A survey reveals Quantity Surveyors’ views on their roles, productivity, supply chain disputes, and technology adoption.

Earlier this year, Payapps surveyed 225 QS professionals in the UK and Ireland to gain important insights into their views on their roles, productivity levels, disputes regarding supply chain valuations and payments, and technology adoption. Chloe Leigh, Head of Marketing UK&I at Payapps, discusses the intriguing findings with David Crowson Editor.

A challenging yet ultimately fulfilling profession

The dynamic nature of the construction industry presents regular challenges for any QS professional. Yet against this backdrop, a QS must drive operational efficiency, maintain contractual fidelity, enhance project outcomes, and ensure financial prudence.

Within such a demanding profession, one might expect many QS to feel under pressure or even fazed by the task at hand. Yet the majority of respondents reveal high levels of job satisfaction for a mixture of reasons, but none more so than because of the autonomy and decision-making power the role allows, closely followed by support from management and colleagues.

According to the research, of those respondents using specialist technology rather than spreadsheets to receive and manage their applications for payment, 87% are either ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ in their job role, comparing favourably to 81% of those using more traditional methods like spreadsheets and emails. Those most satisfied are users of Payapps software, 89% of whom are either ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’.

With around 78% of respondents indicating they would either be ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ to recommend their role to others, the profession is clearly one marked by substantial pride and satisfaction. As an industry looking to secure skilled and resilient workers, this positive news should be shared to elevate the perception of the QS role, bolstering the profession’s attractiveness to new entrants while encouraging the retention and continued engagement of those currently in the role.

Manual administration and spreadsheets: time-consuming tasks

Despite the high levels of job satisfaction, QS professionals admit facing challenges, particularly in the areas of professional growth opportunities and the availability of technology and tools.

There’s no doubt that without technology and the right tools for the job, administrative tasks can be burdensome, taking time away from valuable on-site activity, strategic work, and no doubt opportunities for professional growth.

Of those surveyed, 37% said that rather than software, they use spreadsheets and other manual processes to manage applications for payment. This reliance on traditional processes consumes substantial time and introduces the risk of human error, contributing to inefficiencies and potential disputes relating to inaccurate cost calculations and payments. 43% of those surveyed dedicate 10+ hours per week to manual administration or working within spreadsheets, going up to a whopping 57% in those who don’t use application for payment software.

There does appear though to be a definite desire among QS professionals to shift away from manual administration, with 79% displaying openness to new technologies for managing the job. Here then, lies a significant opportunity for employers to help QS professionals enhance operational efficiency, to make way for activity relating to professional growth which was found to be one of the most popular ways of using any potential administration time-savings.

Managing risk through technology

The manual handling of critical tasks such as the tracking of applications for payment often leads to a lack of real-time visibility of project finances and status. This lag in information flow can hinder timely decision-making and proactive project management, exacerbating the challenges of meeting deadlines and budget constraints, and introducing a great deal of risk into the project.

Calculation errors in relation to valuations poses another risk. Of those who use technology to manage valuations, 42% say they ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ encounter issues with calculation errors in applications for payment, but this drops significantly to only 28% in those using more manual methods like spreadsheets. Furthermore, Payapps users are more than twice as likely to only ‘rarely’ experience delays due to inaccuracies or incomplete information in applications for payment (41%) compared to those who use other types of technology for managing applications (19%).

By effectively managing the risk of calculation errors through technology, QS can help minimise financial losses, ensure project success, and protect the interests of all stakeholders involved in construction projects.

The advent of specialised technology in the construction industry has heralded a new era in managing contract variations too, a task traditionally fraught with complexity and administrative overhead. The need for appropriate tools in this area is clearer when looking at the respondents who find variations management ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ – there are 38% more in this category who use technology for managing variations than those who take a more manual approach.

The importance of technology for dispute avoidance

In relation to software adopted specifically for managing applications for payment, automated deadline reminders, standardisation of received applications for payment and a digital approval and signature process are considered the most valuable features.

Beyond these features, the responses also show that this type of software can benefit a QS  by reducing the frequency with which subcontractor disputes occur, and the regularity with which they impact project timelines. In an industry that relies so heavily on effective collaboration between all stakeholder parties, these are important points to note.

Indeed, while around three quarters of all respondents handle disputes 1-5 times per week, twice as many non-software users than software users report handling the highest levels of dispute frequency (11+ times per week), indicating that a lack of technology in this area can lead to increased debate with subcontractors around valuations and payments. Similarly, 41% more software users (65%) than non-software users (46%) report that disputes rarely or never impact project timelines.

The research points to accuracy in valuation calculations as being key to technology’s ability to help with dispute avoidance. Application for payment software is designed to streamline valuations and the assessment of subcontractor applications, providing automated approval workflows and ensuring reduced data loss and human error when compared to the traditional way of managing applications through emails, paperwork and spreadsheets.

Chloe concluded by saying: “While a successful project requires the input of a myriad of professionals, the role of a QS is absolutely essential. The profession is clearly one that provides much satisfaction, yet the challenges these professionals face can be to the detriment of their work-life balance and perceived opportunity for personal growth.

“Technology, particularly for managing applications for payment which is typically administratively cumbersome, can ease the burden on quantity surveyors and other commercial roles by streamlining processes, affording time to be spent on more strategic activity, while also reducing inaccuracies and improving supply chain relationships.”

To read the research report in full visit: https://hubs.ly/Q02DxRTr0