“Post Covid everyone was talking material shortages and supply chain issues but now, particularly with inflation and rising energy prices, there are many other factors at play. Escalating labour, material and delivery charges, for instance, are all having a detrimental effect on the profitability of projects and highlight just one of the reasons why having accurate data is so valuable.”
As Eque2’s construction specific applications move to the cloud, its CEO, Justin Moule, provides advice for companies looking to tighten control over their operations.
The challenges facing businesses show no immediate signs of holding up. It is therefore more important than ever that control over business operations is reined in to reduce exposure to the numerous threats lying in the road ahead. Whilst Eque2 can’t solve everything, it can help enable closer management of the core processes involved in running a construction business.
In the drive to promote digitisation within the construction industry, Eque2 has moved its core products to the cloud. The industry is sometimes perceived for being behind the curve when it comes to modernisation in back office systems, but the current turbulence within the market is forcing companies to adopt more up-to-date business management systems that will enable them to weather the current storms and thrive in the future.
Eque2, formerly Sage Construction, until an MBO in 2014, has made its Construct for Sage Accounts (SME solution) and EVision Microsoft Business Central (Enterprise ERP) solutions available to customers in the cloud.
Both Construct for Sage and EVision provide industry-specific functionality which fully integrate with widely used and trusted accounting packages such as Sage, or in the case of EVision, with Microsoft’s comprehensive business management software. It’s a popular combination, as Eque2 claim that its customers want to gain the benefits of industry-specific functionality that is in the cloud, have access enabled to real-time data from any hardware device with an Internet connection, and which doesn’t require them to move away from their tried and trusted Sage or Microsoft solutions.
Justin Moule, CEO of Eque2 believes that the complexity of the demands in the market post-Brexit and Covid ‘lockdowns’, has led many in the construction sector to realise the benefit of real time management information.
“Post Covid everyone was talking material shortages and supply chain issues but now, particularly with inflation and rising energy prices, there are many other factors at play. Escalating labour, material and delivery charges, for instance, are all having a detrimental effect on the profitability of projects and highlight just one of the reasons why having accurate data is so valuable.
“Although our software can’t solve the root issues, it can help companies manage their finances, estimating and contract management much more efficiently. By being able to access information on any device, at anytime from anywhere, it puts them back in control and prevents that heart-stopping moment when unexpected bills start arriving after a job has been quoted, completed and invoiced.
“Crucially, it can also identify unprofitable jobs early on so they are able to take remedial action before things escalate out of control. Our estimating software interfaces with Laxton’s pricing information and is continually updated, which customers really value.”
Those who don’t adapt will struggle
Moule expounded further on his view, saying that the Maidenhead-based company is on-target to double turnover and customer numbers over the next three years as contractors make the switch to tech-enabled business management systems. He also believes that cashflow and margin control are the biggest cause of concern at the moment and says banks and investors are insisting on improved financial information and greater transparency, which is why adoption of technology is accelerating at such a pace.
As well as moving some of its products to the cloud and allowing businesses the flexibility of accessing their information from anywhere on any device, the company has also introduced monthly subscriptions so that customers avoid the expense of upfront capital outlay on software.
Moule, however, has a stark warning for those companies still reluctant to embrace digitalisation:
“We’ve been around a long time. We live and breathe construction so we know what works and how to bring real value to our customers. That said, there are over 65,000 contractors in the UK that could benefit from an industry-specific ERP system but staggeringly only around 10 per cent of them have one. “In this increasingly digitalised world, businesses that continue to use paper-based systems and manual administration to run their operations will be at a significant disadvantage. Furthermore, it is going to be critical to help businesses thrive in economic uncertainty.”
Eque2 is a fast-growing company, adding over 250 customers every year to its 3000 UK customer base. The company places significant resource and investment in customer retention and satisfaction activities which include UK telephone-based support, a dedicated customer on-boarding team, online knowledge bases for all products and hundreds of years industry experience across the business, and proactive account management.
Eque2 Construction Accounting Software for SMEs
Eque2’s construction-specific application, Construct for Sage, provides an integrated construction accounting and commercial management solution for SME contactors. It allows clients to manage all aspects of their operations, including job costing, quotations, CIS, subcontractor management and applications, retentions and valuations, and works directly with Sage 50, Sage 200 and Sage Accounting, including Sage Payroll.
For management purposes, Construct for Sage provides a series of customisable budget templates, and an easy to use Excel based reporting tool for Contracts, Work in Progress, Cost and revenue budgets and actuals, and active Profit figures – the data for each is processed automatically from information gathered on each project – using cost codes to set up and track jobs based on real-time progress – e.g., Budgets v Ordered v Delivered/Accrued v Actuals v Cost to Complete.
Contract for Sage facilitates compliance with HMRC and personnel requirements for the automatic payment of CIS, insurance and CSCS tracking. It can also be used to monitor performance ratings and manage sub-contracted orders, applications, invoice matching, cumulative tracking and self-billing payment certificates.
Eque2’s mobile apps provide the critical link between on-site construction activity and back-office accounting for both Construct for Sage and EVision customers. Besides inputting delivery notes and updating timesheets with data which is automatically transferred to payroll, mobile apps allow purchase orders to be made, authorised on site and tracked through to delivery and subsequently invoiced. From an employee’s point of view, they can look at their contracts at any time to get a view of key information regarding a contracts financial position.
Estimating and Maintenance
Eque2 provides an industry-leading estimating solution, EValuate which integrates with both Construct for Sage and EVision, to provide a solution for managing projects from initial estimate through to final accounts. Construct further integrates with ServiceStream to allow businesses to log, schedule work, send out jobs to an engineer, and pro-actively manage field service management tasks. It also provides housebuilding functionality which gives Housebuilders the ability to conduct plot analysis on each stage of a project, tracking the performance of sub-contractors and reporting costs and profit margins of each stage of building projects with fast CVR reporting to manage orders and compare the value of work completed against actual costs.
EVision ERP and Housebuilding
Eque2’s EVision construction ERP solution creates a scalable, end-to-end industry-specific solution. It’s aimed at large to enterprise companies, enabling them to manage the entire construction and contracting lifecycle from initial bid, through to site final account.
For housebuilders, Eque2 provide a dedicated housebuilding solution used by national and regional housebuilders and property developers. The software allows companies to manage the 4 key areas of the house build process from Land Appraisal, through Build and Sales to Customer Care. These can be used standalone, or when integrated with its EVision solution creates an end-to-end finance and operational management tool with housebuilding-specific functionality at its core.
EVision adds construction-specific functionality to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central widely used applications – Outlook, Excel, Word, Sharepoint, PowerApps and PowerBI – to record, track and analyse core business and financial information. It introduces cumulative billing and payment routines with retention accounting for compliance with industry standards, multi companies, currencies, locations, and fiscal compliance for the UK and Ireland.
Users can export data into Excel templates, create customised SharePoint views to allow multiple ways to interact with EVision, or collaboration within the company or with subcontractors and suppliers using tools such as OneNote and Teams, or use its Three Tier Architecture provides to integrate with any third-party application through Web Services etc. and with other best of breed solutions.
EVision includes a Multi-level Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to provide a better management of project costs and visibility of costs at different levels, and Cost Value Reconciliation reporting/ EVision also includes full management of owned plant for lifecycle costing, enabling it to be charged to projects/contracts and integrates with MiraclePay – a comprehensive payroll solution owned by Eque2 and based on Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Business Central.
Eque2’s recent announcement about moving its products to the cloud underscores the need for tighter control of information within organisations which not only centralises data in a single universal model but eliminates all the bad practices of multi systems and silos and the manual transference of data between each. It also provides a real-time management solution available to all users in any location and from any connected device. It’s the way of the future – and, as Moule says, it is critical to helping enable businesses to thrive in economic uncertainty.