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How analytics can drive smarter Engineering and Construction decisions
Three applications illustrate how companies are beginning to embrace data solutions while establishing a foundation for more ambitious initiatives in the future.
engineering and construction
 Engineering and Construction
2/14/2019 9:30 AMIndustry NewsLerato Mashego2/14/2019 9:30 AM
Engineering recruitment, network engineering, network recruitment

Three applications illustrate how companies are beginning to embrace data solutions while establishing a foundation for more ambThree applications illustrate how companies are beginning to embrace data solutions while establishing a foundation for more ambitious initiatives in the future.

The construction business faces a major productivity challenge. While labour productivity in the global economy has increased by an average of 2.8 per cent a year over the past two decades, and in manufacturing by an impressive 3.6 per cent, the construction sector has registered a mere 1 per cent annual improvement. As the capital-project partners responsible for execution, engineering and construction (E&C) firms are well positioned to drive changes that can help close this troubling gap.

To do so, some are turning to data-driven solutions that have already revolutionized many other corners of the economy. These techniques are emerging as vital tools for improving capital project outcomes and reducing risk. By enabling E&C companies to leverage the vast amounts of data they already collect, analytics can uncover critical insights that both speed up and improve the quality of management decisions. In particular, they can help project teams assess market conditions, portfolio composition, and individual project performance.

1. Should we bid on this project, and if so, how much?

Usually, E&C firms must decide whether to bid on a project based on incomplete information. Major construction projects often have a five- or 10-year timeline, if not longer, which makes it difficult to accurately define the scope and predict likely complexities or complications up front. Companies rely on staff experience to weigh potential risks and profitability, but those judgments are subject to inherent biases and may be affected by ambitious growth targets or individual incentives.

Misjudging risks and underestimating costs can prove disastrous. In a business with typical margins of 5 to 7 per cent, underestimating a bid by 10 per cent without the ability to recover the extra costs can make the project an expensive money-loser for the E&C firm. Conversely, overpricing a project by building in too big a contingency cushion will likely mean the loss of the contract—something a firm can ill afford in an industry with win rates of merely 15 to 25 per cent.

Data modelling can replace cognitive bias and flawed assumptions with fact-based insights about a project’s statistical chances of success. By analysing historical information such as types of labour and contract arrangements, regional spending trends, and project size, analytics can assess the probabilities of project outcomes. Those, in turn, enable teams to better evaluate the attractiveness of a given project, re-balance the portfolio away from jobs that tend to underperform and calculate the right level of contingency to include in a bid.

2. Are the subcontractor bids reasonable?

When E&C firms receive bids from subcontractors, they turn to procurement specialists to assess the quotes. These individuals often rely on parametric estimates to evaluate the quoted costs and tap the expertise of project managers, slowing down the process. Complex estimates pass through multiple reviewers, with each one adjusting the estimate based on his or her own experience and judgement (as well as potential bias).

Despite these extensive consultations, the lack of an empirical foundation makes it hard for engineering companies to credibly challenge a subcontractor’s estimates beyond relying on generalized rules of thumb. In addition, while many companies maintain (and subscribe to) databases of parametric cost factors for bidding, they rarely follow up with the actual costs at the end of their projects to gauge the accuracy of those estimates.

Analytics can provide a solution to these problems. By analysing individual drivers of past project costs, such tools can enable E&C companies to rapidly assess a realistic level of effort and cost for a project and compare those figures to subcontractor quotes.

3. Is the project about to run into trouble?

Traditional project controls often lag the incurrence of costs by days or weeks, which makes them an effective tool for retrospective reporting but not for managing ongoing projects. The controls also don’t account for the interconnectivity of different metrics and the unique combinations that may have outsized effects on performance.

Unable to continually track and grapple with all the data a project generates, managers tend to follow a few key performance indicators. The resulting incomplete picture of the project’s daily progress can lead to flawed decisions on the ground.

Analytical tools can deliver a significant improvement on this front by allowing companies to quickly and continuously analyse project data and assess progress, enabling managers to react faster to potential problems. With real-time or near-real-time project controls in place, an E&C firm can track events or problems known to correlate with the erosion of bid margins, such as a one-day weather delay or three consecutive days of a subcontractor’s failure to complete designated tasks.

Engineering and construction firms wishing to prepare for the digital age will need to establish a new operating model. Such a shift requires treating digital initiatives as part of the core strategy, adapting processes and organizational structures, and ensuring staff have the necessary training to deploy, troubleshoot, and lead digital initiatives. But the first step in such transformations is applying analytics to assess current operations and performance.

Companies also need to establish standards for the data they collect in the future. Whether it’s a full-fledged data management system or simply a standard way of tagging and collecting information, standards for what you want to collect and how you collect it are critical to a long-term analytics strategy.

As digitization penetrates all parts of the economy, including engineering and construction, capitalizing on the insights hidden in data will become essential. E&C companies reluctant to invest in the systems and skills needed to harness what they have collected should remember that competitors who have successfully made the move are already reaping significant benefits. Firms that embrace analytics can make sharper bids, thus avoiding unprofitable projects and increasing their win rates on those with strong margin potential. They conduct savvier negotiations with subcontractors, reducing costs and increasing decision speed. And they anticipate problems with ongoing projects, allowing managers to intervene before potential delays and cost overruns turn into real ones. As the industry increasingly deploys these tools, the companies that get in early will likely emerge as leaders.

Source: McKinsey & Company- Capital Projects & Infrastructure

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South Africa’s fast-growing economy
South Africa's informal sector is believed to be small in comparison with other developing countries, its demonstrating sustainable growth, particularly in respect of employment.
informal sector
2/7/2019 1:55 PMIndustry NewsLerato Mashego2/7/2019 1:55 PM
Finance job, Engineering jobs, Construction, Mining, Manufacturing,

informal sectorDid you know that the informal sector provides employment and income to more than 2.3 million people and business owners in South Africa? In addition, studies reveal that one in six South Africans who are employed, work in the informal sector. Although South Africa's informal sector is believed to be small in comparison with other developing countries, its demonstrating sustainable growth, particularly in respect of employment.   

What is the informal sector?

Any small enterprises with less than five employees, based in low earning neighbourhoods, and which generate low earnings are considered to belong in the informal sector. These enterprises are not incorporated or registered for taxation.

The role the informal sector has on SAs economy

The effect this sector has in poverty-stricken areas is remarkable – it alleviates poverty. These economic activities provide income for people in these areas.   In fact, these enterprises provide about 850 000 paid jobs, according to a 2013 study which revealed that this is almost twice the amount the formal mining sector made that year.

The study further reveals that while 60 000 jobs were lost due to employment cut-backs, 150 000 jobs were created by one and multi-person enterprises. Further studies uncovered that the sector, mainly in the construction, retail trade and services, manufacturing and communication industries, created more than half a million jobs in the sector in 2013.

However, reports suggest that while the informal sector has a positive impact on the country, it does bear the risk of closing down within six months. Researchers estimated that the loss of 100 jobs in the informal sector is equivalent to losing 60-80 jobs in the formal sector, something policymakers should take into account.

Will it solve unemployment?

Not entirely. However, it should be an integral part of solving the problems of poverty, unemployment and inequality by absorbing people not employed by the formal sector.

Inclusive strategy

If the country aims to attain economic growth, it needs a clearly defined inclusive economic growth strategy that allows the poor to participate. An enabled, well-supported and increasingly dynamic sector will positively influence the economy through job creation and comprehensive growth. As a result, the country will have an informal sector that generates more practical incomes and better quality employment.

Different approaches such as formalisation and providing financial services will enable this sector to flourish as a new member of the economy.

Are you looking for an IT jobFinance jobEngineering job, or a Contracting assignment? Contact Network Recruitment, the centre of recruitment excellence.

Java vs Kotlin
Will Kotlin take on Java as the most popular programming language in the world?
programming languages
1/31/2019 9:35 AMIndustry NewsLerato Mashego1/31/2019 9:35 AM
C# developer, Java developer, PHP developer, software development, C++ developer

programming languagesJava and C have still ranked the most popular programming languages in the world, but will Kotlin take over? 

According to the Tiobe Index for January 2019, Java, C, and Python remain the most popular programming languages in the world. Other popular languages include C++ and Visual Basic, all ranked highly on the index.

While Python gained popularity significantly over the past year, Java remains the most popular language. It has dominated the rankings for years and still shows high year-over-year growth, meaning it is not going anywhere for now.

There are multiple reasons for the extended popularity of this programming language, from its ease of use and capability to its widespread adoption and development.

Powerful and widely adopted

Many developers learn Java as one of their first programming languages, with its relatively simple syntax making for easier reading and understanding of functionality. The language is also object-oriented and has a useful API, which provides many easy-to-use features.

While these make for a powerful and accessible programming language, the popularity of Java is the direct result of its adoption across platforms and its community investment. Oracle has made Java available for free to all developers, and this has cultivated a strong community which produces a large collection of open-source libraries.

Perhaps most importantly, Java can run independently on the Java Virtual Machine – making it ideal for web programming and cross-platform applications. Java developers can create applications for desktops, mobile, online platforms, and more, thanks to the language's versatility.

The programming language currently has a variety of uses and is used to build everything from Google docs to mobile games. Most commonly, it is a tool to make small application models for use in web environments like e-commerce websites or financial trading platforms.

A number of useful software platforms are also created using Java, including Netbeans, Eclipse, and IntelliJ. While it can be used to build impressive video games like Minecraft, it can also be used in an embedded environment, as any system only needs 130KB of RAM to use Java technology.

The versatile programming language has also become the default for scientific applications. The programming language is taught at universities and various other educational institutions worldwide, and is also available as a course from massive online open course (MOOC) platforms, including UdemyEdX, and Coursera.

Kotlin

Java is not without its competitors though, even though they do not appear in the top 10 rankings for popularity of programming languages. While it does not appear on the top 10 list, Tiobe predicts that the programming language Kotlin will enter the top 20 list this year due to its rapidly growing popularity.

Kotlin is designed to fully integrate with Java and the Java Virtual Machine but offers more syntax that is concise and the option to compile to JavaScript. It also fixes a number of issues, which Java suffers from. For example, its null reference is controlled by the type system, arrays in Kotlin are invariant, it has proper function types and does not have checked exceptions.

Google also officially supports Kotlin for mobile development on Android, and the language is included as an alternative to Java in Android Studio. Kotlin is currently ranked at 31 on the Tiobe Index, but it is expected to soar up the rankings over time.

However, it still has a long way to go before it takes on Java for the title of the most popular programming language in the world.

Source: MyBroadband

Are you looking for an IT jobFinance job, Engineering job, or a Contracting assignment? Contact Network Recruitment, the centre of recruitment excellence.

Women: the key to fighting climate change in Africa
Empowering females in Africa could be the answer we need to combat climate change.
climate change
1/31/2019 8:35 AMIndustry NewsLerato Mashego1/31/2019 8:35 AM
Engineering, renewable energy

climate changeEmpowering females in Africa could be the answer we need to combat climate change, writes www.infrastructurene.ws

For Africa to be better equipped to fight climate change, cope with disasters and build its green energy sector it needs to empower its women and girls.

This was the view of African delegates discussing the implementation of the Paris Agreement in Katowice Poland recently.

According to Mafalda Duarte, head of the Climate Investment Fund, research shows that agreements on the environment are more likely to be ratified and projects around natural resources, such as water, are more likely to succeed if women are involved in decision making.

Addressing needs

Dana Elhassan, senior gender expert at the African Development Bank added that empowering women in the context of climate change empowers a family, a community and a country.

"You cannot solve a problem with half the team. A lot of the unpaid work that women do, such as collecting firewood and water, and caring for the family, are massively affected by climate change – so we have to make sure adaptation initiatives address their needs, vulnerabilities and potential," she said.

Economic gains

When women are empowered equally to men there is a massive leap forward in economic gains: a recent McKinsey study found that if women were participating economically as much as men, they would be adding 28 trillion dollars to global GDP by 2025.

In Africa, lack of access to finance has resulted in an estimated $42 billion financing gap for women entrepreneurs across business value chains.

Yet unlocking African women's ingenuity and giving them access to finance could generate technological advancements that help deal with climate change, believes the African Development Bank.

Source: www.infrastructurene.ws 

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How blockchain will change the finance industry
The benefits of blockchain in finance.
blockchain_in_the_finance_industry
9/20/2018 2:40 PMIndustry NewsLerato Mashego9/20/2018 2:40 PM
Finance industry, finance sector, accounting, auditing, internal auditing

Blockchain, the new technology associated with cryptocurrencies, promises to bring about a substantial change to industries such as accounting and auditing. It is said that in future it will be as significant to the accounting industry (through automation and streamlining of manual processes) as the software that is currently being utilised to record and reconcile financial transactions.

What are the benefits of blockchain?
Working as a global and public ledger, blockchain cannot be tampered with or corrupted even if you're the owner of the accounting system. This is due to that fact that it doesn't have a central database. This permanent cryptographically sealed document creates a trail of financial DNA allowing information to be stored across a number of computers, making hacking technically impossible while allowing participants to verify and audit transactions without a third party (like lawyers etc.).

Real-time updates
Furthermore, it is perfect for financial and accounting applications as information is updated in real-time and each 'block' or transaction is time-stamped. In addition, data cannot be deleted as changes and all amendments are transparent. This assists in curbing any fraudulent activity.

Faster audits
According to Charles Pittaway, Managing Director of Sage Pay, "transparency and standardisation will enable auditors to verify many of the records they need to look at automatically. This could, within the next 10 to 15 years, reduce the manual tasks involved in auditing, though it is likely that human auditors will still be needed to sign off audits and provide advice around complex transactions". This way, audits will become faster, simpler, more reliable and less prone to error.

Simplified transactions
Blockchain will simplify financial transactions between a company and its supplier. Rather than keep and reconcile records of the same transaction, the two parties will record them on a shared blockchain ledger, allowing them to streamline invoicing, payments and other business-to-business transactions. "Other future applications for blockchain in accounting might include authenticating the ownership and history of an asset the company is buying or selling," Pittaway mentions.

While automation is inevitable for accountants and auditors, Pittaway says there will still be a demand for financial professionals and practices as clients will still require strategic advice in numerous industries.

Are you looking for a Finance job, or a Contracting assignment? Contact Network Recruitment, your trusted partner in specialist IT, Finance and Engineering placements for 30 years.

Closing the gender gap in ICT
Here are five tips that can help to close the gap in the ICT sector.
closingthegendergapinICT
8/30/2018 9:00 AMIndustry NewsLerato Mashego8/30/2018 9:00 AM
software development, IT jobs, C# Developer job, PHP Developer jobs, Web Developer jobs

ICTLorraine Steyn is the founder of Khaniysa Real Systems (KRS), an organisation that delivers ICT consulting and software development services to businesses and government departments across the country. Having launched KRS in 1987 at the age of 24, Steyn was the first women to become a Delphi Certified Developer in South Africa.

Today she is an esteemed leader in the ICT industry and runs a business that employs over 60 Software Developers. Furthermore, her organisation helps young programmers to make their mark in this profession.

While women have made significant progress, Steyn says there is more that needs to done especially in technical fields. "Women have made some progress, but only in what is referred to as "soft" titles such as Project Managers, Designers, Scrum Managers and Social Media Managers whereas women are still a minority in technically related fields like software engineering and development," Steyn explains.

Here are five tips that can help to close the gap in the ICT sector.

1.    Breaking common gender stereotypes

According to Steyn, gender stereotypes and roles are what influences a young girl's career choice. By changing the common stereotype of giving boys problem-solving toys and girls toys that encourage them to be nurturers, parents should consider buying their daughters toys that stimulate problem-solving skills.

2.    Early exposure to tech

One important point Steyn raises is that boys are exposed to tech at an early age through computer gaming thus putting them ahead of the pack. "Boys have an edge through computer gaming.  From an early age, computing devices are often given to boys and not girls, Steyn explains. To even the playing field, she suggests that girls be given the same encouragement and opportunity as boys to participate in this sector.

3.    Supportive work environments

To prevent women from moving to 'soft skills' roles in this profession, organisations should aim at creating a supportive working environment. Create a company culture that cares about the development and well-being of female employees; a culture that includes them in meaningful projects, provides them with the opportunity to work autonomously and which encourages participation in organisational decision-making. Supportive work environments will affect the opportunities available to women in this sector.

4.    Have a gender diverse team

In a previous article, we outlined how having a gender diverse leadership is beneficial to your business. Studies have indicated that women in leadership roles provide many benefits for companies. It has been said that software teams that embrace gender diversity tend to outperform homogenous teams.

5.    Connection is the key

Female developers often feel isolated in this profession.  Access to female mentors is a vital component for success. In an article WeThinkCode_ co-founder, Arlene Mulder, mentioned that sometimes all we (women) need is someone to believe in us and encourage us to be bold enough to pursue our dreams. Mentors can provide women in this sector with perspective, help them to view problems through a different lens and help them find success faster.

Are you looking for an IT jobFinance jobEngineering job, or a Contracting assignment? Contact Network Recruitment, the centre of recruitment excellence.

Women in Finance
Career advice for aspiring CAs(SA).
Women in Finance
8/30/2018 9:00 AMIndustry NewsLerato Mashego8/30/2018 9:10 AM
Finance jobs, Finance job opportunities, leadership, finance industry, finance sector, women leaders

Stats indicate that the finance industry is in need of females more specifically female CAs(SA). In their current issue, Accountancy SA, featured eight brilliant women who have managed to find their truest purpose in life and are taking the industry by storm.

Watch the video below to hear what career advice they have for aspiring female CAs(SA).

 


Are you looking for an IT jobFinance job, Engineering job, or a Contracting assignment? Contact Network Recruitment, your trusted partner in specialist IT, Finance and Engineering placements for 30 years.

Women leaders in mining
Watch the below video of Cornish, as she shares her view on the phenomenal achievements of women in the mining industry.
Women leaders in mining
8/21/2018 10:20 AMIndustry NewsLerato Mashego8/21/2018 10:20 AM
Women in mining, leadership, engineering jobs, mining jobs

Women in the mining sector have overcome a range of challenges. Therefore, in honour of women's month, Mining Review Africa editor's, Laura Cornish, recognises women in this sector.

Watch the below video of Cornish, as she shares her view on the phenomenal achievements of women in the mining industry.

 


Are you looking for an Engineering job, or a Contracting assignment? Contact Network Recruitment, your trusted partner in specialist IT, Finance and Engineering placements for 30 years.

Change for women in STEM-related industries
Although great strides have been made to advance women in STEM-industries, more still needs to be done. Closing the gender gap can in return reduce unemployment rates and alleviate poverty.
STEM-related industries
8/16/2018 10:40 AMIndustry NewsLerato Mashego8/16/2018 10:40 AM
STEM, engineering, manufacturing, construction, accounting, IT

STEM-related industriesThe continued improvement in female-occupied C-suit and entrepreneurial roles indicates that great strides have been made to bridge gender inequality in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-related sectors. However, studies show that while more females are graduating from universities, they remain a minority in STEM fields.

Statistics from the World Economic Forum (WEF) reveal that women in South Africa are being under-represented in maths and statistics (4:5), ICT and technology (2:5), as well as engineering, manufacturing, and construction (3:10). This poor representation is restricting South Africa's economy.

PwC Africa's Chief Economist, Lullu Krugel, says that although the tech sector is an exciting, and fast-moving one, women prefer to avoid careers in this sector. She explained that part of the reason for this is the low numbers of young girls pursuing STEM subjects at school and at higher-education levels. Their research also indicates that if companies don't change various cultural and behaviour drives, it's unlikely that this matter will be resolved in the near future.

As such, it's time for educational institutions and companies to collaborate with each other in order to change the perceptions and educate youth about the variety of career opportunities available. Furthermore, if young girls develop an interest in STEM fields, this will place all genders on a level playing field when they start thinking about their career paths. This solution is to make ICT or tech and engineering more appealing to young girls and start teaching the fundamentals of each sector at an early stage.

According to the Executive Director of UN women, Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, this quest for gender equality and women empowerment should be a universal matter.  While addressing delegates at the 9th Thabo Mbeki Africa Day Lecture on 25 May 2018, she emphasised that when it comes to gender equality, it's all-hands-on-deck. "Under-representation of women in decision making bodies from parliaments to media houses, to Boards of Corporation is a global problem," she explained.

Although great strides have been made to advance women in STEM-industries, more still needs to be done. Closing the gender gap can in return reduce unemployment rates and alleviate poverty.

Are you looking for an IT jobFinance job, Engineering job, or a Contracting assignment? Contact Network Recruitment, your trusted partner in specialist IT, Finance and Engineering placements for 30 years.

Renewable energy market a hit
Governments intention to integrate renewable energy sources into the current energy infrastructure.
Renewable-energy
7/13/2018 12:05 PMIndustry NewsLerato Mashego7/13/2018 12:05 AM
Renewables energy, electricity, engineering

renewable energyDid you know that about 80% of South Africa's electricity is from coal plants and only 7% is from renewable energy sources? Many experts think it's time for government to prioritise the latter. In a keynote address at the African Utility Week conference in Cape Town earlier this year, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe informed delegates that government will integrate renewable energy sources into the current energy infrastructure.

This means that government intends to include renewable energy as a means to provide a sizable portion of the country's electricity needs. Radebe reiterated the country's commitment to collaborate with independent power producers as he applauded government's "very successful independent power producers' procurement programme". The plan is to open a new round of renewable agreements with independent power producers in November this year in the hopes of unlocking investments worth R50 billion.

Although the renewable energy market in the country is reasonably young, K2 Management South Africa country director, Hebren James, told media house Creamer Media that South Africa is ahead of the curve. Hebren explains that this is due to power purchase agreements (PPAs) that have been accepted by the National Treasury.

James believes that the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) has so far been a monumental success for the renewable energy market in the country as it has created a suitable environment for competitive bidding, resulting in continued market confidence.

Radebe advised delegates that to date government has concluded 91 projects with a capacity of 63 000 MW.  Of the 91 projects, 63 have a combined capacity of 3 800 MW which has been connected to the grid. In addition, approximately R136 billion has already been invested in the country's economy with investments in the range of R56 million expected over the next three to five years.

South Africa will be joining countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya and Morocco who have already incorporated renewable energy into their electricity infrastructure and have seen what a significant role it plays. This will also aid the economy, as thousands of jobs will be created for South Africans participating in these projects.

However, if you're in the engineering sector and are currently in search of a career move, click here to search and APPLY online. Contact Network Recruitment, your trusted partner in specialist IT, Finance and Engineering placements for 30 years.

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