How process automation helps construction companies meet industry regulations and remain compliant



By David Barton, Senior Solutions Specialist, Upstream Solutions

The construction industry is awash with compliance and regulation specifications, licences and permits. Everything from the clothes worn onto a jobsite to building structures, above or in the ground, is stipulated by industry guidelines or requires staff to undergo certified training courses. 

For small and medium-sized companies, staying on top of updated courses, expiration dates and new industry requirements can prove to be a challenge if there isn’t an appropriate system in place. Furthermore, for staff to be able to provide contractors and clients updates, or cross-check information for invoices, they need to be across projects and contracts with the ability to view and access resources, on-site notes and compliance certifications.

Although building and construction companies are typically quite fast-paced in their operations, the industry itself is slow to change. Tending to rely on traditional methods of documentation and paper processes, and failing to adapt to the digital age can hinder overall productivity.

Document management solutions

By incorporating an automated document management process and digitalising documents, organisations can increase efficiency and operational productivity. With automation and digitisation, companies can take on more work, office staff and onsite staff have visibility on current job progress, and companies can get on top of compliance and management regulations.

With a document management solution, documents, certification, project notes and plans, and invoices can be managed digitally. This makes it easier for staff to access the information they need, when they need, no matter where they are.

eForms

Physical forms can be transformed into electronic forms (eForms) and customised to match the specific rules and functions of the business. This helps reduce the time it takes for staff members to complete documents as eForms can be prepopulated with the relevant information. This is particularly useful on jobsites, where construction or project managers can quickly add in their notes without having to laboriously fill in information such as date, name and job details; the system automatically prefills these details in for them.

It also reduces errors and the need to decipher handwrite notes and deliver physical paperwork to an office, which are time-consuming and inconvenient, and it minimises lost paper and misinterpretation.

For compliance and regulation purposes, this means that all notes remain together, details can be easily updated, and information can be easily read and accessed in real-time by all within the company. Digitalising documents also means that the company has easy-to-access records regarding staff certifications, courses, injuries, and any other relevant information that affect the employee’s performance.  Capturing the information digitally also lets companies use the data to easily generate specific reports and provide visibility and intel that is otherwise lacking.

Staff certification and job allocation

Automated processes streamline operations, particularly for repetitive administration and human resources tasks. When determining which employees will be best suited for jobs, an automated process can match individual staff members’ abilities and certifications with what is needed for the job, even matching their availability. This ensures the company remains compliant, while employees aren’t put in positions they are not equipped, prepared or certified for. Staff can also be notified when licences are close to expiring, ensuring that all employees are complying with industry regulations.

Onsite contractor and visitor compliance management

An automated system can also verify the credentials, insurance and licences of on-site personnel, contractors or visitors. Traditionally, this is a time-consuming task as employees have to manually verify this information, slowing the productivity on site.

An automated, digital sign-in process, makes this faster and more reliable, and it also keeps a record of all people on the site, adhering to occupational health and safety (OH&S) standards.  In addition, the visitor management solutions allows you to display site conditions, safety notifications, show induction videos and capture visitor acceptance of your terms of entry.  And in the event of an emergency, you can easily alert safety warden, and onsite visitors or contractors with instant SMS notification.

Accounts payable automation

Both administration staff and onsite staff can also benefit from an automated workflow when managing invoices. An automated process can remove the reliance on paper, manual data entry and physical processing.  Digitising the Accounts Payable process means you can automatically match invoices to POs, and associate them with project information, ensuring that invoices are correct.  Adding workflows allows the approval to be digitally sent to the appropriate person for approval, from anywhere, without relying on paper to be sited and returned to the office. This alone can streamline payroll and project management, reduce late fees and double payments, and see payments made on time, every time.

Automated workflows

Both digital documentation and automated workflows go hand-in-hand with helping companies stay compliant and meet various industry regulations more efficiently. Particularly given strict OH&S requirements on jobsites, companies need to stay vigilant and monitor certificate and licence expirations so they can be renewed before they expire, as well as be aware of new or updated courses. In fact, any business process can be enhanced with automated workflows that trigger reminders, next stage actions or manager approvals.

An automated management process provides project efficiency and visibility that will improve current processes, remove inefficiencies and bolster performance, while saving the organisation money. Digitalising and automating processes will ultimately help construction companies remain compliant while also improving business performance and capacity.