Spectrum's reporting capabilities help Interstate Electric get better idea of jobs, costs
Prior to migrating to Spectrum® version 14 at Interstate Electrical Services Corporation, trying to get a handle on exactly how a job was progressing and how costs were shaping up was difficult at best and in many cases
impossible. Lack of detailed reports, reports in which data was buried and not easily extrapolated, and information that was out of date made reporting almost an exercise in futility, said Steven Drouin, Director of IT Services for
the Billerica, MA-based company.
“It was a manual process. [Our division managers] would sit down with the reports we had and, extrapolate what they needed — line by line,” Drouin said. “Because of this stilted data flow and lack of continuity, by the time they realized there was a problem on a project, it was too late.” In order to be effective as business managers, our team needed real time access to project data and that information had to be presented in a clear, concise manner that was easily understood.
So in 2012, Interstate reevaluated its use of Spectrum® Construction Software. At that time the company only used the core accounting modules, and relied on a collection of disparate applications for Purchasing, Human Resources, and Project Management. The decision was made to migrate all of these functions to Spectrum. By doing so the company was able to streamline processes, eliminate duplicate data entry and provide integration of critical information, showing the interdependencies that exist cross functionally. With the move came a whole range of new reporting functionality, from pre-built and customized Crystal Reports to a wide variety of Spectrum Dashboard applications. “Through these reports, we were able to turn Interstate’s morass of data into actionable information that is immediately available to everyone in the organization.”
“Spectrum gives me the tools I need to query the database and access virtually any piece of data I need to build a report. Whether they’re pre-built or customized, Spectrum’s reporting capabilities really allow us to get as deep into the data as we want.”
“Spectrum gives me the tools I need to query the database and access virtually any piece of data I need to build a report,” Drouin said. “Whether they’re pre-built or customized, Spectrum’s reporting capabilities really allow us to get as deep into the data as we want.” For Interstate’s management team it offers a whole new set of tools that are timely, accurate and easy to use.
One area where Spectrum’s enhanced reporting functionality has been a huge benefit for Interstate is labor cost management. Using Spectrum’s Query Developer tool, Drouin is able to build custom reports to analyze labor hours and manpower on jobs. These reports allow the company to make better projections on job progress and address any problems before they become unmanageable. “Knowing that you’re 70 percent complete on a job and you’ve used 90 percent of your labor is huge. It either means that you are on plan, or that there are significant challenges ahead. Better still is being able to track labor utilization against plan from day one so that remedial course correction can be affected in real time,” Drouin said.
Spectrum’s reporting capabilities gave Interstate the ability to add project managers’ names to reports, sort or segment reports by project manager or division manager, and break down data into logical groups and sub-groups, allowing the company to do more robust analysis and provide continual feedback so that managers are able to proactively address problems. “To segment reports in this manner before Spectrum, required hours of additional, often manual work,” Drouin said.
Drouin said Spectrum’s in-depth reporting capabilities are also helping to close the information and communication gaps throughout his company. In one example, the company built reports based on a live query that provides up-to-the minute information but to the end user it looks like and acts like a familiar spread sheet.
“Our warehouse manager doesn’t really use Spectrum. But he needs to be able to deliver material to the right jobsites and have addresses and information about those orders. So we embedded live queries in a spreadsheet, built out by division that refresh with the latest data every time it’s opened. With no additional training, the warehouse manager can look up a job number, quickly and see the address ensuring that materials are always delivered to the right place,” Drouin said.
“We have also used the Spectrum Dashboard to build out a lot of reporting tools for our teams. It’s a way to disseminate the information we need to everyone in the company easily.”