How to Make Your Construction Company More Data-Driven
1 Minute Read
September 27, 2022
Right now in Australia, the construction industry is experiencing one of the highest levels of expansion since the turn of the century. Like many construction firms, you might be considering expanding your operations to capitalise on the industry’s growth. If you’re wanting to increase your annual turnover from $20M AUD to $50M AUD or even $100M AUD, there are some common business growth challenges that you may encounter and which have the potential to derail your plans.
The construction industry employs people across diverse roles, from the project manager to foreman, from accountant to HR representative and many more. When you grow your operations—either by taking on more or larger jobs or through acquisition—it’s important that everyone in your business understands the strategic direction and is nurtured through the expansion journey.
When your employee base grows rapidly in a short period of time, it can create discomfort, uncertainty and tension, with people questioning their place in a larger operation and worst case, looking for opportunities outside your business.
Open and regular communication will ensure your growing team works towards the same shared goals, has team-wide cohesion and avoids unwanted business growth challenges. In addition to the traditional methods of communication such as meetings, email and phone hook-ups, sophisticated construction management software will enhance cross-functional communication and break down business silos.
A connected, cloud-based construction management solution allows the data, workflows and complexities of your projects to be easily shared, analysed, discussed, communicated and understood in highly collaborative spaces that are easy for everyone to use. This is critical as your business grows towards those higher revenue brackets.
While communication and collaboration are keys to your expansion plans, so too is your team of people. Business growth challenges can arise if your existing management team lacks the right skills to take your construction operation to the next level, or if you simply don’t have the headcount to manage the increased workload.
With supply issues and skilled labour shortages currently plaguing the construction industry, you need to be sure your management and working teams alike are equipped to take on the challenge. Developing your existing team has its benefits as they are intimate with how the business operates and understand the nuances of the market you are working in.
That said, you may need to hire new people to fill a gap in knowledge or expertise. Your business is well placed to expand when you have the quantity and quality of management to handle additional work. Getting the right people into the right roles is a fine balance, but one you need to consider carefully as part of your overall growth plans.
The Australian construction industry performed remarkably strongly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, experiencing some of the highest levels of expansion since the early 2000s, as measured by the Australian Performance of Construction Index (PCI).
Yet challenges still exist in the form of rising material costs due to global supply issues and skilled worker shortages, which impact project delivery and budget. If you want to grow your construction business in this environment, investing in accounting and project management software that is connected to real-time data and workflows is non-negotiable.
Kilsyth, VIC, Australia-based WSP Services is a general building and fuel installation contractor specialising in the construction and maintenance of fuel stations. With immense growth over the past decade, there was a growing need for proper construction, service and field management software that could meet all of the company's needs.
“We were taking on a lot more project work and being able to manage our projects across their timelines was important,” said the company’s finance and business systems director, Shaun Perrett. “Being able to run projects across their full timelines, manage the cost-to-complete and tracking progress—our off-the-shelf software packages just couldn’t do those things.”
WSP Services found the truly-connected construction management solutions it needed in Trimble Viewpoint’s Jobpac Connect and Field View products. These tools provided real-time job management and compliance reporting, along with streamlined project documentation and mobile service management capabilities.
The fact that we can get onto Jobpac or Field View anywhere and work on things together is crucial—we wouldn’t be able to work the way we do today without it,” Perrett said.
In 2021, Trimble Viewpoint conducted a survey of almost 100 project managers, business owners and finance specialists working in construction, and asked respondents to select the most popular areas of investment by their business over the previous 12 months. Investment in ‘work health and safety’ was the most popular answer, reflecting the need for new procedures around contact tracing, sanitisation and social distancing in response to the pandemic.
However, the second most popular answer was investment in ‘administration and management software’, underscoring the value that construction management teams are placing in end-to-end technology platforms to manage their business.
If you really want to modernise and grow your company, investing in the modernisation of your construction management software will enable you to scale up your operations without detrimental effects on your back office.
Existing issues or bottlenecks in your business don’t magically disappear as you expand. In fact, they become more pronounced and can create significant business growth challenges that become more difficult to manage.. As part of your growth plans, you need to identify where the noise is coming from in your business and focus on these issues first.
Commonly, issues arise when the employees in different departments of your business are working independently with little to no oversight of the challenges and opportunities faced by one another. Bringing your team together under one collaborative construction management platform will only enhance your growth plans, connecting those in finance, project management, human resources, IT and inventory management. When your team is working on the same platform with a single source of data, they are able to collaborate more easily and make decisions based on accurate, timely data and insights.
Growth means you’re doing something right, but as your company grows and expands be sure to look for ways to safeguard your operations against unwanted business growth challenges. Ensuring your people feel rewarded for the growth, and are a part of your expansion plans is important. Keeping the lines of communication open will help you achieve this. Meanwhile, having the right management team, technologies, and forward-thinking strategies in place will help you to steer your growing business through new and exciting territory.
Business and construction management software is the centrepiece of your growth plans, connecting all aspects of your business and allowing your team to respond to the changing nature of the construction industry and scale-up without overwhelming your back office. Getting to the bottom of any existing issues within your operations must be your first priority, as these will only grow as your business grows.
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