Technology will enable better and more efficient management of construction activities post the pandemic. Being a technology company serving the construction industry, we have designed all our modules - tendering, estimation, budgeting, scheduling, project execution, procurement, material, human resource and finance - to connect and control all the 5 Ms (money, men, material, machinery, and minute) of construction.
Every aspect of readiness in a construction company like finance, methodology, manpower engagement, staff motivation, and geographical familiarity needs to be understood in the right perspective.
The lockdown has had maximum impact on the employees, labour and project schedules. Our parent company, URC Construction, which is a 60-year old construction and infra company, sees this impact of lockdown both as a challenge and an opportunity to relook at our readiness to become a more agile and stronger company. Since this is going to impact the economy for a minimum 3 to 4 quarters, every aspect of readiness in a construction company like finance, methodology, manpower engagement, staff motivation, and geographical familiarity needs to be understood in a proper perspective, in order to overcome a crisis like this.
The major challenge will be to restore the morale of the staff and workforce. Though everyone in our organisation is committed and has been with us for a long time, there has been some stress at their personal level, which has to be understood by the company, before engaging them in various projects. Similarly, the migrant labourer needs to be given the best of care and facilities so that he will happily report to work. Apart from this, lean manufacturing practices in construction may become a way forward.
The Covid-19 situation has opened up opportunities for developing innovative tech solutions; at Tactive, we are now moving everything online and remote.
Many construction and contracting companies across India and the Middle East, including our parent company, have been using Tactive software for the last 10 years. The software solutions help project managers and quantity surveyors to ‘see’ the site from the office. Once data entry for daily progress and daily labor output have been entered, the PMs and management are able to make sure that the projects are on track and within profitability levels.
We have recently acquired a client for our ‘contract labour manpower supply software’ where we are doing the implementation of the product completely remotely. Although the product is on the premises, considering the Covid-19 situation, we are moving everything online and remote.
This has come as a strong supportive point for existing construction companies, when our clients decided to adopt ‘work from home’ for the information communication, reviewing the performance, addressing the client requirements, making payment disbursement to labourers and vendors, and looking for further improvements like lean practices, digitisation etc.
Digitalising the industry, particularly the construction activities, is still a challenge, because in India, and across the globe, the operational processes are yet to be standardised.
Each company has its own processes, practices and culture. Over and above this, the clients who are the project owners or implementing agencies, do have their own individual systems and expectations. For sustainable construction process management, these procedures have to be correctly mapped in any ERP software. TACTIVE has been designed in a way where all the processes, approval levels and access levels can be configured and no need to customise according to the client in the code base.
For the construction industry, TACTIVE has done in-depth study and has a close understanding of the processes because of its association with its parent entity URC Constructions. On top of this, NCC (the 2nd largest infra company of India) has been a client of TACTIVE for almost seven years. This is proof of our product’s capability to handle large construction operations.
Basically, if a company is able to capture all its operations’ data, and is able to store it and analyse it for decision making, then digitisation can become a natural process. For all these things, the company should be driven by declared procedures and processes, and should follow the compliances properly. Only then can TACTIVE be one of the right solutions for managing their operations online and offline.
Though technology will bring more efficiency in managing and leading the construction operations, the importance of money, men, material, machinery, and minute (time) and our dependence on these 5 Ms will always be important factors.
Being a technology company serving the construction industry, we have designed all our modules - tendering, estimation, budgeting, scheduling, project execution, procurement, material, human resource and finance - to connect and control all the 5 Ms of construction. For example, each BOQ item from the client will be broken down to activity in each component (called LMP cost in the industry) to handle the 5M aspects, cost codes assigned for each activity, schedules planned and most importantly, tracked in every step of the process.
The basic economy of the construction activity, which seldom looks at the labour component and other related social security issues, is to relook this component by becoming a more responsible payer in taking care of the well-being of the workers. This has been clearly captured in our Human Resource module to enable companies to operate and control the labour part of the activity. The next important readiness should be in the designing and budgeting of the projects. Any error in this will drastically affect the cash flow and the profit levels.
Major benefits can be derived by using value-added services offered by Tactive to its customers
The important value addition is the mobile app for site and mobile app for employees. The mobile app for site has features to enter daily site progress report against each BOQ/activity code, and enter daily labour out-turn to track progress and profitability.
The mobile app for employees has features for self-service functions such as leave application, attendance management, approvals for purchase requests, and task management, etc.
Tactive includes a project site user as well so that people in the site who are only entering data into the system, at a lower cost.
Major benefits derived by using these value-added services are:
- Performance of an individual, team or any project can be reviewed on an online basis
- Cost reduction and control in equipment and machinery consumables is a major cost; these tools can reduce the costs to a considerable value.
- Accuracy of billing to the client and sub-contractors is such that the variations can be easily analysed and corrected.
- When you are operating in multiple locations, the inventory of construction materials, construction tools, equipment and machinery can be effectively utilised by the monitoring process given by the system.
The construction capability of India was an ancient art which gave us wonderful structures like temples, dams, institutions, etc. These were built 100 of years back and are still standing strong and beautiful. Shri U.R. Chinnusamy set up URC Construction in the year 1956. When the 2nd generation was looking to modernise and establish the company more strongly as a ‘Built to Last Company’, they began to introduce modern equipment and built a team of professionals and skilled workers through skill development and upgradation.
About 12 years ago, the company began to look for advanced IT solutions to make their construction business more efficient with smoother functionalities. At that point in time, a team of youngsters with 4 to 5 years of research work in the construction industry approached us for developing the solutions we were looking for. Over a period of 4 to 5 years, along with URC experts, a worthy, functional solution was developed.
Dr.A.Rama Krishna (former DMD of L&T) saw the product and advised us to use it with NCC Hyderabad. Working with NCC with their vast knowledge and experience, enhanced our confidence in the performance of the product. Today, we have a good number of customers in India and in the Gulf Region. We have a strong team to support its implementation for a smooth process management. We are now a web- based product with one of the finest tools and the latest technology built into the system. We are operating from a small but a Smart City – Erode. We believe that in the current situation, operating from smaller towns can be a better option.