Construction as an area of activity presents challenges in several dimensions. In this article, we will focus on the administrative and support processes and workflows (not the constructive ones per se), seeking to maximize transparency in the construction industry processes.
Construction is complex for different reasons, from the risk inherent to its activities, the intensive capital requirements, the regulatory aspects, the sensitivity to market fluctuations, etc. In this context, it is crucial to have the highest efficiency and transparency in the construction industry processes, to ensure compliance with all regulations and, simultaneously, the highest possible competitiveness.
Historically, the quotation and construction processes have been optimized, relegating other administrative and support processes. However, feasible optimizations requiring little investment will bring greater efficiency, reduce claims and problems, and increase operating margins.
This article is divided into five thematic areas, where we identify those administrative processes. Moreover, we will see how, by digitizing them, it is possible to obtain tangible benefits that will positively affect the bottom line.
Occupational Safety – HSHE
In Health, Safety, Hygiene, and Environment (HSHE or HSE), several tasks can be made more efficient through digitization and automation.
Let’s take a look at some concrete examples.
- Prevention. Materials and training
- Delivery of prevention materials to employees (helmets, gloves, boots, harnesses, etc.). This process allows for registration of the delivery and conformity of who receives it. In addition, it lets you define alerts to replace materials after a specific time or after their useful life. And it also allows defining alerts to periodically check that the person still has the materials and that they are in good condition. All this constitutes a relevant historical record.
- Process of planning and execution of training (for example, in “Height Activities”), with the record of the people attending, their compliance, and eventually the evaluation of learning.
- Reprimands for non-compliance with protective measures, generating a record that allows incremental improvement of compliance with the measures.
- Identification and management of health and safety risks.
- Process of reviewing operational risks. A concrete application of this process is at the construction site itself, where an operator with a tablet or cell phone walks around and interviews people, identifying risks and recording them immediately in Flokzu. These identified risks then follow a flow of evaluation and approval, which may result in immediate corrective actions or medium-term improvement plans.
- Prompt corrective action is a process that can be launched at any time and allows a rapid response to a risk or incident. It usually consists of several stages, including implementing the corrective action, verifying its effectiveness, and evaluating whether a subsequent improvement plan is necessary.
- An improvement Plan is a process executed with a medium or long horizon, seeking to introduce structural improvements or significant changes in operations. It usually includes a planning stage, an execution stage, and then a verification stage to ensure that the measures have been effectively implemented.
- Provide competent advice and follow-up.
- While advice from safety experts is available, it is often not easily accessible to people spread across multiple sites and locations. An extremely useful process is the “HSE Advice” process. It allows anyone to ask questions, have them documented, be assigned to a safety expert, and have them answered. In addition, this process allows automatic alerts to be defined to follow up on this advice. For example, suppose an operator asks about materials for working at heights. In that case, the issue must be followed up on and checked a few days after answering his questions to see if he already has the materials and training to work at heights.
- Monitor, report, and review performance.
- As with any continuous improvement system, the results must be reviewed to draw conclusions and continue improving. All the above processes present indicators and valuable information for analysis and decision-making. Although this seems obvious when the processes are digitalized, it is tough to achieve with manual processes or when the follow-up of issues is done through Excel spreadsheets or e-mails.
The digitization and formalization of these processes will generate a breakthrough in the company’s transparency when managing Occupational Health and Safety. Companies with automated HSE processes can better prevent and manage incidents, follow up on planned improvements, and have audit trails of all activities performed.
We will not delve into the benefits of an adequate occupational health and safety policy, as the enormous benefits it provides in all human, strategic, and economic dimensions have already been amply demonstrated.
Human Resources – HR
In Human Resources, too, there are enormous potential benefits from digitizing core processes. But in particular, transparency in the processes of the construction industry is vital as so many people are employed, making their management a crucial part of the business.
In this specific Human Resources article, you will find detailed information, with examples and diagrams of processes used by hundreds of Flokzu’s client organizations in different continents. Below we summarize some of the processes that have been most adopted and most successful by companies in the Construction Industry:
- Candidate application, through which a public form is used where the interested party fills out their data, attaches a resume if applicable, and then follows the entire evaluation/interview process until a decision is made to hire them.
- Onboarding is a key process by which the person is introduced to the job, trained in safety and security measures, and given the necessary materials. Therefore, it’s good to obtain a record of all these activities.
- Special vacation requests require a specific analysis, consideration of special situations, etc. This process allows escalation when appropriate and to issue reports with information on requests by an operator, by location, and by year.
- Warnings / reprimands, because not everything goes as expected, and not everyone behaves as expected. This process is key to marking and recording antecedents and triggering corrective actions in time. This automated process allows not only to have a historical record but also to escalate those issues that require it. Create trigger alerts for follow-up, and generate indicators (KPIs) of the process to take long-term measures.
- Unforeseen absences, to have a fast and user-friendly record of absences, allowing their proper management. But also to generate a legacy for each employee to account for unplanned absences and their reasons.
- Requests for advanced payments, for which it is possible to reduce the associated management costs through a process directly accessible to the interested party (without having to go to HR), to learn the resolution by mail (again reducing management times).
The digitization of these processes provides total transparency, including audit trails. Moreover, it significantly reduces the burden on the HR team.
Particularly in the administration department, it is imperative to ensure transparency in the processes of the construction industry. Here are some examples of processes that can improve through digitization:
- Evaluation and registration of suppliers, through a formal process, ensures that all the necessary stages and controls are met. An automated process will make it easier to ensure that the required documentation is provided. In addition, periodic alerts can be issued (e.g. annually) for supplier evaluation, with the obligation to incorporate this evaluation into the system.
- Requests for quotation and proposals (RFP) ensures that all suppliers receive the same request for quotation and upload their offers to a single, traceable system. Having it accessible to all interested parties, avoiding the exchange of personal e-mails or WhatsApp.
- Register outsourced companies, to evaluate and store all related documentation in Flokzu, e.g., compliance with contracting regulations, safety regulations, etc. In addition to the audit trails, Flokzu will automatically create, it is possible to set up alerts to launch periodic reviews, request documentation updates, etc.
In investment projects, it is imperative to have well-defined processes that provide total transparency in their management. Concrete examples of these are
- Investor screening (KYC – Know Your Customer) is a process by which the necessary screening of potential investors is performed, related documentation is stored, etc. In addition, you can set alerts to review and update the information from time to time.
- Project evaluation, through which the different investment opportunities follow an analysis and approval flow. During the flow, the information is attached in Flokzu, which is available in a single place for all involved.
- Investor communication, whereby updates and communications are drafted, reviewed, and sent to investors, with relevant information such as work progress, deviations, funding requirements, etc.
The most important part of excellent after-sales service is to provide solutions to problems and adequate follow-up to ensure customer satisfaction. For this, it is vital to have a formal process for receiving after-sales service requests. This process only ends once the customer is given an adequate answer. The typical stages of an after-sales service process in Flokzu could be:
- Receipt of requests or claims, using a public form, which already obtains all relevant information and photos at once (avoiding costly back and forth for information).
- Analysis of each claim, with an appropriate service level agreement (SLA), to respond to the customer promptly.
- Alerts, so that in case SLAs have not been met, the incident is escalated to the service coordinator, and corrective actions can be taken.
- Automatic notifications to the customer, as the resolution of the problem progresses, significantly reduce their calls or visits to the offices and therefore allow the post-sales team to be reduced.
- Post-problem resolution follow-up, ensuring that the problem was solved and that the customer is satisfied.
Transparency in construction industry processes is key to reducing risks and improving margins. In this article, we focused on administrative and support processes, which historically have yet to be the focus of efforts to improve and make them more efficient. We show that in at least 5 areas of any Construction Company, Flokzu would facilitate significant improvements in transparency and operating margins. Both are thanks to the digitization of administrative and support business processes. Using Flokzu no-code technology, this digitization is possible quickly, with low costs. In addition, this task can be performed by construction company professionals without needing external consulting, a fundamental aspect to guarantee the future evolution and maintainability of the processes.