Winners of the Cymru 2019 Master Builders Award, Carreg Construction are a bespoke, high specification build construction business.
- Whilst fast connection is beneficial to rural businesses, accessibility to centres of population remains important.
- Different social media are useful to different types of business, particularly depending on the visual content that the business is able to share.
Working with subcontractors may mean that full digitisation may not be possible.
Overview of the business
Based in Haverfordwest, Carreg Construction employ 22 salaried FTEs, with subcontractors being recruited as necessary. The business negotiates work with clients, rather than utilising the tender route. This means that the business engages in early conversations with potential clients to build relationships that are not established digitally.
Superfast broadband adoption
The business moved premises two years ago from an area that had a connection of around 70 Mbps to one around 20 Mbps. Whilst digitally this would appear to be a counter-intuitive move, it means the business has more appropriate premises closer to centres of population. This supports the emphasis on non-digital communication as clients and contractors are able to visit easily.
Alongside the provision of broadband infrastructure at the Head Office, the nature of design-lead projects that Carreg Construction undertake necessitates the setting up of site hubs to manage the long-term projects. They use an external IT company to manage all connectivity issues and WiFi connection, at a cost of around £42 a month.
IT skills capacity
The IT capacity is managed by an external organisation who have been instrumental in facilitating the digitisation of the business. Interestingly, the IT company was sourced at a construction training group meeting; this IT company highlighted all the processes that could be undertaken by Carreg where the previous IT business contracted said that they were not possible.The digitisation process has taken around three years.
Their website was designed by a separate design business that is located in Cardiff, but Carreg Construction directors retain the access and ability to update the website. Due to the luxury nature of the properties that they develop, much of the website updating takes place when professional photographers take photos of the developments to ensure a polished finish to the website.
Use of digital technologies
Alongside the updating of the website, Carreg utilises Instagram and Facebook. These social media platforms are considered to be more appropriate for day-to-day business promotion. Based on the experience of the business, certain industries have shown a preference for different forms of social media.
These preferences mean that it is important to have different accounts for each, although managing these multiple accounts can be difficult. As an example, LinkedIn is preferred by architects, but is more difficult to populate with eye-catching pictorial content.
Within the Carreg Construction team WhatsApp is used frequently as it is free and can easily send photographs. Carreg Construction utilised Google for a short time period but it was felt that the Office package was more appropriate for their use. The business also uses mind-mapping software that is based in the Cloud, meaning that it is updated in real time. All the site supervisors can use the mind-mapping software on a tablet, mobile, or iPad.
Carreg Construction information flow diagram
Highlighting the internal and external communication flows of the business.
Following this initial period of digitisation, the business has many plans for further digital expansion, particularly looking to eliminate repetitive cross-referencing processes.
Carreg Construction are developing an application that would allow for more transparent cost communication with clients. This would further add to the high-quality bespoke nature of the business and create efficiencies in the pricing and invoicing system currently utilised. The Valesco system currently used for pricing will be linked to the application that is being developed.
Carreg Construction are striving to introduce further digitisation to invoicing, but find that their contractors range from submitting quotes via email with an expectation that they will be paid immediately, through digital checking to those that submit handwritten documentation. This means that a mixed process will still be required but further digitisation will minimise the cross-checking work that is needed and the manual input into Sage. Digitisation of timesheets and staff time management is seen to be a future avenue of development.