We speak to Ms Lai Foong Ling, EA to our CEO, on the transformation of the office processes through the ICF Digital Wave programme. 


What is your scope of work? 

My main assignment is to assist the CEO with her daily schedule and other administrative duties as assigned. Other duties also includes assisting the Commercial and Sourcing departments.


What was it like before digitalisation?

We had to print out all the documents such as email correspondences, specifications, drawings, etc, and pass the hardcopy to the Quantity Surveyors (QS), so that they can use these information to prepare the quotations.

We also had to print out Sales Orders for confirmed jobs, so that we can monitor the billing status. Invoices also had to be in hardcopy which needed to be physically endorsed, scanned and posted to the client. 


Did Digitalisation make things more convenient? /How has digitalisation helped you?

A definite Yes!

With the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System, it has saved me a lot of time from printing, scanning and filing, not just for me, but for everyone involved in the process chain.


Can you give some examples?

As mentioned previously, it was a requirement to print out the important correspondences, specifications and drawings provided by the client in order to prepare the quotation. Once the quotation is ready, we needed the hardcopy to be signed, scanned and emailed to the client.

This posed some issues, such as when the signee is not available in the office, or when we need to refer to a previous record; in which case, we have to look through each binder or an excel document to retrieve a piece of data. We even had to bring the binders and files to meetings!

This can be time consuming and physically demanding, and at times, as with any manual process, the data may not be 100% accurate due to human error.

But now, everything is done through ERP where even approvals and endorsements can be done online and offsite. This has improved efficiency significantly; past billings and other historical information are more readily available and effectively helps me move between tasks with greater ease.


Was there a period required to adapt?

Personally, there were some legacy issues and habits that tagged along because I’ve been working with hardcopy for so long. In the beginning, I did feel a little insecure because I was not able to “touch” and “flip” the paper. 

But as soon as I got used to the system and realised I can find what I need in just a click or by searching a single keyword, I became an advocate for the digitalised system. I can retrieve data from the system anytime, anywhere!

All in all, it took me about 2 to 3 weeks before I became fully comfortable, and now I cannot imagine going back to the old ways. 


 Did you undergo any training?

Yes, the company did provide training by a specialist.

Took just about a day.


How long did it take for you to transit from the old system to a digitalised system?

We had to digitalise some of the hardcopy documents during the transition period, so to fully transit from hardcopy to the digitalised system took about 2 months.