One of the most important functions of project controls and cost engineering, is the ability to accurately forecast remaining costs-to-complete on a construction project. With the new Resource Forecasting tools in 4castplus, project controls professionals can now achieve ultimate accuracy and take full control of how projects are forecasted.
Several decades ago, organizations used to manage all their finances using big paper-based ledgers, where they’d spend much of their day “doing the books”. These large ledger books worked for hundreds of years, however it would be a challenge to find any modern company today that runs their business on paper-based accounting methods.
The recent announcement by the Alberta government to invest $1B in grants and loan guarantees to partially upgrade its bitumen, is great news for the Alberta energy industry. As a landlocked province with no access to tidewater for access to diverse markets, and no pipeline to transport its bitumen, Alberta is not getting full value for its products. It’s the government’s hope and expectation that this will incentivize a further $5B in private investment to build and improve the local upgrader infrastructure.
It’s not uncommon for organizations to consider the idea of using their ERP as a one-stop-solution for all their technology needs – even when it comes to managing the many-layered complexities of cost management on major projects. It’s an appealing idea: everything in one place, under the tight control and scrutiny of the finance department. The challenge with this of course, is that the target users of an ERP are in the finance department, not those who are managing the day-to-day operations of a large construction project.
Construction projects have many moving parts and a colossal amount of data to carefully manage in order to keep the project running to plan. Not only that, but there are numerous different types of users that need to work collaboratively in real-time. Such as: Project managers, project controls, engineers, field staff at the jobsite, subcontractors, project owners and others, that all need to work together, sharing data and workflows, to seamlessly bring a project to a successful conclusion.
It’s typically not until the end of the day at the construction site that the field personnel sit down to collect and enter all the time and expenses for their crews, equipment and other charges for that day. It’s late and they are in a rush to get it done so it’s inevitable that mistakes are made. Things get coded to the wrong place, charges are missed, incorrect rates are used, etc. All these errors are compiled, submitted and ultimately routed to the finance team for processing. And this is where the nightmare begins.
Finance is responsible for ensuring data accuracy in cost tracking before billing clients, paying vendors or routing charges through payroll. It’s not that site foreman can’t be detailed – it’s just that they have a very different spectrum of priorities. What this translates to, is that the finance team is tasked with finding and correcting data entry errors from the jobsite.
You thought you had your project all wrapped up when, SURPRISE, vendor invoices just keep coming in. Whoops, things didn’t go as well as you thought. The costs on your project keep soaring, and you have to keep updating your project reports to your superiors.
Why Vendor Invoices Keep Coming In
This happens because vendors rarely invoice you at the time they completed the work, or delivered the materials. The problem is, if you wait until vendors invoice you to show the cost on your project, then you’re in for a lot of surprises.
Did you know? More than 90% of organizations are using some level of cloud services for business applications and data storage. This is according to last year’s Intel Security cloud security research study, which also made the stunning assertion that, “in the next 15 months, over 80% of IT budgets will be committed to cloud solutions."
As we move into 2018, more and more companies are seeing value in cloud-based construction software systems. This is a vital and strategic move for any organization that executes complex construction projects: there is just far too much at risk by not adopting a centralized, collaborative cloud platform, so delaying – or accepting the status quo – is no longer a tolerable option. Here are just a few reasons why it’s so important:
This is a very big topic that could take volumes to discuss in any detail, but I promise not to bore you with anything like that. So here are 5 little gems of information that you should be doing to make sure you’re projects are consistently in control, on budget and on schedule.
Construction contractors are increasingly adopting technology to track their daily costs and activities from the jobsite. Some will refer to this as tracking their daily LEM – which stands for Labor, Equipment and Materials – however others may call it Field Data Capture; and some may call it the Daily Field Report, or Site Superintendent Report. Although we’ve adopted an industry term, “Construction Cost Tracking” as a general name to describe the activity and process, we tend to use “LEM” as the term that describes the final document(s) that contain all the jobsite data that gets tracked.
If you’re familiar with 4castplus at all, you’ll know that the system enables contractors to track much more than labor, equipment and materials. There’s clearly much more going on than that – so a “LEM” is just a term used that encapsulates the broad variety of everything that gets tracked. Other data that gets captured in the LEM includes: labor expenses like subsistence and meals; along with 3rd party vendor expenses; material field receipts; daily log and the weather. Field personnel can also input production quantities as progressed items that are completed. It also allows field personnel to upload any number of documents into organized document repository categories. There’s additionally a very powerful Vendor LEM option to track the costs and expenses from subcontractors.