Integrating disparate systems provides Bird with flexible reporting, reduced duplicate entry and improved visibility.
Bird Construction is a leading general contractor in Canada with offices coast to coast and over 90 years of experience. Bird’s clients include leading firms in the commercial, institutional, retail, multitenant residential, industrial, mining, water and wastewater, energy, and civil sectors.
Experiencing limitations with its Jonas system for accounting in 2009, Bird’s IT department (which has grown to a team of 30) went looking for a better solution. Manny Machado, Solutions Delivery Manager at Bird, says, “We needed flexibility in reporting, which we now have, and we also wanted a system that was integrated between finance and operations – we have that now as well.”
Bird chose Vista by Viewpoint, and is currently in the final rollout of project management to streamline processes for the operations team. Bird has a fairly large operations team and imposing change to this group’s dayto- day methodology could be challenging. Fred Cromie, Business Analyst at Bird, explains: “Our teams adapted quickly and soon realised the value of the new systems in making their jobs easier. After leaving spreadsheets and older processes for Vista, our project managers are getting better quality of data and recognising benefits.”
A PM can log in from anywhere to approve invoices, as opposed to having to wait to come back into the office to do that work. Not only do we see time savings, but we’re also extending the ability to work at any time from anywhere.— Manny Machado, Solutions Delivery Manager
Empowering Operations and Project Managers with Information
There have been impressive improvements that Bird has accomplished on its operations side since implementing Vista, as Machado describes: “One major advantage is we have a common place for all of our information. For example, take our unapproved invoice process, we can go back in at any time and see what we have. We have no doubt that every invoice has been accounted for.
Project managers can also find information quicker. They’re no longer spending time looking for an invoice or original document pertaining to an approved change order, now they simply pull down the thumbnail viewer and it’s attached. It’s a huge time saver!”
“On the PM side, we have a common location for all of their project management information – we also have the ability to export to grid and create reports we need, and to meet client requirements if they choose not to use our standard reports. So Vista gives us the ability to do what we need to do to run our business.” Management at Bird also has seen distinctive advantages as Vista is implemented across the organisation, Machado says, “The Work Center module has been incredibly helpful.
Management now has a complete overall view of a project without having to dig into application or data silos. The Work Center does it automatically – you see your RFIs, change orders, what’s processed, what’s not processed, contract values – you name it, it’s all right there on a simple screen – it’s a huge improvement we’ve seen.”
In addition to time and cost savings, Machado also explains how Bird improves decision making: “Using the Vista by Viewpoint solution will help us run projects better, managing bigger jobs quickly, because data and reporting is easily accessed at anytime, anywhere, to make informed decisions. Nobody needs to piece together data from different systems. Plus, we have reports that help us deliver what our clients are asking for. The RFIs and change orders are in templates that are easy to customise for an owner, and we are able to use built-in tools to deliver what we need to.”
A Paperless Process Pays Dividends
According to Machado, Bird’s unapproved invoice process has also seen significant improvement. “The old invoice approval process was not an automated one – where today, with Vista, the invoice gets scanned upon receipt from one of our branch offices, and then gets distributed electronically. A PM can log in from anywhere to approve invoices, as opposed to having to wait to come back into the office to do that work. Not only do we see time savings, but we’re also extending the ability to work at anytime from anywhere.”
Linda Greenwood in accounting also agrees that the biggest step forward to-date has been Bird’s improved invoice process. “We no longer need to run around pulling invoices; they’re at everyone’s fingertips,” she says. “This eliminates much of the delay in the routing of invoices from the branch offices to the main office. In fact, most invoices are ready for approval on the same day now; and no courier costs to travel invoice from one location to the other.”
An Integrated Approach Benefits the Enterprise
Accounting, a team of about 35 people, experienced immediate benefits by using Vista. Greenwood, who has been with Bird for 30 years, explains her observations of significant time savings since implementation: “We’re using the modules for AR, GL, AP, Cash Management, Payroll, lots of elements. We run payroll in-house – and that’s for 1,200 hourly employees and 400 salaried employees. We like uploads for Journal entry and job cost adjustments; it’s helped us where we have large adjustments to do and we can bypass our previous time-consuming keying process.”
Easy Access Means Always Productive
As a large construction company juggling assorted and sizable projects across Canada, Bird has branch offices as well as operations people located throughout the country. Whether in an office or at a job site, employees need easy access to data, documents, and information – Vista delivers. Machado says, “We access Vista through Citrix and our PMs are very mobile depending on their projects. It’s been a huge improvement for us, being able to allow them to access their data from anywhere at any time. With our previous system, our information was in different silos and so some data was available and some was not. Now, they have access to everything. They’re even working as they’re commuting, which is nice.”
We’re now importing the original commitments from the breakdown. That used to be a two to three hour key punch task for all the phases, cost types, etc., but because it’s now on the original uploaded spreadsheet, it takes just a half hours worth of work, and that will continue to improve as we use more of what the solution offers and adapt our processes.— Linda Greenwood, Accounting
Viewpoint for the Long Haul
Machado is impressed with what Bird has accomplished thus far using Vista by Viewpoint and anticipates the benefits to continue for even further return on investment. He says, “Right now we’re around 80 percent adoption/usage on the solution, based on what we’ve implemented and trained people on. We’re getting really positive feedback. This demonstrates they’re using it and having a good experience, and shows PMs are relying on the system and depend on it on a daily basis to run their projects. It’s really great to see, because sometimes in this industry you see ERP systems implemented and up and running, but then people revert back to their old ways of doing things – and we haven’t seen that in this case at all.”
That bodes well for a continued valuable partnership with Viewpoint. According to Machado, “It’s been a great partnership. We are the largest Canadian customer that Viewpoint has, but being Canadian we have a lot of unique needs and requires a solution that works in a certain way (whether tax codes or payroll type information). Viewpoint has been very good at meeting our demands to make sure we have what we need, for example, tax tables released on time, adjusting tax calculations unique to us, and so on. They’ve been very responsive, whether it’s getting enhancements in the next update, or getting fixes specific to Bird – we value our Viewpoint partnership.”