Top AEC Firm Connects Teams and Drives Efficiency With Deltek
CHA Consulting, Inc. (CHA) is an innovative, full-service engineering consulting and construction management firm with 70 years of experience delivering sustainable, integrated solutions to the world's most challenging infrastructure projects. This firm of 1400 employees utilizes forward-leaning technology and essential partnerships to meet their clients' evolving needs. They are trusted advisors and partners committed to responsibly improving the world.
An Engineering News-Record Top 500 Design Firm and Architectural Record Top 300 U.S. Architectural firm with national recognition by ACEC, CHA is at the forefront of project innovation. They work to create a more sustainable world through infrastructure, buildings, and power projects that help clients achieve their own goals by design. CHA taps into powerful technology tools that improve project delivery, including building information modeling (BIM), vehicle dynamics control (VDC), reality capture for 3D modeling, computational design, and Enterprise Resource Management (ERP).
Firm Modernization: One Connected System
CHA adopted a single integrated Deltek solution for ERP and customer relationship management (CRM) – with all information connected and accessible. This solution brings the core business functions together, including project accounting and financial management, project management, and business development, to boost efficiencies and eliminate the need for external databases, software and spreadsheets.
Three years ago, CHA was using disconnected systems to manage its core business processes, limiting project visibility and access to information. These systems included BST for ERP and Deltek for Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
Bob Vannier, Manager of Development and Data Analytics, explains, "If you talked to each department individually – finance, marketing or IT – they were happy in their respective areas, yet the disconnected systems didn't provide a full view of the business and required manual manipulation for complete reporting. To add to the complexity, the naming of data in the systems, such as fees or labor, also varied from system to system.”
CHA sought out one consolidated solution to better manage their growing firm’s data. They conducted a side-by-side review of the solutions they were already using – Deltek and BST – to determine which solution was best for the future of their business.
After review, they selected Deltek as the preferred system to have greater industry functionality; a built-in integrated CRM solution; and a stronger customer portfolio with many architecture and engineering companies of similar size to CHA. The cloud-based solution delivers increased visibility; fewer project overages; easy configuration, utilities and workflows; and improved efficiencies.
“Deltek being widely used in the industry was a key consideration.”
– Manny Salorio, Associate VP and Sector Integration Leader
The Cloud = Less Stress
Before moving to one integrated Deltek cloud solution, CHA's IT team managed 12 servers. This required upgrades and maintenance releases after hours – in addition to their day-to-day job responsibilities – so they didn't disrupt daily business operations.
"Prior to implementing Deltek, managing software updates was stressful with 80 hour work weeks… Now we only spend a fraction of that time, and our software is always up to date," said Bob Vannier, Manager of Development & Data Analytics.
Moving to the cloud has saved the team a lot of time, allowing them to focus on more strategic initiatives. "CHA started with the Deltek Flex Cloud platform, but found the enterprise-level cloud offering gave us the flexibility and functionality that the company needed," said Kelly Duquette, VP & Director, ERP Systems & Controls.
With a single Deltek solution, CHA's operations and project teams now have greater visibility with client, project and financial information in one location, providing a more efficient way to evaluate group and individual performance in multiple ways. This helps our teams better manage their projects with insight into project financials, group financials, resourcing, project estimate to completion (ETC), estimate at completion (EAC), and pipeline.
CHA has used Deltek CRM for more than 20 years and, with the addition of the financial data, the fully integrated ERP system now makes it easier to take a project opportunity from the initial planning stage through project delivery with the entire project life cycle in one system. Having project opportunities, client information, project plans, and financials in one place delivers greater visibility across the business.
Less Project Overages
One immediate area of impact is less write-off for project overages, which CHA attributes to project managers and project team leaders being able to monitor and control project budgets more efficiently via Project Review.
This functionality enables project managers to conduct more detailed and regular project reviews. It gives the reviewing manager up-to-date project financial information, and ETC and EAC information data pulled from resource project plans, which allows potential project challenges to be identified early while they can still be corrected.
With all the data in one place, reports and metrics can be created to quickly analyze project performance and pinpoint issues that need correction.
"From an IT perspective, it's been invaluable to have the ability to configure the system to the extent we can," said Tara Slavin, Lead Systems Analyst. "The user-defined info centers, custom fields, custom workflows, and ability to write and implement custom stored procedures allows us to do just about anything we need to in Deltek without creating out of the system applications, allowing Deltek to be our "one source of truth."
Utilities & Workflows
CHA appreciates the utilities and workflows that are built into the Deltek system. Utilizing the data import feature for acquisitions and project updates provides an avenue to quickly build out history and make corrections that the previous system did not have.
"Workflows allow for field changes, notifications, execution of stored procedures, and general efficiencies that were not available in BST," said Kathy Thomas, Senior ERP Analyst. Electronic approvals have allowed for quicker turnaround times for automated AP invoice routing and expense processing.
Deltek also offers greater flexibility at the organization and profit center level, making it easier to incorporate acquired firms, adjust levels for internal restructuring, and manage the business with the right level of granularity for their complex business.
More Efficient Workforce
The addition of a mobile time and expense application gives employees easier access to complete, submit and approve time and expense reports. Staff can start the process in the office, add in details while on the road, and finish a timesheet or expense report from a project site. The flexibility has been a big win with the field employees by eliminating the need to go into the office to complete timecards and expense reports.
For the corporate accounting group, account groupings and financial statements at the organization level provide flexibility for bank, investor, and business line/practice reporting. During the month-end close process, users can concentrate on continuing to work in the current period, while security can be set for the corporate accounting group to close out the prior period. The flexibility in the security roles has put the system controls in the hands of CHA.
"Moving to Deltek has proven to be a platform that can grow with CHA as we continue to expand in our current and future markets." Kelly Duquette, VP & Director, ERP Systems & Controls.
Explore CHA's Technology Innovation
What's next for CHA? With aggressive hiring goals and several acquisitions over the past few years, the firm continues to grow and diversify its business. CHA is committed to delivering sustainable, integrated solutions to the world's most challenging infrastructure projects. Learn more.
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