*The name of G Suite was changed into “Google Workspace” in October, 2020
Q. Which task does the company aim to improve?
We, Ichijo Sendai CO., Ltd are part of the Ichijo Komuten group, a custom house builder specializing in wooden residential housing. We operate their business in 6 areas of Miyagi and Iwate Prefecture.
We pursue uncompromising performance of housing in all areas of energy conservation, earthquake resistance, durability, and health.
After signing a contract with a customer, their house is completed through various processes, including site surveys, discussions on specifications, design, and construction. We have worked on BPM (Business Process Management) to dramatically improve construction operations.
Q. What were the challenges in the construction business?
In construction, various types of construction work, such as foundation work, carpentry work, exterior wall work, and equipment work, are generally outsourced to subcontractors for each type of construction. As the construction progresses, our on-site supervisors need to report, communicates, and confirms various procedures such as requests, inspections, and payments with our subcontractors.
In recent years, delays in communication and reporting have happened frequently due to the complicated procedures, and the burden of on-site supervisors has become increasingly problematic. Therefore, we have started to fundamentally reconsider some operations related to construction management.
These interactions were done by fax, so we encountered the following challenges:
- Fax transmission is a big burden to both our on-site supervisors and our subcontractors
- Our on-site supervisors have to take a lot of time to prepare documents
- Our on-site supervisors have to go back to their office just to check the receipt of a fax
- When they missed a fax transmission, the time and mental burden of following it up is significant
Because of the large amount of time and effort involved in using fax, many of our on-site supervisors had a lot of overtime work. In addition, they had a difficult time grasping the situation so they couldn’t communicate with the subcontractors smoothly, which sometimes delayed the construction.
To automate the operations we installed Questetra BPM Suite.
Q. How exactly does it work?
We automate the creation and saving of the following documents to Google Drive with Questetra BPM Suite:
- Documents prepared by our on-site supervisors
- Construction request
- Notification of inspection acceptance, request for transfer and claim
- Documents created by subcontractors
- Construction completion report, request for inspection
- Confirmation of transfer, invoice processing notification
The assistant extracts the construction plan data managed by the core system as CSV data and converts it into a Google Spreadsheet. After that, the data is automatically put into Questetra BPM Suite via a Google Sheets script.
Questetra BPM Suite automatically generates the documents mentioned above (construction request or notification of inspection acceptance, etc.) as a PDF file to meet the schedule based on the construction plan data.
Our subcontractors automatically receive an email with these files attached. They can report the completion of construction or invoice processing notification by simply replying to the email with a comment. At the same time, the relevant documents (construction completion report or invoice processing notification) are automatically generated as well.
The files are automatically saved to Google Drive, so our on-site supervisors can use Google Drive’s browse and search functions to check and review the contents of the files if necessary in the construction site.
Consequently, our on-site supervisors successfully reduced the time spent going back to their office to confirm the receipt of the fax and doing overtime. At the same time, our subcontractors also reduced the time and effort required to exchange documents, so the delay in construction due to using fax has been significantly reduced.
Expanding BPM into sales and design operations
According to Article 40, paragraph 3 of the Construction Business Act, a company should create and store the records on their orders concerning the types of construction work, date, subcontractors, and price.
In order to build a house, dozens of kinds of construction are sometimes outsourced. Our administrative processing system had a lack of resources in compiling the process control records, management of orders, and financial management in one ledger. That was because they were managed by different systems and that took a lot of time and effort.
However, since we installed Questetra BPM Suite to manage the construction work that our on-site supervisors are responsible for, all the information required in the ledger has been recorded in Questetra BPM Suite. Therefore, they built a system to generate a ledger PDF automatically based on data stored in Questetra BPM Suite. Thus, the task of creating a ledger was automated.
Within our office, through their BPM initiatives with Questetra BPM Suite, the following points were widely recognized.
- Integrating Google Workspace with the BPM system can achieve a significant reduction of administrative processing
- Automation of clerical work that used to rely on part-timers can be carried out gradually and steadily
Based on this experience, we plan to combine Google Workspace functionality with BPM systems to facilitate efficiency in the operations of the sales division, design division, general affairs division, etc. which mainly use Google Workspace functions such as Gmail, Google Drive, Meet, and Google Forms.
(This article was created based on an interview with the staff of Questetra who is in charge of Ichijo Sendai CO., Ltd)
(In publishing this article we have obtained permission from the representative at Ichijo Sendai CO., Ltd)