How We Went From Paperwork Hell To Digital Operations Management
Picture this. I was the business owner of a construction business. I managed more than 100 men across many job sites. Like many of my mates in construction, I sat at my desk late at night, trying to make sense of what was happening in my business. I shuffled paper around. I tried to figure out whether my estimates were close to my actuals. I wanted to know whether I was over or under my project budget and whether the team on site was being productive.
The construction business is complex. There are many moving parts. There are staff, equipment, materials, overtime and sick leave to contend with. I was trying to manage project sites with carbon copies, paper-based forms and manual time sheets. I felt overwhelmed, stressed and anxious. I was most likely on my way to an ulcer.
I figured there had to be a better use of my time. No matter how many systems we implemented, I couldn’t get a full picture of all the data I wanted. How was I supposed to make informed decisions? My brothers agreed that there had to be a solution. We set about finding something that worked out of the box.
Enter a parade of software providers that offered in-the-cloud, paperless systems. We interviewed companies and test-drove apps. Generally, they were built by software developers who were great at coding. They struggled to understand the construction industry and our subcontracting business. We spoke a different language and had unique requirements.
Our pain points were pretty simple:
- We were scheduling hundreds of staff using SMS and a spreadsheet
- Our payroll process took too long – our accounts team was constantly chasing up info and sign-offs. Often which were in the back of someone’s Ute.
- We struggled to track tools across multiple job sites
- We needed to keep evidence of work done on-site daily and have easy access to it
- We needed to keep track of QA forms and incident reports
The software providers couldn’t get their heads around our pain points. Let alone the dramas that occur within construction on a daily basis. We hit a wall. They didn’t get it, but I knew we did. There seemed to be little choice. Could we build a construction software system and construction operations management app that solves our problems? We were tradies. Did we dare?
Many friends and colleagues said “Don’t do it!” “It’s too hard!!” “It will cost you a fortune” “It’s too big a risk, it might not work.”
I ignored them all! I knew that this could be the only way forward for my construction business. We needed scale to continue to grow. I had to remove the roadblocks and bottlenecks or I would go crazy.
We spent two years developing our construction operations management app. It was specifically created for structural trades. It takes all the pain out of managing people and processes. It understands the complex construction environment. Then we implemented it into our concrete placement business, and what do you know, it worked!
This is bigger than us!
Then we got to thinking…. if we could solve our own paperwork problems, then we could solve the problems of others in the building game. I knew from my mates in the industry that they had nothing available that helped them with their resource management. I knew their headaches and fear of missing someone! Coordinating staff across many projects is tough!
We started researching other trades. We found that other structured trade companies had the same ancient and paper-based systems. They were managing things in the same way they had for 20+ years. They were juggling risks relating to safety. They were trying to stay on top of project budgets and spend and getting a job done on time. Then there was the potential exposure to liquidated damages. All these factors kept them up at night. They wanted to make sure that their projects get delivered within budget and on time. They wanted better access to decision making data. Preferably in the field to fix problems as they happened, not when the project was done and it was too late!
So, we took our construction operations management app and adapted it to make it suitable for:
- Brick Layers
- Civil Contractors
- Form Workers
- Post Tension
- Steel Fixers
It’s been awesome to see these business owners grasp their management info at the touch of a button. And the stories of the savings in labour and money! They are so good!
Are you sitting at your desk late into the night shuffling paper, and trying to get a clear picture of where you are at? Are you getting complaints that you are not home enough? Or do you barely have time to quote for new work? Then come and talk to us. Neo Intelligence offers a free trial of our app. We also offer comprehensive training to help your tradies adapt to new tech. Even your most old-school tradie or foreman can use it. And what’s best is that it practically pays for itself.