This week’s question comes to us from someone in the construction credit world. Construction credit is a pivotal part of the industry and assessing construction credit can mean a lot of steps, so credit teams are always looking for new ways to streamline their work process. Technology can do a lot to simplify and speed up construction credit processes — but sometimes introducing change can be difficult for any team. Construction credit expert and veteran credit manager Thea Dudley weighed in to offer some advice on how to expand a credit department’s technological reach.
Question: I’m interested in automating some of our tasks in the credit department at our general contracting firm (sending emails, notices, etc). How can I make a strong argument to our CFO to incorporate new software?
Answer: “Technology and change are unavoidable, but getting people on board with change isn’t easy,” says credit expert Thea Dudley.
“You weren’t specific if you are referring to change in the actual software or change to processes,” Dudley notes. However, she outlines a process that can be used for introducing any kind of new software to a team:
- Identify the challenges, gaps or pain points in the processes/software.
- Identify solutions and/or software that will match what you are trying to solve.
- Map out the cost — both in dollars and time investment along with the timeline to implement. Show the ROI, return on investment — not just in the numbers but in employee productivity. Although harder to quantify, the time, frustration and energy savings are valuable.
- Sit down with your boss and walk through it. Keep it simple and unemotional, and present the challenges and the solutions with the rollout if approved.
Dudley notes that appealing to how new technology can help people in all departments of a construction company is a must for getting everyone on board with any kind of change.
“CFOs deal in numbers and percentages. Speak their language to get their attention,” she says.
“What is the average number of invoices, notices, email statements — whatever portions you are looking at automating? Then take the average amount of time and resources it takes to manually process the tasks. Break out the cost of the software and show the return on investment. Automation can let you do more with less, so don’t forget to include all the costs of the resources (people) touching the work. Let the numbers do the work.”
For those looking to change their approach with credit management software, luckily, there are a lot of options out there. Financial technology is a fast-growing part of the construction industry, with several software types and companies you can work with to change how your credit department works. Credit processes can also be difficult to change, and they’re just as important to consider to keep a credit department running smoothly.
At the end of the day, Dudley adds, regardless of what you’re looking to do differently, it’s best to find as much as you can to appeal to those around you to instigate change.
“Change is tough under the best circumstances — you can make the path smoother if you take away as many roadblocks as possible.”
Do you have a question you’d like answered?
Ask a question and have it answered by a member of Levelset’s community of credit managers, lawyers, and construction professionals.