COINS transforms the construction industry

Jim Farrer, Managing Director, COINS.

Construction Industry Solutions (COINS) is setting a benchmark for positive industry change in construction driving collaborative working through innovative software. COINS Construction Cloud transforms the way construction industry professionals communicate, engage and manage complex projects.

The construction industry is somewhat lagging in the adoption of technology compared to other industries and COINS are tackling that problem head on with their collaborative working model.

A leader in construction management software and services, COINS provide end-to-end business solutions through technology that can be tailored to a particular customer’s needs. Their complete product suite is called COINS Construction Cloud and provides COINS with the flexibility to address different markets, primarily in the construction, engineering, home building and service sectors. Their services are designed to support medium to very large, complex projects across the four different sectors.

In construction and speciality engineering, COINS implement their software to coordinate and manage large workforces and increase productivity, profitability and certainty.

In home building and property development, the technology supports optimising a parcel of land and optimising estate and building design not only to meet societal demand, but also to make best use of the environment.

Jim Farrer is approaching three years in his role as Managing Director for COINS and has a diverse technology centric background across financial services, aerospace, manufacturing and major projects. His extensive experience has seen Farrer identify the unique set of challenges and opportunities the construction industry needs to address. “Construction should probably be declared as a bit of a crisis,” says Farrer.

“The construction industry operates on very thin margins using lots of effort, resources and human capital to complete complex projects. The productivity and profitability are really lagging compared to most other sectors.

“Many smaller companies that decide to take a step forward by utilising technology might simply have an accounting package or use things like spreadsheets to run their business, or some of them might only have an accounting package and use intuition and experience. That can work, but once you go to scale up you start to outlive the capability of those baseline products.

“What happens from there is companies start to add in specialised products when they have a particular problem in an area, for example their estimating might not be great, so they’ll buy an estimating product. The problem is each individual product they purchase then just sits on an island. The first step they usually take is to build these islands within their business and eventually get to a point where they realise they need a better way to manage their data.”

Image: Georgiou Group

Craig Dovey, Project Controls Manager, Georgiou Group says their project managers were spending a lot of time on admin, trying to work out if costs and forecasts were accurate. “We needed to be able to quickly and accurately see how whole projects were tracking and what their daily costs were, in real time,” says Dovey.

That’s when they engaged COINS. By introducing COINS Construction Cloud to a business, the company is then able to access their data in an integrated system where it’s all in one platform with one source of truth.

During their work with Georgiou Group, a national civil building and construction company, COINS quickly realised they’d encountered a company with a great vision and willingness to embrace technology.

Having accumulated a multitude of specialist systems the organisation was keen to streamline project management.

“All of the functions were very good at doing their particular task, but the systems weren’t talking to each other causing inefficiencies and inconsistencies. Georgiou Group fundamentally didn’t have trust in what they were seeing across their individual software packages,” says Farrer.

“We met them at a point in their journey where they were seeking a single integrated platform, and so COINS was contracted by them to put our system in which replaced a lot of those individual specialist systems.”

Georgiou Group were able to rationalise the variety of products they were using down to a much smaller set which has great advantages in term of costs and maintenance.

The Georgiou objective was to consolidate down to fewer platforms, get a single source of truth and build their confidence in one integrated system. But more than that, they were looking to expedite month-end processes.

Before the introduction of COINS construction management software, it would take Georgiou Group time and extra manual effort to gather company data for review. They can now get that picture very shortly after months end with much less manual intervention.

“It was also about connecting different parts of the business. They no longer have the construction teams operating in isolation with the only communication or engagement being what they say to head office over the phone or via email. They are now connected in via the data and technology. It’s brought their whole picture to life,” says Farrer.

At the most fundamental level, COINS technology enables the processing of all transactions and the capture of all data associated with those transactions. For example, somebody may purchase a piece of material or equipment for a project and there are end-to-end processes for the purchasing of items that are ultimately going to increase productivity on that project.

Those costs need to be costed to a project, bills need to be paid, bank accounts need to be maintained and cash balances monitored. Every single transaction, being a payment to an employee, purchase, lease of a piece of equipment or someone’s labour time being spent on a project is captured and managed by COINS software. The technology facilitates transaction processing.

Mobile

You can order or pay for materials and in the course of facilitating those transactions, COINS software captures all of the data in near real time so that people have a live picture of what’s happening in the business. At an incremental level, businesses have complete visibility of what’s going on. They don’t have purchasing sitting in one system, people and payroll sitting in another and construction sitting in another – it’s all in one place.

Transactions and activity can then be aggregated up to look at project performance and how a project is going versus original budget and its intended cost.

“A customer might ask a contractor to build 10kms of road for X million dollars. That cost build-up comprises of things like plant hire, people, materials, provision for risks and opportunities,” says Farrer.

“The COINS system allows you to keep a very close eye on how things are progressing. So that transactional activity management aggregates up to a project layer. You might have a very large construction organisation that consists of many companies and each of those companies may have many projects and every project has many components. By aggregating all the information and data together, they have a complete picture of what’s going on, what’s working well, what’s not working well, what needs attention and what’s meeting expectations.

“It allows organisations to, with that knowledge, address opportunities and in addition to that live picture, project performance into the future. This allows then for long range workforce planning, long range planning of capital and other sorts of investments.”

“That’s how our COINS Construction Cloud brings everything together and can support transformation in the construction industry.”

Collaboration is a vital element of the COINS operating model and through that they strive to shape the industry to a better set of behaviours. “Georgiou is a great example of this. We have an extremely collaborative and trusted relationship that benefits us, benefits them, benefits their customers and benefits society because we’re actually working together,” says Farrer.

“Some traditional practices in construction, and they’re still there today, sees the customer engage a contractor to do a job, that contractor then engages subcontractors and the associated risks cascade through the supply chain. We need to establish better transparency throughout the process to avoid devolving risk.”

According to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) the construction industry records more insolvencies each year than any other sector, with nearly 25% of all insolvencies in Australia being a construction company. There are also staggering statistics of high rates of suicide in the industry.

“Some construction companies tend to feel as a purchaser they have this ultimate right over the supplier. We break that paradigm. With our customers the way we work is collaboratively. They have responsibilities, we have responsibilities, we have collective goals, we work together – and we find that model is very successful. If that model was perpetuated across the industry at large, and that’s what we try to do, I think you’d see a much more transparent industry,” says Farrer.

As well as their commercial software and technology side of the business, COINS also actively give back a large portion of their profits to society through COINS Foundation.

The Foundation was established by COINS to support a wide range of social initiatives across the globe from arts and social change organisation Big hART and Wynyard Yacht Club’s Sailability program in Australia, to expanding the PEAS network of schools in Uganda and DFN Project Search in the UK which supports the transition of young people from education through to careers.

At large, COINS are a company dedicated to inspiring positive change in individuals, communities, businesses and industry.

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