Marius Bélanger can look back at a decade-old technology purchase and more than justify it. He estimates the ERP system he chose for his company back in the early 1990s has allowed Techmat to save 50 per cent on its administrative

staff over the years.

While the soil and material engineering firm based in Saguenay, Que., has doubled its revenue in the last 15 years, the amount of resources it assigns to administrative work has stayed the same, said Bélanger, the administrative director.

The company worked on a number of construction projects across Quebec, and its business was growing rapidly. It needed a way to manage the growth and so decided to look into acquiring a project management-based ERP system. It wanted to be able to track its employees and know when and on which projects they were spending their billable hours, Bélanger said. It needed a real-time cost control system.

“”Because we invoice for resources that work on different projects, it is essential to keep rigorous tracking of the ‘invoiceability’ of our employees,”” he said.

He looked into a few different solutions, and decided to opt for Jovaco Solution Inc.‘s Project Suite.

“”We had considered other systems, but Project Suite was the only one that met all of our needs. The quality-to-price ratio also constituted a determining factor in our decision,”” Bélanger said.

He’s pleased with his decision.

“”The main benefits provided by Project Suite are efficiency, connectivity and versatility. Since the implementation of the system, the benefits have been evident.””

Employees now spend less time on data entry, which allows them to spend more time on management activities, increasing the company’s efficiency, Bélanger said. Now timesheet and expense information only has to be entered once into the system. The less time spent on data entry has also increased the administrative staff’s satisfaction, he said.

Project Suite has paid off in other ways as well, Bélanger said. It has optimized the company’s ability to access its own data, since the information is now integrated and shared throughout the system.

“”By having access to the information almost in real time, project managers can put more time into working on their projects. By reducing the time spent on unbillable compilation of management data, it allows an increase in the percentage of billable time.””

Managers can view the data Techmat collects by customer and project type, which allows them to forecast trends in the market.

A project-based management suite is essential these days, Bélanger said. “”Because of the global economy, the way people do business has been rendered more complex.””

GartnerGroup agrees. In a recent report, the research firm wrote, “”Project accounting is needed by any organization looking to participate in and manage inter-enterprise activities.””

Having a project-based ERP system is a “”must,”” these days, said Jovaco’s business development director Denis Fauteux in Montreal.

It allows managers to get information on projects more quickly, and to know what the outcome of a project will be. This allows them to react quickly.

“”It’s the place to get information that used to reside in different files and different people.””

This type of system requires change, and that is always scary, Fauteux said. But when companies look at the success other organizations have had with project-based ERP systems, they become more ready to try them.

But adopting new technology often means reengineering administrative methods and business processes, Bélanger said. Jovaco’s team helped Techmat structure its system to its needs, he said. And employees adapted to the change quickly, he said. Because the Montreal-based Jovaco was so far away, Techmat employees relied on Web training.

In the end though, any growing pains were worth it.

“”The quick access to information enables us to manage in a proactive manner rather than in a reactive one.””

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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