February 24, 2022

Digital tools power collaboration in the midst of great uncertainty

InFebruary 2022, Fletcher-owned Winstone Wallboards announced a freeze on advanceorders of Gib supplies until July, leading to at least four months of delays.As Fletcher controls at least 94% of the plasterboard market, this announcementseverely impacts builders, developers, business owners and their customers, notto mention the financial implications with banks, insurers and others.

This isjust the latest in a line of challenges for the construction industry. Theonset of the pandemic resulted in ongoing issues around supply chains, talentshortages and payment disputes exacerbated to a degree that businessesstruggled to make ends meet.

However,this is also a time of great opportunity. As projects are reinstated andestablished in both the public and private sector, the ability to collaboratebecomes a unique differentiating factor. If we are to ride the waves of changeand come out on top we must effectively collaborate, empowered by technologysolutions designed for our sector.

At Payapps we support people in offices and on theground to do their work with minimal risk and maximum benefit. We enablecollaboration between all stakeholders by establishing and maintaining a singlesource of truth.

Construction sector challenges exemplified by the stats

In New South Wales andVictoria, spending in the industry fell almost 20% and employment fell by a combined total ofapproximately 350,000. When looking at costs, timber, board and joinery rose 3.9% in 2Q21 to be up by 6.4%over the year. Electrical equipment also increased 4.4% in 2Q20, while othermetal products increased by 4% over the year. Overall, the shutdown ofconstruction in Greater Sydney during the pandemic outbreak and lockdowns impacted more than 250,000workers and was forecast to cost the NSW economy alone $1.4 billion.

Even prior to COVID-19, stats show that 53% ofproject managers experience underperformance in one or more projects everyyear, and only 25% of projects were delivered within 10% of the originaldeadline. On the upside, the construction industry generates more than $360billion in revenue, accounting for around 9% of Australia’s Gross DomesticProduct, (AISC) and we’restarting to see a resurgence in activity in the sector as lockdowns ease andprojects are brought back up to speed.  

Emerging from thepandemic into a building boom

If we look at statements, trend reports andoverwhelming anecdotal evidence, we expect the residential housing market andlarger infrastructure projects to take off throughout Australia. As thishappens, we expect supply chain calendars and resourcing challenges tocontinue, while labour and associated costs increase due to the fact that thereare less skilled workers in the country and ongoing border closures.

Another ongoing challenge that was apparent beforeCOVID-19 but exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic is the continueddependence on traditional tools. Many operators continue to rely on MicrosoftWord/Excel or handwritten documents and email trails. While these tools maymake sense for smaller projects or firms, with the growing complexity and sizeof projects, and increasing demands from stakeholders, we have to be looking atmore intuitive and secure solutions.

Moving forward, the organisations and leaders thatcan adopt new solutions will be those that establish a competitive edge andultimately find success despite uncertainty. A recent Forbes article furthercements this notion by stating that technology will make the biggest impact infinding certainty, enabling users to capture, analyse and distributeinformation faster and more accurately, as well as helping to anticipate andrespond to unpredictable issues quicker and prevent them from arising.

Collaborationempowered by having ‘a single source of truth’

Inaccurate information can lead to expensivedisputes and increased risk, and in today’s landscape it can tip us over into adeficit that we’re unable to recover from. To change this, organisations mustbe willing to invest in solutions that provide a platform for sharedinformation and engage early to establish the way builders and subcontractorswill work together.  

Information and data holds the key to collaboration.From day one there has to be a willingness to adapt, but having a single sourceof truth will go a long way to establish a culture of transparency and trust.Having one set of data that’s established and agreed upon by all partiesensures nothing hidden, secret or inaccurate is being shared.  

Excellent digital technologies and tools have beencoming to the fore to support not only the provision but the enablement of asingle source of truth. These tools can also help with predicting andforecasting costs, and reduce the amount of disputes that could’ve taken placedue to pricing discrepancies. As a result, organisations can accelerate thegrowth of projects and make sure they’re delivered on time.  

In the midst of uncertainty, collaboration is fundamental. We must adopta mindset of growth and understand that working alongside all stakeholders withshared information will lead to greater productivity, efficiency and success,as well as reduced risk. The organisations that can step up to the plate willbe rewarded now and into the future.

This article was originally published in BuildIT.

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