Schlouch Inc., winner of a 2016 Fleet Master Award, has invested in B2W and Vista software to improve its workflows, processes, and reporting. It used the software packages to ensure its estimating, operating and accounting systems worked together.
Schlouch uses the Vista construction accounting program integrated with a field tracking and reporting system, B2W Track, as part of B2W ONE—a software platform that connects people, workflows and data with advanced, unified applications to manage estimating, scheduling and dispatching, field tracking, equipment maintenance, forms, and business insight.
Schlouch views its projects in five phases: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and control, and close-out, and says the field tracking and accounting systems complement each other, using both systems cooperatively to meet needs through all five phases.
“The B2W field reporting and Vista accounting systems have complementary strengths,” said Richard King, treasurer/CFO. “We rely on both for
reporting and communication during the performance monitoring and cost control phase of project management. Using B2W and Vista together allows our project team and our accounting team to communicate with a common language to optimize project outcomes.
“We want our foremen to see how we are performing compared to the estimate, based on productivity, labor, equipment, and other cost information that is entered on a daily or real-time basis,” he said. “This lets everyone see how we are doing while there is still time to make decisions to change the outcome.”
The accounting system then serves as the final system of record, providing an overall view of project performance and profitability for individual projects and allowing analysis of trends across projects.
Project managers and the accounting team at Schlouch meet regularly to review precise project status, but in accordance with the monthly cycle typically required for accounting. “We need information to turn more quickly than that at the operations level, and that’s where the field solution comes in,” said King.
B2W Track generates important, immediate signals for Schlouch.
“Our field reporting system generates signals daily or in real time. Teams managing the projects see how they are performing versus the estimate while there is still time to change the outcome. Those immediate signals trigger discussions and problem solving strategies about how to adjust operations and generate a profit,” King said.
Instant feedback inspires the game plan: B2W Track generates an up-to-date performance summary automatically, based on data from electronic field logs. This snapshot makes it simple to compare actual versus estimated performance, and users can drill down for more detail. A real time B2W Track overview of how jobs are performing – broken down by activity or phase code – assists in making operational adjustments to keep projects on schedule or budget.
Their accounting systems provide authoritative control over things like the cost codes available to assign hours and quantities to, change orders and pay items along with data on active employees and their rates. That information, they say, must traverse quickly to the field tracking system.
Ideally, hours and production quantities should also move seamlessly from the field tracking system to accounting. Schlouch accomplishes this with batch importing. King says that protocol avoids redundant data entry while still providing an opportunity for validation and control.
“Vista is the final system of record on project performance and profitability and it provides in-depth reporting and analysis across projects,” King said. “We also rely on the accounting systems for work-in-progress reporting and cost-to-complete projections.”
Schlouch’s commitment to quality, process improvement and employee engagement – supported by the advanced technology provided by Vista and B2W – has allowed the company to outperform original estimates by two percent, on average.