An interview with Kris Morton, Chief Information Officer, BSK Associate Engineering & Laboratories
We sat down with Kris Morton, BSK Associate’s Chief Information Officer, to discuss their firm’s technology strategy and digital transformation. Kris shares how this engineering firm of 200 is breaking new ground on the technology front – shaving hundreds of hours off of their team’s workload by automating processes with Deltek Vantagepoint Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and robotic process automation (RPA).
Staying One Step Ahead of the Technology Curve
Engineering firm BSK Associates is at the forefront of technology innovation. So, how did they get there, and what drives them to keep up with the rapid pace of change? For Chief Information Officer (CIO) Kris Morton, it’s about adopting best-in-industry software solutions that automate manual work, attract and retain talent, and quickly bring return on investment (ROI).
Aligning with technology innovation partners that propel their digital transformation is a big part of BSK’s success. A Deltek ERP customer for 13 years, their core financial and project management solution is fundamental for managing their projects and profitability.
In 2018, BSK moved to the Deltek Cloud. According to Kris, moving to the cloud was the right decision, especially with the increasing costs of equipment. “A server used to cost us about $6,000 or $7,000, but my last quote was $25,000,” said Kris. “We are saving tens of thousands of dollars in hardware that we can't even get our hands on right now due to distribution challenges,” he added. In addition, BSK is becoming more competitively priced since they don’t have to supply the hardware to keep the business moving.
A core piece of BSK’s digital transformation journey is adding robotic process automation (RPA) RPA technology to streamline their business operations. They vetted RPA technology providers, ultimately selecting Alirrium, a Deltek Marketplace Partner, who delivers end-to-end RPA solutions with UiPath.
"It’s more than technology: it’s a partnership. It has been a home run on every level, from interacting with Deltek, to the Alirrium team, combined with how BSK does business. It’s a perfect fit."
– Kris Morton, Chief Information Officer, BSK
In 2022, BSK upgraded to Deltek Vantagepoint. This modern solution elevates the way the firm manages projects with modern dashboards, an intuitive interface, and greater insight into projects. With Vantagepoint, BSK is applying even greater levels of process automation by improving workflows. This allows the team to focus on exceptions, like time being charged to the wrong project, and Vantagepoint timesheet validation workflows ensure the proper activity codes are used – saving time and improving efficiencies.
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Automating Manual Work to Attract and Retain Top Talent
According to the Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Study, employee turnover has risen to 13.6%. BSK recognizes that you can’t attract and retain top talent by giving employees a lot of manual work. They have reduced busywork across the organization with their Deltek and Alirium solutions – most significantly impacting the financial management/accounting and project management functions. This brings a stronger focus to the higher value work that employees prefer, which ultimately helps boost retention rates.
With RPA technology and Deltek Vantagepoint, project managers are working smarter – they simply have to approve their invoices and then the software robot enters them into the project-based ERP system directly. There’s no more data entry! And the accounting team has significantly reduced the amount of time spent on manual tasks. They are able to focus on higher value projects and metrics that help drive the firm’s success and profitability.
BSK created an invoice processor – automating an entire process that was previously done by a human. Previously, one employee handled every invoice, managing thousands of pieces of paper a year. “You can't hire accounting new talent and ask them to file paperwork, so we automated this process.” said Kris.
The process starts out with UiPath through Alirrium, goes into SharePoint Power Automate, and then into Deltek Vantagepoint. “We were able to build a process that no one technology could do on its own, and this makes me happy,” said Kris. As an added bonus, RPA technology, combined with Vantagepoint, brought in fast and significant ROI.
"Our ROI is through the roof. The move to paperless saved us about $50,000 in direct costs and 608,000 pieces of paper – and that’s for just one project!"
– Kris Morton, Chief Information Officer, BSK
Utilizing Software Robots to Expand the Team
BSK utilizes seven software robots as an extension of their team, utilizing UiPath, a RPA tool that allows IT departments to set up software robots or bots to learn and execute rules-based business processes.
The software robots are managed by a Digital Workforce Manager who reports to Kris. BSK doesn’t worry about the robots not coming into work or making errors. He went on to say that the most common errors are project managers keying in information incorrectly or occasionally the robot gets a vendor name confused, but those are easy to fix.
According to Kris, the cost of the robot, programming and maintenance costs are a fraction of what the costs would be if the firm utilized employees for this work, plus the employees don’t want to do the work the robots are doing. The robots do things like type in vouchers and then all the team has to do is review them. And BSK is planning to implement more robots to help alleviate more of the mundane work.
Looking Forward: Digital Transformation is a Journey
Even though BSK is breaking new ground on the technology front, Kris knows there is always opportunity for improvement and that digital transformation a journey. ”I'm in the business of keeping up with technology and just when you think you're doing the latest and greatest, you find out somebody else is ahead of you. But you learn from that and realize it’s a continuous journey,” stated Kris.
“Part of me wants to keep it all a big secret because it's a competitive advantage. With automation we can do our projects faster than the competition and we can charge less,” said Kris. “But the truth is, the information's out there and finding out what other firms are doing is very fun – it helps connect us together on this digital journey.”
As part of the Deltek Project Nation community, BSK regularly connects with other leading-edge customers to share best practices. They are part of the Deltek Vantagepoint User Group community, attending meetings to discuss technology innovation and ERP tips and tricks.
About BSK Associates
BSK Associates (BSK) provides consulting engineering and analytical testing for clients with projects ranging in size from small to complex, in both natural and built environments. In today’s demanding marketplace, BSK delivers exceptional value using a very simple, yet effective formula: excellence, expertise and integrity.
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