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For engineering firms, business performance depends on the cumulative success of many individual projects. This is why it’s so important to have complete visibility of project data at all times. But for companies juggling lots of projects, that can pose a significant challenge.
Based in the north of Scotland, Cameron+Ross is a structural and civil engineering consultancy that specialises in providing a personal service for all type of civil and structural engineering projects– like hotels, leisure facilities, offices, and residential spaces. However, over recent years they have seen a large increase in the number of individual, smaller scale, domestic projects.
With a sprawling list of projects being executed all over Scotland, keeping track of the important details was a problem the company was more than familiar with.
“We previously used an Access database to keep track of all our projects and our time and costs,” says Jon Anderson, a Director at Cameron+Ross. “But it was getting very, very old. We’d have to repair the database a lot as data would get conflicted. And it took an age to generate the custom reports we needed.”
A time for change
Five years ago, a change of ownership at Cameron+Ross kick-started a modernisation initiative that would eventually see an end to these problems.
The company wanted to invest in new offices and a light rebrand, but also a new IT infrastructure; something that would provide the flexibility and visibility needed to meet modern customer expectations and deliver a competitive edge. It also wanted to move to the cloud and support a more flexible approach to working – something that would prove to be of vital importance when COVID-19 struck in 2020.
Deciding to replace its aging database system once and for all wasn’t a difficult decision. But knowing exactly what to replace it with posed a challenge.
“We initially tried to get a slightly more modern custom database, but we were scared off by the costs,” says Anderson. “We then brought in another company to build a document management system for us, but that went disastrously. So we considered quite a lot of options…before we found Deltek.”
A partnership seven years in the making
Struggling to find a solution that ticked all the right boxes, Anderson recalled a presentation he’d seen seven years prior, where he’d been impressed by the capabilities of the Deltek software on display. At the time, Deltek only offered on-premises options – but seven years on, Anderson realised that may no longer be the case.
“Essentially we took a cold call from a Deltek representative who just happened to phone the office at the right time, and refreshed my memory of the previous presentation” he says. “He advised that not only did Deltek now offer a cloud-based solution, but it was one that ticked all the boxes we needed, from email, project and document management capabilities to financial tools.”
The solution Cameron+Ross chose was Deltek Vantagepoint. Built specifically for the way engineering firms work, Vantagepoint provides the company with a 360-degree view of all of its projects, helping to maximise productivity, boost collaboration, improve efficiency, and increase profitability. And, as it’s a cloud-based solution, employees can access this information from anywhere at any time.
“It empowers project managers who are dealing directly with clients to get to their data much more easily and much more quickly,” says Anderson. “That makes us much more efficient. It also gives our staff more time and less hassle, improves the customer experience, and ultimately should result in us becoming more profitable.”
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The benefits of change
At the time of writing, Cameron+Ross has only been live with Deltek Vantagepoint for under two months. But in this short time, the team has already seen several benefits. Here are five that have stood out to Director Jon Anderson.
1. Full flexibility
“We have guys in the Inverness office and two other locations all working remotely, and I like to work flexibly too. The ability to do that is really important to us, but in light of COVID-19 it’s been vital. We now know that if we have to go through all this again, we couldn’t be better prepared.”
2. Guaranteed data accuracy
“Before, our data really wasn’t accurate. Even worse, we couldn’t see that it wasn’t accurate. Now, if something’s out of place it’s highlighted by the system, which gives me the opportunity to go in and rectify it before it causes problems.”
3. Complete visibility
“One of the biggest benefits for us is the dashboards. Being able to present the information to project managers in a simple format that they can ingest at a glance is imperative. And we couldn’t find anybody else offering anything nearly as all-encompassing in this area.
“Right now, everyone can see what’s happening with their projects, wherever they are. And things are updated in real-time so you can be sure what you’re looking at is accurate. There’s no doubt this is going to save us time going forward.”
4. Always-on support
“That’s one thing that’s been really comforting about the system. Any time you get in touch with support or a Deltek consultant, they’re not only very knowledgeable but also determined to get back to you really quickly.”
5. User satisfaction
“One of the things Deltek has got absolutely right is user satisfaction. I haven’t had a negative piece of feedback from anybody in the company about the system – that’s not often the case when you introduce new software. I’d definitely recommend Deltek to others in our position – as long as they’re not competitors.”
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