Oltmans Construction Company is no stranger to innovation. As a matter of fact, the California-based company invented “tilt up construction” a building process in which concrete walls are formed at the job-site, then righted into place when needed. They take on a great variety of projects, ranging from build-to-suit offices to expansive solar farms and, recently, a 1,000,000+ sq. ft. distribution center for QVC.
“We’re in the business of building buildings, not installing software,” said Jason Kakimoto, Controller at Oltmans. “We did the last ERP system overhaul ourselves, but computing is so complex now.” That remark helps explain why it had been 20 years since their last construction software implementation. The potential headaches appeared to outweigh the value of changing.
But the time had come for Oltmans. They decided to transition from Timberline to CMiC, and also have CMiC provide implementation services. After six months, the project was fraught with problems. “We had the perfect storm of issues,” said Kakimoto.
They were on the verge of scrapping the implementation but then decided to discuss the situation with Tilson, whose consultants had been calling on Oltmans regularly in an effort to win business. “We like to do things ourselves and be self-sufficient. Once they did get in front of us, it was obvious that they could really help,” explained Kakimoto. “We’re a company that’s big on building partnerships and relationships and they seemed like people we could trust and partner with.”
For Tilson, much of Oltmans’ CMiC implementation posed familiar challenges – data conversion, collapsing multiple business systems into a single, new platform, and changing deeply ingrained business processes. Tilson got the project started by collaborating with Oltmans in a series of workshops, first on high-level project management such as setting the schedule and aligning resources, then on more granular processes like equipment and materials forecasting, and building/running test scripts to model the new systems and processes.
Then, a new problem cropped up – Oltmans’ in-house Project Manager resigned. But heroes sometimes emerge in a crisis. In this case, it was Oltmans’ new internal Product Manager, who had been thrust into an unfamiliar position and tasked with stepping up on a project that had been struggling. As PM, she now worked with Matt Nicely, Senior Consultant at Tilson. She quickly grew into the PM role, so much so that Nicely soon backed off on the degree of influence he brought to day-to-day activities. “For the most part, I just gave her advice. She rocked it and, along with her team, ran on their own. By the time we were near the end of the engagement, she was running the project expertly,” said Nicely.
Tilson’s flexibility in their Consulting Services approach allows clients to manage the relationship by assuming responsibility for areas that they themselves can handle, while trusting Tilson with other parts of the project. “Tilson was there to help guide me on the things that I don’t know how to do and gave me the best way to proceed,” Kakimoto said.
The investment into any ERP system is not trivial. However, Kakimoto is more than happy with the value they have realized. “I definitely feel I got value out of the money I paid to Tilson. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Full-service general contracting company specializing in commercial and industrial construction, renovations, solar, infrastructure and public works.