The digitisation of the construction sector: how online platforms are working to maximise client satisfaction

Following the outbreak of Covid-19, the construction industry was forced to move many of its processes online and modernise at a rapid rate in order to stay afloat. As we start to come through the pandemic and restrictions are beginning to ease, many of these practices have been implemented permanently by businesses that have reaped the benefits of working online – and complete construction partner Stepnell is no exception.

The family-run business had been embracing cloud-based technology and digital platforms long before the Covid-19 pandemic, but the positive impact digitisation has had on client satisfaction has become even more prominent throughout the pandemic, making project delivery as cost and time efficient as possible.

Stepnell, which works on public and private sector projects across the UK, has been utilising a selection of programmes to maximise efficiency and deliver outstanding service to its clients – as well as recently hiring a new technical manager as part of its company-wide advancement in BIM.

One of the programmes currently being used by its team is Fieldview, a cloud-based app which offers managers the ability to view and amend shared documents – such as quality checks and health and safety protocols – on a live platform that provides updates in real time to project teams, stakeholders and sub-contractors. It also allows managers to have a detailed overview of each project while working remotely and collects data that enables Stepnell to make informed improvements about its ways of working. Fieldview runs alongside Viewpoint for Projects, which is a design management tool that stores plans and drawings, allowing architects and sub-contractors to effectively collaborate with the Stepnell team while keeping the client up to date with building design alterations.

The team also uses Biosite to maximise site management efficiencies, helping to speed up induction processes, oversee the number of operatives on site and monitor the expiration of qualifying documents such as CSCS cards. Biosite also works to monitor the sustainability of each project, measuring the carbon footprint of each site worker’s commute in order to moderate transport emissions on eco-friendly builds.

Tom Wakeford, joint managing director at Stepnell, said: “Without a doubt, the future of the construction sector lies in technology – especially following the pandemic, which forced us to embrace cloud-based platforms and move processes online in order to continuously collaborate while social distancing. Stepnell is intent on being at the forefront of this change, and we believe that these tools are a great place to start on our journey towards digitisation.

“As a construction partner, it’s important that our role remains collaborative, so we’re in constant communication with both our clients and sub-contractors to keep them updated on the progress of the build. Transparency is an essential part of our service, and these platforms enable us to deliver this to our clients by not only providing live updates, but also by protecting their personal data and ensuring our teams are trained to a high standard so they can exceed expected requirements.”

Stepnell has also been working to upgrade its systems internally, being one of the first businesses in the sector to migrate to the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud. Stepnell has also listened to customers and was one of the first contractors to achieve ISO27001 and Cyber Essentials Plus qualifications, which reinforces the company’s efforts in protecting sensitive client data.

The team is also using Clear Review to help manage the performance of its staff online, a programme which helps to set objectives, arrange in person or virtual catch ups with mentors and line managers, and deliver constructive feedback to aid professional development.

Tom continued: “Stepnell is constantly looking for ways to evolve and improve, so we are always on the lookout for technology that will help us to develop further. The use of these platforms, and the appointment of our new technical manager, will help us move towards continued growth, and we look forward to seeing how the rest of the construction industry embraces these changes over the next few years.”

With more than 14 years’ BIM experience within the sector, new technical manager Charlotte Brogan will be dedicating her time to working with other technical and design managers in the business to improve the use of new and existing platforms across the business, pushing Stepnell to further expand its technological capabilities.

Charlotte said: “I’m very excited about getting stuck into my new role and working alongside the Stepnell team to embrace new technologies and processes that will help to continuously elevate the business.

“I was initially attracted to Stepnell as it is a family-run business, which means it has the values and company ethos that I often look for in an employer. The scope for development at Stepnell – both as a business and for my personal career growth – is huge and I look forward to working alongside teams in each department to introduce new platforms that can streamline processes and make sure we deliver the best service possible to our clients.”

Stepnell is not only using these tools to improve relationships with existing clients, but it is also using online platforms to attract new business and win potential bids.

Tom said: “We have also been utilising the Conquest estimating tool for many years and we are currently upgrading to its enquiries system, which will replace our own bespoke system. This will make us more efficient and means our teams can do more.

“These platforms have all had an incredible impact on the success of Stepnell, and we’re excited about trialling more BIM products in the future and continuing to push the boundaries of modernisation within construction. Next up is an upgrade to our finance system to make us more efficient.”

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