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In the words of U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower: plans are worthless, but planning is essential.
Ike could have been talking directly to construction leaders with his old army maxim. After all, in a sense, “no plan survives first contact…” in construction — or maybe just that first change order — but planning, especially financial planning is vital to the success of projects and the business.
Given the fluidness of billing and cash flow in construction, and the importance of getting initial estimates right, planning can make the difference between profit gain and fade. Overestimate profit too much on a job, and a project could be bleeding red ink.
With how essential financial planning is to overall success, it should be little surprise that more and more construction companies are tapping into automation for planning construction projects, improving everything from bids to budgets (and beyond.)
Let’s look at why.
The current state of financial planning
Let’s be honest, a lot of companies don’t even know whether a job is profitable until long after it’s complete, let alone have a good sense of how it is performing financially during the project lifecycle.
This is because it’s hard for finance teams to keep up. Few have the resources to dedicate to project forecasting, which traditionally requires countless hours of double data entry into Excel plus, of course, double-checking to validate and avoid human error. Processes are slow-moving as finance teams await input from other departments, and incredible amounts of time are spent combing disconnected and siloed systems for data.
The result is the bulk of time is spent collecting and reporting information, and not a lot is left for making use of it. Critical decisions — plans and project bids — become based on gut instinct rather than hard data.
Not so when armed with financial automation.
Financial automation to the rescue
By using automation to do the grunt work, estimators and decision-makers have access to more accurate, real-time insights — and with greater efficiency and reduced cost.
With Briq, data is collected by bots from disparate systems across various departments. Not only does this save employees hours, but it also means that information (and the valuable insights locked in it) are accessible almost immediately. Forecasts become based on timely data from across the organization, not months-old stale numbers. Human error is all but eliminated.
With more time spent using data than gathering it, scenario planning suddenly becomes a truly valid possibility, as does a rolling forecast for greater clarity around cash flow. Estimates and budgets become better aligned, avoiding financial loss.
As an example of how transformative automation is, let’s look at Illinois-based O’Shea Builders, one of the nation’s oldest construction companies. Getting job cost information from estimating to the field was taking way too long and too much admin effort.
Its field teams were typically working 20 days — sometimes 60 days — without budgets, and it took the estimating team an average of 40 days to get the detail-level estimates to the field.
The company implemented Briq to automate parts of its estimate-to-budget workflow. Now the roll-in process has dropped from an average of 40 days to just 9 days. Field teams get the budget information they need on average in less than a day, and the estimator is saving valuable time. This has allowed the company to be proactive and better prepared, mitigating project risk.
“You can never eliminate risk, but you can mitigate it. From a productivity standpoint, Briq gives us real-time meaningful feedback that’s going to propel us forward in the industry,” says Harry Schmidt, O’Shea Builders’ Director of Business Strategy.
How Briq helps
O’Shea discovered what many have: that the Briq platform saves time and money, but more importantly. Decision-making is enhanced by getting the right information to the right people at the right time. It also, O’Shea points out, helps the company scale without the need for additional headcount while its existing resources can be assigned to more valuable tasks.
Want to learn more about how Briq can streamline construction project finances with automation? Add contacting us at briq.com/demo to your plans.