On top of managing the staggering cost of inflation, turbulence in the global market, and The Great Resignation, organizations are grappling with skills shortages. The strain is especially palpable for finance professionals in the construction industry. How can construction companies overcome the challenges of skills shortages and thrive during uncertain times?
Coping with Skills Shortages
In 2023, the outlook for skills shortages for finance professionals is bleak. According to insightsoftware and Hanover Research’s 2023 Finance Team Trends Report, the rate at which organizations expect to grow is down to 64%, compared to 73% in 2022. This clearly shows that CFOs are approaching hiring with a more balanced mindset, acknowledging the challenges involved in finding high-quality talent.
When it comes to hiring skilled finance teams, leaders are struggling to find new talent to replace recent retirees. In 2020, bachelor’s degrees in accounting fell by 2.8%, and master’s degrees fell by 8.4%. This, in turn, has led to a decrease in those getting CPA certified. In 2021, just over 32,000 sat for the CPA exam, compared to nearly 50,000 CPA candidates in 2010. That’s a big drop in accounting professionals entering the labor force.
The Impact of Economic Pressure
According to Trimble Viewpoint’s Quarterly Construction Metrics Index for the first quarter of 2023, there has been a 25% decline year-over-year in contract value in North America. As a result, construction companies are working with leaner budgets and teams.
According to Trimble Viewpoint, net hiring has been flat compared to this time last year. While organizations are cautiously optimistic about growth, the recent drop in project and contract value may be a roadblock preventing organizations from hiring the talent they need. Market uncertainty is another important factor explaining this decline. In 2023, organizations have largely recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, but they’re preparing for a possible recession. The 2023 Finance Team Trends Report by insightsoftware and Hanover Research revealed that 70% of organizations feel pressure from inflation, economic disruption, and recession. These outside factors create a demand for companies to increase efficiency even as finding skilled talent is growing more challenging.
ERP Reporting Challenges
Project-based industries like construction have very specific reporting needs, with brittle timelines and steep consequences for inaccurate reporting. To maintain project timelines and customer relationships, while managing a lack of technical skills, construction businesses need a way to generate quick and accurate reports.
One of the major benefits of ERPs is that many of them provide reporting tools out-of-the-box, which help project managers and construction finance teams save time from manually dumping data into a spreadsheet. However, as helpful as they are, these reports don’t cover 100% of an organization’s specific needs, particularly custom and ad-hoc reports. Those still require the help of IT departments or outside contractors to successfully complete. Oftentimes, you’ll need to quickly generate a report, but it gets held up in IT, which must prioritize other critical tasks before the team can address reports for Finance.
Recently, insightsoftware and Hanover Research surveyed IT leaders on the state of their Operational Reporting. Of those surveyed, 81% use native reporting tools, and 62% face challenges with them. An additional 37% cited the need for technical knowledge to be a significant hurdle.
Technology Can Help
The good news is that doing more with less while leveraging existing skills doesn’t have to be an insurmountable task. With the right reporting technology, you can streamline manual processes and generate more accurate, real-time reports in minutes instead of days or weeks.
When searching for a platform, look for one that automatically refreshes your reports with the latest Trimble Viewpoint data at the push of a button. This ensures you will always have access to near real-time data as soon as you need it. Increase the accuracy of tracking historical job costs while enabling your finance team to more efficiently oversee financial health, profitability, and other operational expenses.
Spreadsheet Server is a solution equipped with intuitive functionality to fit all your construction industry reporting needs. It provides fast, real-time access to the ERP data you need and without the complexities of using native reporting tools for custom analysis. With Spreadsheet Server, you can combine and retrieve information from any ERP module into Excel. Update any report at the click of a button and remove the risk for errors that can be costly in project reporting.
Spreadsheet Server enables you to:
- Leverage real-time data.
- Create and distribute reports without IT or consultants.
- Gain more autonomy and control over your information.
- Maintain a single source of truth for easy collaboration.
How Choate Construction Saves Over a Hundred Hours a Month
Founded in 1989, Choate Construction Company is no stranger to navigating skills shortages. In the beginning, the business was a basement start-up during a recession when construction projects were sparse, and the employee roster was small.
Previously, Choate Construction’s reporting process consisted of completely manual steps. Project managers would print out reports from Viewpoint Vista, assemble physical pages of disparate information together, scan them into a single PDF document, then email the documents to Steve McDaniel, Controller at Choate Construction Company.
Our process hadn’t changed since our company started in 1989,” McDaniel said. “It was a very manual process. Even with minimal changes in any particular month, it would take at least 45 minutes to prepare a single report.
Project managers at Choate often manage six or more projects at a time. With such a time-consuming process, reporting would consume several hours per person every month. It also ran the risk of human error. With over 100 project managers running reports, McDaniel estimated the company would spend nearly 170 hours per month on reporting alone.
Choate discovered the solution to time-consuming reporting with Spreadsheet Server and its Query Designer feature, which allowed them to create custom PTC reports. After only an hour of staff training, project managers were able to immediately use the tool.
The PTC report McDaniel designed allows data to be pulled directly from Viewpoint Vista and requires no manual entry, cutting report preparation time from 45 minutes to 10 minutes each. In total, the company’s project managers save 135 hours per month.
Choate was able to improve its data culture by:
- Automating its manual reporting processes
- Creating reports custom-tailored to business needs without deep technical knowledge.
- Reducing reporting prep time from 45 minutes to 10 minutes per report.
Skills shortages are a significant challenge for finance teams in the construction industry, but it doesn’t have to stop your organization from successfully navigating through a time of market upheaval. With comprehensive reporting tools like Spreadsheet Server, rise above industry challenges more easily with the power of real-time, accurate reports.
Ready to streamline your reports? Request a demo today.