W Soule & Co. Used Spectrum Business Intelligence to Mitigate Financial Risk
W. Soule & Co. is a multi-trade industrial contracting firm specializing in process piping, custom metal fabrication, millwright services and HVAC services. The company has been around for more than 70 years, with five locations in Michigan (headquartered in Kalamazoo, Mich.) and one location in Lakeland, Fla. W. Soule’s work is primarily in the food/beverage, life sciences, chemical and paper industries.
W. Soule operates as a one-stop shop for its industrial customers, providing them with on-time, cost-effective, quality contracting products and services that help its customers achieve their goals. Over the years, W. Soule has developed close bonds with its clients. To continue to meet growing demands—and operate six different locations—the company knew it needed to gain better insight into its own operations to achieve efficiency.
Specifically, there was a strong need for detailed, specialized reports to analyze the data W. Soule compiled within Spectrum® Construction Software—it’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform. These type of reports, with data specific to W. Soule’s specialized operations, were either not available, or took a lot of additional work to pull together in customized formats, said W. Soule CFO Howard Dembs.
“Spectrum Business Intelligence is very intuitive and very easy to set up. I was surprised how easy it was to use.”
Early last year, however, Dembs was made aware of a new module being developed for Spectrum called Spectrum Business Intelligence (BI), which would allow him to reate the custom reports he needed, using the latest technologies to significantly simplify the construction data analytics process. W. Soule quickly signed on as a BI beta customer.
Spectrum Business Intelligence allows users to collect, compile and analyze construction data virtually any way they want to. From in-depth reports, to dashboards,to creative charts, graphs and even geographical mapping of data,Spectrum Business Intelligence provided W. Soule with a powerful data analysis platform. More importantly, it allowed the company to create the reports that were relevant to its operations, in the formats its users wanted to see.
Spectrum Business Intelligence is comprised of a data warehouse and a data analysis platform. An automated process refreshes the data warehouse with current Spectrum construction data, organizing the information into logically organized data cubes. Once the data is aggregated, users like W. Soule can simply select the information they want to see from a host of data buckets, dragging and dropping those data fields into the analytic and report builder canvas.
Dembs and other W. Soule Spectrum users are now able to build much more detailed analysis reports of their projects; they can compare and contrast data over time, division, geographic mapping—virtually any configuration they can think of with interactive reports; they can create intuitive dashboards to give up-to-date snapshots of the organization’s financial and operational health, with the ability to instantly drill down into the data for closer analysis; and they can share data analysis and reports with groups, throughout the company easily with smart folder sharing capabilities, or schedule reports and visualizations to be shared with others on a recurring basis.
Dembs said Spectrum Business Intelligence provided W. Soule with the power to get the detailed reportsand data analysis his company needed that he simply wasn’t able to achieve before. And, he added, the process is much simpler and much more flexible to adjustments. Some of the reports that Dembs said he has created in Spectrum Business Intelligence so far include: customer sales by job number; hours report by customer, job summary by customer; major customer information; and job listings. He sees little limit to the data analytic opportunities with Spectrum Business Intelligence. “I feel like it has opened up a whole new world for reporting,” he said.
By gaining better insight into data and processes, Dembs said W. Soule has been able to realize key efficiencies throughout the organization—especially within the accounting department. One of the biggest problems W. Soule has been able to get on top of was slow customer payments—many of which were moving to beyond the 90-day mark. That’s changing thanks to Spectrum Business Intelligence, which Dembs said has made it easier for accounting staff to pull together the data it needs, bill sooner and get paid quicker.
“Access to this information has made the accounting department more efficient and responsive.”
Dembs noted that he was able to work closely with the Spectrum development teams during W. Soule’s early adoption of Spectrum Business Intelligence, providing valuable feedback on its functionality and ease of use.
“(Spectrum’s developers) have been very responsive and very knowledgeable. They care about talking to clients and working with them to solve problems,” Dembs said. “We love the hosted solution and other new features we did not have before. It seems like Spectrum is on the forefront of construction accounting software.”
“I feel like it (Spectrum Business Intelligence) has opened up a whole new world for reporting.”