Defect, defects, disaster – the dream team of SAP® + easysquare takes the field against digitisation obstacles and enchants the construction industry
Their favourite locations, which certainly include the BER airport, the Stuttgart 21 error project, the tunnel project in Cologne and the Elbphilharmonie, lack excellent planning competence and provide the media with ample proof that despite all technological progress, it is still a challenge for the construction industry to effectively manage projects of this scale. But what is it that makes construction projects so complex?
The curse of the construction project
For one thing, residential construction involves many different project participants. In addition to the housing company and the executing company, general contractors, building inspectors, appraisers, owners and other interest groups all play their role at the building site. They are all connected through various interfaces and exchange a huge amount of information with each other hidden in correspondence, photos, plans, drawings and notes. The course of building projects is furthermore influenced by risks and external factors. Just think of wrong materials being used, weather conditions or fluctuating work quality that can cause lasting disturbances to the building process. This means that even with the best planning and meticulous inspections, the potential for defects can never be completely eliminated. What’s more, the contractual elements with guarantees, withholdings and sureties make it practically impossible to keep track of all open items in an Excel spreadsheet.
The reality paints a dark picture: site managers struggle with the time-intensive recording of their protocols, communication is incomplete because information gets lost en route, and the office is plagued by a chaotic flurry of documents. As a result, guarantee obligations are not well documented and it is easy to lose track of defect rectification. Construction faults are not satisfactorily repaired, deadlines are missed, and additional costs arise. Digital solutions can offer assistance and above all efficiency here.
The hunt for a digital solution
To take full advantage of the potential of digital solutions, relying on various island solutions is not going to cut it by a long shot. The key to successful, systematic processing chiefly lies in a common database, which eliminates the effort associated with multiple data sets and duplicates. Everything must revolve around the leading ERP system of the housing company here. Beyond this, building contractors need orderly processes so that the entire range of building projects can be completed smoothly. Housing companies are investing record sums into new construction. In 2019, 293,000 apartments were completed, the highest figure in almost twenty years. This makes it crucial that resources are deployed in the best way possible. And lastly, it is vital that operation of the digital solution be uncomplicated. Regardless of time and place, site managers and other participants should always be able to exchange information quickly and easily. It is not economically viable for housing companies to conduct comprehensive training sessions for all project participants.
As a digitisation expert, PROMOS consult knows all about the challenges in the building sector and has developed an integrated solution that takes all construction processes into account while seamlessly incorporating all project participants. With PROMOS Defects and Warranty Follow-up, PROMOS is sending the dream team of SAP® and easysquare into the race to noticeably simplify daily tasks for the site manager, reduce organisation and planning effort, and ultimately enable cost savings for the housing company.
Invasion of the paper forms
At the building site, communication relating to construction progress, potential defects and the rectification, including deadlines, is of great importance. Information must make its way to the project participants in the simplest way possible without having to be manually processed in the office later. Paper forms for acceptance reports, progress checks and handovers are kryptonite for any efficiency aspirations.
With the easysquare professional app, the site manager has all mobile forms available at their fingertips on a smartphone or tablet, be it for building acceptance (intermediate, partial, final and subsequent acceptance) or for progress checks. The forms for planned appointments are clearly listed in the digital desk and promptly receive the relevant master data from the SAP® system thanks to simple synchronisation. This includes the real estate data of the functional location, such as which accounting entity, building and rental unit the recorded data should be assigned to. This also includes project data from the SAP® modules PS and MM such as the responsible site manager and suppliers along with defect catalogues that can be individually configured for each customer. Since the appropriate fields are already prefilled, the site manager can immediately start on the acceptance.
The dynamic structure of the easysquare form ensures that object data is represented according to its characteristics. This means that the site manager sees less for a two-room apartment than for a four-room apartment, and the trades can be edited in a subsheet for each room. This compact framework helps the site manager conduct more effective project work. Photos, descriptive texts and markings complete the picture of the apartment’s condition with little effort. In turn, the housing company can freely define under which conditions the acceptances should be reported back to the SAP® system. After all, there are not always defects. If the acceptance is rejected, though, a notice must be created in accordance with the German Construction Contract Regulations. In addition to previously available master data, this also involves a description and information on assets, deadlines and the delivery date.
Of course, the forms can also be used if there aren’t any defects or ad hoc to record information at the construction site. Simple location via GPS tracking also enables selection of the functional location when on the go.
Figure 1: The easysquare professional app and SAP® form the dream team for efficient defect and warranty tracking in the construction industry.
While the easysquare professional app accompanies the site manager in their digital work steps, the leading SAP® system provides this sidekick with rear cover and processes all data in a central location. The defect cockpit visualises the reported defects on the project, supplier and trade as a list, making it simple to track the status. The entire course of a defect, including its deadlines, history and acceptance, can be traced here with no problem. Additionally, defects can be assigned to the supplier, subsequent acceptances initiated, and appointments for inspections defined all from within the cockpit.
And because the data for a final acceptance is already available in the SAP® system, it can be seamlessly transferred into the warranty in the contract management tool. This means that the date of the signature is automatically the beginning of the warranty period, for instance, but the appointment type, designation and comments can all also be automatically transferred into the order.
Figure 2: Anyone who likes lists will love the defect cockpit. All defects entered on a mobile device are collected here in a condensed list and their status can be determined with just a glance.
Awakening of the processes
With a manageable number of defects, many users still prefer processing by list. When the number gets too large to retain an overview, however, we recommend the use of individual workflows per defect number. And this is the real highlight of the easysquare solution. Not only mobile work steps can be seamlessly connected to the SAP® system – on the contrary, easysquare workflow enables the automation of various work steps across the entire process, from the construction phase to the warranty and on to subsequent maintenance.
Workflows reliably ensure that the whole process is regulated from the beginning and that roles and tasks are assigned in a binding way. As soon as a concrete status is set, such as when a correspondence (defect notice, granting an extension or a reminder) is sent from within a tool, further processes can be initiated in turn. If a termination is sent after this, the process for conducting a substitute performance starts automatically. Sending correspondence from within the process thus not only speeds up communication – automatic notifications about upcoming and lapsed deadlines also significantly reduce communication times.
Additionally, multilevel processes can also effectively support more complex links, as main processes wait on the completion of subordinate processes, such as a defect rectification, or are processed in parallel by different inspectors. The solution’s integrative approach offers lots of room for connections to downstream tasks and potential for automation. For instance, to ensure that the final invoice is only issued once the final acceptance has taken place, the solution could be connected to the PROMOS verification of construction invoices. Stand-alone solutions cannot compete with such advantages and quickly reveal their limits.
The lord of digitisation
Let’s summarise: what does the ideal solution require to keep your construction project from ending in a fiasco? Just a superpower arising from a central data pool to offer a structured archive with process support, and to deliver evaluations and enable correspondence while also being perfect for teams, rounded out by operation via simple interfaces and mobile apps that function with no problem on all available mobile devices.
The advantages speak for themselves: such a digital solution not only greatly simplifies tracking, but also enables the timely recognition and rectification of construction and communication errors. This leads to cost savings and an on-time project conclusion. In cases of conflict, the detailed, legally secure documentation of all defects and rectification work is indispensable, since spotty documentation can prove to be very costly years later in warranty disputes.
We’ll conclude with one last promise: make the right choice for digital defect management and you’ll never again have to lose your cool when hearing statements like “Nobody will notice”, “We’ll fill it with acrylic” or “It was the only option”.
Consultant Facility & Construction Management
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