How we’re solving budget blowouts with PARMA, an easy-to-use cost tracking app built specifically for civil engineers
We’re developing an easy-to-use cost tracking app for foremen and project managers and we need your help to make it a reality. Read on to learn about our innovative app PARMA and what you can do to get involved.
Blue Sky Projects and the birth of PARMA
At FSC Group, we’ve always placed great importance on creativity and innovation. That’s why we established Blue Sky Projects, our innovation R&D initiative. Each year, we fund the creative ideas of the FSC team. Anyone is free to pitch their ideas to FSC and if we think the idea has legs, we’ll support it with funding and a team of consultants to help it get to market. It’s how we encourage our team to be creative, while also helping to solve some long-term problems in the industry. One idea that has come out of Blue Sky Projects is PARMA, or Productivity and Resource Management App (and yes, we retrofit the name to fit the acronym – we love a parma around here!).
Cost tracking in construction has always been a cumbersome, inefficient and inaccurate process. This is because the foreman responsible for the allocation of materials, resources and productivity is disconnected from the budget and forecasting process, which is managed by the engineering team. It’s difficult logistically for the team on the ground to know what’s been allowed for a specific activity when it’s about to be executed, making informed decision making nearly impossible. This disconnect often leads to inefficiencies and budget blowouts.
Traditionally, on-site spending has been managed with manual dockets and spreadsheets. Dockets pass from the foreman to the engineer to the accounts team, with each team manually entering the data into a spreadsheet. Double handling and double entry of data is not only inefficient, but is also prone to mistakes and inaccuracies.
Invented by FSC team member Erick Tansil, PARMA is an easy-to-use web app that presents budgets and cost planning in a simple way, while also capturing actual data to eliminate data entry.
Each morning (or the day before), the foreman can enter the equipment, materials and labour they are planning to use into the app, along with the expected production. PARMA will then instantly tell the foreman whether they will meet budget that day or not. The calculations can be replicated day to day, giving the site crew the ability to make decisions about costs before they occur. It’s a very simple interface that takes under 3 minutes to complete.
At the end of the day, the foreman enters what was actually achieved. All data gets sent directly to the project manager, saving them hours of time each day because they don’t need to collect dockets or enter costs manually. It’s all recorded in the app.
Why has no one solved this issue before?
Many have tried. But other solutions have attempted to digitise the entire process, completely removing dockets from the equation. These tools tend to be too rigid or too complicated. PARMA, on the other hand, hasn’t removed dockets entirely. The secret to PARMA and Erick’s idea is that it’s a tool that only deals with productivities, it leaves the docket issue to the finance team. As engineers and supervisors, our drivers are different from the finance team. We want to ensure what we are doing on site achieves production and budget targets. PARMA achieves that in a very simple way. The app is very quick and easy to use and is designed specifically for engineers and site supervisors. You don’t have to be technically minded to use the app. We’ve designed the app to be as simple as possible so anyone can use it.
What does the future hold for PARMA?
While the technology is still in the early stages of testing (which we need your help with by the way), the potential of the product is huge. We will in time improve the interface when we receive feedback from testing. We’re also working on a live dashboard feed that will take the CSV output from PARMA and load it directly into a software package such as Power BI for instantaneous cost reporting.
Are you ready to try PARMA?
PARMA is currently in beta, and we need engineers to help us test it out. Let us know what works…and more importantly, what doesn’t. Try to break it! Any and all feedback is appreciated as we continue to iron out any bugs to create the best tool possible. If you’d like to be one of the first people to try out this exciting new technology, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch for more information.