Process change is never easy, especially in the construction industry. Unlike other industries, where repeatable processes are established to deliver a consistent result, each construction project has its own nuances, making the automation of otherwise repeatable processes particularly challenging.
One such process is the payment process.
It is no secret that when it comes to dealing with payments, the construction industry, on the whole, faces several challenges; far too often, many organisations find themselves continuing to rely on manual and outdated payment processes - all of which can hinder projects, cause disputes and create a bottleneck for operations on the whole.
But, any form of change needs a catalyst, and for Gtek - one of the UK's premier groundwork and civil engineering subcontractors - that catalyst was working on a project with Bouygues UK.
As part of a diversified services group operating in over 80 countries and with 129,000 employees. Bouygues UK is one of the largest contractors in the UK, designing and building sustainable developments that enhance and transform communities.
Bouygues UK runs a large number of construction projects simultaneously and works with a high volume of subcontractors, using Payapps to manage their supply chain payment claims. As one such supplier, Gtek were asked to use Payapps themselves, to help streamline Bouygues UK's processing of payment claims.
Moving away from the traditional methods
With Gtek's previous manual, paper-based process for submitting payment applications, Gtek employees taking time off or human error in submission of a payment claim could mean payment delays. So when Bouygues UK suggested Gtek use Payapps to improve the speed and accuracy of payment, Gtek's Head of Business Development, Jim Howe, immediately saw the opportunity.
"It is not uncommon for a contractor like us to be juggling different pay application requirements and methods. The process was based on the submission of a record and the value of works undertaken over a specific period. Typically, this is documented in Excel format and then emailed to the designated Quantity Surveyor for approval."
"Once payments were submitted, we would have no method of tracking progress either, so we were then at the mercy of the main contractor to provide an update status. All these factors can create frustrated relationships and payment disputes."
A culture of innovation
Gtek sees Payapps as an opportunity to reduce any risk of payment disputes or delays, and to further improve their relationships with clients. "Gtek has always embraced technology, so our initial thoughts on using Payapps was actually a welcome change", said Jim.
We have adopted new and innovative methods for several years now, for example, innovative plant and equipment, signing in and out of site systems, and health and safety innovations. The benefits of innovative technology have reduced onsite incidents, improved efficiency, improved organisational techniques, and helped us to remain competitive.
"When another opportunity to improve a back-office function came along, we of course recognised the benefits."
Fostering collaborative relationships
Payapps offers a single, centralised solution for contractors to submit and receive payment claims in a consistent format and the solution supports a collaborative relationship between contractors their suppliers, in this case between Bouygues UK and Gtek.
Bouygues UK's Deputy Commercial Director, Fabrice Davis, saw significant improvements in the visibility of the payment process - "I can go into Payapps and see every contract set up in the system and where it's currently sitting in terms of the workflow. Sorted by each particular site, we have set up workflows for different subcontractors with individual supply chains and approval routes."
Jim echoed this saying, "Payapps has standardised the way we are making payment applications, keeping all payment applications in one place and being a web-based product, - as is vital these days in the construction industry. It has minimised the human error impact in the process."
Ease of use for all project participants
One of the challenges of process change is the learning of new systems. But for the team at Gtek, Payapps was easy to get to grips with - it was simple to get started with Payapps. The onboarding specialists were helpful, and available should we need one-to-one web sessions. Once acclimatised to the system, it was clear that it was actually a simpler, smarter way of submitting payment applications," said Jim.
"In an ideal world, all contractors, cost consultants, and project management companies would use Payapps. This truly would provide a consistent and standardised approach across the industry." Jim Howe, Head of Business Development, Gtek.
Can Payapps transform your business?
An innovative way of managing the payment process, Payapps allows for a streamlined payment claim process for both contractors and subcontractors, removing the manual processing of spreadsheets and helping build collaborative relationships that are so vital to the industry.
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