by Srini Dokka, Global Sales Head, MSB Docs
The EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) industry contributes 13 per cent of the approximately USD 90 trillion world economy today and is globally the largest industry. It includes within its ambit real estate, infrastructure, and industrial complexes and plants. Much of the modern amenities and lifestyle areas of our lives are a result of the EPC industry’s foundational characteristics.
Despite the huge importance of the EPC industry, its contribution remains under the radar of masses and many a time of the wider business / industrial-technological and process innovations. According to McKinsey the productivity boost in the EPC industry over the last two decades was in the order of 1% annually compared to about 2.8% annual progress of the rest of the global economy. The EPC industry has also tended to be the least digitized industry and the accepted ways of working have not been easy to change. Due to the high value of projects, excessive cost of risk, and tight deadlines environment, overwhelming evidence of value enhancement or productivity enhancements are needed by the industry before a change in methodology is accepted.
Nevertheless, multiple innovations are underway in the EPC industry in terms of technological innovations. These have in part been catalysed by the extreme business stress faced during the pandemic. The pandemic with its numerous economic and operational constraints created an environment where the EPC sector has become more amiable to changes. Technological innovations ranging from IT infrastructure, usage of drones, modernisation of equipment, incorporation of latest in software, and innovation of processes is now underway.
Despite these digital changes one major area of productivity boost and cost savings that is generally ignored is the contractual process, regulatory compliance, and operational documentation. EPC organisations in every project and even sub-components of projects have to manage thousands of applications, drafts, approvals, and collaborations before the green light can be given. The typical use cases include RPF signoffs, SOWs/MSAs, Supplier/vendor contracts, Supplier Compliance, Internal approval, Vendor onboarding, Change requests, Inventory Signoffs, Intellectual property licensing, Renewal Requests, Project budget approvals, Asset tracking, Invoice & expense processing and Stamp paper signing to list a few. All these processes require an extensive print, courier, sign, scan/courier back cycle, which is time-consuming and costly leading to missed deadlines that have their own penalties. In addition, if a signatory happens to be travelling, the documents wait at their desk for days.
Smart Document Transformation incorporated early in the EPC organisation can make business life efficient with immense savings in time and costs. For example:
- EPC business can be conducted on the go as Smart Document Transformation helps in drafting and sending documents for signing anytime and from anywhere
- Engineering drawings can be reviewed and approved with legally valid eSignatures
- ID Verification enables seamless identity and background verification. This prevents fraud by 85%.
- Procurement and construction contracts/agreements can be signed online
- An organisation can swiftly create digital purchase orders for signing from pre-built document and workflow templates thus helping in meeting any tight schedules
- Document authenticity can be certified economically: Every document transaction collected holds information about the IP address it was collected on, the timestamp of when the signature was collected, and the signee's validated email address. All this ensures authenticity and legal defensibility of transactions
- Immense saving in cost of document delivery, storage space, printing, photocopying, and disposal
- Document retrieval for dispute resolution and review becomes simplified and near-instantaneous
- Efficient sub-contracting: Immediate agreement on the terms and conditions of any project by electronically signing all the usual contracts and timesheets.
There are additional collaboration benefits that accrue to the organisations once enterprise-grade Smart Document Transformation is incorporated which is customised to the specific requirements of the organisation. These include:
- Groups: feature allows Group Managers to access their group’s documents and monitor activities any time of the day. Thus, improving 95% of work efficiency
- Advanced Workflow Tools: allowing signers to sign the document parallelly or in the sequence - or a mix of both
- Integrations: Integrate MSB Docs to the organization's software or third-party software like SharePoint, Salesforce, Office 365
- Bulk composing & signing allows composing of documents for multiple people for signing thus ensuring a 70% reduction of steps in the manual process.
According to Gartner “More countries are requiring digital signatures supported by high assurance digital identity schemes.” Significantly electronically / digitally signed documents are permissible in the court of law as per the IT act of 2000. Apart from the basic benefits offered by Smart Document Solutions and E-Signatures, there are some specific business benefits that MSB is helping customers with. These include acceleration of internal processes by 90%, reduction in signed & completed document turnaround time by up to 90%, reduction in agreement errors from an average of 25% to just 2.5% and data encryption for privacy and security of business-critical documents.
In addition to operations management of EPC projects, HR and regulatory & legal compliance as a function are greatly aided by Smart Document Transformation. Managing and motivating the talented engineering workforce across remote plant locations is a big challenge and efficient documentation ensures that there is one less point of issue.
Given the truly mammoth advantages, it is time that EPC organisations initiate Smart Document Solutions even prioritising it over other technological innovations.