Controltech Solutions’ General Manager, Chris Fortnam, shares some of the financial wins they are experiencing within just 6 months of implementing Render's construction work management platform, including how digital workflows, capturing the right field data and increased project trackability has reduced their administration resourcing requirements and time-to-invoice by 60%.
Tell us a bit about Controltech Solutions?
We are a Melbourne-based civil works contractor working with several market-leading utilities - telco, power, water and rail - to install underground utility infrastructure with safe, mechanical and non-destructive excavation methods. With a fleet of high-performance civil service trucks, tippers, excavators, directional drills and vac trucks, our ability to service the full delivery lifecycle is a key point of difference.
What were some of the immediate problems you were looking to solve?
As the business experienced a wave of growth, the ability to retain data accuracy, track project status and claim invoices for completed work became increasingly difficult. To the point where it was severely impacting profit margins and cash flow.
We had a dedicated team of resources that would build-out tasks in Asana, our project management platform, and manage the flow of information between the field and the office with spreadsheets which often did not accurately reflect task completion status and had a significant margin for error. Our management relied on field teams remembering which photos and artefacts were required to be captured without any mandatory data governance or measures in place.
How important was it to the business to address these challenges?
As the volume of work increased, we recognised that we couldn’t manage all the variations and field data manually, so addressing the administrative inefficiencies and manual processes were critical. The inability to access an accurate view of project status, completions, and which variations had occurred was directly impacting our bottom line. Cash flow delays of 3 or more months and significant profit leakage due to variations and rework. In some cases, completed work was not invoiced at all due to not been closed off by our teams.
Once you decided on Render, what were some of the early wins?
Within the first two months, we were able to decentralise our workflow so multiple project stakeholders could release and manage work more efficiently, remove bottlenecks and increase accountability in the field.
Render’s digital task management removed the guesswork around data to be captured in the field, and our office had real-time visibility, including when a project was ready for payment, eliminating the cash flow delays.
How has Render impacted core metrics so far? What measurable benefits or efficiency gains have you seen?
Our objective was to deliver the same amount of work, more efficiently and with greater transparency. Previously a team of dedicated office resources worked around the clock to manage construction, and over 30% of these projects were experiencing a minimum 3-month invoicing delay.
Our field teams saw nominal increases in productivity by removing labour-intensive work management data capture and processes.
We've got full transparency of the work that we do, I know exactly where jobs are at, if jobs have been started and not closed off, we can now manage that daily.
With the industry moving at such a fast pace, any downtime or interruption in the field is incredibly costly for us if not resolved rapidly, so removing this commercial risk and increasing trackability were really significant wins for the business.
What have your teams and stakeholders been saying about Render since it’s been implemented?
Our experience with the initial training was really straightforward. The most effective approach was training our supervisors to ensure they were competent with Render’s platform and how the business needed to use it. We really started to see the efficiency as they managed their own workflows, rather than coming through one figurehead in the business.
Field resources adopted Render's application quickly due to its intuitive mobile technology. They had a renewed clarity on the scope of managing their job to completion. In the context of the hazards our teams face each day, to have technology that takes the thinking away from them and tells them which data and photos are needed to effectively manage the project and invoice efficiently is incredibly advantageous.
What role do you see technology playing in driving your business forward?
I want the business to strive towards entirely digital workflows - digital equals efficiency keeps everyone on the same page and information is accessible to the right people in real-time.
Finally, Chris. What would be your advice for telecommunications or utility owners or construction teams who may be tackling the same challenges as you?
In most telecommunications infrastructure projects, there is a requirement to process high volumes of data. You need to be prudent to complete cost-benefit analysis on what investment you’re making in administration and supervision in the field. Then see how that compares with the investment that you would make in digital technology like Render.
We have been able to reduce our costs significantly, improve our cash flow and better report to our clients on progress. These three things have made us a more efficient business, and the cost-benefit scenario has worked out incredibly well for us.