that coordinates multiple moving parts, such as people, services and goods. Workflows can be as simple as an automated email that gets sent with a weekly build progress report, or more complex, like consolidating payroll data with timesheets to ensure accuracy across the board. Workflows are there to improve business operations and create efficiencies for construction firms, every step of the way.
Construction Workflows That Should Be Updated
Across construction firms, there are always areas for improvement, especially regarding ways of working. A lot of construction firms will often have issues with accurately logging errors made, especially as fixes can be costly and information requests take time. However, being accountable for errors, such as incorrect orders, is essential for reducing the overall cost of fixes. Using digital forms can help to make error logging easy and simple, as well as more transparent.
Many construction workflows could do with an update to free up time for companies to focus on more pressing issues. Some workflows are even prone to errors and mistakes, causing companies to backtrack on documentation or disparate spreadsheets to find the source.
1. Populating Payroll
Payroll is a time-consuming process. It can take an entire team considerable effort and wasted hours to push payroll through every month. For companies that operate on a by-project or by-week pay period, disparate systems and disorganised processes can make the fundamentals of payroll difficult.
In fact, one of the most time-consuming parts is populating pay runs. From CIS (Construction Industry Scheme) complications to pension fees and submitting all runs to HMRC, there is a considerable amount of admin that comes alongside payroll, such as consolidating pay to pension, paying pensions and managing additional taxes.
Making this more efficient through digitalisation and automatic consolidation can help to bring a more accurate pay run and also greatly reduce the amount of time spent every month on payroll, meaning companies can put administrative time onto more complex queries.
2. Purchase Orders (POs)
Paper POs (Purchase Orders) cause problems, make consolidation hard and can mean missed payments as they can easily be lost, damaged in bad weather or forgotten. There’s also an increased risk of duplicated orders, all of which can be resolved by moving to a digital record. One version of the truth, available for everyone to see, means purchase order problems will be a thing of the past.
With traditional ways of placing orders, there’s also less opportunity for accountability, something that the Building Safety Act is looking to change. For those working on high-rise buildings, creating a digital PO system may soon become a necessity as the BSA looks to revolutionise the way work is done.
Every firm can benefit from a digital PO process, as it allows for a better invoice payment system, meaning profits can be maximised and easier to report on, as well as a clearer method to be able to recover lost payments.
3. Goods Received Notes (GRN)
After a PO has been placed, ensuring those goods have been received is another matter. If an order has been placed by head office, knowing that the correct site has received the right goods isn’t always as easy as it should be, as orders can be packed wrong or errors made with the delivery address.
Moving to a digital purchase register can help to consolidate POs with Goods Received Notes (GRNs), which will improve a business’s operating efficiencies. It almost immediately removes unnecessary admin. It also provides greater visibility of goods received and allows approval of invoices to be paid to be managed digitally and auditability of the entire goods process.
4. Communication Across Sites
While WhatsApp or texting may be a convenient way to drop informal messages across to friends and colleagues, as a professional communication platform, it has its issues. As construction sites are often far away from the head office, a quick message can be simpler than a more open way of communicating, such as a request for information or a form request.
Siloed communication leads to bigger issues than just lost information, it can cause serious issues such as errors in the build or larger problems once the building has been handed over.
5. Multiple, Disjointed Platforms
As technology has been adopted in the construction industry, companies have taken on various displaced SaaS programmes, which has left some companies with multiple platforms that offer no cohesion.
From payroll and HR to business reporting, the digital footprint of a company must be connected to be effective. As a company often has one set of data that needs inputting, having to do this across multiple platforms only makes it more complicated than the software should be.
Why Do Construction Businesses Need to Adapt Their Way of Working?
As well as any business efficiencies made, construction businesses need to adapt their way of working to meet compliance with regulations such as Making Tax Digital and upcoming changes due to the BSA.
There are many benefits to adopting your way of working including
- the ability to adapt when business situations change, such as the pandemic
- insight and visibility into all areas of the business, allowing for better processes
- more opportunities to increase profits
Migrating to a platform that provides multiple business aspects helps to reduce the duplication of work, as well as create efficiencies across the business.
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