Saturday, 10 December 2016

How Instant Messaging and Mobile Banking Help Save Project Cost and Time - Engr. Osaz' Enobakhare

    
Finance is an integral part of any construction project so is communication. In fact there would be no construction project in the first place if money and people are not involved. Therefore smooth, constant and healthy interaction between all stakeholders in a project is very important as well as prompt and adequate disbursement/distribution of project funds to areas needed. Advancement in technology has made communication and payments a lot easier yet many local contractors have not keyed into it.

In the past, communication on site was done basically through public address systems, phone calls and SMS which are pretty expensive up to the extent that the walkie-talkie became a highly-cherished engineer’s work tool; artisans who normally couldn’t afford them had to rely on second-hand instructions or information or often had to move out of their work stations in order to gain access to a telephone to pull a call through to their supervisors especially on large sites. 

But today the story is different; with instant messengers like Whatsapp, Viber, Wechat, Yahoo, etc on simple smart phones and tabs everyone on site can communicate seamlessly at very low cost. 



By ensuring that having an instant messenger on your mobile phone is a pre-requisite for site employment, a project manager can save up to 70% of the total cost of communication through e-messengers.


Flexible payments to suppliers and workers through mobile/internet banking channels are in vogue now. Modern day contractors/supervisors now make payments for supplies through their phones or tablets and the receipt of payment is transmitted through the same medium. For instance, using an instant messenger like Whatsapp, once a nominated supplier has delivered the required materials to site, he or she simply sends a multimedia message (i.e. texts plus images) of the materials on delivery via Whatsapp notifying the contractor of the supply. In a split second the contractor receives it on his mobile device wherever he or she is at the time and replies promptly. 
Seamless money transfers and instant messaging
promotes construction speed



On the same device, he or she opens his mobile banking app and transfers the money for the item directly to the bank account of the supplier. Immediately the transfer is completed, he receives a confirmation SMS from his or her bank and a response from the supplier via the same medium. The supplier then prepares an original e-receipt of payment or alternatively fills out the paper-type manually (crossing out the customer’s signature column/space indicating that the customer is not available to append a signature), scans it or snaps it with the phone and forwards it to the contractor. 

The receipt can be stored immediately in an e-file on the mobile device or printed out and stored manually. In practice, all these processes takes less than 30 minutes depending on the network’s data signal strength; only a few Megabyte of data is consumed and some hundreds of Naira is deducted for the bank transaction for an inter-bank transfer; a transaction that would normally take hours and sometimes days in time past.

It is now safer to conduct business within the e-environment. Traditional methods of issuing cheques or paying cash are increasingly risky, time-wasting and make accounting laborious. In more organized sites, all site workers get their wages as at when due directly in their bank accounts through mobile banking and a pay slip is automatically generated and sent to them via instant messengers. All requests, complaints or issues related to the payment by any worker is transmitted via the same medium at once and the employer can respond promptly. This process completely wipes out the usual queues at cash offices and discourages manipulations and site robbery/theft.



The system is very flexible and makes project funds much easier to organize, distribute and track or trace. Project accounting becomes a lot easier for SMEs, MSMEs and Large scale organizations because if all payments throughout the life cycle of a project was made through a particular medium, accounting data can be extracted directly from the transaction history automatically generated by the app and subsequently transferred to the balance sheet. Discrepancies and misappropriations can be easily detected since each transaction details containing relevant information like transaction volume, date, time, account name and number, and remarks/notes are stored automatically. Using the duo of instant messengers and mobile banking apps in an organized manner saves project delivery time, reduces overhead and logistics costs and increases profit.

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