Many construction contractors still find themselves buried in spreadsheets and paper – and continue to struggle with slow and manual processes throughout the organization. This is especially true of construction Accounts Payable, as the challenges of approving and paying paper bills introduce a long list of labor-intensive steps that are an ongoing and expensive burden on the finance department. But what if you could eliminate most of those steps by letting your software system take on the weight of organizing and streamlining the accounts payable workflows? Current technology is enabling contractors to move to a software platform that removes the manual processes, paper, file folders and spreadsheets; and replaces all that with a highly connected, real-time workflow that reduces churn and inserts far superior financial controls to ensure what gets paid is correct.
Most project controls professionals will agree that the procurement function is so essential to any construction project, it should be tightly integrated into the project team and their systems. The following video demonstrates some of the features of 4castplus that highlight how this tight connection brings enormous value and reduces project risk.
This video is a follow-up to the recent 4castplus webinar and whitepaper on this same topic which discussed how project procurement can be successfully separated from 'corporate' procurement and embedded into the project team and systems. It goes on to propose an integrated solution that will satisfy the needs of corporate finance and project controls so that both business units achieve their requirements for the benefit of the whole company.
Most organizations that utilize a lot of labor resources for their projects will face tremendous complexity in managing the cost and billing rates used when estimating and tracking time. Especially in construction where there are many different disciplines, shifts, contracts, collective agreements, etc. that can determine which rate to use, it can be a bewildering challenge to manage. 4castplus provides you the ability to preconfigure very complex cost and billing rates scenarios to fit every situation you may come across. The nice thing about preconfiguring rates, is that, first of all, you can standardize the rates; and second, you can simplify time tracking since the system will automatically pick the correct rate, alleviating your project personnel from the burden of knowing who gets paid what for which situation.
Approvals are deeply woven into the fabric of any financial software solution, and 4castplus is no exception. The challenge with designing complex, multi-stage approvals workflows however – for key items such as purchase orders, change orders, timesheets, invoices, etc. – is that they can quickly bog things down, and introduce delays as approvals get stuck waiting for individuals to get around to dealing with them. Approvals can drone on and on and keep critical-path items stuck on hold for days or weeks, wasting time and money, if not attended to properly. This is what we refer to as “Approvals Bottlenecks” and they can be a massive drain on the efficient management of project finances.
And bottlenecks can be very bad for business.
When it comes to general terminology in project management, project controls and procurement, not all organizations use the same terms when describing the same common concepts. For one simple example, some may refer to the lowest level of the Work Breakdown Structure as the “Activity”, whereas others may call it the “Task”. As a provider of project-driven software, we at 4castplus need to always provide a consistent and standardized lexicon for all terms that are used in the software platform; and ensure those terms, where possible, are based on industry standards. It is our policy to adhere to standard terminology, formulas and workflows where such standards exist. Despite our efforts however, not every term out there has a standard or a standard meaning, so we’re forced to go forward in some cases with terms that, to us, make the most sense, or appear to be most widely used.
The funny thing is, even when there are standards, people and organizations are nevertheless free to use whatever terms they choose to mean whatever they want. This works fine of course as long as they’re working in isolation; but it can cause confusion and misunderstanding when it comes time to communicate to the outside world. Similarly, when it comes time to adopting a standards-driven solution like 4castplus, organizations will often go through a translation in terminology that takes place to normalize people’s use of core terms in the software.
There is a very heated and divisive debate going on in many areas of North America about pipelines. More specifically, a debate about whether or not to build new pipelines to move Oil and Gas from where it’s extracted, to one of the several refineries available across the continent. It’s an ideological clash that is steeped in near-religious conviction, misinformation, economic consequences and two sides that have dug in their heels; neither of which is prepared to budge.
Pipeline proponents will argue that pipelines are the safest, cheapest and most reliable way to move oil and gas. They provide jobs, wealth and access to markets for a valuable commodity. Opponents however, claim that we need to reduce our carbon footprint, so pipelines represent further destruction of our fragile environment. Both sides, of course, have valid points, wherein lies the dispute.
We often get asked about the distinction between re-baselining a project and creating a change order. I can see why there’s a bit of confusion there because in many respects they accomplish a similar outcome. However, they are fundamentally different processes that serve unique purposes.
More and more companies are demanding greater visibility into construction project performance. Simply put, companies want to know that funds are being well spent and that their projects are going to run to plan. As a result, increased demands are being made on project controllers to deliver timely and accurate cost and revenue forecasts to help shape business decisions. But hey, you know all about this, don’t you?