Forward-thinking contractor increases project volume by 65% through tech investment
By Jenny LescohierDecember 13, 2021
Just two months into 2020, all signs were pointing to a great year for Florida-based structural shell contractor CSCI Construction. Business was thriving and with major IT improvements underway, the company was well positioned to exceed growth projections - and then Covid-19 hit.
Like most contractors, CSCI shifted its focus to ensuring employee safety and executing business continuity plans. Then, something surprising happened. “Toward the end of the year, the housing market picked up and major home builders were looking to make up for lost time,” said Dan Goldburg, CEO of CSCI.
With the right systems and strong vendor relationships in place, CSCI was able to bolster operations and expand its staff to meet surging demand.
By the end of 2020, the company’s run rate had increased by 40%. “The surge in demand was unexpected, but we were well equipped for it,” said Goldburg.
Plans to modernize operations pay off
CSCI’s foresight to invest in technology not only helped meet surging demand during the pandemic but also set the company up to continue its current growth trajectory. CSCI constructed 65% more home units in 2020 than the previous year and is on track to exceed 2021 projections.
Long before Covid-19 emerged, CSCI plotted a course to upgrade its technology platform due to a legacy system and processes that couldn’t keep pace.
“We were running the business on a 10-year-old system that had been heavily customized and was very difficult to change to meet our evolving needs,” said Goldburg. “With all of the customization, we were starting to experience glitches and technical problems.”
After an exhaustive search, CSCI began using Trimble Viewpoint’s Spectrum, a complete, web-based construction ERP solution - part of the connected Trimble Construction One suite - as its financial backbone. With Spectrum, the company is harnessing the power of the cloud to streamline disconnected processes, automate workflows and connect real-time data across the organization.
CSCI isn’t alone. Many contractors are making the move to modern, cloud-based solutions and mobile applications to connect their people, projects and processes in real time. A recent report from the Aberdeen Group shows that among companies hesitant to implement an integrated cloud-based construction ERP solution, 35% suffer from redundant data, 28% have systems that can’t track business processes and 23% lack the ability to collaborate, all while dealing with inaccurate data.
‘Getting by’ won’t lead to big gains
For decades, customizing software (or creating spreadsheets) to help departments or people do their individual jobs better was enough to get by. The front office could make do with spreadsheets and email reminders, and HR could track certifications and licenses manually. Meanwhile, project managers and project teams often worked with their own information. When one department needed to share data with another it meant having to re-enter data into different systems.
These slow, disconnected processes don’t work well for modern projects, where increased demands for accurate, real time job costing, progress reporting, up-to-the minute material usage and pricing are becoming common among project owners and stakeholders.
Recent fluctuations in the cost of lumber prove the point. Prices soared - from $349 per thousand board feet in April 2020 to $1,514 in May, according to the trade journal Fastmarkets Random Lengths. It then experienced the biggest drop in history (40%) last spring.
An estimator who had to rely on paper copies or incomplete reports of last year’s project costs would find it impossible to create an accurate project bid today on a similar project.
“We’re on track to exceed 5,000 home units in 2021, up from 4,000 home units in 2020 thanks to an upgraded technology system that includes Trimble Viewpoint’s Spectrum, said Goldburg. “Using the software’s APIs to connect our entire IT landscape together will enable us continue to streamline our workflows and processes, helping us expand and grow the business well into the future.”