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Building back better with Payapps

Payapps helps build back better.

As we move on from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Payapps Chief Revenue Officer Brett Stephenson unpacks how building a resilient business model using construction technology can help construction businesses absorb stress, recover critical functionality and thrive in altered circumstances.

For what has been a tumultuous past few years for the construction industry, many businesses and organisations in the sector have had to react in agile and decisive ways to survive. As the industry continues to recover, Payapps is focused in supporting construction businesses to create resilient business models bolstered by innovation and technology.

Brett unpacks building back better with Payapps
Brett Stephenson, Chief Revenue Officer at Payapps talks ‘building back better’.

Payapps Chief Revenue Officer Brett Stephenson is no stranger to business resilience, with a background across the automotive and import and export sectors in sales, account management, logistics, finance and general management roles. Joining Payapps in November 2021, he now manages the company’s current and future partners, sales, customer success, account management and support functions.

As the economy moves into a new phase, Stephenson says now is the time for construction businesses to seek and seize new opportunities. “The pandemic has been a huge instigator in bringing about the need for more resilient business models in the construction industry,” he says. “But we must remember there will always be new challenges that arise – such as enduring current labour shortages, inflation, environmental issues, and political forces – and it’s more important than ever to ensure that your company can adapt quickly to disruptions.”

He says “building back better” revolves around construction businesses creating a more resilient business model focusing on improved financial management, effective collaboration between builders and subcontractors and workforce productivity.

Financial resilience

Over the past couple of years, construction business insolvencies have increased sharply, and COVID-19 exposed the construction sector’s fragility of supply chains, workforce management and internal processes. The pandemic highlighted issues around risk-shifting tactics employed by general contractors to pass on risk to other parties like subcontractors.

Labour and material costs continue to rise, resulting in bid costs and payment shortfalls. Builders likely adopt a ‘pay when paid’ clause in their contracts or delay payments until they have received their payment from a third party – impacting subcontractors’ cash flow resilience. The smallest party involved in a project is generally the one holding most of the risk, and as the industry continues to work on thin margins and limited cash flow, it doesn’t take much to send a business under.

Building back better with Payapps technology
Payapps is helping builders and subcontractors build greater resilience by offering technology to make progress payments simpler, faster and fairer for everyone.

Payapps construction technology creates greater financial resilience by automating the payment claim process to provide accurate and up-to-date information on status, approvals, and values. “Being able to have that accurate data available as fast as possible certainly helps with resiliency, because if something does happen, the business can breathe easy knowing it has an efficient payment process,” says Stephenson.

“Payapps seamlessly integrates with most leading accounting and financial software like Xero, MYOB, and QuickBooks so that the business has a single source of truth and data.”

Though not the only solution to these industry concerns, Stephenson says technology like Payapps plays an important role in future-proofing construction businesses, enhancing business value today and building strategic resilience for tomorrow.

“If we look at the opportunities technology unlocks in building resilience, one major benefit is business continuity,” explains Stephenson. “By improving the flow of information through connected technology and data, businesses are better positioned to manage unforeseen events or crises.”

“Strengthening your business plan to encompass strategic resilience is vital to driving an effective response to ever-changing industry developments.”

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For instance, Payapps provides complete visibility of project finances and liabilities through real-time data to ensure construction businesses can make informed decisions quickly and effectively. When you automate the payment claim process with Payapps, you have accurate and up-to-date documentation stored centrally in the cloud, and you know the status of all payment claims, approvals, and liabilities, including recoverable and non-recoverable value, instantly. Instant access to real-time business information allows businesses to plan for unanticipated events.

Technology also presents a huge opportunity to improve competitiveness. Stephenson says technology can deliver actionable insights with immediate data information to unlock new business opportunities and improve customer outcomes by reducing costs and boosting efficiency.

“Payapps creates more efficient and time-saving payment processes with standardised and consistent claims every time,” says Stephenson. “It reduces the administration of progress claims by up to 50 per cent, giving businesses more time and dollars to focus on the project at hand and pursue new business opportunities.”

Building resilient collaboration

What’s more, technology aids in protecting business reputation, further increasing business competitiveness. Construction technology can ensure projects are delivered on time and within budget, eliminate data errors that cause project delays or mistakes, and provide transparency across the board.

In an industry like construction, where everyone seems to know everyone else, upholding a strong reputation is vital. “Contractors want to work with subcontractors that have a good reputation and vice versa,” says Stephenson. “Word travels quickly if you’re not doing a good job.”

“If you have access to real-time, immediate data, you can run your business and complete projects faster and more efficiently, in turn making the customer happy.”

With shortages of subcontractors risking project delays, builders are challenged to maintain a positive reputation with subcontractors to ensure continued partnership, while subcontractors are looking for more transparency and collaboration in construction projects.

Building back better with Payapps construction technology
Building back better with Payapps construction technology can help your business thrive.

Payapps technology creates greater business resilience when collaborating with partners by building trust with all parties. Having standardised information in one place means everyone, including subcontractors, works from the same numbers, even when reconciling contract variations and retention. Subcontractors and suppliers can see builders reviewing and approving payment claims promptly, reducing the risk of work stoppages and missed delivery deadlines.

One of Payapps’ customers, Mainbrace Constructions, saw a 50 per cent reduction in the time it takes its team to assess and approve subcontractor progress claims after adopting Payapps.

Rowena Galsim, Head of Accounts Payable at Mainbrace Constructions, says Payapps has enabled the company to stay on its toes and be agile. “Having Payapps in place will make working more collaboratively with them even easier,” says Galsim.

Productivity resilience

Investing in construction technology can improve operational efficiencies. Access to real time, accurate data enables businesses to improve workflow, cash flow and financial management.

For example, Payapps’ customer Westplex spends fewer hours on paperwork and reconciling by automatically creating invoices in Xero with Payapps. Radi Pelemis, Managing Director at Westplex, says using Payapps has simplified the company’s claims processing and saved considerable time. “It gives us a real sense of security that we are claiming the correct values, that everything is accurate, and we are not missing anything,” he says. “It enables us to track everything.”

Likewise, technologies like Payapps help improve productivity resilience within your workforce. Builders and subcontractors are facing skill and labour shortages and are faced with finding new ways to attract and retain talent. Moreover, LinkedIn reports that millennials will make up 75 per cent of the global workforce by 2025. These digital natives are using their sway to drive technological change that makes work more efficient. Millennials are increasingly considering an organisation’s embrace of technology and innovation as an important factor when choosing an employer.

Stephenson says graduates want to work with companies that already embrace technology because they know they’re joining a forward-thinking business that’s resilient and going to remain competitive.

“Using industry technology like Payapps can help attract new talent to your organisation while improving employee engagement and morale to reduce turnover,” says Stephenson. “No one wants to join a business using outdated technology and processes.”

“Increasing digital literacy and technology use in the construction workforce helps future-proof businesses and build resilience.

“Employee satisfaction increases due to automation in the workplace, and automating progress payments saves time while reducing errors, keeping employees motivated.”

Furthermore, technology can help foster a healthy, connected, and diversified workforce. Stephenson says when you think about health, you typically think about exercising and taking vitamins, but it’s more than that.

“Just as important as physical health is mental health,” says Stephenson. “When you think about a workforce, they all want to do their best, they all want to be accurate and efficient, and they all want to be productive – technology helps them do that in a big way.”

Adopting a more resilient business model

Several challenges have prevented construction organisations from adopting a more resilient business model – some of which can be quickly overcome with the proper knowledge.

These challenges include being time-poor, especially for subcontractors, to take the time to review existing processes and explore alternatives. Payapps discovered from their own research in 2021 that 67 per cent of construction companies lacked awareness of digitisation benefits in the construction sector. Additionally, due to cost, businesses being intimidated by construction technology, and a preference for the status quo, resistance to change is another factor preventing construction businesses from moving forward.

Providing advice for companies looking to move towards a more resilient business model, Stephenson says, “I understand that change is challenging, and many people don’t like change.”

“Still, businesses need to adopt technology to become more resilient to remain competitive and successful in this ever-changing climate.

“Instigators like the pandemic have shown us that you must be willing and open to change to stay ahead of the pack.

“We come across a lot of people that have been in the business for decades who want to do things the way they have always done – unfortunately, those are the businesses that are going to be at risk of issues moving forward if they don’t try to harness technology now.”

Stephenson explains that businesses don’t need to rush in and change everything at once, but they need to be open to starting somewhere. During an event in the United States last year, he presented with Procore about how technology companies are there to help you during the change process.

“Technology companies will help you and want to see you succeed in building a resilient business model,” says Stephenson. “For example, at Payapps we’ve built an ecosystem where our customers can converse with our partners or us.”

“We’ve already vetted our integrated and strategic partners to understand they have the same beliefs that Payapps do in looking after the customer – so people can have conversations with our partners about how they can use different technologies to make their business more resilient.”

Payapps global research report

Payapps is set to release a global research report in the first quarter of 2023, including Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the United Kingdom, that will outline the current challenges the construction industry is facing and provide insights on how technology can play an essential part in building a more resilient business for the future.

As the construction sector continues to become more dynamic and unpredictable, from the pandemic to conflicts overseas, it leads to pressures on construction businesses. Stephenson says Payapps wants to understand how it helps its clients build resilience in the face of industry challenges.

“More than just our opinion, we want the market opinion to help us better understand the developing trends in the construction industry and formulate solutions,” he says. “Discovering the current challenges preventing resilience in the industry will allow us to determine what roadmap we take as a technology provider to assist the market in moving forward.”

“We want to hear it from the coalface; we want to collect that information through a survey and then publish it to allow people to understand what level of resilience their business has.”

Visit Payapps to subscribe to more expert insights and information about progress payment claims and construction technology.

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