The last decade has seen a very rapid modernization in every industry and all industries now rely heavily on technology for their operations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, industries faced increased pressure to grow and change, and with the help of technology, they were able to scale and pivot to new business models. Organizations also faced extreme competition and pressure to deliver quality services at lower prices while workforce costs were rapidly rising.
Low-code for capital project management
One domain, which despite its size and breadth has not modernized as much over the past decade while relying heavily on manual processes and coordination, is the area of capital projects within the financial services industry. Centered around materials, supply chain and human labor, the business processes of capital projects like infrastructure development are complex, rapidly evolving and have unique requirements particular to state, city and county which often are not well understood by technology solution providers. This is the reason most ERP solutions available for this industry are either outdated or need heavy customization. Users in this industry are architects, field technicians, survey inspectors, workers and contractors who often need a mobile solution to share information on materials, assets and jobs with the back office and upper management. There are significant inefficiencies in numerous business processes in this industry that can benefit from digitization and automation through low-code platforms which can allow users to efficiently create and manage applications.
A low-code/no-code platform is a software development approach to coding that allows users to efficiently create and manage applications with minimal coding and is a helpful solution to many of the manual tasks in this industry. These low-code/no-code platforms include Intuitive visual builder, ready-to-use code snippets, form and report templates and pre-built integrations to centralize information. These quickly deployable solutions empower users from operations, also called “citizen developers,” to build and manage applications that drive greater agility and efficiency for their lines of business, thus eliminating the dependence on the IT organization to prioritize their application needs among the backlog of other needs within the organization.
Leverage the Microsoft Power Platform for low-code/no-code solutions
Among the many low-code/no-code solutions available in the market, Microsoft Power Platform (a product suite that includes Power Apps, Power Automate, Power BI, Power Virtual Agents, Dataverse and Power Pages) has the most extensive template library with connectors and ready-to-use AI components, which makes designing and building apps for both simple and complex business requirements easy, helps connect business users and centralizes operations.
Capital projects can also benefit from the Microsoft Power Automate, part of the Power Platform suite, connecting to a multitude of data sources and creating a variety of solutions to manage construction logistics by simply drawing a flowchart and dragging and dropping the visual elements to meet the needs of the web or mobile applications.
Capital project development involves numerous processes and handoffs between various contractors, along with relying on manual consolidation of data in Excel spreadsheets. Power Apps can be an effective way of automating construction workflows as they can help track resources and upload them automatically to a centralized database leveraging Power Automate, improving productivity and visibility. Flexible apps can be created to help with job site collaboration among construction teams. Applications can even be made to integrate with external systems including applications and websites with the help of pre-built out-of-the-box data connectors in Power Apps. The multi-stage approval process can be automated by creating approval workflows that can help modernize the processes in the capital projects lifecycle. Process flow images and designs can be converted into apps using Microsoft’s AI-powered express design. Routine tasks and common processes like bid management and asset management can be automated by leveraging Power Automate. Once the data is in a centralized database, companies can build data insight views related to a project leveraging Power BI. The data insights provide various metrics like cashflows, returns, project status and health that can help businesses control investments and make decisions more efficiently. Also, metrics on asset utilization and asset maintenance costs can help increase margin per asset and help identify assets for which cost of running is higher than the replacement value.
Given the wide variety of business functions and uniqueness related to city, state, or country construction policies, it is hard to build a single end-to-end solution that fits all the needs of capital projects professionals. Building end–to–end, fully customized solutions can be costly as they require hiring staff with coding skills and with the time pressures that often prevail, low-code platforms deliver the most return on investment. Platforms like Microsoft Power Platform help automate repetitive actions and streamline process efficiencies with reduced risk. The ease of building, speed of implementation and deployment, lower cost, accessibility, and enterprise-level security collectively make Power Platform a suitable solution for the business application needs of capital project developments within the financial services industry.