project cost control software

4castplus e-LEM Solutions – Vendor Portal

Tracking Daily Costs from the Jobsite is challenging enough when you're tracking your own people. What about when you have to track your Vendor LEM costs as well? Getting all the daily cost data together from multiple sources can be a time-consuming and error-prone undertaking if you don't have a software solution to automate the process. 4castplus eLEM solutions for Vendor Tracking simplifies and streamlines the gathering and processing of daily jobsite costs. Check out the brief presentation below to get a glimpse of the new Vendor LEM Tracking and Portal. I think you're going to be amazed. 4castplus e-LEM vendor portal from 4castplus

How to Reduce Errors when Tracking LEM from the Jobsite

It’s typically not until the end of the day at the construction site that the field personnel sit down to collect and enter all the time & expenses for their crews, equipment and other charges for that day.  They’re tired, hungry, and this is likely their least favorite thing to do. They’re in a rush to get it done and they don’t often have the greatest computer skills – so it’s inevitable that mistakes are made. Things get coded to the wrong place, charges are missed, incorrect rates are used, etc.  And then all this error-filled information gets compiled and submitted and ultimately is routed to the back-office finance team for processing. And this is where the nightmare begins. If you put 5 site foremen in a room with 5 finance people, how much do you think they’ll have in common? Finance types are by nature very detailed, fastidious and are usually the ones responsible for making certain that everything is precisely correct before billing clients, paying vendors or routing charges through payroll. It’s not that a site foreman can’t be detailed by nature – it’s just that he or she has a very different spectrum of priorities; especially at the time of entering the LEM data.  What this translates to, is that it’s often the finance group who are left with the cleanup job of correcting and adjusting the chaos that’s recorded from the Jobsite. Shifting the Burden of Responsibility We refer to this as “shifting the burden of responsibility” to the last guy holding the bag.  It’s really a flawed approach from so many aspects – not least of which is that you end-up with a bloated finance group full of people whose

Routing Jobsite LEM Data for Approval and Billing

One of the greatest challenges construction contractors face, is billing their client for work that happened at the Jobsite. With all the layers of data capture, approval, routing, costing, etc. that need to be taken care of for the billable data to make it to accounts receivable for invoicing; it's common for things to be missed, delayed or for errors to occur. The 4castplus solution for simplifying and streamlining this whole process is briefly described in the explainer presentation below. Please have a walk-through and let us know what you think. Routing Jobsite Field Data for Approval and Billing in 4castplus from 4castplus

Project Controls First Steps – Define Your Objectives

There’s a lot of talk about Project Controls out there. There's a growing awareness and momentum that's rapidly spreading throughout the world; and more and more organizations big and small are undertaking initiatives to insert Project Controls into the management of their projects. It's more than just a trend – the need is real, and follows decades of over-spending and lack of project visibility. As you can imagine, some companies embarking on a project controls initiative have a clear understanding of what that means, how to go about it – and have defined objectives as to what they intend to achieve. And some don't. For those that don't, this brief article is for you. It's intended to help you frame a few questions to get you started on the path of knowing how to make the next steps. For many companies, this momentum for project controls is driven from outside the organization. For example, from customer demand, or from vested stakeholder demand.  It’s common now, for example, for large projects to require contractors or EPCMs to demonstrate project controls practices in order to even bid on a contract. Of course, many companies just want to improve. Their momentum stems from an internal need to become better at what they do, and to differentiate their business. Whatever the impetus may be, the challenge any organization faces when embarking on a journey like this is: “How do we get started?”  The quick answer to that question is, “What do you want to achieve?”  I know that’s the kind of answer that’s not very helpful, so I’ll go on to explain to you what I mean. It’s easy to get paralyzed with uncertainty since

Rules of Engagement: Collaboration is Key

Tell me you haven’t heard this one before: “Our teams need to collaborate!” And then everyone in the room nods their heads in approval. But what does collaboration really mean on the construction project, and how do companies structure their personnel, teams, vendors and clients into a truly collaborative project working environment? It’s a question that bears a lot of consideration since the roles and disciplines that are at play on any project are diverse and highly specialized – each with its own dialect, toolset, and key deliverables. Each sees the world in their own way; but are nevertheless completely dependent on each other to achieve a successful project outcome. Project management must do more than simply coexist with procurement and project controls – and vice versa. They all have a vital role to play. They have key information inputs and outputs that can make or break a construction project. They need a very high bandwidth of collaboration to get things done. Some organizations opt for grouping specializations together in their own silos; thinking that like-minds will work effectively together. Project Schedulers can be in an entirely different building than the procurement team or the cost engineers. The communication mechanisms used between them will be emails and spreadsheets passed back and forth with an expectation that the other side will understand the significance of the details contained. Although this is not ideal, this isn’t that uncommon since projects can be global, teams can be virtual, and the knowledgebase so specialized in each discipline. It would be nice if all disciplines of a construction project team could sit in the same room and live & breathe each other’s world – but that’s

New Report Finds Project Profitability and Replacement of Manual Methods as Top Reasons For Project Management Software Buying Decisions

After interviewing thousands of buyers looking for Project Management software, Software Advice has compiled an insightful report that sheds light on key factors buyers are using in their purchasing decisions Key Findings Include: Nearly half of the buyers are looking to replace Manual Methods with dedicated software 100% of buyers expressed a preference for Cloud-Based Deployment Project Profitability was cited as a primary driver for searching for software solutions 90% of buyers were looking for an Integrated Suite that pulled together multi-discipline and multi-functional capabilities into a common platform or solution. If you’re currently in the market for purchasing project management, timesheet & billing, procurement or project controls software, how does your criteria compare with the findings in this report? Have a look through the presentation below for more information. Project Management BuyerView 2014 from Software Advice

EPCMs Need to Up Their Game When it Comes to The Software They Use

EPCM organizations that are using just Timesheet & Billing software are finding themselves swamped in spreadsheets to cover the greater technology needs they face.  It used to be that all an EPCM needed for enterprise software was a decent-enough timesheet tool to track their billable hours; and an integrated billing tool to invoice their customers. Things have evolved however, and EPCM’s are now seen as the go-to company for project management, procurement, document management, project controls, etc.  These requirements obviously go well beyond what a timesheet tool can support.  So, confronted with a lack of available tools, project managers & engineers have resorted to building cobbled-together solutions in spreadsheets to cover the gaps. The many challenges with using spreadsheets for this are vast – and can cause issues from productivity loss, to errors, to a compromised service to customers.  I was in a meeting with a new client a few weeks ago.  During the meeting, one of the guys – who had obviously faced the pain of too many spreadsheets for too long – said to me, “I’ll be happy if I never have to see another spreadsheet for the rest of my life.” He was clearly motivated to up their technology game. And that’s just looking at it from the perspective of providing the right tools for their staff.  There is an additional growing pressure on EPCM’s to demonstrate good practices and tools before they can even bid on certain projects. Many clients aren’t willing to hand over critical pieces of their project to an EPCM that’s using hacked-together or home-grown solutions. Owners especially are looking under the covers now as part of their due-diligence to determine which engineering companies they’re prepared to work

How Do You Keep Track of Vendor Accruals?

You thought you had your project all wrapped up when, SURPRISE, vendor invoices just keep coming in.  Whoops, things didn’t go as well as you thought. The costs on your project keep soaring, and you have to keep updating your project reports to your superiors. How does this happen? This happens because vendors rarely invoice you at the time they completed the work, or delivered the materials.  The problem is, if you wait until vendors invoice you to show the cost on your project, then you’re in for a lot of surprises. Here’s a common scenario: Every day your Site Supervisor is asked to approve or sign-off on the work done that day by the various subcontractors on your project – or materials delivered by suppliers. All those approved daily field tickets make their way back to the subcontractor’s Accounts Receivable group; and they then batch them up for invoicing. You of course have a copy too, and it likely sits as a scanned document on a shared drive somewhere. However, this receipt-of-work-done typically isn’t used as a means to record the associated cost on your project. Most often, a project’s actual costs are driven by updates from accounting, or manually input into spreadsheets by a project manager when the vendor invoice is received.  The problem with this model, is that you might not receive that invoice for weeks if not months after the work was completed – so during that time, there’s a discrepancy between what’s showing on your project for actual cost, and what you are in fact liable to pay. This scenario can fill you with surprises since you’re really at the mercy of your vendors’ invoicing cycles.  Not all vendors are

Procurement on Construction Projects is, well, Different

To manage the complexity of procurement on large construction projects requires an exceptionally robust technology solution. Most commercial procurement software products are designed to handle general-purpose purchasing for a broad range of businesses and industry applications.  Procurement on construction projects however, is quite different. It’s not at all like buying pencils for the school board, or buying a fighter jet for the defense department. Construction project procurement has many characteristics that place heavy demands on the software that supports it. The differences fall into the following six categories. I’ll go on to discuss each of these in more detail further below: The need to handle High Volume Procurement The requirement to manage Long-Lead Items and Expediting Integration with Project-Level Cost Codes Tie-in with Project Controls The Need for Speed Multi-Discipline Collaboration In case you didn't notice, I've left out any of the hairy legal details that are unique to construction contracts. The contract management side is a whole other beast that is best tackled in another discussion. For this, I'm primarily focused on the procurement process.  I've also avoided the accounting side of the debate with respect to holdbacks, retainage, punch lists, etc. Again, this is an area more related to the contracts and accounting end of supply chain.  So anyway, here is a more detailed discussion around each of the above cornerstones of construction project procurement. High Volume Procurement Large construction projects face an enormous volume of materials, labor services and equipment that all needs to be contracted, procured and successfully delivered to multiple jobsites & warehouses on a very explicit schedule. The procurement teams on larger construction projects can face managing many thousands of concurrent contracts, hundreds of thousands of line-items and hundreds

I Have Mastered the Art of Talking to Myself Without Moving My Lips

Hey, don’t laugh, it’s a key skill. The only creepy thing about it is I can look at someone right in the eye and be muttering to myself at the same time. And even though I have at least another 40 years before I’m at that station in life where muttering is just something you do,  I’m getting an early start because I’ve discovered that it has high value.  I’m not the first to discover this, as it turns out. Experiments have been done to prove that regularly talking to yourself is a positive thing: http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/04/25/talking-to-yourself-may-actually-be-a-good-idea/. All the scientific research aside, the value I get from my outward-inner-dialogue is the art of practicing my next line.  That’s because I so often find myself in boardroom meetings with very passionate people.  Which is probably not that uncommon.  What’s also not uncommon, is that the people in the room don’t all share the same views. They can be passionately expressing opposing views with each other while earnestly trying their best to do what’s best for their company.  I, on the other hand, am an outsider invited in – and I’m equally passionate about trying to mediate them towards achieving the ideal solution to some often delicate challenges. The muttering comes in handy because I can try-out ideas out loud, so to speak, before I actually say them. It’s funny how things can sound so different in your head, compared to how they sound when they’re actually spoken. Or mumbled. About a week ago I was a participant in a very heated debate on a company’s policy towards the layout of their standard work breakdown structure for their projects going forward. They were growing