At construction company Knights Brown (rebranded last year from Raymond Brown), Peter Williamson revels in the particularly apt title of Business Systems Director. His 2017 projects focused squarely on improving business efficiency and profitability.
Williamson and his team replaced an antiquated solution for finance, management reporting, procurement and subcontractor/supplier management that lacked an effective mobile offering with a complementary SharePoint-based, OneDrive-enabled document management system. The solution does away with five distinct but key database-driven applications (with unreliably replicated information) in favour of one version of the truth. Several functional Excel spreadsheets have fallen by the wayside too.
Further developments made to the company’s 4G connectivity toolset have made it easy to deploy high-power transmitters and receivers. They not only provide high-speed internet to temporary cabin-based construction site offices, but also extend that coverage to large sections of each site too. It makes the company’s engineers and managers truly mobile without huge costs.
When Knights Brown won a major contract to build a remote windfarm in Scotland last year, Williamson overcame the comms challenge (copper in the ground five miles away with a top speed of 2Mbps and virtually no mobile phone coverage) by deploying satellite broadband. When another major contract was won – for highways maintenance in South Wales – he overcame the lack of a temporary site establishment by turning the company cars/vans of engineers into secure wifi hotspots.
And he significantly reduced the risk of employing uninsured or improperly registered subcontractors by providing a quick and easy system to ensure that insurance and safety checks have been made before orders can be placed. Likewise, he has built customer credit check safeguards into internal processes to automatically keep trained risk evaluators in the loop throughout the life of an opportunity and tender process; this allows them to raise a flag before resources are dedicated to winning a lame-duck contract and reduces the risk of entering into a contract with a customer who is unable to pay.