Digital tools power collaboration in the midst of great uncertainty
In February 2022, Fletcher-owned Winstone Wallboards announced a freeze on advance orders of Gib supplies until July, leading to at least four months of delays.
As Fletcher controls at least 94% of the plasterboard market, this announcement severely impacts builders, developers, business owners and their customers, not to mention the financial implications with banks, insurers and others.
This is just the latest in a line of challenges for the construction industry. The onset of the pandemic resulted in ongoing issues around supply chains, talent shortages and payment disputes exacerbated to a degree that businesses struggled to make ends meet.
However, this is also a time of great opportunity. As projects are reinstated and established in both the public and private sector, the ability to collaborate becomes a unique differentiating factor. If we are to ride the waves of change and come out on top we must effectively collaborate, empowered by technology solutions designed for our sector.
At Payapps we support people in offices and on the ground to do their work with minimal risk and maximum benefit. We enable collaboration between all stakeholders by establishing and maintaining a single source of truth.
Construction sector challenges exemplified by the stats
In New South Wales and Victoria, spending in the industry fell almost 20% and employment fell by a combined total of approximately 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 other metal products increased by 4% over the year. Overall, the shutdown of construction in Greater Sydney during the pandemic outbreak and lockdowns impacted more than 250,000 workers and was forecast to cost the NSW economy alone $1.4 billion.
Even prior to COVID-19, stats show that 53% of project managers experience underperformance in one or more projects every year, and only 25% of projects were delivered within 10% of the original deadline. On the upside, the construction industry generates more than $360 billion in revenue, accounting for around 9% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product, (AISC) and we’re starting to see a resurgence in activity in the sector as lockdowns ease and projects are brought back up to speed.
Emerging from the pandemic into a building boom
If we look at statements, trend reports and overwhelming anecdotal evidence, we expect the residential housing market and larger infrastructure projects to take off throughout Australia. As this happens, we expect supply chain calendars and resourcing challenges to continue, while labour and associated costs increase due to the fact that there are less skilled workers in the country and ongoing border closures.
Another ongoing challenge that was apparent before COVID-19 but exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic is the continued dependence on traditional tools. Many operators continue to rely on Microsoft Word/Excel or handwritten documents and email trails. While these tools may make sense for smaller projects or firms, with the growing complexity and size of projects, and increasing demands from stakeholders, we have to be looking at more intuitive and secure solutions.
Moving forward, the organisations and leaders that can adopt new solutions will be those that establish a competitive edge and ultimately find success despite uncertainty. A recent Forbes article further cements this notion by stating that technology will make the biggest impact in finding certainty, enabling users to capture, analyse and distribute information faster and more accurately, as well as helping to anticipate and respond to unpredictable issues quicker and prevent them from arising.
Collaboration empowered by having ‘a single source of truth’
Inaccurate information can lead to expensive disputes and increased risk, and in today’s landscape it can tip us over into a deficit that we’re unable to recover from. To change this, organisations must be willing to invest in solutions and tools that provide a platform for shared information and engage early to establish the way builders and subcontractors will 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 source of 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 parties ensures nothing hidden, secret or inaccurate is being shared.
Excellent digital technologies and tools have been coming to the fore to support not only the provision but the enablement of a single source of truth. These tools can also help with predicting and forecasting costs, and reduce the amount of disputes that could’ve taken place due to pricing discrepancies. As a result, organisations can accelerate the growth of projects and make sure they’re delivered on time.
In the midst of uncertainty, collaboration is fundamental. We must adopt a mindset of growth and understand that working alongside all stakeholders with shared information will lead to greater productivity, efficiency and success, as well as reduced risk. The organisations that can step up to the plate will be rewarded now and into the future.