Tilson Takes Construction Software Implementation Over the Finish Line for Kraemer North America
Kraemer North America is very good at building superhighways and overpasses, and installing or bringing deteriorating dams back to life. The company specializes in design-build construction services for rail, marine and transportation projects all around the U.S. Headquartered in Plain, Wisconsin, with population of less than 1,000, they’re a small-town company with a nation-wide reputation for quality and safety.
Enterprise-scale ERP implementations are complex initiatives that affect every part of the company. Data conversions often are very challenging. Changing accounting processes involving ledgers and, in this case subledgers, as well as abandoning legacy workflows calls for cultural shifts that can be painful. And although vendors are committed to delivering the best experience they can, most aren’t staffed to provide the depth of service that buyers sometimes need.
Kraemer doesn’t give up easily on any project, but after significant time and effort, it became clear that some parts of their Vista implementation were succeeding and some parts were performing poorly. Kraemer’s team realized that if they were going to eliminate labor-intensive, often duplicative practices that were dragging down efficiency, they needed more guidance than what the vendor could provide.
“Listening was my first priority when we were brought in to complete the implementation. That gave me the direction I needed to oversee optimizing the project management piece of the platform,” said Matt Nicely, Senior Consultant at Tilson, who is a Vista Project Management SME. An initial step in every Tilson ERP engagement is to hold workshops in which business processes, deemed “fundamentals,” are sussed out. Nicely also pointed out that previously undiscovered issues often arise during workshops, especially when replacing complex accounting packages such as JD Edwards.
The biggest part of the project was taken on by Tim McNally, Senior Consultant, who led Tilson’s Construction Data Services Group through the data migration, as well as the implementation of accounting and HR, payroll, estimating and other modules that Vista offers. McNally’s deep knowledge of Vista was indispensable, and he also managed the schedule, budget and personnel.
The Tilson team also sat alongside Kraemer super users to train them on Vista functionality, using a “train the trainer” model that cuts dependency, and worked with them to develop the custom reporting Kraemer needs. “We helped them grasp new concepts, which they probably understood at a high level, so that when we walked out the door, they knew what they were doing,” explained McNally.
McNally and his team collaborated with Kraemer’s super users and Viewpoint’s technical support team to:
- Map out a software development and data transformation program
- Identify standards, benchmarks and metrics for the migration
- Develop cleansing procedures, transformation programs, primary validation procedures and reporting mechanisms to condition and format the data
- Establish and execute mock conversion cycles that reveal kinks in the process
- Design and thoroughly vet a cut-over plan
- Go live and be on-site to resolve any post go-live issues
We often need to pick up the pieces and reestablish confidence that the implementation can be successful.
- Matt Nicely, Senior Consultant, Tilson
McNally and Nicely’s work is a prime example of how Tilson can take the burden of implementation off both the construction company and the vendor. But there’s another critical element to the project that can’t be overlooked. “We often need to pick up the pieces and reestablish confidence that the implementation can be successful,” Nicely explained. “We demonstrate that we have a process that’s going to fix what’s broken, and have people who perform at a high level and can cope with the stress that goes with these jobs. It’s not easy and there’s no margin for error.”
Setting the Customer Up for Continued Success
Tilson brought skills and experience to the engagement, but Nicely considers success to include more than getting the software to perform as desired. “Construction software implementations attempt to solve obvious and immediate problems by providing clients with services like business process analysis work and system configuration. The long-term goal, however, is to set the customer up for continued success by giving them a methodology and strategic framework from which they can build their future technology initiatives.”