This article was submitted by Interstate Electrical Services.
When you grow into one of the largest and most respected electrical contractors in New England, you might find there’s no shortage of opportunity. But for Interstate Electrical Services, opportunity also comes with high demands for time, services and the consistent body of quality work the company built its reputation on.
Steven Drouin, Interstate’s director of IT services, noted that an outdated mix of disconnected software programs it was using nearly 12 years ago wasn’t meeting needs. “Just a simple thing like a jobsite address was being entered into six different applications back in the day,” he said. “We were operating under tight time constraints and budgets — just like every other contractor out there. We needed to streamline our processes and coordinate better, both internally and externally.” That led to a software search for a solution that was more focused on construction accounting.
Around 2007, Interstate moved to Viewpoint’s Spectrum Construction Software, which helped the company get a handle on its accounting processes. Four years later, Drouin and the Interstate team began evaluating additional software solutions to further tie together the company’s back office and field operations beyond just accounting.
That included becoming an early adopter of the new cloud version of Spectrum. “We went through about a two-year transformation after we made the upgrade and streamlining the other business processes we were using. The biggest thing we did by using all those different modules was consolidate all of our information to one platform.”
Having a consistent set of data to work from dramatically improved the insight into Interstate’s projects. The company uses this software suite to deliver in-depth reports and project analysis to teams — whether at the executive level, project managers or the field level — in formats that are relevant and easy to understand.
“For project managers and the executive team, we’ve created what’s called an executive dashboard,” Drouin said. “They log in, click on their executive dashboard shortcut we’ve created for them, and they have a bunch of different high-level graphs and reports that provide some very specific financial details.” Reports include a list of the company’s top 25 clients and status of work for them, billings, job backlog reports, work in progress reports, and more.
Drouin said that prior to using Viewpoint’s cloud-based capabilities, the company was mired in manual processes — or using non-integrated technologies that still required manual processes. “We had time sheets being filled out in PDF form, sometimes printed and needing to be scanned in or reentered into our back-office systems. There were always additional levels of repetitive data entry,” he said. “Just looking at the time solutions we have in place now, those alone have saved us thousands of hours of manpower in the office and field. Our superintendents are now reviewing and approving time within minutes versus hours — especially important on big jobsites, where it could sometimes take a whole day at the end of the week. And a lot of times, that information was going to have to be rekeyed by somebody in payroll after the fact.”
These software tools also give Interstate’s project teams more confidence in how their projects are being run. “When we’re doing monthly projections, project managers know exactly where they’re going to be for billings. They know where their costs coming in, labor, materials hitting the jobsite — everything they need, always up to date,” Drouin said.
Drouin recognizes that many contractors are still wavering on whether to move to cloud-based construction software but added the longer those companies hesitate, the greater the disadvantage to their business.
“Hands down, the cloud is the only way to go,” he said. “The benefits are endless. We have immediate data access as things happen in the field. A project manager can have his coffee in the morning and check the exact status of where his job is — from labor hours to material costs to subcontract costs and more. Before, we were literally looking a month to three months back in time to find out why something happened and what could we do about it after the fact. Now, instead of the rear-view, we’re looking ahead and projecting ahead of the curve within our system.”