Leading the way with digital
Justin Felix catches up with BN Electrical director Matthew Bien-Izowski to find out how digital adoption has seen his business expand at a rapid rate.
‘Digital disruption’ is a term you’ve likely come across over the past five years. As new technology makes its way felt across all facets of life, and in every industry, the building and construction industry needs to find ways to keep up with, and take advantage of it.
The reality is, as an industry, our ability to adapt has been fragmented with many of us wondering why we are still having the same conversations on how ‘things need to change’ year after year.
For many business owners, the task of working out what aspects of the business can be better served through the likes of software is a seriously daunting task. Thinking about staffing requirements, resources and money is often enough to turn them away from the idea altogether. However, as technology continues to make its presence felt and more efficient ways of doing things becomes the norm, you don’t want to be playing catch up, or worse still, being caught too far behind.
BN Electrical director Matthew Bien-Izowski jumped onto the digital bandwagon early on in his career and hasn’t looked back, dedicating much of his success to that decision.
“I stepped into the construction industry in 2008 and completed my apprenticeship with a tier 1 contractor. Most of my experience came from large scale commercial sites such as airports and hospitals,” Matthew explains.
“I started BN Electrical in 2013 as a side job, focusing my time in residential and service. Within six months it became my primary job as I shifted back to my commercial roots. Since first entering the industry, I could see the opportunity to do things a little differently.”
BN Electrical adopted digital methodologies from the get-go and it has been engrained in its story ever since. It set out to revolutionise traditional methods of working by arming itself with the most up-to-date technology. It was an easy decision for Matthew.
“Since stepping into the construction industry, it was obvious that there was a lag in digital adoption, and I knew there had to be a better way. Seeing this opportunity made me passionate about
shifting the construction industry’s ‘bricks and mortar’ status.
“I believe a lot of our success has come from embracing the best-in-class technology available. We have differentiated ourselves by showing that you don’t necessarily need large teams to produce larger volume of high quality work.
“You just need to be able to work smarter,” Matthew says.
As tends to be the case across many businesses in various industries, knowing where to begin is the hardest part. There’s a good chance though, that the people to talk to and get advice from
are already in your network.
“We did not solicit any formal consultants; however, we did partner and collaborate with like-minded people, innovators and creators. Like us, most people are willing to share their methods
of success if it means the whole industry will produce higher quality results, safely on time and within budget.
“As technology is so engrained in our culture and company purpose, it is important that we hire people that align with our digital ambitions, on top of their capabilities,” Matthew says.
Matthew recommends finding a problem or an area in your business that could operate more efficiently and explore possible digital solutions. For example, he suggests finding software that acts as a centralised communication tool for your team or, incorporating an automated payroll process that saves time and reduces human error.
And you don’t have to go all in from the beginning.
“Even small steps can have great impact. I personally like the use of measurable goals to challenge, motivate and build a sense of achievement.
“Our goal in 2018 to operate paperless by 2019 held us accountable. Once we put it out there, we had to stick by our word.”
Paper allows for discrepancies, missed information and time delays which do not align with the industry’s growing trend of tighter budgets and timeframes.
Going paperless has had immeasurable benefits for BN Electrical across communication, planning and tracking resulting in:
- Better connectivity
- Centralised information
- Automated reporting
- Minimised error
- Increase in client satisfaction
- More sustainable practices
Plangrid was the software of choice and Matthew says it has created better synergies between team members based onsite and in the office.
“It has also become a great source of truth, not only can we seamlessly communicate key inputs and criteria but easily track progress and outcomes for quality control.
“Following on from its success, we set ourselves a new goal ‘25by21’ where we plan to automate digital operations by 25% and prefabricate project installations by 25%,” he says.
With a business model designed to deliver major electrical works of complex nature, in areas such as health, science and education, BN Electrical has experienced significant growth over the
past four years.
It has found itself competing with companies that have been in the game for 60-plus years and now has a management team of seven and 25-60 field staff depending on project workload. At capacity, it could end up managing 100 contractors directly and indirectly.
Matthew believes none of this could be possible without digital adoption.
“We’ve definitely found most potential clients are excited by the industry’s digital revolution. They want to know that you are capable of not only meeting but exceeding their needs.
“Walking clients through our process, showing how we use site to office technology at every stage builds trust that you have systems in place to ensure accuracy and efficiency while minimising risk.”
He does stress though, that it’s also important to remember the fundamentals of traditional workmanship. But if you’re still stuck on where to turn for your own digital revolution, Matthew has the following advice to give: “Learn from people who have gone through the transition, ask questions, read, and watch webinars. There are resources out there to help, no matter what stage you are in.”