Sachse is a Detroit-based construction company that builds everything from shopping malls and grocery stores to mixed-use urban developments. They get it – it’s tough to pronounce their name right, at first. To help, they posted a video on their web site teaching you how to say it – it’s like “taxi.” Suffice to say that their customers remember it not because it’s unique, but because they bring exceptional project management and execution to every job.
Sachse had been testing a leading ERP solution, but was running into problems. “We weren’t getting what we needed from the legacy data and we were not able to get the software to run the way we wanted,” explains Andrea Wright, Project Manager and Senior Director of Training at Sachse. “We had used Vista, but we didn’t have the expertise to implement it.”
Wright was not only overseeing the ERP revamp, she was also managing a handful of other projects. Frustrated, she made the decision to go another direction and called in Tilson, whom she had met a year earlier when first evaluating various construction ERP software solutions, to help move the company over to Vista® by Viewpoint.
Solving the implementation challenge for Sachse started with a meeting in which the roles of each person and team involved were discussed. Process analysis workshops followed. In those workshops, Tilson typically explores current business practices around accounting, job costing, project management; the exercise includes drilling down into the specifics of those activities, so that a revised process flow can be developed which establishes best practices and minimizes the pain of changing the way business units operate.
The most important thing that came out of the discussion was a better understanding of the skills that Wright and her team had. Tilson’s value-add as consultants was in data conversion, training and functional support – helping Sachse to better understand how the business “wants to operate” and configuring the software to align with those processes.
“Tilson let me manage the project the way I wanted to…they realized that we were able to run on our own in some areas.”
– Andrea Wright, Project Manager,Sachse
The meeting was key because, as Wright puts it, “Tilson let me manage the project the way I wanted to.” Wright adds that “Tilson was straightforward with their advice and backed off the proposed level of service when they realized that we were able to run on our own in some areas.” For example, Tilson typically will develop test scripts as part of a unit processing exercise meant to expose errors and typically produces unexpected results. Wright’s team, once they grasped the basic concepts, built and ran the test scripts, with Tilson only “looking over their shoulder.” They have done the same in multiple areas of the project.
Tilson took the lead on the data conversion and migration piece of the implementation, provided training for super users when it was needed and has split the Vista configuration efforts 50/50. Together, Wright, her team and Tilson’s IT Consultants are customizing the solution to meet Sachse’s business needs.
At one stage of Sachse’s Vista implementation, Tilson had people on-site every week for two months. Now, as the project reaches its final sprints, the lion’s share of support happens over the phone. “We question the bejesus out of them,” Wright says with a smile. “It’s a good balance.”
Every enterprise has unique processes, needs and personnel with varying degrees of skills and experience. When consultants are engaged, they can be tempted to take over every facet of the project and even create a long-term dependency. Tilson takes a different approach, acknowledging the capabilities of the client team and knowing, from experience, that success isn’t measured by revenue, but by doing what’s best for the client.
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