5 must-have ECM features for APAC construction enterprises

In recent years, a wide range of new software and digital services has emerged for the construction industry. Although construction organisations in the APAC region have been slower to adopt these technologies, all evidence suggests that when companies do replace manual processes and legacy systems, they gain a clear advantage over slower-moving competitors.

In fact, technology improvements in the construction industry could increase productivity by up to 50 percent—equalling a staggering AU $2.2 trillion (US $1.6 trillion) in additional profit, according to a recent report by McKinsey Global Institute.

One area that’s particularly ripe to deliver industry-wide disruption in APAC is enterprise content management (ECM). By selecting and investing in a robust ECM platform, construction companies enable operational efficiencies across their organisations and can better focus on continued growth.

Moreover, an ECM solution tailored for construction will offer a specific set of intelligent features, functionality and applications.

5 ways to get ahead

Here are five must-have features of a platform that is fully equipped to address the industry’s most common operational headaches.

1. Vendor management portal

An ECM platform specific to construction streamlines operations with a vendor portal tool that provides easy access to existing supplier records and orders, and also enables smoother onboarding of prospective suppliers.

The information within a vendor portal links to existing purchase orders and gives vendors access to plans, documents and project details that are relevant to their part of the build. With this type of portal, you can significantly reduce the volume of phone calls and emails because vendors can “self-serve” the information they need.

2. Contractor management tools 

The same portal-tool capabilities function as a way to successfully manage multiple contractor relationships for larger building projects. Since each contractor is on a tight schedule and needs access to information about the projects, the relevant data should be available 24/7 to accommodate delays or early arrivals.

To keep the build moving, you need to record and check deliveries, all while paying invoices on time. Delays due to poor communication can cripple a project—and on a building site, even the smallest delay costs money.

With the right platform, you can monitor purchase orders through unique contractor portals, which also contain the background information about the contracted company, including who is registered to act on its behalf and who has access to the site.

3. Document storage and search

The construction industry is particularly prone to risk from bad weather, site accidents, contractor disagreements, insufficient insurance and industrial disputes, just to name a few. The threat of legal action arising from any of these means that you must keep meticulous records on the daily operations of any project.

An ECM platform helps by creating a digital repository for every document involved in the day-to-day operation of a construction site, including delivery records, contractor credentials and licences, agreements and quotes. These are not only safely stored in the system, but easy to find at a moment’s notice – whether on a computer in an office or a mobile phone at a job site.

Once data is imported through intelligent capture, the ECM platform becomes the main information hub for all important records, ultimately saving time by eliminating the need to search in filing cabinets or shelves for related documents. Even the oldest print documents can become a useful source of company data for future decision-making. Meanwhile, your documents are safe from natural disasters or theft.

An additional benefit is the ability to search document text using keywords, since construction operations requires easy indexing for permits, change notifications and health and safety documents.

4. Tracking and permissions capabilities

Within a construction organisation, different departments tend to develop individual approaches to data processing and storage to match specific needs. This creates data silos, where valuable information is accessible only to a few users from that particular department.

An ECM platform’s tracking functionality ends these data silos by centralising data from all systems across the organisation and making it available to staff as required. Anyone with the right security levels can now access previously siloed data, without needing to leave familiar software systems. Access to sensitive material is also controlled by granting individual permissions to different data levels as appropriate.

Additionally, within each portal, design and engineering staff can manage changes to plans, trace materials back to their sources and track records and specifications. This means a permanent revision history exists for each document, ensuring all transactions undertaken on any document are easily identifiable.

This way, documents don’t go missing and can’t be damaged, while accessing documents for regulatory purposes is easy, yet still secure.

5. Seamless integration

Digital transformation is easier said than done, but forward-thinking construction organisations understand that moving away from legacy document systems and digitising construction records is essential for effective internal and external communication flow.

The best ECM platforms and solutions make the transition easier by seamlessly integrating with existing technology, including customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, as well as standard email clients and collaboration tools like Microsoft Outlook and SharePoint.

The result is a fully connected technology infrastructure that supports activity and information across the construction organisation, with improved security and compliance.

A foundation for success

To set your organisation up for success, take advantage of these benefits across AP, HR, payment tracking, regulatory compliance and more.

The first step is finding the right platform.

Eugene Chng is Hyland’s director of sales for the APAC region. In this role for the last four years, Eugene has been the driving force behind the organisation’s considerable growth in the region, including implementation of the local professional services team, expansion of its partner and sales network and dynamic growth of its customer base throughout the region. Eugene’s career in the technology sector is extensive, having worked with global IT organisations such as EMC and IBM prior to Hyland. His vast experience and knowledge of the sector have led Eugene to become a regional thought leader for ECM and content services categories.
Eugene Chng

Eugene Chng

Eugene Chng is Hyland’s director of sales for the APAC region. In this role for the last four years, Eugene has been the driving force behind the organisation’s considerable growth... read more about: Eugene Chng