The construction industry is traditionally fragmented: employees are working both on-site and off-site.
While your field workers and project managers handle activities on-site, your finance professionals and executives work on tasks that require sitting at the office of your construction firm.
Each group of employees have distinct responsibilities and rely on each other to finish a project successfully.
- The Accounting and Finance Teams manage all the expenses, billings, and payments towards various construction projects.
- The project manager relies on on-site workers to manage the day-to-day activities on the field.
- The project manager's task also includes ensuring each employee documents and reports all the expenses they incur.
- Expense reporting is crucial for projects to stick with estimated budgets while ensuring workers get reimbursed for their expenses.
Even though your employees don't always work under the same roof, each department is dependent on each other. Due to their working conditions, it becomes crucial to maintain effective communication throughout your construction firm. You can enhance communication and ensure timely training using a modern learning management system. Having real time communication training as well other tools can help foster a culture of success.
Challenges of on-site and off-site construction expense management
At Fyle, we understand expense management for the construction industry is a unique problem. Construction firms often have two different sets of employees, placed in different locations working towards the same goal. But the nature of their jobs is contrary. They have to work from diverse terrains while still maintaining an ongoing collaboration. This often means that construction companies have to pay freelancers abroad if they operate projects overseas, or at least at various locations besides their regular office staff. Creating a difficult and slightly complicated situation for expense management.
- For construction field workers
Construction field workers require to travel to remote construction sites and be physically present to get the job done. During the project's duration, they can incur expenses on transportation, meals, accommodation, etc. To claim these reimbursements, they need to report their expenses successfully.
The expense reporting procedure for construction firms requires them to:
- Safely “preserve” all expense receipts as proof of spend
- Fill in the expense report form specifying information about each expense
- Ensure the reported costs are within the allowable limit
- Submit the expenses within a specific deadline
On-field workers can find the process of expense reporting especially challenging if they work out of a remote area with no connectivity or coverage. Also, as simple as it may sound, keeping track of those fragile paper receipts is no easy feat. This, while also ensuring each expense is reported under its allowable limit.
- For employees in your construction office
Unlike field workers, finance professionals have to deal with the most amount of paperwork. Their job includes keeping track of expenses, ensuring expense reports follow the accountable plan, and stays within the estimated budget.
Achieving these goals can be a challenge, especially if you have a broken expense management process in place. The entire process can be time-consuming and tedious. It requires employees to:
- Collect and gather expense reports from disparate sources
- Go through each report manually to ensure the expenses aren't exceeding the allowable expenses
- Keep track of each expense report concerning the project to ensure it is within the budget
- Confirm each expense is accounted for so that they can close books on time
With an outdated manual process in place, expense management tasks can take up many precious working hours from your finance team. Further, the broken system can add delays in the expense reporting process, while the menial manual process can further fuel the delay.
How to ensure communication and collaboration between construction employees
Teamwork is essential in a construction business. The office and field teams need to proactively collaborate to maintain financial control to successfully finish a project.
But it can be challenging to maintain the spirit of teamwork with a broken expense management process in place. Decentralization of communication and documentation can easily happen within departments with an outdated system. This can lead to confusion, misunderstandings, and delays in the project.
But with the rise of digital transformation, the construction industry can resolve its expense management woes through modern software. For example, the upcoming digital solution for managing business expenses is a cloud-based expense management software.
For employees, they can:
- Employees can log their expenses remotely from their mobile device
- They don’t have to wait to go back to the office to report their expenses
For finance teams, they can:
- Receive expense reports on-time while workers continue to work on the project
- Predict, estimate, and keep track of the project’s budget
- Access expense reports from virtually any device
With an expense management software, office teams can seamlessly keep track of expenses made on-field. On the other hand, the field teams can focus on their work and not worry about missing reimbursements.
How can expense management technology help the construction industry?
Fyle is a cloud-based, AI expense management software built to enhance collaboration between remote workers. With Fyle as your expense management software, you can easily centralize and store all the project's expense details in one place.
Fyle can make expense reporting painless for your on-site and off-site workers while still ensuring transparency throughout the process. Here’s how.
Empower your workforce to go fully mobile
For your on-field construction workers, their project aims to build safe infrastructures, not report expenses. So why should a clunky expense reporting process take away both their time and focus?
With Fyle, your employees take less than a minute to report their expenses. For example, if they receive a paper receipt for their meal, they can use our mobile app to report their expenses, right there itself. No more hanging onto receipts or waiting to get to a desktop.
This is how on-site employees can report their expenses through their phones.
Using the Fyle mobile app:
- Open the Fyle mobile app and tap on “Instafyle”
- Place the paper receipt in front of the camera and take a picture of the paper receipt
- Using OCR technology, Fyle captures, scans and extracts all necessary expense details from the receipt
- Fyle then auto-fills the expense report with all the expense details
- Fyle also automatically attaches the e-receipt to the expense report
- The construction worker then simply needs to review and submit the expense report for approval
While all this sounds easy, we do more!
- Even before the employee submits the expense report, the expenses are run through a real-time policy check.
- Here all the expenses are cross-checked with the corresponding expense policies for each type of expense.
- The employee is then notified if there are any violations, at the time of expense creation itself.
- The employee can then either choose to correct the expense or provide clarifications for the same.
- This ensures only compliant expenses reach the Finance team.
Through text message:
For digital receipts, the construction worker can create an expense report via text message. To create an expense report, the employee needs to forward their receipt through text message to a unique Fyle number.
After receiving the message, Fyle automatically creates an expense report for the user. Next, all the user needs to do is review the details and submit the report to claim their reimbursement.
The Fyle mobile app can also be used by project managers or the department head to review and approve expenses. For example, after a long day at work, the approver can use the Fyle app to view expenses while they’re on their way home in a cab.
Receipts are an essential piece of evidence for both on-site and off-site construction workers. On-site workers need to keep track of their expense receipts so that they can claim for reimbursements. Without it, the chances of claiming reimbursements are unlikely. For office workers, receipts are crucial for validating expenses, cross-checking information, and for audit-purposes.
Fyle can take care of the receipt management challenges for both field workers and office workers.
- After an employee reports their expenses through Fyle, the report and the receipt are stored in the cloud.
- The construction folks don't need to hold onto the receipts anymore.
- Fyle stores the receipt safely, eliminating the chances of damaged, misplaced, or lost receipts.
- The finance team can access the receipts through their Fyle dashboard.
- Fyle also creates a searchable index for the finance team. They can search for reports and receipts based on the date of expenses, project, employee name, etc. They no longer have to spend time diving into a pile of receipts.
- Stakeholders can access and view all the expense documentation anytime, without having to wait on anyone for access.
Set up an automatic approval workflows
In a manual expense approval process,
- Your construction workers have to sit down, compiling all the receipts and expense forms together, to send it to their project head for review.
- The project head reviews the report, and in case of policy violation or errors, the entire report is sent back for inquiry.
- If the expense report gets approved, either the worker or the approver has to forward it to the finance team.
- The finance team manually goes through the report and sends back the report in case of any policy violation.
This can lead to a lot of back and forth and stakeholders spending more time making corrections.
Fyle can simplify and streamline your entire expense approval. With Fyle, no matter how complex your workflow is, you can set up a workflow that works for every employee involved. Your finance team can set a workflow based on hierarchy and automate the process. The team can also add stakeholders for a specific project or type of expense.
After setting up your workflow, Fyle takes care of forwarding the expense report to the right person after the employee submits their report. In case of an inquiry or approval, Fyle automatically routes the expense report to the right person. All this and more, with all conversations around a particular expense report documented under one digital audit trail. This prevents unnecessary back and forths and resolves issues under one system.
Get real-time insights into expenses
In a manual process, on-field workers usually report their expenses when they have access to a system or when a project comes to an end. Only then do the Finance teams get to calculate the total costs incurred for a specific project. Up until then, the team has no idea whether the project is within budget or not.
With Fyle, the management and finance team can gain real-time visibility into employee expenses. Fyle makes it extremely easy for on-field workers to report their expenses while they are on their job.
Additionally, with Fyle’s mobile app and easy expense reporting, employees are encouraged to fyle their expenses as soon as they incur it. As for the finance teams, they can access, view and take actions on all the submitted expense reports under one dashboard.
Fyle also comes with data analytics that shows important insights like spends within a project, departments, top violators, etc. Finance teams and Department Heads can then use this information to forecast budgets or tweak budgets or policies wherever they need to.
Gain visibility into the reimbursement process
With a broken expense management process, the entire ordeal can feel like a long-winding and time-consuming task. Reimbursing employees can involve a lot of back and forth between employees, even for a simple correction. Not only that, for on-field workers, after submitting their expense reports, they can feel like they’ve been left in the dark. With no way to know when they’ll be receiving their reimbursement, it can affect employee morale and productivity.
We, at Fyle, understand the importance of transparency within the system. With Fyle, all stakeholders know exactly what is going on with an expense report.
Through Fyle’s intuitive dashboard, employees can see if the project head has approved their expense reports. The finance team can also keep track of expense reports that have been sent back for inquiry. This not only ensures timely reimbursements but also complete transparency into the process.
Turn to a construction expense management software today
The construction industry has its own set of expense management challenges. With employees working both on-site and in office, collaborating for a project can be difficult without virtual tools. Cloud-based expense management like Fyle can make expense management collaboration between field workers and office workable.
Fyle empowers on-field workers to report their expenses on-the-go and allow office workers to view and track expenses in real-time. With mobility and cloud storage technology, your employees can perform their expense management tasks wherever they are.
Additionally, with Fyle, it can be a win-win for all stakeholders in your construction business. Your on-site employees can focus on constructing infrastructures that are a lot more complex and need their focus. While your finance team can ensure each expense is accounted for and there’s no miscalculation.
Fyle is built to do exactly what you’d want an expense management to do: make expense management painless. Fyle does more than just record, process, and manage your expenses. It can help your finance team forecast budgets, estimates costs, and pinpoint spending trends. Schedule a demo with us today to learn more!