How MLA Systems can improve the bottom line.
Customer loyalty to our systems is exceptional – a company director recently said “He will never run another contract without our CMP system “. MatUse has been called “The best in the world” by someone who has seen them all.
A few years back we were involved in the construction of a totally automated plant and got a chance to compare the systems that were being used to build the plant by all the contractors involved to that which was going to run the plant. The contractors systems were 10 years behind – a cost difference we calculated of about 150 people in the factory. Construction is not the same as manufacturing but MLA systems use parallel methods to bring the systems benefits to construction.
Head Office generally has a lot of information about site that site management finds out about too late. They even can control sites access to information. “Why does site need computers they have a job to do – no time to mess with computers?”. “They can do it on Excel” (Processing 4000 transactions a day) from a manager who has a muti-million Rand system to process less work at her office. In no other industry would a job worth R20m run on a few networked PC’s and email.
Site in turn can easily change PC based data to please head office without addressing the underlying problem.
All project budget and cost data must reside in its entirety on both head office and site, in a commonly accessible and updated costing module. Head Office initiated transactions must reflect on site and vice versa. Site management must have a detailed and comprehensive set of daily and forecast reports with drill down capabilities, just as any manager in any other industry would expect. MLA systems would underpin such a system ensuring that it is complete and accurate.
There is limited opportunity outside of head office for a construction company to make money (fixed price/rate contracts) but a great capacity to lose it. Instead of chasing budget figures as targets and then getting caught out by unexpected expenses, MLA systems encourage profit making through achieving savings at every stage of the job.
By providing the site manager with the right information he can manage by effecting savings wherever he can day by day, rather then by targeting a budget figure. This approach is much more likely to prevent a project spiraling out of control – there is never a “we will make it up” attitude, the saving philosophy will become entrenched, through watching productivity and costs every step of the way from start to finish.
Knowledge is power – and it is very hard to get detail after the fact. Gathering information routinely costs massively less than trying to find it afterwards. An informed management is an empowered management making forward planning decisions and not firefighting. The source of this data is a comprehensive MLA data set – a solid foundation to work off for preventing problems and managing profitability.
Information must be gathered and corrected as close to source and event as possible at the minimum level of detail. Data that is gathered in one place and corrected in three others is useless to everybody because it never matches and no-one knows which set is right. One master data set must be used by everybody.
There is no management capability and authority without control. There is no control without measurement. Shop and construction managers must know what is happening in their realm. MLA systems measure men, materials, consumables, progress, resource costs etc. etc. all resource consumption and costs.
Set up systems and procedures – as you intend to finish – right from the start. Use your engineers and service personnel to set up clerks to operate systems. The systems can the be monitored remotely, the labour bill is much cheaper and the need for a whodunit/fixit team in the latter stages of the project will have disappeared. This will impress client, reduce costs but not invoicable amount and 99% progress will become 99% achieved. Using data capture clerks instead of planners, cost engineers, qc clerks etc will continue to save millions
Contractors know more and are exposed to more of the state of the client’s project than client is. On a job where the plant has been redesigned three times from start before it is 40% complete all players are in for a financial hiding for a problem in a distant engineering department. With collated information from the MLA systems it will be quite clear that costs are going to overrun (a pretty accurate detailed picture will be available). Discussion can begin before the losses mount.
For years the hunt has been on for the perfect system and many companies have invested in ERP system. The Construction and Engineering sectors up till now have not been well served by software vendors and these companies get maybe 1/3 of what other industries get out of ERP systems at high customisation cost. There is no single system solution but a judicious choice of modules can provide a very powerful solution. The key element is the Project Control System. MLA systems are the complement to the PCS and this route might save R20m through buying a few smaller cheaper modules than one that is very complex and expensive but cant meet everybody’s need.
Modern communications and MLA systems can provide a detailed picture to anyone working anywhere. Using phones, cell phones, the internet, satellite phones and remote control computers a service engineer could solve just about any problem for a main site anywhere. There is a lot of duplication of skills between head office and site. People must be allocated where the major work is without having to give up responsibility for all their work elsewhere. Productivity savings could be millions through implementing MLA systems to facilitate this.
Some managers believe that sites and site managers should be controlled from head office – other managers on site take the responsibility for the project themselves. No matter what your style – you cannot control the site sources of information the way you control the people – it is like driving blind. MLA monitoring and measurement systems overcome the missing details of faxed reports by informing exactly what is going on, on site or about site to head office.
Whereas R250m single systems suit some companies, project teams are dynamic in skill and size even during the project. Whereas a concrete single system can often only perform as well as the weakest link an MLA discipline based modular setup is much less vulnerable to inadvertent downgrading by lack of systems knowledge, inexperience or poor capability.
Through applying a more evenhanded approach to systems application and distribution your company can unlock invaluable information about its operations. New technology in laptops, cell phone and other communications has made this affordable. MLA had the systems weight and experience to bring the savings that are available to you.