The construction and building industries play a huge part in the ongoing expansion of our modern cities. It is for this reason that these industries themselves often being the slowest to adapt to change and embrace technology is so ironic.
The construction and building industries are heavily reliant on a contracted workforce; that is, there are a great number of individually contracted ‘employees’ who are invoiced and paid separately, rather than through a centralised system.
What this means is that contractors are often paid at the completion of a job in blocks of hours. Meaning that any projects which aren’t securely financed leave workers with the risk of not being paid.
The building and construction industries have the highest level of insolvencies of any industry in Australia – sobering news which is not likely to surprise those employed in it. A combination of erstwhile investors, shaky financing and antiquated payment systems means that contractors are often taking a risky gamble when opting to accept payments at the end of a contract.
Progressive payment systems are possible through software solutions.
These programs offer employers the ability to pay contractors at incremental rates, at automatically generated times. What this means for contractors, is that they are more likely to receive their full set of income and entitlements, with a lessened risk of loss due to insolvency of bankruptcy.
Construction payment management also offers greater connectivity and capturability, meaning that employers and contractors can connect to their data and sensitive information from multiple locations, in a greater range of hours.
Online, All The Time
Connectivity is another issue which construction companies ignore at their peril.
With the proliferation of mobile and handheld devices, companies are now offered an unprecedented level of freedom to access their data.
What this means practically, is that there is the availability for companies to utilise digital software to capture data across the spectrum of their business. For example, a construction company can not only automate payments and schedule payments (see above for ‘progressive payment’ systems), but they can also integrate HR information, WH & S information, site data (including geo-technical and topographic information), and any plans, blueprints or modelling data.
The integration and greater accessibility of this data gives companies the chance to expand exponentially. They’re able to access their information on handheld devices, across sites and projects, at whichever time is convenient to them (rather than relying on a multi tiered workforce with the constraints of business hours).
Traditional methods of archiving data (paper, large format servers) are most vulnerable to damage through natural disaster or accident (fire, flood, storm, burglary). When damaged, there is no way to bring back or replicate the archival items – they’re simply lost.
New technologies, most notably the integration of cloud-based computing for digital software means that companies can now choose to base their archives online, meaning that their data will no longer be stored in one physical location.
Not only does this offer construction companies and employees greater access to their information, it also means that it’s less likely to be subjected to geographic vulnerability. It’s also cost-effective storage – with no physical location to rent, temperature control and protect.
Exciting technological advances in the construction industry also allow for frontline technologies (such as drones) to be integrated into modelling and datasets more effectively.
These technologies are fast becoming industry-standard, and as a result, slow-adopters (and non-adopters) risk irrelevance should they choose not to employ at least some of these new technological developments.
With a forward-thinking mindset and a greater ability to react to change and embrace proven technologies (such as progressive payment systems) the construction industry has the chance to protect itself (and its large workforce) for years to come.