Accountants or Builders


Over time I have interviewed many people for roles in the construction industry, some junior and many senior positions. Interestingly, the younger applicants looking for a job at a junior level, invariably want to work for major builders on mega projects and want to be project managers as soon as possible. They equate large construction companies with status and expect those companies to be the best, to have the best systems, people, projects and rewards. Whereas the older applicants who have worked for “the big boys” are more circumspect and have experienced the multi nationals and often the smaller companies. All too often both types of applicants become disenchanted not with the project delivery but in the way the companies manage their processes. The young guys assume the large organisations have done it all before, learnt lessons and use best practice in how they manage projects from initial enquiry through to project hand over.

Unfortunately they are often disappointed, especially with the tools their companies use in project financial management. The most disappointing aspect of this is the reliance by large companies on spreadsheets for financial control. It never ceases to amaze me that smaller contractors invest in proprietary software such as Jobpac or Cheops whilst the “big boys” continue with antiquated linked spreadsheets and unreliable macros designed by long forgotten Excel devotees and fiddled with by every man and his dog.

Anyone who has spent hours preparing cost forecasts using “the company standard excel template” to find something is wrong. A formula in a cell has been over typed, a redundant hyperlink, or simply not being in the most current  version of the workbook.

But why do large organisations continue with antiquated financial management systems and yet smaller companys can see the benefits and use software that is fit for purpose. Perhaps it is simply that large companies are run by accountable far removed from project costing and smaller companies are run by people who have worked on site, hired subbys and had to fight for every dollar