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TRANSCRIPT: Construction ID – Justin Williams: Wiseworking for the Construction Industry

Kylie Davis

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Kylie Davis

Welcome to the Proptech podcast. It's Kylie Davis here, and I'm delighted to be your host as we explore the brave new world where technology, real estate, property ownership, design and construction all collide. It's so great to have you here and to share stories with you of innovation, opportunity and challenges. The aim of each episode is to introduce listeners to a proptech innovator who is pushing the boundaries of what's possible across how we design, build, buy, sell, rent and invest in property and all of the associated behaviors and activities around that. And there's a lot now, none of this would be possible without our sponsors.


Kylie Davis

So a very big shout out to Hid digital identification and building access solutions easypay making collecting payments easy for proptex dynamic methods, the innovators behind forms live, REI forms live, and Realworks direct connect making moving easy and the Proptech association of Australia thank you for your support of the podcast. Now, why does building a property cost so much? Well, a lot of the reason is because of the lack of efficiency in the building industry, the manual systems and handoffs and the updates managed through phone calls, email, onsite visits, pdfs, gaps in the supply chain and the demands of governance which require even more administrative work, and the lack of visibility across that entire process, which culminates in defect correction at the end. In fact, according to Deakin University, at least 13% of the cost of a building is attributed to rework in some way.


Kylie Davis

But my guest in this episode is fixing all of that. Justin Williams is the founder of Construction ID by Wiseworking, a building process and document management platform that captures all of the information in a build from design through to post building management, and it's all in one system. They were the winners of the Proptech awards in 2022 and a finalist again this year. So here to tell us all about construction id by Wise working Justin Williams. Welcome to the Proptech podcast.


Justin Williams

Thanks for having me, Kylie. This is a real pleasure and hopefully it's not too boring for everyone.

Kylie Davis

So I'm really looking forward to this conversation about transforming construction because I think it is an industry that really needs a lot of change to happen in it to make improve it. But look, Justin, first question is always the hardest and it is our elevator pitch. So tell me what the construction id, elevator pitch is.


Justin Williams

Construction id, by wise working is a SaaS software solution for the built environment. We exist to build the world and make it a better place. A building consists of multiple phases that may span over 50 years. Software currently services a single phase of the building, for example, tendering or construction. Construction services all the phases, the entire lifespan of the building, with detailed project and document management forms and reporting.


Kylie Davis

Okay, so you're a SaaS platform, you're covering the whole phase of a building's lifecycle, is that correct?


Justin Williams

Correct.


Kylie Davis

And what's the actual problem that you're solving?


Justin Williams

So the actual problem we solve, there's quite a few of them actually.


Kylie Davis

That's good. We love lots of problems. Don't worry about that.


Justin Williams

Look, if anyone's ever experienced trying to find that golden email or that bit of information that they need at present, they have to switch across different apps and different platforms, or look through different way through emails looking for the magic piece of information. Construction id means that it's a central platform for users and that's the building's team to view, communicate and manage the entire building throughout its life. So it eliminates information silos, so information from each stage is stored. What that means is information from each stage is stored on a separate software and database for each different role. Instead of that, it's all done centrally. It means that migration and rebuilding of the data is avoided because that often leads to miscommunication, having it stored separately, miscommunication, or even data entry errors and lost information.


Justin Williams

It creates visibility so that anyone, particularly the property developer, can get an accurate, real time view of where the building is at, rather than the, I won't say the glossed picture that they sometimes get about where the building is at, and then they get told too late that there's actually a delay or a cost overrun. It means that history is all in the one place. So that when an issue is fixed, and I'll go into an example of what that could actually mean later on, when the issue is fixed, the history is there to help aid that fix.


Kylie Davis

Right.


Justin Williams

And it actually lowers the cost of development because it stops rework occurring. It avoids additional software costs at each stage because traditionally what would happen is every different stage of the building would require a bit of different piece of software and that would be bought by that individual but built into their tender price. So ultimately what it does is it lowers the actual cost of building. It reduces is rework. Like I mentioned before, we've done some research with Deakin University in Victoria, and rework actually costs as much as 13%. Generally between ten and 13% of a building's costs over its lifespan can be contributed to rework. And rework could be reattending an issue, fixing a defect that was fixed incorrectly a few years ago, or data entry of something that was done previously. So doing the data entry twice.


Kylie Davis

Okay, so what you've got is a platform that is like a centralized communication platform that's bringing together all of these different conversations that happen around a building and different elements of software that disparate pieces of software that are used to manage bits and pieces and streamlining all of that. Is that correct?


Justin Williams

Well, it's a communication platform, but also it's what you call a document control and quality control platform. Rather than just sharing communication and documents, it actually produces the forms, the quality forms that you would need to, for example, that the builder has to complete to do an inspection test record to prove that they've installed the plastering correctly in a room. So it gives the team visibility of the right processes have always been followed, but also the right documents are being looked at.


Kylie Davis

Okay. Because I can imagine, oh, look, I can only imagine what the email communication trial looks like at the moment using email, excel and a filing cabinet or a whiteboard, right?


Justin Williams

Absolutely. It's a mismatch.


Kylie Davis

This is what you're replacing. I can imagine. So how far back or where does the use of construction id by wise working start, Justin?


Justin Williams

It actually starts at design and tendering. So the idea is the more information you can get into this system, this central repository, the, so we encourage users to use this through design phase, then into construction phase, then afterwards into operational phase, because the more information you get in there, the more benefits that all of the users get out of the system.


Kylie Davis

Yeah. And does it then translate into just owning and operating the building, or do you hand off to a different, or can you hand that data off to a different platform after that?

Justin Williams

Ideally it translates into operations of the building, they retain it, but if they have a different provider or the owner's corporation doesn't want to use construction id, then yes, we can export everything, all that information, they can have access to it.


Kylie Davis

Okay, so do you specialize in particular types of buildings? Because you just mentioned Australia then, which is what I'm seizing on. Or is it any kind of building?


Justin Williams

Look, it's any kind of building. And our current clients are right from, as you say, the top end tier one strata companies right down to small residential buildings. Because the idea of construction id is because it's scalable and because you can sort of pick and choose what you want to use. It's modular, it's applicable to any type of built environment project.


Kylie Davis

Okay? So the benefits of using it are that I'm going to save a hell of a lot of time, I guess, looking for lost records. It's keeping everything in one place and it's creating almost, well, it's creating a data trail, right, of what's gone on in this building. And all the information is applicable to this building. And it's building decisions or construction decisions that have been made across the is. That is so important because I was talking to the guys at PT blink the other day and we kind of ended up having a bit of a vast conversation around how invisible so much of the data is in construction. Not because it doesn't exist, but because it's never been digitized, right?


Justin Williams

Yes, it's never been digitized. And you're right, it is sitting in silos. I won't say it's people's heads, but when someone tells them another part, if it's sitting offline, when someone tells someone the story of where things are at, it's their story rather than the true story. And, and what construction id does with that visibility is avoids surprises. And it's not like someone isn't there to tap you on the hand and penalize you. It's so that it's seen early and then you can approach it as a team so you can make the decisions before the problems actually occur.


Kylie Davis

Right. So how long have you guys been around for.


Justin Williams

Wise working actually started in 2011, and so we've been around for a long time. Construction id is the evolution of all the systems and intellectual property that we built over all those years. We started on building defects and moved into ohns and then went to post construction and built lots and lots of different apps. But everything was brought together with construction id because as you said, there's lots of lost data. There's lots of data out. There's no doubt that the data is out there, but nothing actually brings the data all together. And the idea with construction id covering all those phases and having all of those different points of functionality does bring all that data together.


Kylie Davis

So how long has construction id been in market for.


Justin Williams

So I actually started building construction id during the COVID the lockdown.


Kylie Davis

So many of us did a bit of breathing space to code.


Justin Williams

Exactly.


Kylie Davis

You are not the first.


Justin Williams

Yeah.


Kylie Davis

I just have this vision of reflecting back on Covid of all of these developers sitting in their rooms coding while they waited for the pandemic to end. It's kind of really what happened 2020, when you started to pull it together.


Justin Williams

Put it all together. Since then going to market, we've had some success with the tier ones. The product has been used nationally for all different phases of building. So that's a great thing. But being a bootstrap company, our challenge now is to get the product out there.


Kylie Davis

Do you want to do a bit of a humble brag and tell us who some of your clients are?


Justin Williams

Well, look, I'll start with the top end of town. So we're working with Seabus property and then just to show got another few other tier ones, which I'm not too keen to do a humble brag about one. But at the different end of market we've got in the residential area, we're working with Burbank Australia down in Victoria on residential projects. And every different sector has its own unique challenges and quirks. And construction id isn't a one shoe fits all product, but it can be actually tweaked depending on the needs of the customer and the market.


Kylie Davis

So your clients are doing everything from building high rise commercial buildings all the way through to individual residential home developments.


Justin Williams

Correct.


Kylie Davis

Wow. Okay. And everything in between?


Justin Williams

Everything in between.


Kylie Davis

Because your platform doesn't care. It's the process that you're automating. You don't care what the end box looks like. Okay. That is a really impressive client list. And for a prop tech that's only been around as a technology solution since 2020. Although I appreciate that you guys, were you consulting or did you before?


Justin Williams

With wise working, we started the journey wanting to do software consulting and contracting, but found ourselves pulled towards the software. Because when we started wise working, there wasn't much out there. There was a lot of demand for the software. Nowadays it's different. There's software glore, but that software, there's a lot of point solutions out there that only sort of service one part of the problem. We're looking to tackle the whole end. To end the whole building. So rather than a two year involvement, we're looking for a 50 year involvement. And generally speaking, that is through the developer or even a financier or insurance company, oddly enough, that's concerned with the big picture that their investments actually risk protected.


Justin Williams

And you do that by, yes, aiding the builder and the subcontractors and the owners corporation, but ultimately you need to give that visibility to who's funding the project.


Kylie Davis

You have just given me a major conversations that I've had recently with people. But one of the things I see maybe we're doing incorrectly as an industry in proptech is we're trying to solve the pain for end user clients when in fact we should possibly be selling the value of the benefits of our software to the finances. The finances follow the money, right?


Justin Williams

Absolutely.


Kylie Davis

Especially in this developer and big space, because trying to convince people that, look, what you're doing at the moment is really painful, please stop it. Like we've got a solution is like. But when you say, look, unless you start to be accountable for the dollars by the money behind this project wants you to save what you save and deliver a better product and take less time doing it, because the time, the quality and the cost of things in construction is so broken, it's so unnecessarily expensive, long and unaffordable. Right. Because the way we construct currently is making our properties unaffordable.


Justin Williams

Absolutely.


Kylie Davis

Yeah. Maybe we need to pivot into influencing the construction.


Kylie Davis

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Kylie Davis

So I want to unpack this a little bit more. You do have a really impressive client list without giving too much away. How did you win them over? How have you been so successful so quickly?


Justin Williams

I luckily enough have a decent network. Good, but a network cannot always help. So far, having worked in property and construction for a number of years, I've had the pleasure of working for a tier one company being pro build who don't exist anymore, as everyone knows. But those pro build people scattered and went to different companies. So luckily I was able to contact some of those companies through the people that I knew. But like I was saying before, a network can only get you so far. So that's the next step with our business, is to scale the business and do more marketing and potentially engage a salesperson to actually chase those prospects.


Kylie Davis

Yeah, well, your black book is no use if your tech doesn't work right. So all you do is really annoy everyone in your black book. So how big are you guys now? How big is construction? Id by wise working.


Justin Williams

We'Re a small team of seven based in Victoria and in Australia, so we do the bulk of our development offshore. We do some development onshore, but we do the bulk of it offshore. And that's to ensure that we get a quick product. But we do the quality management within Australia and that's really important, that mix there. And it allows that the companies be agile and implement tweaks and customizations for clients quickly, but also have that quality testing process there so that it vets those developments and makes sure that the developments are what the customer actually asks for. Or as you say, work.


Kylie Davis

Yeah. So what have been the biggest challenges in getting it to this stage so far?


Justin Williams

Look, where do I start? There's been lots and lots of challenges. And like I was saying before, we've taken the approach of bootstrapping. So it gives us that flexibility to build the product to the size that it actually is. Early days, we made that decision to try and hold on for as long as possible before we got investors that limited the scope of what this product could actually be. So we've had the opportunity to grow the product and now that approach has got pros and cons. Major Con is that you don't grow anywhere nearly quickly as you want. That network, my personal network, and being the only sales mechanism we've had in the past is a major one as well. It's been a really real challenge.


Justin Williams

But the three major challenges that I've listed down here, make sure that you always do your research and you don't over promise. You always under promise and you always over deliver. I know that's a cliche, but clients really appreciate something which is believable. And look, the second thing that I learned is you don't trust. Don't put all your trust into a good relationship or into good faith. Make sure you build a contract. Protect yourself. My personal strength is in solutions and solution delivery and solution architecture, but my weakness is in commercials and contracts. So I brought on a co founder last year and look, that's really changed the business and the way that the business is looking to scale up. His first thing he did was implement contracts.


Justin Williams

And that not only protects the account, but it avoids the situation that we encountered lots of times in this journey where you've sold to an individual, they've got the vision, they thought how great it is, and then they leave the company, someone else, new starts and they want to replicate what they did at their old company. And without the contract, you got absolutely no protection against that.


Kylie Davis

Was there a last one? No go.


Justin Williams

I was going to say the last one is with your thinking is building a system and not just a solution. So if a client's asking for ABC, you don't just give them a product as ABC, you think about what the D is, how that fits into the bigger picture. When you build it, you're not just building a, B and C all the time, A, B and C. You're actually thinking about ABCD and how strategically you can actually benefit from that development.


Kylie Davis

Fantastic. Thank you for sharing that. Now, what's the name of your co founder? Give him a shout out.


Justin Williams

So, Craig Broadband. And he, over this journey, have met lots of potential people to bring into the business, but he has gone through the journey personally. He's actually built up a software company, sold the software and knows all the pitfalls that can be had during the journey.


Kylie Davis

Fantastic. And look, I loved what you mentioned about the challenges because it talks about as a founder, you have to recognize both your strengths and your weaknesses, right. And then build a team around you that complements your weaknesses, basically. That sounds weird and it sounds like it's negative. And I don't mean that in any way, shape or form. You actually want people who are good at the stuff that you're not good at, but you need the self awareness to know, look, I'm not good at that, but it is important and so I'm going to not abdicate responsibility for it. But I recognize how important it is and I'm going to let good people do good work in that space and I'm going to get out of their way and let them do it. Right. Fantastic. So what is the one thing that you wish?

Kylie Davis

What's the one thing you know now that you wished when you started that you knew?


Justin Williams

Look, I touched on the point before about not sort of being too naive.


Kylie Davis

Trusting.


Justin Williams

Trusting.


Kylie Davis

Trusting in the vicious world of commercial and beginning construction.


Justin Williams

That's the one thing I knew. Look, the other thing, which I've learned, and you touched on that point just before, is working with the right people and having the right people in your organization, whether that's as an employer or as a co founder, but having that right sounding board in there to challenge your decision making. But also, as you said, you need that self awareness to know that you need that other bit of advice. Because I know that if I'd have had that sounding board construction id could have been started two or three years earlier, the country, the industry, wouldn't be in the situation. Hopefully it isn't in at the moment where companies are going insolvent, as you said, everyone's complaining about costs and the lack of revenue, when in reality the discussion should start at a different point.


Justin Williams

And that might be with the financiers or insurers of the other projects.


Kylie Davis

Yeah, it's like we're trying to fix it from, we're trying to fix it backwards. At the moment, we're kind of looking at the finished product and going, oh.


Justin Williams

They should have been broken. And we're trying to put it all back together.


Kylie Davis

And I see this across so much of the legislative areas that cover all of proptech, whether it's commercial or construction or residential, governments are there to protect consumers. And the way they protect consumers is putting layers of, or putting legislation or laws in place and bureaucracy in place, which should be which. There's two ways we can look at it. We can look at it as bureaucracy that is just annoying and difficult and adds cost and problems, or we can see it as governance that is indicating to us what is wrong in the current business model.


Kylie Davis

So we need to actually be taking, the problem that we've got with it at the moment is that adding legislative complexity and obligation on a broken process puts more pressure on the people to deliver those protections while also delivering to the economies that are being required of do it faster, do it smart, do it cheaper. And so we are really at this crisis inflection point at the moment where the risks to consumers are extraordinarily high because the burden of achieving the end result is completely human focused. We're insisting that it's completely human focused because we're reluctant to embrace the technology that will actually enable us to. And there's a great saying that if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.


Kylie Davis

And ironically, I think the issue for the construction industry is to understand there is a whole toolkit out there of different tools, including toolkits like construction id, that can be used to start to bring all this stuff together, to let your people do the people stuff and let the governance and the process and the compliance and the documentation and the data start to come together to really extract great value from your business and really impact your ability to deliver.


Justin Williams

Sorry, I'll get off my soapbox. I think that's because people see technology as something that will replace you or make you redundant. They don't actually see it's something that's there to actually assist you and assist you in a positive way. In a positive way that not just benefits you, but can benefit everyone on the building. Because of that mindset, I feel that the whole digitization of construction and property is a bit of a buzword at the moment. Feel that the journey has only really just started. All we're doing is replicating what is there already and what is there already. It's clearly broken and it's not working. Needs to be improved, needs to be changed. It's when we consider future technologies like artificial intelligence and robotic building, that's really just a few of the beneficial technologies that are out there.


Justin Williams

But it's that next stage where we're really going to jump and jump forward and construction is really going to change. But first of all, we need to change that mindset that technologies are just there to replace me or make me redundant.


Kylie Davis

Yeah. The future is collaborative, right? The future is that combination of technology and human, with us all doing the things that we're both sides doing the stuff that we're really good at natively.


Justin Williams

Absolutely.


Kylie Davis

I got asked at the Pippa conference recently, how do people compete with AI? It's like, well, be more human, but don't. That's because artificial intelligence is by its nature artificial. And while it can process and capture an awful lot more than we can as humans and take a lot more data into account, we still hold the reins around how it's structured and how it's working.


Justin Williams

Absolutely.


Kylie Davis

This seems like a normal spot to add in or to ask the question around what you see the trends are of what's going to be impacting construction id or the technology in the construction industry over the next five years. How do you think? I feel like construction is so nascent in this space, but has so many, and to any of the builders or developers out there who go, oh, this is all very unknown and very difficult and I don't know, residential proptech and its adoption, and then commercial prop tech and residential adoption is ahead of the curve because it started the earliest. And so we can see how this goes, right. There are trends and things to recognize, and commercial property has been sort of bit behind it, but is now sort of following exactly the same or a very similar adoption curve.


Kylie Davis

But what do you see? Are the next five years going to look like for construction technology?


Justin Williams

Well, look, as I said, we're replicating a lot of processes at the moment, but I think the next five years can really highlight how powerful data is in construction property. And construction data can be used to actually prevent a lot of issues occurring in the first place. The biggest cost, as I said, over the lifecycle of a building is rework, fixing up old issues which have been fixed previously, but fixed previously incorrectly or in a band aid way that only lasts a few years, and then suddenly the same problem resurfaces. What AI and machine learning can do is actually interrogate that data and say that, okay, well, you've got a potential problem there. And unless that problem is fixed in this way, then that problem will reoccur.


Justin Williams

So that rather than dealing with costs or fixing something once it's broken, you can use that data to actually forecast that issue occurring and prevent that cost in the first place. And data can actually save you money again when that industry mindset changes. And like you said, going with the money is possibly the best way. If you tell the insurance company or the financier that these processes need to be implemented to prevent cost blowouts later on, then it's more.


Kylie Davis

It'll happen.


Justin Williams

Exactly.


Kylie Davis

Yeah. I think there's a superpower here that we need to unleash. We need to embrace our brothers and sisters in the insurance. And I am making a note to reach out to fintech Australia and insurer and regtech as we hopefully they listen to this podcast. Yeah, no, well, I think I might reach out to a couple of them, say, right, I think we need to talk. Well, look. And so what is on the roadmap for construction id by wise working Justin, what's coming up in your next couple of releases or in your future?


Justin Williams

Sure. So look, there's the short term plan, which is making things look sexy, look always aesthetically pleasing. There's functional improvements, but the really exciting stuff that we're working on at the moment is with that big data that we was talking about before, we're looking into really exciting stuff like augmented reality. We're looking into what artificial intelligence looks like with all that data there. And we're also looking at building up some relationships with companies that specialize in robotic building. Because I really foresee that, I don't know if it's five years or ten years time that will have a major change on our industry. And aligning ourselves with good channel partners is definitely on the radar.


Justin Williams

We're already working with companies like Dropbox and MIOB, but also looking into companies that are focused on research and innovation and how we can bring that into this industry and look over time. I think that through scaling and increasing adoption of construction, id will hopefully change the industry. And that change on the industry will have an impact on not only the economy, but also society.


Kylie Davis

It would be wonderful. I mean, I haven't done any, this is an opinion, not any kind of research, but I am going to go away and have a look at how much of construction costs increased over the past five years or eight to ten, like five years and ten years. I want to kind of have a look at that period because wouldn't it be wonderful if from now on through the adoption of the technology that we know is out there, the next five years actually costs stayed the same. We started to actually produce more because we know that productivity and construction, yeah, because we know that product. Wouldn't it be, that would be a massive real improvement.


Kylie Davis

I mean, it would be effectively, things effectively sort of reducing in cost because they're staying the same, but not do that at the expense of human beings in the process, actually through technology adoption. Now, Justin Construction ID by wiseworking was a finalist in the Proptech awards this year, and on the night there was a bit of a glitch and we didn't give you the due recognition that you deserved as a finalist. So I am very sorry about that. That was straight down to me not proofing the slides properly. So I'm really sorry about that. But well done on being a finalist in the Proptech awards. I've loved talking to you about construction id and wiseworking and that whole construction ecosystem. So thank you so much for being on the Proptech podcast.


Justin Williams

Thank you so much. Thank you.


Kylie Davis

It's been great.


Kylie Davis

So what do you think about construction id by wiseworking? As we discussed in the podcast, building and construction desperately needs technology solutions that deliver productivity improvements and savings in both costs and the time that it takes to conceive and complete jobs. And that can only happen through centralizing these elements in a digital platform. So much of construction is actually about documentation and logistics, but traditional methods of managing buildings keeps that data dark and everything in silos. What I love about solutions like construction id is that they create a central source that joins the disparate elements together and provides data transparency, which in turn empowers further efficiency improvements and savings. Now, they were worthy winners of the Proptech awards in 2022 and finalists again in 2023. So if you are in the building industry and looking to revolutionize your business, check them out.


Kylie Davis

Now if you have enjoyed this episode of the Proptech podcast, I would love you to tell all your friends or drop me a line either via email or LinkedIn or on our Facebook page and you can follow this podcast on Spotify, Google Podcasts, anchor, Apple, iTunes, and anywhere good podcasts are heard. I would like to thank my podcast producer, the fabulous Charlie Hollands podcast website editors Jill Escadero and Shira Sexison, and our sponsors hid digital identification solutions for your building direct connect making moving easy dynamic methods the name behind forms live, REI forms live and Realworks easypay making collecting payments easy for proptechs and the Proptech Association Australia's industry body, which is supporting the flourishing proptech community. Now, if you're an australian or New Zealand proptech who would like to be on the show, please drop me a line via LinkedIn or email.


Kylie Davis

Kylie@proptechassociation.com au thanks so much everyone. Until next time, keep on propteching.


Kylie Davis

Do you run a proptech business or are you the founder of a proptech? Make sure you join the Proptech association of Australia. It's Australia's new not for profit association.


Kylie Davis

Made up of tech people who are.


Kylie Davis

Passionate about the property industry and committed to improving experiences in how we buy, sell, rent, manage, build and finance property. Joining will give you access to events and networks across Australia and globally. To help you promote and grow your business. Go to proptechassociation.com au and follow the prompts to join.