Real Costs Vs. Budgeted Costs
Better Roads Staff
• HCSS, which provides Heavy Bid for estimating and Heavy Job for field managers to use in comparing actual costs versus estimates.
• Generation 3 from Libra along with Enterprise Information Server (EIS), from Libra Systems Corp., for accounting purposes at the 18 asphalt plants.
• Primavera 3e/c and Primavera Contractor 6.1 from Primavera Systems for scheduling.
“The four software systems are very integrated to limit the need for duplicate data entry,” says Elliott. “We used to do our dailies as well as many other documents off-line in various programs which only led to mistakes and duplication of effort. Viewpoint and Heavy Job Manager both runs on a large server and require connection through Terminal Services to function. With Heavy Job Manager, foremen and superintendents can enter daily production and labor information and compare it to the estimates done with Heavy Bid.”
That way, Milestone foremen literally know whether they made or lost money in any given day. The goal is to give field managers the knowledge they need to adjust their methods, labor and equipment – on time – before a project loses money or fails to meet budget. In the past, field managers often have not had labor cost information for a couple of weeks after the fact – perhaps not until the project was complete.
At Milestone, field managers use laptop computers and tablets to enter their project management information, including labor and equipment time, production, etc. “We use wireless cards in laptops, or high-speed connections at some jobs, or some guys have high-speed connections at home,” says Elliott.
Job cost information is then uploaded into Viewpoint for doing payroll. “At the same time the foreman can use Heavy Job to click on the production analysis screen and get his budget comparison for the day,” says Elliott.
“But we still prepare weekly and monthly cost reports in Viewpoint for our core accounting purposes.”
Shortly after implementation of Heavy Job, Milestone only committed four payroll errors in a week, with 110 supervisors reporting. “We were pretty proud of that and we continue to work on improving our content quality,” says Elliott.
Elliott says Viewpoint helps Milestone to turn over its money faster and run more profitably as a result. “Viewpoint allows us to more efficiently and accurately bill our customers,” he says. “As a result, we make a huge impact on our interest expenses and interest income.
“We went live with Viewpoint on June 1, 2001,” says Elliott. “Over five years, we increased our annual revenue by 40 percent and decreased our accounting staff by 40 percent. Now, that’s R.O.I.!”
When a Milestone manager starts a project, he gets an electronic file of all the information he’ll need to report and track costs daily: payroll, production, equipment usage, subcontracts, hired trucking, material usage and yield, and the like. It’s up to field managers to track costs daily. It puts the power of decision-making at the source where it belongs so managers can make timely changes to keep a project on budget and on time.
Elliott says the company has been using the scanning module in Viewpoint for six years. The module enables Milestone to digitally scan all accounting and project records and save them. “We used to think we didn’t have enough time to stand at a machine and scan documents,” says Elliott. “Once we realized the impact of efficiency and archival on the whole process, we can’t afford not to. All job information documents are scanned in a virtual file system that mimics the old paper system. This allows our people to access their documents while sitting at their desk or at a remote site.”
Generation 3 from Libra along with EIS allows Milestone’s plants to work independently yet still be managed at the main office. The 18 plants are all on high-speed connections which allow managers to remotely look at the silo inventories, sales for the day by customer, and tonnages on Milestone jobs.
Primavera Contractor 6.1 is able to function independently on the foreman’s laptop. The foreman updates his schedule and sends his updates to the office where it is imported directly into the network version of Primavera 3e/c and becomes a part of the master schedule. Indiana DOT now requires project schedules be submitted in a compatible format to Primavera – and Milestone has ramped up their scheduling efforts and knowledge of Primavera to meet the required need.
Jesse McConnell is the accounting manager for Dobson Brothers Construction, a $50-million plus heavy/highway contractor based in Lincoln, Neb. She says Heavy Bid works very well to submit electronic bids to transportation departments in three states – Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. “That’s the only way that I have ever learned it,” she says. “We take a bid from Heavy Bid and import that into the electronic bidding file from the state. If everything is in place, it takes probably less than 10 minutes to submit a bid.”
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