The 2016 Farmer Review, or ‘Modernise or Die’ report, by the Construction Leadership Council provided much food for thought in terms of adapting and reorganising traditional onsite business processes in order for firms to remain viable in future. What the report doesn’t consider so explicitly however, are the numerous efficiencies to be gained by adapting processes in the back-office, writes Matthew Jones, CEO at Open ECX.

The Review suggests that ‘business as usual’ is not an option while the industry faces an uncertain post-Brexit future. Instead, rigorous thinking and planning, moving to more efficient ways of working on site, and employing the right quality and quantity of skill are important.

As such, the Farmer Review highlights ways to be more effective in the built environment, for example through use of pre-manufacture. Finding ways to streamline processes for improved efficiency; to better manage and communicate matters; to budget in a smarter way; and to handle subcontractor relationships more effectively are also key to reducing workload, ensuring a more healthy cash flow and improving supply chain effectiveness.

So it’s not just onsite activity that needs to change. By moving away from traditional, often administratively time-consuming methods in the back-office, forward-thinking construction firms are adopting modern technologies to streamline their entire business, making the lives of those who run them considerably easier.

For instance, the receiving and sending of paper documents, while still prevalent in some UK Construction firms, is fast becoming less popular particularly across Europe as modern businesses strive to shift to construction e-Invoicing; a paperless construction supply chain with automated workflows.

Similarly, contractors looking to strengthen subcontractor relationships and avoid unnecessary payment disputes are looking to new solutions to allow them to more easily track and manage subcontractor applications.

Many construction firms are discovering that using the right software tools in the back-office can dramatically improve existing low margins and save time. For example there are lots of companies that are no longer creating error-prone estimates or managing expenses through traditional manipulation of spreadsheets but instead are using tailored industry-specific software to improve the speed, control and accuracy of these every day processes.

Cloud-based construction ERP solutions are also becoming more popular to enhance a business’ control and real-time reporting ability right across operational, commercial and finance departments. Even chasing late payments can be more quickly managed and in greater volumes by using dedicated credit control software solutions.

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