Q&A with Kelsey VanSleenSubject Matter Expert, Construction
As a former accounting manager for a general contractor, Kelsey VanSleen was a day-to-day user of Built’s suite of solutions for construction financial management. Realizing that Built was the future in solving major pain points for people in her position, she decided to leverage her experience to advise on the ongoing development of our solution. She knew she could provide tangible value for many in her world by working on the product instead of with it.
- Tell us a little bit about your background, how did your last role impact your current role now at Built?
I started in hospitality. I think being in that world: bartender, server, management—helped me become familiar with a lot of different stakeholders. Just being comfortable with various types of stakeholders has helped prepare me for this role where I’m working so collaboratively and across different departments with lots of different people, and different perspectives.I’m curious—endlessly curious—and not just about what directly influences me. Even as an accountant at a general contracting company, I was curious about being able to understand the greater landscape of our company as a whole. I was curious about what my VP was thinking about in different areas of the business, or what the day-to-day struggles were of the project managers that I worked with. Having context and looking at things outside of just my immediate little department helped to inform the work I did, especially since I worked with people across the entire company. If you’re partnering collaboratively, but you don’t understand the greater landscape, it can be hard to see the value of different things as it relates to what you’re doing.
- In your opinion, what is the value of having a digital solution for the construction industry?
There is so much documentation going upstream and downstream between so many parties. It’s easy for things to get lost in translation. Having a digital solution that streamlines the movement of money, and the documentation that is tied with that money is what the industry needs. All of this documentation eventually needs to make it’s way upstream to an owner or lender, so a digital solution makes that entire process much easier.
- Why is the platform useful for general contractors?
I’m so excited about what we’re developing now and also what we’re looking to develop in the future. The flexible mindset Built maintains in this space is exciting—the idea of having a set workflow within the platform, but then offering so much customization because that is what exists in the world of construction. I’ve worked with extremely rigid platforms in the past. With Built’s platform, we’re thinking about the solution every step. We never want to pigeonhole people into one singular workflow. We want to provide the general guidelines of a workflow but then make it super easy to customize.
- What is one thing about Built’s solutions you’d share with an accounting manager at a general contracting company?
As an accounting manager, you’re working with so many different parties—the project management team, AP specialists, VP of Finance, etc. Everyone has different needs, but we’re all working across much of the same documentation. What I love about Built is that it brings all those stakeholders together to have access to that information. It allows you to “slice and dice” the data, as I like to say, in a more collaborative manner.
- Where do you see Built fitting into the construction ecosystem short-term and long-term?
In the short term, I love the idea that Built picks up where other systems leave off. For example, accounting software—it’s the core of your finances. There’s rigorous reporting, you’re looking at overhead costs, but then there are needs outside of accounting systems that contractors have, and that’s where Built steps in. It’s the project-specific stuff that we are touching on with Built.Construction requires granular data analysis and current ERPs don’t always have the functionality that contractors need. Long term, I can see Built potentially creating a construction-specific accounting system because that’s where I’ve understood an opportunity lies.
- What is your favorite part about explaining the value of Built?
To grow as a general contractor, the volume of work for an accounting team is going to increase. Now, that’s what you want: for a general contractor to grow and make more money. But, when you’re growing so fast, and you don’t have tools to support that growth, efficiencies drop off. There are just so many nuanced things to keep up with across projects, and the mental burden can be a lot.When you’re growing, there’s a lot to juggle. Continuing to support increased volume is challenging. Companies need help with the heavy lifting and that’s why I get excited about Built because we’re doing just that. We’re enabling companies to grow by offloading administrative tasks that take energy and resources away from increasing volume.I love that we say we want to be partners with our clients because tech in the construction space is so new. You have to listen to the people in the trenches to create solutions that resonate with them. Technology that takes the burden of uncovering workflow bottlenecks, creating processes, and systematizing things in an automated way is exactly what Built is doing, and it’s exciting to be a part of it!
Kelsey continues to utilize her knowledge to support Built’s effort in becoming the go-to financial management software for general contractors. Built creates holistic solutions for stakeholders to effectively manage tasks, documents, and data within the context of construction projects. Utilizing a digital tool can substantially expedite growth for any general contracting business. See how several companies have achieved success with Built.
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