The importance of the construction industry to the UK economy – and indeed, to British society – cannot be overstated. Billions of pounds are spent every single year building the homes, business premises, public buildings and wider infrastructure that all of us use every single day.
However, like many industries, construction is facing pressures on a number of fronts, most notably cost. In recent years, many large building firms have collapsed for financial reasons, proving that no organisation in the sector is immune to economic reality.
Cost control has perhaps often been overlooked by the sector, because it is sometimes attributed to ‘cutting corners’ and compromising quality and safety. However, there is a balance that can be struck, and the current financial climate means cost control is very much on the table right now.
A growing sector with growing challenges
So where are these cost pressures coming from? The rising expense of raw materials, goods, services and employee pay caused by recent inflation is a major contributor, but it’s by no means the whole story. There are plenty of other factors at play, which are also ramping up the pressure in other areas, too – these include (and are not necessarily limited to):
- Data security and privacy: many construction projects necessitate the collection, handling and storage of sensitive data. Amid a climate of increasing regulation around data protection (such as GDPR), it has become more challenging and time-consuming to maintain compliance – and there are much more serious implications for non-compliance
- Productivity and efficiency: difficulties in maintaining consistent supply chains, along with equipment failures, are hampering the ability of construction firms to complete projects on time and on budget. A shortage of skilled labour – and the expense of hiring those that are still available – is exacerbating this issue
- Technology adoption: the sector as a whole is often slow to adopt new technologies or ways of working. This is often down to cultures and methods that are ingrained over time, but also can be attributed to risk-averse investment plans that overlook new innovations, with knock-on effects on efficiency and data handling
- Sustainability and ‘net zero’: the construction sector accounts for around 40% of the UK’s total carbon emissions, meaning there is extreme pressure on businesses to run more sustainably. This pressure is partly from the public, but mainly from the Government, as part of its target to reach net zero by 2050
Methods for controlling costs in construction
All the challenges listed above make effective cost control more important than ever for the construction sector. In today’s landscape, cost control must bring several key functions together, including:
• Balancing labour, material and overhead costs
• Making sound estimates and forecasting
• Monitoring and reporting on a constant basis to keep spending in check
• Setting realistic expectations for other stakeholders and decision-makers
• Conducting post-project evaluations to measure accuracy of forecasting against real-world results
• Using data insights to make further improvements
All this might sound complex, time-consuming, resource-intensive and (ironically) expensive to do properly. However, technology can make these vital processes much easier: for example, construction management software can support financial tracking, and analytics tools can help with smarter predictions and forecasting.
How SCC can with print and digitisation solutions
One area where real efficiencies can be found in construction cost control is in digitising paper-based documents and print-based processes. Many vital pieces of information on construction projects still exist in physical form, and digitising them can make them easier to manage, secure and integrate. That way, you can get more from your data while also simultaneously reducing the operational costs of handling hard-copy documents.
When you partner with SCC Document Services, you can access a range of different solutions which are perfectly suited to construction businesses. These include:
- Digital inbound mail: : either on-site or off-site, we can automatically scan all physical mail received and distribute it to its recipient in digital form via email. This speeds up the delivery of critical information, especially for workers out on site, or who spend their days travelling between sites.
- Scanning and archiving:: we can provide all the technology you need to scan all your existing paper-based documents and archive them digitally, saving you huge amounts of space and resources compared to filing cabinets. Run through our SCC DocuHub shared service centre, it helps you streamline document management and enhance data accessibility
- Managed print:: we can integrate every facet of your printing and document management into a single managed service. This can incorporate existing printers and scanners, outsourced print-related services, and workflow management, and generates reductions in cost, waste, inefficiency and carbon footprint
Meeting the challenges of an increasingly digital and environmentally aware world isn’t easy for construction businesses. However, as this blog demonstrates, it’s by no means impossible with the right technologies and partnerships in place.
SCC’s Document Services can play their own vital part in helping you keep your costs under control – not only now, in a fast-changing economic landscape, but also in the long-term whatever the future may hold. Take a closer look at SCC Document Services in more detail here, or contact our team to discuss your specifics.
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