An accounting or ERP system is the go-to tool for managing project costs at many heavy construction companies, but those systems are specifically designed for recording and reporting after costs occur. The limitation is that they are not very effective at helping contractors stay on top of project costs where and when those costs actually occur – in the field and at the operational level.
That’s where a unified software platform for estimating and field tracking comes in. Within the heavy civil group at M.A. Mortenson Company, the B2W Estimate / B2W Track combination connects the two workflows and provides real-time insight into project performance to keep projects on schedule and on budget.
Getting data from the bid to the field
Step one is transferring data from the bid, so field crews have clear and accurate production targets. Estimators at M.A. Mortenson Company work in B2W Estimate for heavy civil projects. They then transition bid data to B2W track, the tool project managers live with and use through the life of the project.
“It’s been really fun to watch as our project managers and our superintendents are planning a project. They really want to dive into the details and they want to have B2W Track set up right so they’re going into the field with good data they can rely on,” explains vice president and general manager Eric Selman.
“When they take over the job they have a sense of ownership and accountability for how they are going to run the job – taking the insights from the estimator in terms of volumes and quantities and the plan that was put in place at the start of the job,” adds information services director Jason Tschetter.
The B2W platform has also created a feedback loop for continuous improvement. Estimators go directly into B2W Track to see how their estimates are actually performing, and they can use the data to inform future estimates and schedules.
Mobile data capture and agility in the field
Foremen and superintendents on heavy civil projects at M.A. Mortenson Company record actual production, materials and labor hours with B2W Track. The iPad helps them to do it on the spot. The performance and payroll data goes directly to the Oracle ERP system, eliminating the inefficiency, delays and errors that invariably go along with paper forms and redundant data entry.
More importantly, leaders in the field can compare actual performance to projected performance daily. That’s a big and critical improvement over paper based time cards and field logs and it allows them to move quickly to adjust operations and make corrections to stay on schedule and protect profitability.
“Formerly – life without B2W Track – the data we would get to make business decisions was very much delayed,” Sellman concludes. With Track, and being able to get at that data not just weekly or monthly but literally daily, my leadership team and our project management can really make smarter, quicker and better decisions.”