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WebContractor helps Osborne work smarter with subcontractors

Background

Osborne is a large family-owned construction, civil engineering and property services business operating from four offices in the Midlands and south of England.

Osborne utilise the services of more than 1,000 different subcontractors ranging in size from huge companies working on many projects to small, niche subcontractors working on a single project.

Osborne always aims to exceed customer expectations and it helps to achieve this goal by developing and maintaining good working relationships with its subcontractors. That means having efficient, robust and transparent business processes in place.

Challenge

As a large and growing business working on numerous major projects, Osborne faced an increasing challenge to manage the high-volume of Applications for Payment it received from subcontractors.

Processing Applications for Payment manually was a time-consuming and cumbersome way of working. It was prone to lost paperwork, errors and delays which could then result in late payment. Osborne embrace “fair payment” practices to suppliers and subcontractors so it’s important that Applications for Payment are processed in a timely and accurate manner.

Subcontractors could become frustrated with a lack of feedback regarding the status of their applications and of not being made aware of valuations and payment dates. This often led to subcontractors bombarding Osborne with phone calls asking for updates on their applications.

Osborne also considered that processing Applications for Payment manually introduced significant business risk, owing to a lack of visibility of liabilities and cash requirements by their central commercial team.

Osborne decided to seek a technology solution that would streamline the processing of Applications for Payment, cut admin costs, increase visibility and transparency as well as ensuring their compliance with the UK Construction Act.

Solution

After carefully evaluating the options available, Osborne decided to implement a solution called WebContractor from Open ECX.  WebContractor is an innovative new web-based solution for the end-to-end management of Applications for Payment as well as providing many other features to help manage the contractor-subcontractor relationship.

The WebContractor solution is delivered to users as “Software as a Service”, better known as SaaS. Users access WebContractor over the internet from a desktop PC, laptop or mobile device using a standard web browser. It’s a modern, intuitive and easy-to-use system which delivers rich functionality.

WebContractor has been specifically developed for the construction sector in the UK and Ireland. It’s not a product that’s been adapted from another country or another sector and it’s not trying to replace your enterprise resource planning solution.

Subcontractors also have access to the WebContractor system based on appropriate permissions. This allows the subcontractor to quickly and easily upload Applications for Payment or invoices, with supporting documents, directly to the system and then track progress through the stages of approval. Once an application or an invoice has been submitted, it goes into an assessment and approval workflow with automatic email notifications being issued along the way to all the relevant people.

WebContractor gives complete visibility of applications and shows where they are in the approval process. Dashboards and reports allow the main contractor’s central finance and commercial teams to see the exact position with liabilities right across the business. This is crucial for cash management.

The solution also keeps the subcontractor up-to-date with automatic notifications and to give them clear visibility of how much will be paid and when. This significantly reduces the amount of phones calls from the subcontractor to the main contractor chasing for updates.

WebContractor has been integrated time with Osborne’s COINS construction ERP solution so data flows seamlessly in both directions and in real time.

Using WebContrator, Osborne have increased visibility and transparency whilst reducing risk and late payments. What’s more, WebContractor is a paper-free process which cuts admin time and costs as well as helping to reduce their carbon footprint.

Osborne recently won the “Best Use of Technology” award at the Construction News Awards 2019. Osborne stood out to the judges by having implemented technology to solve a key industry problem.


Internally, WebContractor provides realtime payment information to help cash flow forecasting, allows us to reduce the administration time and cost associated with payments, and ensures industry best practice and compliance.

Mark Mitchell | Operations Finance Director

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