Tantalising tech… subcontractors lead construction industry reform

Tech-enabled quality assurance platform, Conqa (construction industry quality assurance), is empowering subcontractors to take control of the quality assurance (QA) process by placing innovative technology directly in their hands, as the construction industry embarks on a period of reform.

The platform provides a timely industry-wide online solution to address systemic build issues highlighted by the recently strengthened powers of the NSW Building Commissioner and NSW Fair Trading under the Building Legislation Amendment Act 2021, which was implemented to enforce legislation and restore confidence in the construction of residential apartment buildings in NSW.

The mobile phone enabled software digitises the QA process and improves and tracks construction works in order to significantly reduce rework during and post construction. In doing so, the software has been shown to deliver its users significant financial savings – with clients quoting savings of up to $2 million per year, and others reducing their defects practically down to zero.

Through its user-friendly technology, Conqa offers convenience to enable contractors and subcontractors to digitally document the QA process in real-time throughout the build program, eliminating wasted time spent on tedious manual paperwork, which is often completed well after a building handover date, and therefore does nothing to prevent defects.

It works by enabling contractors to easily plan out everything that needs to be checked in advance. Their teams complete QA as intended – on-site, using mobile software that enables them to document the process with thousands of photos. The data and reports help contractors monitor project progress, evidence their payment claims, and protect their bottom line.

Daniel O’Donoghue, co-founder says the company is driven to make contractors’ lives easier.

“We are focussed on innovating for the construction industry by putting technology at the coalface, which will help improve the industry from the ground up,” he explained.

“Whilst the product has myriad benefits for all stakeholders in the construction process, we are really committed to improving the workflow for contractors and subcontractors.

“We know that it saves about three hours of paperwork every week for each individual working on the ground, by digitising all of their QA document handling.”

Although subcontractors currently comprise over 70% of the company’s clients, Conqa has also been specified by tier one construction companies, including Multiplex, Lendlease and Kapitol Group. The software provides them with visibility of the entire project delivery with regular updates, ensuring all work is done as per the original design and to the highest standard.

“In Victoria, we’re seeing significantly fewer quality issues when subcontractors use Conqa,” says Matt Monger, QA manager at Multiplex.

Conqa’s software will have a profound impact if adopted industry-wide – beyond improving the quality of construction, work efficiency and costly financial rework implications.

It also enhances sustainability through heavily reduced paper wastage and helps to improve the mental wellbeing of employees through decreasing the time spent on after-hours administrative paperwork, allowing workers to maintain a better work-life balance, and minimising contractual disputes.

According to Jeff Wright, operations manager at construction company AE Smith, the product also makes work more enjoyable for staff.

“You are creating a happier work environment when things are getting done right the first time.

“The mood on site when you’re sending them back in on weekends, after hours, fixing up stuff they’ve already done – they are not happy. If they’re not happy, I’m not happy.”

According to O’Donoghue, other products on the market are geared towards head contractors, rather than staff on the ground.

“These products are often more complex to use, whereas Conqa focuses on site level engagement – because this is where the work is improved with QA – and then shares the data to inform stakeholders based beyond the site.

Conqa was launched in Auckland in 2015.