Plagued with rising costs and stalled projects, construction firms struggle to operate efficiently, scale resources and engage employees on a day-to-day basis. HR can’t keep up with changes to W-4 withholdings, the operations team can’t easily determine if labor costs are in line with the budget for a project, the accounting team can’t find the cost allocation data for a project, and the CFO has no idea where the firm stands on overtime for the week. All organizations face these challenges, but the construction industry is in the unique position of accommodating a highly distributed workforce.
Software as a Service (SaaS) technology with built-in workflow, organizational structure and a rules-based engine can help construction businesses get back on track. Using technology, HR administrators, managers, executives and employees can access data anytime, anywhere and from any device. Workers can change their W-4 withholdings from an iPhone; the operations team can generate a report online within minutes to ensure the number of employees and subcontractors in the field is in line with a project’s budget; the accounting team can view real-time costs for a project with the click of a button; and the CFO receives a color-coded dashboard via email at 5 p.m. every Thursday outlining overtime status for the week.
A SaaS technology platform provides business owners with the following advantages. Scalability
Establishing a scalable infrastructure is imperative to the success of any business. Construction companies can approach scalability in two ways.
- Repurposing or reducing HR staff. Inputting timecard data, updating benefit portals, processing vacation requests and calculating overtime are just a few of the processes that occur on a daily basis. As a company grows, additional personnel is needed to manage new processes. A SaaS platform automates the majority of these processes, eliminating the need for additional staff. Companies can grow as quickly as necessary without building a large internal HR staff. Automation also positively affects the bottom line by eliminating most, if not all, transaction errors.
- Growing a distributed workforce. Construction firms have a highly distributed workforce, with new contracts leading to new locations. Because a SaaS platform can be accessed anywhere, anytime and from any device, companies can expand across the United States and overseas. All employees, regardless of location, can report time, allocate hours to specific projects, receive communications from corporate and access any other needed information. No geographical limitations exist with SaaS.
A highly distributed workforce is tough to engage, and maintaining a clear and consistent line of communication with employees can be challenging. A SaaS platform allows employees to receive communications electronically, initiate transactions such as address changes, view pay stubs and electronic time sheets, and request time off. This type of on-demand HR plays a vital role in a company’s success as baby boomers retire and more members of generations X and Y fill the ranks of construction companies, expecting immediate communication and round-the-clock access to information. Simply put, giving employees access to this data and the ability to initiate transactions on their own time will keep them engaged and highly satisfied. In turn, this increases a firm’s retention rate. Cost Reduction
A SaaS model directly impacts an organization’s bottom line in three main ways.
- Access to data. Construction owners have access to real-time data in order to run their businesses effectively. However, the operations team often cannot instantly access this data, which could result in too many people on a project, driving up cost due to stagnant workers, or too few people on a project, resulting in unnecessary overtime costs. This operations error may not be caught for several weeks, but with access to this data on an hourly or daily basis, staff can be shifted as necessary to reduce labor costs. This is only one example of the many ways in which access to data improves a company’s bottom line.
- Activity time. More than 72 percent of HR, payroll and benefits transactions occur from somewhere other than a worksite. Having a platform in place to make these changes easy and accessible means employees can perform transactions off the clock. If changes are initiated from work, it will take 10 percent less time compared to prior manual processes.
- IT-related costs. A single SaaS platform eliminates the need to move data to various internal systems, such as company directories, organizational charts, profiles and carriers. The cost, management, and maintenance of internal systems and software updates also are eliminated because a firm’s data is hosted elsewhere. Because enhancements roll out at no additional cost, onsite updates are unnecessary.
Technology plays a crucial role in helping construction firms gain an advantage in today’s highly competitive market. Automating transactions around payroll and benefits administration allows a human resources department to become a more strategic asset to the leadership team. HR can focus on higher-value projects and initiatives such as training and safety programs, onboarding and employee retention. Simultaneously, the operations team receives the data it needs to improve efficiency.