Keeping Projects in View and Costs in Line

April 28, 2004 by admin

In the contract management world, matching the right people to the right projects at the right time can all go wrong without knowing if those pairings actually lead to profits. But determining profitability takes time, something which is not a common commodity among small and midsize businesses (SMBs). Especially in the contracting industry where increased demand for skilled resources, cost pressures and widespread consolidations already whittle attention away from daily operations.
What’s needed is a fast, easy and dependable way to track, identify and report all project activity. A real-time read on all job details. And an integrated view into the critical success factors that determine profitability. Enter et alia CREW, a qualified mySAP All-in-One solution that helps contractor-based SMBs manage projects profitably.

Best Practices equal business value

Serving as a windshield into each project, et alia CREW enables SMBs to monitor all activities – from sales efforts, marketing initiatives, time and travel management, materials management and implementation – for visibility into the actual costs of delivery.
Anchored by strong financial integration, et alia CREW also incorporates solutions for customer relationship management (CRM) and human capital management, wrapped around rich reporting capabilities.
To develop the solution, et alia combined its own 75+ years of collective knowledge of the contracting industry with SAP Best Practices for Service Providers. The result was a pre-packaged, qualified mySAP All-in-One solution with a fixed price and timeline implementation, providing true business value to SMBs who need bottom-line results fast.
“et alia CREW delivers a real-time integrated view into the projects, people and performance that determine profitability,” said et alia President Brad Nicolaisen during the SAP-sponsored web seminar. “By reducing the work required to plan, organize, estimate and report on each project, contractor-based businesses can optimize resource usage, reduce costs and risks and continually improve service quality.”
As an SAP Services and Business Partner and experienced solutions provider, et alia offers SMBs software products, implementation, hosting and support. Engineers and certified project managers work on each project, configuring solutions to leverage the competitive advantages of individual customers, all while accelerating time-to-benefit. In fact, implementation can span as little as 12 weeks.

Integrating pennies and projects

There’s an old saying that still rings true on the corporate cash register today, “Watch the pennies, and the dollars will watch themselves.” By keeping track of all the small details involved in each project and across all business functions, CREW makes it easier to control the big expenditures – before they get out of hand.
To accomplish this, CREW links financial and centralized project management solutions. The real-time nature of this integration differentiates CREW from competitive products, and subsequently makes such a high level of cost control possible.
CREW continually tracks costs spanning the lifecycle of a project, including pre-sales, sales and actual service delivery. The moment something changes, a project manager knows about it. For example, as users tap into CREW to post work or travel time against a project, pay an invoice, or order materials, that cost is instantly reflected within CREW.
When workers in the field enter expenses by category, e.g. labor, materials, service costs or others, each cost type can be measured against the plan for those particular categories. Pre-set alerts notify project managers if costs exceed budgets. Further, if CREW indicates inventory is low for a specific material that’s critical to finishing a job, project managers are alerted to replenish supply before productivity suffers.
As a result, project managers always have an accurate, up-to-date fix on how actual costs are tracking against budget and a separate profit and loss statement for each project.
Armed with that information, they can take action to keep the project on time and on budget. Sophisticated analytical capabilities also enable them to spot trends and identify areas for improvement to continually increase efficiencies and decrease costs.

Tracking sales and satisfaction

Working across all sales, customer and campaign activities, et alia CREW sales and CRM applications help contract management companies attract and retain customers.
“Companies can quickly qualify leads, identify contracts and projects worth pursuing, assign leads for follow-up and track opportunities throughout the sales process. They also know where to allocate sales resources for the best return on investment,” said Nicolaisen. “Instead of focusing on data entry and resolution, CREW frees companies to focus on leveraging opportunities.”

With a clear history of results by market segment, customer, sales organization or other categories, companies can glean an understanding of why jobs were won or lost. With the ability to track the success of key competitors, companies can also identify patterns and build sales strategies to win more business.
Again, these applications integrate with other CREW solutions to reflect a comprehensive view of all customer interactions, from the initial contact and throughout the project. This delivers valuable insight into each contract, which can be used to build solid, profitable relationships and increase satisfaction.

Matching people to projects

Nicolaisen says that human capital management presents the greatest risk to contracting companies. Finding the delicate balance between people and projects can be difficult and time consuming – and enormously profitable for companies that do it right. CREW helps contract management companies attract, assess, place, develop and retain personnel easily and cost-effectively.
When a contract opportunity arises, project managers can tap into the CREW database for instant access to contractor availability, skill sets, qualifications and certifications. Easy access to this information dramatically streamlines the recruitment cycle in a competitive industry where quick response is essential to success. “With CREW, project managers can create, plan, schedule and estimate projects in hours instead of days,” said Nicolaisen.
Having a complete history of other projects also helps determine personnel needs and pricing to ensure costs are competitive and profitable.

Why SAP and et alia?

Pacific ComTel, an et alia customer, can answer this question best. Pacific ComTel installs and maintains telephony and data networks for the DoD and many Fortune 100 companies. With people and projects spread across seven major metropolitan areas, the ultimate goal was to have a daily report on business performance.
To get there, Pacific ComTel’s President and CEO Bill Delgado said the company needed an implementation partner who could understand the unique nature of its business. Anticipating phenomenal growth over the next few years, Pacific ComTel also wanted a contract management solution to suit the company today, as well as in the future.
“That’s where et alia came in,” said Delgado. “et alia has a tremendous amount of experience working in the contract management field and the capability to manage our high growth. It was a win-win situation. Together, the et alia CREW solution, based upon mySAP All-in-One, offered a powerful combination and the most value for our dollar.”
While 90 percent of Pacific ComTel’s work is project- rather than service-based, Delgado anticipates that this will change radically in the future. The et alia CREW and SAP solution will help Pacific ComTel adapt to change easily. “As our business changes in the future, we won’t have to completely revamp the solution,” said Delgado. “We’ll just make some tweaks and be ready to go.”
To find out more about how the et alia CREW solution can help your small or midsize business, link to: http://www.sap.com/solutions/smb/allinone/prepackagedsolutions/etaliacrew.asp
For a replay of the et alia CREW web seminar, visit: http://sap.webex.com/sap/playback.php?FileName=HTTP%3A//www.sap.com/fm/webex/crew_111803.wrf&Rnd=0.4344385627468651

Susan Twombly

Susan Twombly

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