From Three Islands to One Continent: How Johnson Controls Federal Systems United its People & Processes with Deltek
An interview with Tom Gerdes, Vice President of Information Technology, and Sandy Olewiler, Business Relationship Manager for Johnson Controls Federal Systems
Johnson Controls Federal Systems (JCFS), a 2019 MVP Award Winner in the Enterprise Category, needed a solution to fully integrate its complex business operations from three legacy systems. JCFS selected Deltek and now saves valuable time and seamlessly tracks project costs without the use of disparate tools.
Q: Can you tell us about Johnson Controls Federal Systems and its mission?
Tom Gerdes: The Federal Systems business within Johnson Controls provides solutions to help the federal government run more efficient installations, and manufactures all of the chilled air that runs our U.S. naval war combat vessels.
A big focus for all of us at JCFS is making sure we are connected to our customers’ mission every day – whether that’s protecting a sensitive location or making sure mission-critical capabilities are always available via security, fire protection, air conditioning and control equipment. And, a critical part of our mission is making sure those naval war fleet ships are operational in all of the necessary and high-pressure situations they will encounter.
Q: What was the catalyst for moving to Deltek?
Tom Gerdes: Prior to Deltek, we had some pretty disparate parts of our business, including three separate ERP systems. Because of some corporate changes and a merger between Johnson Controls and Tyco in 2016, we had to redefine our mission to put a federal business into one entity, and with that we wanted to provide one environment to run the core parts of our business.
We selected Deltek Costpoint to integrate all parts of our business—installation and construction work, field service activities, as well as our core manufacturing operations—and put them all into one platform. And now we’re in a position where we can start to drive continuous improvement throughout the lifecycle of our business operations.
Q: Moving from three disparate systems to one is a big change. How was the decision to consolidate ERP platforms received by your employees?
Sandy Olewiler: In the beginning, there was resistance – a lot of employees have been here 20-30 years and were being asked to use a completely new system. We got around it by proving that Deltek was better—it provides instantaneous information. Gradually they would say, "Well this is easier to use. I'm not doing 20 steps. I'm doing 1 step," or "I can get it all done without clicking back and forth into multiple systems. It's one place." They learned that the system was very efficient, it was very accurate, and it gave them the information they needed to do their job.
Q: What benefits have you experienced since migrating from three systems to Deltek?
Sandy Olewiler: Not only did we come from three different systems, we had three different groups that operated independently – Navy parts, Navy equipment and commercial. I’ve always said that we were like three islands separated by water and with Costpoint, we’ve become one—we’ve become a continent. We’re now all together in one system—as one team—with access to all the same real-time information. This enables us to really help each other and provide better information to vendors, shop floor supervisors, contract managers or anyone else who has questions.
Costpoint also helps save us valuable time. We don’t have to look in three different places for information– everything is all in the system. I call it our one-stop shop. It’s the one place to go and find all the information that you can about any given project, any given sales order or any given manufacturer or purchase order – so it’s a huge time savings.
Johnson Controls Federal Systems Drives Continuous Improvement with Deltek
Q: How does Deltek help you better serve your customers?
Tom Gerdes: Deltek really helps us serve our customers by meeting our core compliance standards and giving us insight into how we can run a more efficient business. In some areas we are sole source to the U.S. government, so we always are looking for ways to lower the cost structure necessary to produce these critical products. Deltek is giving us better insight into how we look at the nature of the costs that we incur, how those costs are flowing through our system and ultimately end up in what we invoice and charge for the products and the services that we provide. This information is key to make our business more efficient, and that's done to make sure that the government customer is getting better value from us on a day-to-day basis.
Q: As a large enterprise customer with a variety of different ERP needs, how has Deltek been able to support your project-based business?
Tom Gerdes: We've found working with Deltek to be a positive experience. They listen to our feedback, understand our perspectives, and take us seriously. We know they are listening and we know that we're going to have a voice that's important.
But, we started as a smaller organization, and I think that same voice is there for small companies as well, that's part of the value that Deltek brings to project-based businesses. We talk a lot about Deltek Project Nation, that you can be very large and have a lot of projects or you can be small and have a few – and there’s a solution for everyone that makes sense. We run a business on a single-stack ERP platform across a very disparate set of operational capabilities, and we've seen nothing but opportunities to grow and expand that as we move into the next few years.
Sandy Olewiler: Deltek is a good ERP system with an excellent support model. I’ve never stumped their support team, which I’ve tried! If there’s an issue, I can always call the support team and they will solve it and sometimes give me additional information I didn’t know. Plus, the upgrades you get on a monthly basis are great. We can get new enhancements and fix defects in a relatively quick period of time.
Q: Looking to the future, what excites you the most about evolving your business with Deltek Costpoint?
Sandy Olewiler: I’m excited to expand our knowledgebase of Costpoint and learn to use it to its best ability. For a long time, we were behind the times when it came to technology and processes, and now Deltek will take us to the 22nd century and allow us to be more automated, more efficient and have more information.
Tom Gerdes: We’re really excited about the future and how we can continue to evolve and grow as an organization. We'd like to look at expanding our ecosystem of partners and collaborating with Deltek around automation with other CRM platforms. We want to continue to partner with Deltek to make sure we can always focus on our customer mission and our parent company Johnson Controls’ mission to be ‘the power behind your mission.’ We see Deltek as an important aspect on how we can deliver on that core purpose.
About Johnson Controls
At Johnson Controls, we transform the environments where people live, work, learn and play. From optimizing building performance to improving safety and enhancing comfort, we drive the outcomes that matter most. We deliver our promise in industries such as healthcare, education, data centers, and manufacturing. With a global team of 105,000 experts in more than 150 countries and over 130 years of innovation, we are the power behind our customers' mission.
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