The MEP sector should adopt software to manage cash flow, says expert

Andrew Skudder, CEO, Construction Computer Software (CCS), talks about managing cash flow through its software solutions Candy and BuildSmart.

Andrew Skudder, CEO, Construction Computer Software (CCS).
Andrew Skudder, CEO, Construction Computer Software (CCS).

How is the MEP sector in the Middle East in embracing software and technology?
There are many new technologies that are entering the MEP sector. Smart cities, smart homes, energy-efficient buildings, and Internet of Things (IOTs) are just a few examples of where MEP services are being used widely. It is hard to follow the speed of the development of technology. The material and equipment, the design methods, engineering solutions and the whole system are changing through technological development. Companies must adopt themselves to these new technological changes amazingly fast. 
In such a rapidly changing environment, cost, time and quality is of critical importance. Insufficient monitoring of project processes leads to uncertainties as to profitability. It is right now that all contractors should produce better estimates and have closer control over projects and better monitoring of earned value and cash flows. At times like this, “cash is king” and CCS solutions are designed to give management the tools they need to control their cash effectively.

Cash flow is a concern for many contractors, how does your software help manage cash flow issues in the MEP sector?
The MEP sector faces some of the greatest challenges when it comes to cash flow management. In fact, the problem has been so entrenched in the system that it has, in a way, become the “new normal” for the MEP contracting sector.
When I ask MEP industry leaders about the challenges facing the sector, none of them reveal cash flow as major concern. “That’s a given,” they say, and move on to listing other obstacles.
MEP is a heavily cash-driven business, where mitigating and managing cash flow risks are essential.
Candy provides the industry’s most effective link between Budgeted Cost and Time (using interactive Estimating & Planning), where Candy produces a detailed Cost, Activity and Time project model. The cost and time savings are a direct result of what we call “Upfront control of costs”, i.e., control the costs before you commit any expenditure.  Because this Candy model is built up from the most basic resources, individual resources budgets can be sent directly to BuildSmart to allow resource procurement with complete accuracy and effective control of both quantities and buying rates providing an UPSTREAM control on the spend. Unless the control is in place at the procurement stage, the margin cannot be protected and this is where costs are controlled and money is saved.
BuildSmart will then manage the complete Procure to Pay cycle and report ALL project costs in the same Cost and Activity matrix used in Candy to allow a one to one match between budget and actual for all resources.
Used together, BuildSmart cost management and Candy estimating and project control uniquely tie the financial processes to the physical processes of your construction projects. This means that an accurate and real time appraisal is presented of each construction project of your enterprise.

What impact is cloud computing and the concept of Internet of Things having on the development and adoption of construction software and the construction process? How does this help the MEP sector?
Cloud computing and Internet of Things (IoT) are two key concepts that will drive innovation and development within the construction software industry in the foreseeable future. This innovation will lead to greater digitization of construction processes.
Cloud computing and in particular software-as-a-service (SaaS) is particularly well suited to the cyclical nature of construction. The scalable nature of SaaS enables project-based companies to use software solutions based on variable and not a fixed cost basis.
Candy, our estimation & project control solution, is not sold but rented on a monthly basis and new releases and upgrades are made available free of charge to Users on a regular basis. BuildSmart, our construction costing and management solution is web based and can be deployed as an on-premises or hosted solution and is offered in both a fixed cost or rental licencing model.
When you consider the possibility of connecting any machine, equipment, material or any system or any site to the Internet to know at any time what’s happening, it rapidly becomes clear that the only limit in finding uses for IoT is our imagination. Machinery and equipment monitoring, inventory management and predictive analytics are just some examples of the enormous potential of IoT in the construction sector. This combined with mobile / cloud computing has the potential to dramatically enhance project outcomes and predictability.

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