What every CFO needs to know about digitising construction timesheets

As an historically slow adopter of digital tech, the construction industry is going through a digital revolution. According to StartupAUS, there is unprecedented activity and investment (an estimated $98+ million since the start of 2016) in the Australian construction tech start-up space and they suggest full-scale digitisation in the Australian construction sector could add value in the order of “$25 billion year on year within the next decade”.

Despite this growth, many of the construction contractors I meet say they capture time in largely ad hoc, manual, paper or spreadsheet-based methods. This increases admin costs and makes timely, data-driven decision-making near impossible. Fortunately, there is growing demand from construction execs for digital solutions to this problem so they can reduce admin burden and make fast, informed decisions, in-the-field, to keep projects on track and profitable.

The prize is worth it. One project team, using Envision, reduced their timesheet administrators from eight to two, and reduced the cost data lag from six weeks (or more) to just a couple of days. You can read the case study here.

For CFOs and other executive stakeholders, the project and business value that can be derived from digitising construction timesheets is immense. We’ve covered some fundamentals on construction timesheet considerations here. Going further, there are key considerations we’ve learned over several years that can help you realise the full benefits available from digitising your construction timesheets.

Keys to success

    • Build a clear map of your current process so your new process can be designed to minimise the impacts of change on your end users
    • Map the needs of corporate, project and supply chain timesheet stakeholders (there are more than you may think!) so your digital solution can work for all
    • Ensure your digital solution will capture at least the same information as your manual process
    • Develop a transition strategy and consider whether a progressive transition may be best for your organisation and culture
    • Drive and communicate the change through your organisation, projects and supply chain from the top down
    • Train key people in the new process first so they can assist in wider training and embed the change – we find internal change champions can also help with this
    • Train your end users thoroughly and make sure your training and reference guides are easily accessible and user-friendly
    • At a nominated time, make it non-negotiable, where you stop accepting paper/manual timesheets, so you back your new process and create the right foundation for successful adoption

Choosing the right digital solution for your business

With your process and people considerations set, it comes down to selecting the right solution. Naturally, we believe Envision has the flexibility, scope and track record to support effectively any construction team. That being said, there are four considerations relevant to any quality solution.

Flexibility and configuration requirements

The pace of technology change continues to accelerate. Where possible, choose a technology platform that has the flexibility to grow and change with your business needs. Cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS) technologies are becoming very popular and well accepted. These are typically modern, very flexible and very user-friendly. They can get you a 90% fit-for-purpose solution far more cost-effectively than traditional ERP platforms that might get you the extra 10% but are configuration-heavy, time-consuming and expensive.

Integration options and open APIs

No solution can afford to work in a silo these days. Creating value in an organisation demands a flow of information across an organisation between teams and departments…not locking information into silos. Ken Panitz from CIMIC Group’s EIC Activities sums it up from his panel talk at the recent CTS2017. Ken’s strong belief is that technology providers should build their integration capability (API) first, rather than provide a siloed solution. A great digital construction timesheet solution should be like a lego block within your wider technology strategy, able to integrate with other business systems.

Ongoing development commitment by the provider

A solution with longevity will have an active roadmap and ongoing development strategy to ensure changing business and industry needs are met. Keeping any technology solution secure and working across various mobile devices and web browser platforms requires significant development effort – even before improving its functionality. Select a partner committed to proactive, continual development in response to your business needs and industry trends.

Implementation and ongoing operational support

Software is just part of the solution. Select a solution that will be well-supported by your chosen vendor, their partners or your internal business experts. Project set-ups and ongoing operational support often require scoping to meet project needs. On-site training as well as remote training documentation, videos and help guides are all key to ensuring adoption. Be wary of solutions that are not properly resourced with a team of appropriately-skilled people who can support rollouts across your business and projects.

Some pitfalls of internally-developed solutions

A final word on selecting your solution. When you look at commercial costs, you might wonder if it would be more cost effective to build your own solution. Before you go down this path, consider these hidden costs:

  • Software development is extremely iterative. Strong solutions take many evolutions and require wide exposure to different projects and businesses. This is time-consuming, expensive and very hard to achieve in-house.
  • Initial development costs are just the start. You need to allow for ongoing costs such as security maintenance, ongoing upgrades for device compatibility, testing/quality assurance for integrations (so new features don’t have backward compatibility issues), development and maintenance of user resources, support team capability, continuity and capacity

There is significant value – cost and time savings, faster decision-making, better issues management and more – available to companies that digitise their construction timesheets. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss where you’re at today, what you want to achieve, and how we can help your digital transformation with certainty.