Pretty much everyone working in construction faces payment problems. In many cases, problematic communication is the main factor behind any payment issues. The link between field and office teams is critical to every phase of a construction project, from bidding to payment. Better office and field teamwork can improve project outcomes and solve payment problems.
The disconnect between field & office
People in the back office have a limited overview of the strains that construction field workers often face. And field personnel are oblivious to the corporate and bureaucratic headaches that office and administrative staff deal with. Better understanding by both parties can help streamline the issue-resolving process, and solve future payment problems.
Both arms of a construction business are essential, but they often work on separate, outdated programs. The disconnect results in poor communication and costly reworks. On the bright side, the rise of digital solutions may help with flagging critical problems quicker, leading to fewer delays, less budget overruns, and faster payments.
1. Teamwork makes the payment dream work
In construction, teamwork plays an essential role in solving a variety of different issues. When money is involved, there’s significant pressure to solve the problem that might be prevalent or constant is massive.
Communication is #1
Communication is perhaps the number one determining factor of a successful construction project. Keeping everyone on the same page is a vital factor of success. This can be achieved by providing your teams with the tools and technology that will allow them to stay on top of the latest master plan changes or updates in real time.
As the need for an open data ecosystem becomes more imminent, it is expected that the way stakeholders in construction communicate and work together will improve massively.
Better office & field teamwork = faster payments
Better communication between field workers and administrative staff can streamline the payment application process, ensuring that every work item is immediately recorded. Submitting detailed, accurate pay applications ensures that the GC or property owner can quickly review the request, verify your work, and approve payment on time.
2. Standardize & streamline
Standardizing your entire construction process is the first step towards a better connected project with fewer payment hiccups. In the beginning, this can be a tough process but with the right people, tools, and processes in place you can turn things around and ensure that each project is done according to plan.
Training is essential
Training is an essential factor of success when you are standardizing your processes. You need to equip both your field and office teams with as many tools and knowledge as possible to understand what steps they should take in order to avoid or at least resolve the issues that might come on the way as a project unravels.
Policies reduce guesswork
In construction, it’s all about consistency. A standardized approach to problem-solving, especially when payment is concerned, is hugely important. Construction businesses can see significant gains in payment speed by implementing a credit and collections policy. Working from a policy takes much of the guesswork out of each part of a construction project. An office manager can look at their accounts receivable report and immediately identify when to send an invoice reminder and when to file a mechanics lien.
Paving the way
A streamlined, standard process is going to pave the way for a project where all your key processes will remain connected and allow you to build better, faster, and eventually cheaper. On top of that, a standardized approach will allow you to replicate the same processes in future projects, leading to higher predictability and, by extension, improved competitiveness.
3. Use lean planning to reduce payment disputes
Sometimes the resolution to the problem is as simple as improving short-term planning. Breaking down your main plan into smaller actionable tasks can make a big difference. In that way, each team member can control, document, and report on the tasks they are responsible for.
This is often referred to in construction as “pull-planning.” Pull-planning works backwards from the end goal, and defines each step necessary to get you across the finish line. It helps each team member stay hyper-focused on the tasks right in front of them.
Implementing task-based communication can also play a vital role in planning your material orders and deliveries. Using just-in-time scheduling can ensure that materials and supplies are delivered at the right time in the right place, cutting down on storage costs that can eat into your profit.
The rise of digital tools
With the advent of digital tools and mobile field reporting, the automation of compliance procedures can be a game-changer for your construction projects, as well. Continuous and consistent checks of the numerous project tasks will facilitate the detection or resolution of any problems before they become a real bottleneck for the delivery of your projects resulting in costly reworks and project disputes that could have a direct effect on your payments.
4. Keep data organized
Construction projects come with a vast amount of data. The better a contractor or supplier can collect and analyze these valuable pieces of information, the higher the return of investment will be.
Breaking down silos
But this can be quite a challenge when project agents operate in silos, or keep their data in different platforms that don’t play well with each other.
By keeping all project data in digital platforms that share and analyze construction project data seamlessly, the control of every aspect of the process becomes a much simpler task. This complete overview of what happens on site can help the team in the office to streamline payments and attach them to specific milestones.
Organizing construction data
In that manner, it is ensured that both tasks and payments are executed according to the agreed schedule and that any delays or problems can easily be flagged.
5. Report automatically
Construction reports are only as good as the data that project teams have at their disposal. Typically, reports in construction, from daily logs to job costing reports, come with a serious admin and mental burden. As the construction industry is digitizing, things have started to change.
Thanks to software with built-in, automatic report generation, all stakeholders can now receive accurate information about the project’s execution and status with the click of a button.
This is also where the importance of having all your data in one place becomes again visible. All activities shown on the report will be linked and effortlessly traceable back to the exact milestone, worker or task. In other words, there will be no room for human error that causes project and payment delays.
Teamwork: A recipe for project & payment success
Streamlining your construction projects from start to finish can work miracles for your payment processes. A well-coordinated team working from shared data can transform a construction business from the back office to the jobsite. Staff can connect key payment processes to specific milestones, making sure that everything is going according to plan. And standardizing problem-solving helps you solve potential disputes before they affect your payment.