In our latest case study, Polar Building Associates automates its applications for payment processing as supply chain clashes threaten the completion of Santa’s new gift-wrapping facility
Greenland-based construction firm Polar Building Associates had been working all year on the country’s biggest ever infrastructure project – a state-of-the art gift wrapping facility for Santa’s Grotto Inc. “It was the most challenging building work we’ve ever undertaken,” admits Project Manager Ian Iceman. “And as the Christmas deadline approached, relations with suppliers and subbies had hit boiling point – quite an achievement here in the North Pole.”
With Greenland’s chronic shortage of skilled builders and craftspeople, Iceman made every effort to keep the army of subcontractors happy on the project. But the monthly application for payment process was wearing down goodwill on all sides.
“The problem begins and ends with the client,” says Iceman. “It may not be professional to say this, but if it was just down to Santa, things would have run a lot more smoothly. It’s when his wife interfered that we got all the problems with change orders. She’d glide around the grotto complex like the Snow Queen, you should have seen her. And she was fast and loose when it came to changing the agreed designs and specifications.”
It became more and more difficult for Iceman to determine exactly what work had been carried out. “I’d receive applications for payment from subbies, outlining everything they’d done that month. And when I looked at my own plans, I’d wonder whether we were all working on the same building project! Of course I’d query the paperwork with them, as if I haven’t got enough to do, and that’s when things got interesting. Snow Queen had told them to cut down the wrapping space a bit, they’d say, just enough to add a light and spacious corner office for her assistant, or a massage room – can you believe it? – as some of the older elves suffer from lumbago in December when it get busy, or kitchen and shower facilities for when they have to work nights. You get the picture, she was out of control.”
Meanwhile over at Polar Building Associates HQ, the project’s difficulties started to spill over into the offices. “I was aware that there were problems on site – rumours were rife,” says contract administrator Crystal Snowflake, “but nothing prepared me for the animosity that hit me on this project. My staff were run off their feet answering irate calls from subcontractors complaining about late payments. That grotto is miles away from anywhere, so the local bars and eateries have got a captive market and charge the earth for something as basic as a reindeer steak sizzler. All the subbies were really feeling the pinch.”
“There was pain all round to be honest”, adds Iceman. “All those changes were blowing the capital budget as well as the monthly subbie payments. Some of my most valued subcontractors had started walking off the job, and I felt that just couldn’t go on. Yes, the Grotto Wrapping Facility was a flagship project that was going to raise the business’s profile like nothing we’d ever done before, but what if we went bankrupt in the process?”
Iceman decided to look into Payapps.com’s application for payment platform. “It didn’t take me long to see what difference it could make to the project,” says Iceman. Because Payapps.com is based in the cloud, setting it up mid-project was really easy, and the system was up and running in time for October’s applications for payment. Subcontractors were able to submit their applications together with supporting evidence, on a platform that everyone could access. With the December deadline looming, Santa and his wife saw the detrimental effect of all those informal changes and started reining them in. Any inconsistencies were resolved rapidly, and Snowflake’s office workers were able to process payment applications in a matter of hours.
Ian Iceman concludes: “Thanks to Payapps.com, the world’s largest gift wrapping facility was completed on time and there was no further budget slippage to absorb. By mid-December, when all the building work was complete, Santa’s wife was channelling her extravagances into the party culture that was in full swing across the grotto complex, and it turned out that the elves were very much “work hard and play hard” types. So in the end quite a few of us flew our families over and partied until the new year. All in all, an unforgettable construction project and a very happy Christmas for all concerned.”
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
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