Wholesale Construction: Technology in Action
Technology in Action: Digitising the wholesale construction sector
The business of wholesale construction materials is not one that would usually grab headlines – or be held up as a great example of technology in action.
Yet, here at Solutions Shared, we have been working with a number of significant companies in this sector to improve their systems away from largely manual and
time-consuming paper-based processes that they have been using for years.
What is interesting, is that these firms are facing many of the same issues – and the solutions are both remarkably similar and driving significant improvements.
The companies provide vital construction materials, such as concrete, to projects all over the country, heavy duty logistics with the complexity of linking
up manufacture to timely delivery.
Two of them have been wedded to Microsoft Excel spreadsheets: one used one Excel per sales person, which were then combined into one, back at HQ weekly.
The other had an old custom-built system, but the person who built it is no longer available. They also used paper-based carbon copy “job” forms, which are filled
in by the delivery drivers, signed by the client, updated by an Ops person in the office, who also updates the system. The forms are then passed across the desk
(literally) to the finance person, who checks them, before triggering their export into Sage. All very manual.
As you can tell, these methods are full of inefficiencies, laborious and prone to error. Forecasting must be almost impossible.
We introduced model-driven Power Apps, which enabled centralised data, accessible from any location – offices, hybrid-working, on-site – with automation
and standardisation of business processes.
Types of automation included:
Moving items forward in the business process automatically, based on “triggers”, such as fields being changed.
Document generation of all sorts of documents, and emails.
Notifications (emails, Teams notifications, even text messages if they want them) sent to appropriate staff when something has been done,
or needs to be done.
Integrated document management, with SharePoint.
Integrated eSignature, usually via Adobe Sign.
Integrations with external systems, including Sage and Xero.
Real-time, always up to date, dashboards and reports.
Ability to have different “apps” for different job roles, on top of the same database (Dataverse). With one of the organisations, we’re
going to create a specific app for the delivery drivers, so that they can access jobs on a mobile device, enter details (such as arrival
time on-site, waiting time) and get the client to enter their name and sign-off with their signature. Once the data is submitted, it’s back
in the central system, and can be acted upon immediately.
In this industrial sector, quotes tend to be a “rate quote”, that is valid for a period of time, rather than a quote for an individual product or service that
is delivered once.
This means that multiple orders are placed against the rate quote, with multiple truck load deliveries spread across numerous days, weeks and months. We have
implemented the ability to generate these multiple deliveries all in one seamless order.
By automating and modernising the logistics and sales side of the business, this is then driving more efficient scheduling on the production side, as well as
improved credit tracking and security.
For more information, and to have a chat about how you can transform your wholesale construction business, please contact us now.
About the Author
Founder | Business Solution Consultant, Solutions Shared Ltd