Mainbrace Constructions is one of Australia’s largest and most experienced retail builders, having completed over $3.5bn in retail projects since their inception in 1989. Their experience and focus on developing long-term relationships with clients has seen them complete multiple projects for almost every major retailor in the country.
Mainbrace is a relatively new Payapps customer, but has already seen impressive uptake from their subcontractors. Beginning with just 10 subcontractors on an initial project in 2020, they’re now sitting at over 44 subcontractors per project actively using and benefitting from the platform, with numbers steadily increasing as new projects are added.
Prior to implementing Payapps, the Mainbrace teams ran manual processes for managing progress claims. While they were using digital solutions to store insurances or other documentation and making notes in their finance system, they lacked the automated capabilities that a dedicated solution like Payapps brings to the process.
E-invoicing was used to email payment schedules to their subcontractors, but in some cases, clients still preferred to submit their claims via good old-fashioned snail mail, significantly delaying the payment process.
The risk of human error in monitoring incoming emails from their subcontractors was significant – they were occasionally missed – and payment schedules had to be manually checked. In some instances, progress claims were submitted with expired insurances, posing significant risks to compliance operations. The team also found the burden of duplicate data entry and reconciliation of claims to be a time-consuming and laborious process.
Managing the entire progress claim process between different departments meant it could take around an hour to process and assess each claim, which really adds up every month. The extra time ultimately meant paying subcontractors could be delayed and put Mainbrace at risk of not meeting their requirements under security of payment legislation.
The team decided to explore the use of Payapps after their CFO, Jaco Steyn, heard about it at a networking event. Mainbrace has a strong culture of business improvement, so the implementation of Payapps became a business goal, with support from senior management.
Mainbrace started using Payapps on a single project in New South Wales and had initial uptake from 10 subcontractors. Through their Payapps Implementation Review team, they evaluated the use of Payapps, saw it had been a success, and decided to roll it out more broadly. It’s being used on a current project and they’ve seen more than 44 subcontractors come on board. Over 200 claims are being submitted through the platform each month.
According to Contracts Manager Nick Pratt, involving the subcontractors as early as possible is critical for success.
“We made a business rule that [subcontractors] had to use it. We mention it at the first tender meeting we have with them; it’s the most important time to discuss Payapps for getting engagement really early on.”
“If I’ve ever had a subbie say they won’t use it, it’s because it wasn’t brought up in the tender meeting. It's not about the money (paying for a Payapps subscription). The reluctance is more about a sense of pride that they haven't been told about something.”
Getting the Mainbrace team, and their subcontractors, up and running with Payapps was a relatively pain-free experience. They worked closely with the Payapps onboarding team for the initial set-up and integration into their finance system, and took advantage of that knowledge to build their own induction packs for new starters.
Rowena Galsim, Head of Accounts Payable, says the onboarding experience is excellent.
“We run our own finance induction for new employees, but it’s such a simple platform that learning to use Payapps is a pretty straightforward exercise; it’s not hard to explain at all. If team members do need additional help, your Customer Service team are great. We’ve had experiences with other service providers where it could take weeks to get an answer from their support team, but with Payapps, we jump on the in-app chat and get a response in 30 seconds.”
Nick agrees: “the help function and chat are just brilliant. It saves me a lot of time as I don’t have to go around and train everyone. If I can’t answer a question or am not around, the team know they can use the chat or online help centre to really self-serve, get the answer they need, and get on with their work.”
Nick takes the same approach with their subcontractors. Particularly in Victoria, they’re finding a lot of their subcontractors have previously used Payapps, so are comfortable using it. But for new users, the Mainbrace team will set them up in Payapps, and provide them with a quick start guide to learn the system. They’ll also encourage subs to contact the Payapps Customer Support team for any queries. “We know their questions will be answered really fast and saves them coming to our team for help. It streamlines that whole process so we can all focus on the job itself.”
For Nick and his team of contract administrators, and Rowena’s accounts team, using Payapps has been a positive experience.
Through the Implementation Review team, feedback from their users has found a 50% reduction in the time it takes them to assess and approve subcontractor progress claims. Having standardised information in the system means everyone (including subcontractors) are working from the same set of numbers, even when it comes to reconciling contract variations and retention.
For the accounts team, using Payapps saves a lot of time for processing payments and sending out payment schedules. They also have confidence in knowing they’re only processing compliant claims - subcontractors can’t submit a claim if they have expired compliance documentation, such as insurances, sitting in the system.
Previously, the Mainbrace team had to input subcontractor claims into their finance system. But now, that step is done straight into Payapps by the subcontractor, reducing the need for duplicate date entry or reconciling data between the two systems. Payapps pushes the data across automatically, and enhances the way they use their finance system to manage the overall payment process.
There’s also the added benefit of improved communication between the accounts and contract administration teams, and more streamlined workflows with subcontractors.
“We need to be on our toes, be agile, and Payapps really lets us do that. We expect to see more subcontractors start using the system, especially as more subcontractor-focused features like compliance reports are added. Having Payapps in place will make it even easier to work more collaboratively with them,” says Rowena. “Having standardised information within Payapps also makes it really easy for us to follow up with the CAs if we need, to make sure they’ve reviewed and approved a claim.”
Seconding Rowena’s comments, one of the clear benefits Nick has found is the visibility he has over outstanding claims.
“For me, the real benefit is the client insights. From a single screen I can see where an active claim is at in the approval process. If it’s red, I know we need to take immediate action as it means we’re not meeting the security of payment timeframes and payment to the subcontractor could be delayed.”