A lean team powered by digital smarts – Hagta Group
The Hagta Group Secret
Part of the Hagta Group secret to successfully delivering major commercial projects while operating as a lean, hands-on team has been embracing digital technology. Directors John Hagopian and Le Hy Ta formed the company in 2017, each bringing decades of boots-on-the-ground and construction management experience to the table.
It operates with only one employee, HSE Supervisor Darren House, and together they work with their teams of subcontractors and consultants to achieve excellence in Melbourne’s highly competitive metropolitan construction sector.
As a lean operation, reducing the amount of time and effort required to manage the substantial load of documentation, communication and record-keeping involved in construction is an absolute priority.
HammerTech has proven to be like an extra pair of eyes, ears and hands in the office and on-site, streamlining multiple processes and speeding up key tasks including inductions and information management.
It complements the broader company approach of using digital and electronic tools for many aspects of business management including correspondence, banking, accounting, build programs, plans, OHS records and contract administration.
No paper cluttering up the site office
Hagta bases its office on its current worksite. The company tackles one project at a time and being present on the site enables John and Le to be absolutely hands-on every day in terms of managing the people and processes of their builds.
Because construction involves so many high-risk activities, they also keep an eagle-eye on safety to reduce injury and legal liability risks. This means having the right procedures, policies and practices in place and constantly maintained to raise the level of safety to industry best practice. The company’s efforts in protecting its site workforce have been recognised with the achievement of certification for AS4801 Safety and AS140001 EHS accreditation.
Le is closely focused on all the administrative and management functions that are integral to company financials, compliance and contract administration. One of the major benefits he sees with HammerTech is a vast reduction in the amount of time and physical paperwork involved.
By contrast, a decade ago he was managing files upon files of paperwork. Inductions and Safe Work methods statements alone could amount to dozens of thick folders of paperwork.
When a project was completed, these then needed to be archived, and to save on the space required for physical storage, the company he worked for would need to allocate money and human resources to having every single page scanned and archived digitally by a specialist document management firm.
“For just one project I remember I had 70 folders,” Le says. For Hagta, having hundreds of physical files is simply not practical, nor does it want to have to allocate space for both their live management and the post-project archiving.
Getting on with the business
John will spend his average day providing support for the site team and HSE Supervisor, Darren House, as well as preparing documentation, reviewing SWMS (safe work method statements) and following up on compliance matters such as insurances and managing buildability aspects of projects and programs. They also manage toolbox meetings, coordinates inductions, oversees site housekeeping and manages forward planning.
Because the office is located on the current project site, there are regular face-to-face catch ups between the directors. The HammerTech platform is utilised extensively for many of the tasks the pair undertake, and adds elements of simplicity, efficiency and accountability that are incredibly valuable.
“The HammerTech is the best thing we have invested in,” John says. “It reduces paper and it reduces labour.”
Le says it is incredibly time-saving, and also enables a much more efficient way to access information. Everything is categorised and filed automatically, he notes.
Streamlining the site onboarding and management
The search function then makes it very quick for John, Le and Darren to access any required document or information, whether that is a Safe Work Method Statement or an individual subcontractor’s insurance details.
In previous roles, John would have to locate a physical folder to check a SWMS. Now, he can find it and check it quickly from a smartphone or tablet.
“The search function makes it so much quicker,” he says.
All of the subcontractors and their workers are completing the general induction on-line via HammerTech prior to coming to site. Subcontractors are also uploading their SWMS and details of their insurances and other compliance paperwork ahead of arriving to the job.
This makes it easy for John, Le and Darren to check everything is as it should be. Le says that many of their subcontractors are already quite “tech savvy” or may even have had past experience with similar digital approaches.
“They’ll get on straight away and get it done – they know it’s a time-saver for them,” he says.
In some instances where the subcontractors had not previously embraced technology-enabled approaches, the Hagta team assists them with becoming comfortable with HammerTech. Having so much of the administration and a large part of general inductions completed before people arrive to site means that instead of John and Darren spending an hour checking through folders to see if everything is complete, only a “quick look to verify details” is required.
For the subcontractors, that also means they can arrive at site “raring to go” rather than have up to an hour of time consumed by paper shuffling.
It just keeps getting better
Hagta are now on their second project utilising the HammerTech platform, and the benefits are multiplying. John says that information such as SWMS are now even quicker to deal with, as many of them can be re-used from the initial project for this one.
The inductions that were completed for the prior project on HammerTech also take just a matter of minutes to be review and re-submit for the current one.
“A clean and tidy site is a safe site.”
The platform is also proving invaluable for keeping up the level of site housekeeping the company considers integral to operating a safe site. The company’s HSE supervisor is “very good and very thorough,” he says.
Yet housekeeping remains the hardest part of the safety dimension. “We push it forward every week. We say that you see it clean when you arrive on site – you need to leave it clean.”
This dedication to getting the detail right also flows through to public perceptions and client perceptions. “When people look from the street and see our site, we have had positive comments from people,” John says.
“They say it’s a great and professional site.”
Darren uses HammerTech to help get the housekeeping message across, for example, taking photos and sharing them to all site personnel using the safety alert function. He explains that he doesn’t just share the issues, he will also share positives such as an area of the site that is demonstrating best practice in housekeeping.
Alerts are helping everyone in the loop and up to speed
The safety alert function also makes it very quick and easy to share any essential and urgent communication. Another function he appreciates is the way the system alerts him directly when a subcontractor’s insurance is near its expiry date, so he can follow it up.
In the regular course of a paper-based system, finding the time to keep checking expiry dates would be an added effort and time-thief.
The platform also assisted greatly when the company was undertaking the process of third-party verified safety systems accreditation. The safety consultant, Elliott Safety, was able to import a substantial proportion of the required documentation direct from the Hagta Group HammerTech files. Elliott Safety was also able to highlight some additional ways Hagta could gain added value from the digital approach.
HammerTech gets the Hagta thumbs up
The pair would recommend HammerTech to anyone for its time-saving, efficiency and ease of use.
“The record-keeping and reduction of paperwork is one of the best things,” Le says. “And we’re also helping the environment because there is less paper. And you can access everything from anywhere.”
John adds that he has been impressed by the level of service provided by the Hammertech support team “from day one”. The team helped Hagta understand how to use the platform and have been responsive to issues that John, Le and Darren identified, modifying the platform to address those concerns.
“I really liked that they would listen to feedback and do something about it.”