Watch the following video to learn how purchase orders in 4castplus move through the 3 main lifecycle stages, called the 3-way-match:
When it comes to project controls, budgeting and cost tracking, the Cost Breakdown Structure (CBS) plays an integral role in the management of construction projects. For many organizations, designing a standardized CBS can present a number of challenges as there aren’t a lot of models and standards out there to draw ideas from. The reality is, you’re kind-of on your own to define how you want to break down your project’s costs into logical buckets for careful management of its finances.
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.
Getting daily real-time data from the Jobsite on your construction projects is like finally driving with the lights on. Having detailed information today on costs, activities and progress that happened today, gives you tremendous power to act swiftly on that information.
Making mistakes is a normal part of life. Equally, mistakes are a normal part of business. Mistakes, however, shouldn’t be perceived as somehow a failure or a sign of incompetence – they should instead be met as an opportunity to learn and grow; to strengthen your team and tighten your processes. Clearly what I’m saying isn’t any new wisdom, as mistakes are as old as dirt and great thinkers over the millennia have been preaching about how to spin them to the positive. Dozens of old expressions like “Fail-fast-forward”, “Corrective Action”, and “Lessons Learned”, point to a common theme about the constructive management of when things go wrong.
A key corporate value that separates a well-run business from a not-so-well-run business is in how they handle mistakes, errors and failures. An important business mantra to live by is that, “They’re only mistakes if you keep making them”. Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result is not just a sign of insanity, but a sign of a business improvement opportunity. For example, a company that is consistently under-performing on their projects, or not achieving profitability targets on their projects – and does little to correct that but hope for better results next time – is obviously not learning from their mistakes. Hope, as they say, is not a strategy. What is a strategy, is to examine and rethink processes and systems and apply corrective action towards eliminating chronic mistakes.
Most contractors today exist in a very competitive landscape where margins are tight, and customers are demanding. This leaves them little room for error when executing on projects – otherwise their profits will quickly be eroded, their reputation damaged, and their ability to sustain a healthy, growing company will be severely compromised.
There is a growing movement in the construction industry to adopt LEAN principles to streamline jobsite labor productivity. As one of the primary costs of construction, labor alone constitutes as much as 30% of overall project cost, and represents the cost that is most subject to uncertainty and risk. This risk is predominantly due to compromised site productivity on projects where there’s a high degree of wasteful, non productive labor time.
In fact, it’s common to view labor productivity as the sole determining factor of overall project performance and profitability – i.e. project success or failure is directly dependant on labor productivity. Other primary project costs – such as procurement, equipment, materials and engineering – can have associated risk and uncertainty but are marginal in comparison to risk associated to labor productivity.
Statistics show that more and more Oil and Gas contractors are moving forward and embracing better technology to streamline their businesses. Contractors in many industries have been a bit late to adopt software as a means to improve their profitability - but that is changing fast. This is partly due to the near-collapse in oil prices that haunted the industry over the past five years; which has recently been creeping up into the $60/bbl range to make things profitable again. During that period, companies had been searching for ways to remain profitable, and many turned to technology such as project cost management solutions to secure that profitability. This momentum is continuing, as companies aren’t prepared to take a risk on another fall in prices.
If you were to ask any CFO or Controller which department should be responsible for all Procurement for the company, they would naturally respond with the Finance Department. On the other hand, if you were to ask any project controls professional about procurement, they would naturally respond with the Project Team, they should own procurement.
So, who’s right?