A third-generation family business, SSB Construction, Inc., has been a trusted design-build contractor for agricultural, industrial and commercial buildings throughout California since 1945. Based in Salinas, the company has earned a reputation for solid, sustainable building, successfully completing hundreds of agricultural, industrial and commercial projects – from warehouses and wineries to schools and office buildings. SSB also operates a growing maintenance services business and provides roof coating, solar panel cleaning and painting services to customers in California, Arizona and Texas.
The company’s future is bright, but in past years, SSB struggled in the same ways that many construction firms do with collecting, sharing and analyzing data. Financial, HR and project information was siloed, leading to inefficiencies and occasional errors. The firm’s previous accounting and project management solutions were stepping stones toward its eventual digital transformation, but they were outdated and lacked the capabilities SSB needed to make the most of its data and take its operations to the next level.
Across the board, our staff has confidence that cost and billing data is accurate.— Alicia Byers, SSB Controller
Finding a Better Solution
“We were collecting data, but it was a cumbersome process,” recalls SSB Controller Alicia Byers, who oversees finance, HR and safety. “Even with the data in hand, our old software didn’t have the analytics capabilities we needed to better understand job costs or plan upcoming marketing based on sales needs, among other things. We couldn’t extract information, run reports or analyze our data. It was very painful.”
SSB began looking for a solution that would make it easy to capture and analyze data and track benchmarks from year to year. In 2016, the firm began using Trimble Viewpoint’s ProContractor, an all-in-one business management solution for small to mediumsized construction firms that streamlines business processes with dedicated accounting, estimating and mobile field support modules. “With ProContractor, our accounting and project management workflows were more efficient, and we were finally able to dig deeper into our data,” Byers says.
Getting Caught Off-Guard
Things were going great until March 2020, when – right at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic – the company’s servers were hit with two cyberattacks a week apart. “We discovered the first attack when we couldn’t access job files. We tried to access an offsite backup, and during that process, we were hit by another attack.”
The hackers encrypted the company’s files, leaving SSB with potentially several years of lost data. “We used a third-party IT provider and didn’t realize the backup they had in place wasn’t secure,” Byers says. “Our IT resource tried for weeks to pull data but couldn’t recover anything usable. Realizing that we had lost job history dating back to 2009 was unnerving.”
Before the cyberattack, SSB hosted ProContractor on-premise. “As a small company, we thought we were doing the right thing by keeping everything in-house. It seemed like the most secure option. We thought the data was in our control and that our servers were safe. It took the cyberattack for us to see how behind the times our IT management was.”
Migrating to the Cloud
SSB decided to move to the cloud after the attack and began working closely with the Trimble Viewpoint team to make the transition. “It took the attack for us to realize that the cloud offers more robust security and protective measures that make it safer than onpremise software,” Byers says. This was evidenced by the backup files of SSB’s records from 2016 through 2018 that Trimble Viewpoint had created during a ProContractor update. “So we really only lost 2019 and my team and I could reconstruct 2020 to that point from other files.” Their application settings had also been backed up, which made getting back on their feet even faster.
Fortunately, the loss of data didn’t result in project delays. “We were in the midst of COVID, so other than maintenance, almost everything was shut down anyway,” Byers says. “Our biggest hurdle was payroll. We had to manually calculate and cut payroll checks for a few months.”