News and Events

New Live-Link with Microsoft Project

  Get Real-Time Schedule and Cost Synchronization   Press Release To view the original press release, please click here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/4castplus-scheduling-2013/03/prweb10527903.htm   The new 4castplus real-time integration with Microsoft Project brings seamless, One-Touch connectivity between cost and schedule. With a fully cost-loaded schedule that includes budget, actual costs, work progress and earned value metrics, project managers achieve complete project control.   Time and Cost on any project are the two biggest factors influencing a successful outcome. The 4castplus Microsoft Project Live-Link brings this harmonious relationship to a whole new level.   Calgary, Alberta March 19, 2013 4castplus today announced the release of the highly anticipated Live-Link with Microsoft Project. With the new Project Live-Link, project managers can make time and cost changes on the fly, then synchronize budget and schedule in a single click. Many companies large and small depend on MS Project for critical project scheduling activities. They also depend on 4castplus for critical project cost management software solutions. These can now be combined together in a live synchronization to enable the best of both worlds.   There’s no single software solution on the market that can do an effective job of managing project schedule and project costs all in the same tool. With the new Microsoft Project Live-Link from 4castplus, both are now integrated in a highly-connected real-time environment. Organizations can finally eliminate the cluster of wasteful spreadsheets and the need to copy data from one place to the next. Both 4castplus and Microsoft Project can be open at the same time and changes are updated in real-time.   Even without MS Project, 4castplus merges budget with schedule to deliver planned value vs. actual cost vs. earned value on a real-time basis. 4castplus, however, can't

Get Forecast Oversight with the new 4castplus Rules of Credit System

  Press Release To view the original press release, please click here:  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/4/prweb10588566.htm The new Earning Rules of Credit system available in 4castplus sets the bar for true project cost management and controls. Users can do away with the worries of subjective progress measurements of percent complete – 4castplus brings reason and accountability to a very tricky area of project management. Percent complete is such a critical project metric that forms the basis for so much project analysis. The new rules of credit system creates an objective practice to eliminate the common pitfalls of project progress measurement.   Calgary, Alberta April 2, 2013 4castplus today announced the release of the new Rules of Credit addition to its project forecasting and Earned Value Management system. With this critical new functionality, program and project managers can get project peace of mind through progress oversight and forecasting objectivity. Measuring progress in construction project management software has long been a tricky thing to tackle accurately. There is no absolute science to determining percent complete on projects or tasks. It is often left to the hands and whims of project managers who utilize best-guess methodology and a moist finger in the wind to estimate how far along a project task has progressed. Senior managers and program managers are forced to trust the motives and actions of their project management teams to be as realistic and accurate as possible. Many organizations depend on these calculations of percent complete. They’re vital for determining variance, remaining cost to complete and other earned value management metrics on a project. They’re also used in calculating amounts billable in a progress draw. With the new Earning Rules of Credit solution in 4castplus, project managers can define distinct

What is SaaS and What’s in it for You?

Ever wondered what SaaS really means? SaaS means “Software as a Service” and is both a licensing model, as well as a software product delivery model. SaaS is not that new, but it is becoming more popular as cloud-based applications are flourishing. It might seem new to some, since it's a departure from the more traditional “On-Premise” software applications. So what is it then? Put simply, SaaS is a distribution method where software applications are made available over the web and cloud by a software vendor. All the infrastructure, equipment, maintenance and other IT-related costs are covered by the vendor as part of the SaaS license fee. Companies can free themselves from any software to install or hardware to buy or maintain – all they need is an internet connection, and the software is there all the time. In addition to the convenience of accessing the software application over the web and cloud, SaaS also differs in its pricing model. On-premise software is typically purchased through a Perpetual License, which means buyers own licenses of that version of the software. They also pay 20% to 30% per year in maintenance and support fees on top of the license purchase. SaaS, on the other hand, allows buyers to pay an annual or monthly subscription fee, which typically includes the software license, support, product upgrades and all other fees.  With SaaS pricing, the customer is not burdened with a heavy front-loaded cost.  With traditional On-Premise perpetual license, the buyer takes on a great deal of risk and has to cross their fingers that it’s all going to work. With the SaaS pricing model, the costs are spread out over time, and the vendor is more on the

Are we nearing the end of Cost Reimbursable?

Get Ready for Convertible Price Projects   When we see quotes like this from the Globe and Mail, “Investors are increasingly applying pressure on oil companies to trim their investments in oil sands projects,” it becomes clear that a change in how we do business in Alberta is on the horizon.  If the investment community is losing faith in our ability to extract oil at a reasonable and predictable cost, our industry is in serious jeopardy. There is a shift underway. Cost overruns on construction projects aren’t uncommon of course, and the oil and gas industry in Alberta has not been an exception. It has in fact shown to have one of the worst records for budget overruns of any energy geography in the world. There are a number of underlying challenges that have contributed to this unfortunate track record; but one of the primary culprits has to do with the predominantly cost-reimbursable contract culture that exists in Alberta. This culture creates a challenging environment for projects to stay on budget. The nature of these contracts suggests that there is compensation for all costs incurred plus a rate uplift, with little to no risk absorbed by the contractor for when projects are extended or when they aren’t executed at maximum efficiency.   When the cost-risk is so lopsided like that, the owners face having to bear all the added cost of any inefficiencies, productivity issues and errors that occur with any contractor or engineering firm on the project. There can be dozens of contractors and engineering firms (EPCM) on a project, and with the way contracts are currently structured, everyone just passes their problems up the food chain (even the best, most efficient contractors).  Nobody’s

The WIP Report – It’s CFO Candy

Why the WIP Report is so Important In addition to effectively managing the costs and schedule of your project, it’s critical to stay on top of your Work in Progress or WIP.  WIP is critical to monitor. You, your CFO and your investors need to know just how profitable your project is, how much of the project has been funded by your customer, and how much has been financed by you.  Combining WIP information with project profitability and performance metrics, will give you a complete picture of the financial health of your project or your program.   Work in Progress looks at the following key metrics on either a single project or a portfolio of projects currently underway: Total estimated cost Total estimated revenue Total estimated profitability The revenue earned to date Estimated cost to complete Estimated remaining revenue The costs spent on the project(s) to date All billings that have been completed for the project(s) and billable remaining   Regularly reviewing your Work In Progress allows you to quickly identify any under or over billings that may be taking place in your project.  If your project has been financed by the bank or an underwriter – or when your CFO needs information on your project for his financial forecast – your WIP Report is going to be a critical report in your arsenal of effective project management tools. If you can produce a detailed WIP report and send that to your CFO on a regular basis, you'll make their life way easier - it's like filling their candy jar.   The WIP report in 4castplus combines the above mentioned metrics along with much more to give you a complete picture of your organization’s work

People Hate Change – 6 Tips for Making it Easier

  People Hate Change? People generally like the idea of change, but they really hate the effort that goes along with it. The idea of change brings with it feelings of hope, opportunity and the promise that things can get better. But sometimes it can be hard work and require a lot of perseverance. The challenge to any organization is to get good at change – because as your company grows, change is going to have to happen, whether you like it or not.  You might as well get used to it, and get good at it.     I’m probably like most people in that sometimes I can be good with change and sometimes I’m pretty crap at it. I recently, for example, had to get a new laptop. I was avoiding making the change for a long time because: I was dreading having to reload applications and transfer all the data from my old laptop I hate shopping So, I suffered with my ancient laptop (4-yrs old) as it gradually fell apart.  I could visualize that day in the future when I had that shiny new machine that was fast and clean, but I just couldn’t bring myself to go through the hassle of making the transition. The defining moment came when the cooling system broke down and it overheated. Disaster.  After that, I could only run it for ½ hour at a time before having to shut it off for 20 minutes while it cooled down. You could say I left it a bit too long. It started seriously affecting my work and life.   Most organizations behave pretty similarly. They know they need to upgrade their technology, systems and processes, but

The Innovative Customer

Having worked in technology for many years, I’ve come across numerous diverse opinions and positions on how best to make roadmap decisions on a software product. Well, in fact, I’ve come across a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Most people, I find, are quite full of opinions.      You might find this odd, but I actually get a lot of enjoyment out of listening to people’s opinions – regardless of the topic: politics, religion, food, music, the latest tablet, parenting, books, movies, sports and whatever else comes to mind. People can be quite interesting if you give them a chance to rant-on about any topic they feel passionate about. I don’t always agree with them, of course, but for the most part, it is interesting to listen.   Being in the business of delivering innovative technology solutions, the prioritization of new software features to build into a product is a very important aspect of our business. So listening to people has become a vital part of making those prioritizing decisions. Many in the technology world will however, strongly advise us to not listen to customers when it comes to setting the urgency of one feature over another. The thinking behind such a stance is that customers who are using the software on a day-to-day basis are only going to make suggestions/demands for features & fixes that will make their own little world a bit better. They’re not too concerned with long-term strategic planning.  So, as the thinking goes, if we expend all our development resources on tiny items that will help a handful of people - but will have negligible effect on the broader customer base (both current and future) -

Top 4 Construction Invoicing Tips to Accelerate Cash Flow

 Accelerate Your Cash Flow You’ve spent considerable time and effort in running your projects well.  You make sure that your customer is kept very happy during project execution, and you’re expertly handling the multitude of challenges that come along with a complex project.  Your project is going well, your customer is happy. But you still can’t seem to get paid on time. What’s with that?   There’s no doubt about it, keeping your project healthy and well managed has a huge impact on achieving healthy cash flow, but that's really only part of the overall strategy of getting cash flowing happily into your organization.   The other half of it – the half that can really bite you – is making sure that you invoice efficiently, and your customers pay you efficiently.  Many construction organizations spend a great deal of cost and effort towards invoicing their customers in an attempt to improve their cash flow performance. The challenge, however, is that they’re using the same old process, the same old tools, subject to the same old risks.  And they’re getting the same old results: accounts receivable aging stretching to 120 days, accountants and auditors insisting on an allowance for uncollectable accounts, board members and bank managers tapping their fingers waiting for the latest receivables schedule.   It’s no wonder when you consider the inherent challenges that practically all construction companies have to deal with in getting their invoices out the door.  Those challenges, however, can be minimized, and cash-flow significantly accelerated by implementing the following four cash flow management strategies. Consolidate information. When your key project data resides in multiple systems, there is great risk in access, ownership and status of that data. When you consolidate

Time Phased Budgeting For Cash Flow Visibility and Risk Management

Why would I need to time-phase my project budget? The challenge with any project budget that doesn’t utilize the advantages of time-phasing, is that the project manager won’t know exactly when money is anticipated to be spent on the project. And neither will the CFO. Time-phased budgeting allows project managers to allocate costs for project activities over the anticipated timeline in which those expenditures are planned to take place. Not just by using any old guess as to when things might happen – or by using some uniform, evenly distributed pattern – but by actually using real contractual agreements as to when items are planned to be paid for.  By doing this, the project manager is then armed with an accurate timeline that predicts project spend patterns. Time-phased budgeting does more than just uniting the project schedule with the project budget. Of course, uniting the two is the first step in a time-phased approach to project budgeting. Without first merging the two, budget and schedule have no interconnection, and are left to float along independently. By subsequently time-phasing a project budget, you’re then armed with extended capacity to further refine exactly when, during the anticipated schedule, certain expenditures will take place. This delivers a more accurate representation of cash outflow so that appropriate project financial planning can be undertaken. You’re also much better able to monitor budget vs. actual costs as the project progresses so as to gain clear insight into potential cost overruns (or, under-runs) and other cost controls capabilities. It may not be immediately obvious why all this matters, but to get a good reading on that, it really boils down to two things: Managing project Cash Flow Powerful

Got projects going over budget?

You're Not Alone. Project cost overruns are common. Statistics will tell you that over 85% of projects go over budget. But Why? What are the mechanics behind project cost overruns and project schedule delays? Plenty of talented and experienced professionals engage in dialog about this very topic every day, and try to arrive at conclusions about how to stop projects from going over budget. In this article I’d like to shed some light on the underlying workings as to the root causes of cost overruns and schedule delays. In order to tackle the problem of how to eliminate overruns, it’s important to understand the main reasons why they happen. Obviously, there’s no one-sentence answer to these questions since every project is unique and the influences that trigger overruns can vary tremendously. Luckily, however, there’s been quite a bit of research and experimentation around this exact problem - since it is a pervasive issue that so many businesses, large and small, struggle with. As a result, there have emerged some key factors we can point to that are the major contributors to projects going over budget and suffering schedule delays. A lot of project managers and business owners have their own theories; and after a good deal of listening and reading, many will have you believe that it all comes down to one thing: Project Changes. Technically speaking project changes are arguably the biggest contributor to projects going over budget and blowing schedule deadlines, but for the purposes of this discussion, let’s leave Change and Change Management out of it. I’m saying that because I don’t believe changes are truly the root cause of cost overruns. I believe that if you approach a project anticipating that