Success Story

High degree of automation, less effort – The new construction status report at Hilfswerk-Siedlung GmbH

PROMOS.GT construction solutions have been deployed at Hilfswerk-Siedlung GmbH (HWS) for over four years. The useful easysquare apps for prospective tenants, tenants and property managers have also long been used by HWS. Working together with PROMOS consult, the company is constantly devising new ways of improving and expanding its digital strategy. Some processes could always do with optimisation – drafting construction status reports, for example. Since preparing this report in practice took up too much of the company’s time and effort, PROMOS once again came up with a clever solution that optimised the process and increased efficiency. Read on to find out how this came about and what steps were involved.

A company with values and vision

Hilfswerk Siedlung has a long history. The company was founded not long after the Second World War, 70 years ago, with the aim of creating social housing in Germany’s capital, a city buried under rubble. Initially, the housing was intended primarily for war widows, unemployed people and refugees. The HWS portfolio expanded rapidly in the 70s. During this time, mainly residential units were built in the Gropiusstadt quarter of Berlin under the auspices of HWS. Today, the real estate company manages around 10,000 housing units. Its primary aim is still that of ensuring a socially responsible housing supply, and thus carrying out its church-affiliated mission. A detailed and future-oriented digitisation plan is of course necessary to pursue this goal in a modern world. This plan is constantly being refined and expanded with the support of the company’s long-standing partner PROMOS consult.

Why is the construction status report so important?

The construction status describes the actual status of the new construction, modernisation or renovation of a building. The report thus keeps project managers up to date with the current status of the project. It contains important information on the completion stage of preparatory measures such as demolition and excavation, as well as details on building construction, such as façade, roof, windows and, among other things, technical completion. The report also documents target and actual dates as well as payment statuses. In the real estate industry, construction status reports are commonplace. At HWS, a construction status report has to be completed monthly, depending on the project situation.

What did the “traditional” construction status report look like?

Before the new automated system was created, the construction status report used at HWS, like most real estate companies, was a simple Word document. A project manager had to go through several steps every time just to create the report. First, the template document was called up and information usually stored in the PROMOS construction solutions was manually transferred to the Word document. The required values for the outflow of funds for the next few months had to be calculated by the creator of the report, responsibilities such as budget and distribution list had to be entered, and all the remaining fields of the whole document had to be completed. The report was then printed off and signed. So as you can see, just one monthly report required a disproportionate amount of effort, even though most of the information was already stored in the leading SAP® system. This inspired the search for a solution that would collect the information and generate the document automatically.

digitaler Bautenstandsbericht als PDF bei der Hilfswerk-Siedlung Berlin

Figure 1: The finished construction status report PDF is generated automatically and can be saved and/or printed immediately.

What does the automated construction status report look like now?

The new construction status report is generated automatically and contains all important information relating to the construction project. It is created via a one-to-one transfer of information stored in the SAP® system Most of the required information was available in the SAP® system from the outset. Options were also provided to maintain some current information in the system, such as degree of completion (not contained in the master data of the projects). In this way, added value was created independently of the report: HWS now has access to an organised overview of all important data in its system. This data regarding the construction shell, the façade or the electrical installation, for instance, can be called up and edited in the system at any time. The data is then automatically transferred to the report and no longer needs to be entered manually.

The construction status report is called up directly in the SAP® system and the project then selected. The signature distribution list is entered in advance and can be changed if necessary depending on the project. The report is then generated directly, assigned to the selected project and displayed as a PDF file. The PDF file can be used, printed and sent immediately (Figure 1).

Informationstechnologie und Immobilien (IT&I) Ausgabe Nr. 37 / Mai 2024

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Benefits at a glance

The construction status report is a prime example of how useful it is to have information recorded in the leading ERP system and thus be able to retrieve it automatically when needed, such as during an exchange. First, this saves a lot of time. Second, the company management, project managers and all other project stakeholders benefit from a clear overview of the most important information. Media discontinuity is eliminated, thus boosting operational efficiency. This automation is transferable to many areas. It is, for example, also very worthwhile for releases or budget reports in order to save effort and time. The list of possible use cases is wide-ranging.

The entire project ran for just under six months. It went live at HWS on 1 April 2019: the company has now been using the new construction status report for almost four years. According to Carolin Schenke from Hilfswerk-Siedlung GmbH, they are thoroughly satisfied and benefiting from faster and more efficient processes: “We use the automated system regularly and so far it has run smoothly and without errors. The solution has paid off for our project managers, as they can now invest more time in vital tasks. And of course, we are also continuing to consider other areas in which we can apply appropriate digital solutions. We therefore look forward to continuing our cooperation with PROMOS consult and integrating innovative software solutions and applications into our day-to-day operations.”

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