Specialising in the residential and education sectors and operating in the UK for over 20 years, Bouygues UK run a large number of simultaneous construction projects, with values reaching up to £200m.
Bouygues UK have a culture of knowledge-sharing, adopting best practices and embracing new ideas, the latest example of which has been their adoption of the digital processing of applications for payment and the issuing of payment notices.
Not only has efficiency, visibility and risk-management been improved, the solution has supported the collaborative relationships between project participants. Working with a large number of subcontractors across multiple projects, and with labour shortages affecting the UK construction industry, Bouygues UK opted to use this new solution to further strengthen the relationships with their supply chain.
“Making sure people get paid on time is always a concern,” said Fabrice Davis whose team uses Payapps in the Hallsville Quarter Phase 3 works, part of Canning Town’s £3.7bn regeneration program. “Hallsville Quarter is one of the biggest jobs that Bouygues UK has ever done in the UK, and Payapps has made our lives considerably easier.”
He went on to say, “The system keeps track of all the applications directly received from the subcontractors and knowing that they just have to submit them to one place definitely makes it easier for the subcontractors.”
One such supplier working alongside Bouygues UK is Gtek, one of the UK’s premier groundwork and civil engineering subcontractors. With Gtek’s previous manual, paper-based process for submitting payment applications, Gtek employees taking time off or human error in submission of an application could mean payment delays. So when Bouygues UK suggested Gtek use Payapps to improve the speed and accuracy of payment, Gtek's Head of Business Development, Jim Howe, immediately saw the opportunity.
"Once payments were submitted, we would have no method of tracking progress either, so we were then at the mercy of the main contractor to provide an update status. All these factors can create frustrated relationships and payment disputes… When another opportunity to improve a back-office function came along, we of course recognised the benefits.”
Jim echoed Fabrice’s views by saying, "Payapps has standardised the way we are making payment applications, keeping all payment applications in one place. It has minimised the human error impact in the process."
Martin Brown, Senior Quantity Surveyor at Swiftline Engineering, another of Bouygues UK’s subcontractors, commented, “Before Payapps, we would traditionally prepare and submit an application on an Excel spreadsheet, then wait the usual few weeks before we received a payment notice back. But we can now log-in at any time of the day and see exactly where we are, what’s being claimed for, and what’s been certified or due to be paid. Any differences are clear to see along with an explanation. We find it a great system to work with, offering real transparency.”
This enthusiasm from subcontractors is widespread according to Greg Morgan, Quantity Surveyor for Bouygues UK at Hallsville Quarter Phase 3: “The initial reservation I had with Payapps was to do with subcontractor adoption; how readily they would accept paying monthly for applications. But we've had no real issues with that. Subcontractor adoption has been fairly flawless… they're quite excited to have a central system where they can see where each application is and they know that it's not going to get missed or lost, so it gives them confidence.”
Having subcontractor buy-in wasn’t accidental. Anne told us that this was a really important element of the Payapps launch: “We put together an information document with Payapps, to share with our subcontractors and consultants to make sure that they had an understanding of the system and the benefits not just to us, but to them, because it has to be a two-way process.”
Indeed Mobarak Ali, a Graduate Quantity Surveyor at Bouygues UK, was keen to point out that “Sometimes, within 10 minutes of a subcontractor first receiving the link to the Payapps system, I see payment applications being submitted which shows how quick and easy the system is to use. Any cautiousness or reservations are overcome very quickly.”
Read our Q&A with Mobarak Ali, Graduate QS at Bouygues UK, who explains how Payapps makes the lives of quantity surveyors easier.
One of the reasons Bouygues UK cite for the uptake being so good, across both subcontractor and Bouygues UK users, is to do with the support provided by the Payapps team. As Fabrice explained, “I think Payapps have been exemplary in terms of the support they offer. Every time we need anything, I just pick up the phone and normally get through to somebody first time. We've got quite a big team here on site - commercially, operationally, financially - and Payapps are more than happy to do introductions to all those people showing them how to use the system. And just as much as I can pick up the phone and call them, so can any of the team.”
Greg is one of those team members and has used Payapps’ in-app chat function a couple of times to contact the support team – “They've all responded immediately and, very satisfyingly, we had the answer and the solution incredibly quickly each time. I’ve been really impressed with their speed and accuracy when dealing with any query.”
The support team at Payapps however are not just on-hand to deal with any immediate enquiries. “The account management from Payapps has been second-to-none and our account manager is very accessible,” said Anne. “We have regular monthly catch-ups where we talk about live projects, day-to-day issues, as well as future development and upcoming projects that we may have coming on board… In this technologically savvy world, we need to move with the times and Payapps are realistic about not standing still and working with us to continuously evolve and enhance the system.”
Payapps’ ease of use has also been recognised by Bouygues UK, as Laura explained, ‘It's very user friendly… once you've done it a couple of times, that's it, you're set.”
Mobarak added to this, saying “You can easily pick it up within a couple of hours, but there is always the option of the tutorial if needed.
And ease of use doesn’t just apply to Bouygues UK; their supply chain find it simple too – “Once they start to use it they find it really easy to use, and then they never have any problem that I've seen so far.” commented Fabrice.
From a management perspective, Fabrice said “Yes, I would definitely recommend Payapps to other contractors. We’ve found it really useful and I'm not seeing anything else at the moment that does the same job, or that offers a team that's so helpful. It's been a godsend and I think it will continue to be useful into the future.”
Regarding the successful relationship with Payapps, Anne adds, “I can only see that going from strength to strength on future projects and with potential future developments. I'm sure our great working relationship will improve, and we'll continue to see the benefits.”
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