Using laptop computers and USB broadband cards to access the Internet, each of more than 20 field personnel on a daily basis enters labor hours, equipment hours, materials used and production achieved. To do that, the company employs a program called hh2 Web Services (Remote Payroll and Field Reports) by Digital Business Integration. Job cost information is keyed into a computer just once, by the foremen, says Barbara Morse, Gorman’s IT Director. Labor and equipment hours are imported to a database, then into Sage’s Timberline Office program. The hh2 program integrates seamlessly with Sage Timberline Office. An administrative person reviews each day’s job costs and makes sure that the foremen fill out their reports properly.
Prior to using hh2, Gorman used paper forms. Foremen had to find a fax machine or visit the home office. Handwriting was hard to read. The paper had to be reviewed, approved, and compiled. Then it had to be keyed into another database and analyzed by that database before being imported into Timberline for accounting purposes.
The payroll process now goes much faster. Long-time field foremen, not used to computers, like the hh2 system. “They said, ‘Oh, this is a lot faster than paper,’” Morse says.
Now, instead of working feverishly on Thursdays to meet a direct deposit deadline, Gorman is processing payroll on Wednesdays. Friday is payday for the previous week. “The savings there was substantial,” Morse says. “Now we have more information sooner, which is also good for the sales people who are estimating and managing jobs. The payback has been well worth the cost. The seamless integration with hh2 and Sage’s Timberline Office has made those systems much more efficient.”
Gorman’s sales people use Timberline software to estimate projects. “That works well for us,” Morse says. “We put that in several years ago and it was an awakening for the sales people because when they did their estimates manually they often didn’t consider overhead costs like the time to transport equipment from job to job.”
Gorman accounted for those costs through job cost accounting, but they really weren’t included at the beginning of a project. Now all costs are included and the sales people have a more accurate price per unit of pavement to start projects.
Morse says Gorman built the estimating database by individual paving processes. Timberline calls each paving process an assembly, or it could be called a model. There’s a model for a certain chip seal process, another one for the NovaChip process, another one for FiberMat, and so forth.
“If the sales person has a customer who is just interested in FiberMat process, they’ll just pick that model, and the software asks them certain questions,” says Morse. Many of the questions are take-offs from the project design: length, width, square yards, hours per day worked, estimated production per day, and so forth. Using those numbers, the software produces a unit cost, say per square yard, for that pavement process.
In turn, Gorman exports those estimates out of the estimating software and imports them into a database that’s in Microsoft Access. “We compare those estimates to actual costs that happen in Timberline,” Morse says. “So in Timberline you get costs from payroll, costs from accounts payable, costs from equipment, and so on. We compare all those costs with what the sales person estimated the project to be.
“We’re starting this new commitment process,” Morse says. “If I’m a salesperson and I’ve got a customer who is 95 percent sure he’s going through with a project, I will enter the estimate, called a projection, which will get imported into our job cost database.