Automation of business processes in construction companies – see in which areas you can increase back office productivity

Mateusz Tajak

The construction and development industry is mainly based on manual labour related to building. It is what generates revenue and earns companies money. In today’s market, the back office with its double responsibility of customer service management and ensuring that the company runs smoothly day-to-day can be a considerable cost.

In many companies, back office processes lag behind innovations in the construction processes. This means that the industry still has a lot of room for optimisation to streamline many of its trouble spots, reduce the error rate, and eliminate payment bottlenecks, aiming for reduced process costs.

Operations on trust accounts

The market of housing construction and sale is heavily regulated. A case in point is the Polish Developer Act which requires developers to settle trust accounts as specified in a pre-arranged scheme. This often means a lot of run-of-the-mill manual work which can be automated with robots that can extract bank statements, prepare account files broken down by individual accounts, contractors and investments.

Document flow management between construction sites

In the building industry, site offices are scattered across various locations, often far away from the HQ and back office. This means that the flow of invoices, orders and other documents can be difficult to handle. More often than not, there is no structure to how documents are exchanged.

A case in point is cost invoices: some of them go to the site office on paper, some to the head office in electronic form, some on paper to the head office and some in pdf format to employee e-mails. As a result, the documents take a long time to complete their prescribed cycle, with more controls needed, which leads to payment delays. Also, those in the controlling department must confirm by email whether a given cost is actually reflected in the service provided.

The situation can be helped by a workflow system that helps build a single place for the entire circulation, archiving and acceptance of invoices, orders and all kinds of confirmations.

Subcontractor billing

Construction and development companies often use subcontractors. This calls for billing of services, materials and equipment hired. With this come numerous reports that have to be reviewed and compiled, with specific data extracted from them. With a large enough scale this becomes quite a challenge. The data then needs to be properly funnelled into its proper pipeline.

This is where robots can come in: data analysis, data combination and drafting of financial documents. As a result, the person in charge of accounting receives ready-made data and can focus on decision-making instead of manual data processing.

Payroll accounts

In construction companies, the calculation of salaries comes with the need for still more reports. This includes costs of individual investments, a breakdown of the working hours of different workers on specific sites, staff reports, health and safety reports and, of course, payroll.

To make things more complicated, this data resides in many different places. Compiling and fusing these documents, and then entering them into the HR and payroll system may take a lot of time. It requires repetition of specific actions and can therefore generate errors.

Here, too, a robot can be used to collect, compile and convey all the data to the relevant people according to a set schedule.

Payment processing

In the construction industry, a large proportion of transactions are based on large sums of money, and payment periods are not the shortest either. As a result, large transactions must be meticulously reviewed and approved. During the approval process, controlling teams very often need additional information, such as approvals from the relevant people responsible for the investment, acceptance protocols and other materials needed to make a decision to transfer sums of even millions PLN.

Often, acceptance procedures and document exchange are via email. This results in no control over the efficiency of the process and the information is never in one place.

This could be resolved through using a workflow platform where you can create an approval path, attach documents and store them in one place. Moreover, later on, we can go back and verify what decisions and on what basis were made.

Data entry and reporting

Construction and development companies work on high-value investments spread out over a long time. This requires a well-planned and organised system for measuring costs and profitability in many areas. Very often excel sheets scattered across many parts of the organisation are used for this purpose. To obtain satisfactory management reports, different sheets need to be combined, with results transferred back and forth across the organization. They also need to be filled out regularly.

The situation here can be helped by a simple data warehouse that can automatically aggregate data and provide reports at any time upon user request.

Conclusion

If you want to verify whether there are also areas in your organisation that can be optimised through automation, feel free to use our 30-minute free-of-charge consultation. In the meeting, our consultant will suggest whether and which areas you should focus on first in order to properly approach digital transformation.