Hyderabad-based startup sets out to digitize the construction industry to reduce project delays

With lack of coordination being one of the biggest reasons for infrastructure and real estate project delays, can an app to improve coordination change that?

The Hyderabad Metro Rail project, which was targeted to be completed by December 2017, has been extended to November 2018 with a cost overrun amounting to Rs 18,829 crore from the original estimate of ₹14,132 crore.

Unfortunately, delays are a part-and-parcel of any project. Take for example the iconic Bandra-Worli Sea-link project in Mumbai. When launched, it was five years behind schedule and what was supposed to be a Rs 300-crore project actually costed Rs 1,600 crore to complete.

In fact, various studies suggest that a typical construction project would take roughly 25% more time than budgeted to complete and incur 50% more expenditure than planned.

Having worked at senior positions in the infrastructure & construction industry, Abhishek Saraf saw such bottlenecks and observed that however good a plan may be, execution finally depends upon the last mile subcontractor in the field.

“Inadequate planning and risk mitigation contribute majorly to the delays. While managing the projects, there is lack of coordination between the Head Office and field. Project Planning is either not done or is merely on paper. Contractors /sub-contractors often have their own priorities different from that of the project. I decided to solve this bottleneck and validate my approach with industry participants,” he says.

Once his idea was validated, he got together with Vinay Saini, his friend from trekking, to start Alitus Technologies in April 2017.

The idea behind Alitus is that digitization can solve a good number of problems of the construction industry. At present, construction remains least digitized in terms of use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and spend.

Abhishek and Vinay have developed an app-based platform called Sighte, which enables reporting of construction progress right from the site to CEO.

 

Abhishek Saraf and Vinay Saini of Alitus

Every app essentially has two users, the project owner or manager and the site engineers. The app is designed in a way that the site engineer submits details of the project on a daily basis. These details are compiled and analyzed for the project manager, who can then accordingly track expenses, plan resources, equipment and materials effectively.

The project owner can also create multiple projects and assign work to various site engineers with a single touch. The site engineer gets instant SMS with login credentials and assigned work.

“This removes the problem of lack of coordination, which is the main reason for delays in projects. In fact, our pilots have achieved 10% higher productivity through our app,” Abhishek adds.

Sighte caters to projects under three categories – infrastructure, solar power installations and real estate. The app can also be customized based on the specific requirements of the client.

Alitus runs on a subscription-based SaaS model and revenue generation happens through monthly subscription. It currently has 10 clients, most of whom are small and medium businesses.

Abhishek says that Sighte is not the only project management tool in the industry. “While there are ERP based project management tools and many white label service providers for them, the issue with them is their complexity and deployment time for a given client that runs into months. That’s not something that most sub-contractors can afford. Sighte has an intuitive and site friendly interface. You can assign works to users at a single touch. This is our key differentiator,” he adds.

Having launched only six months ago, Alitus is now working on making its platform more agile and customizable to be able to reach a wider market.

It is also planning to soon enter international markets. That may, however, be a challenge as there are a number of similar players in international markets. But as Abhishek points out, the ease of implementation and site friendly interface will differentiate it from the rest.

As published in ‘The News Minute’.