MW Services Selects Construction Software Provider CMiC to Help them Demonstrate CMMC Compliance and Improve Project Management
For Temecula, California-based MW Services Inc., success is all about providing top-notch service to one of the industry’s most demanding market segments. For over 20 years, this minority and woman-owned small engineering and construction business has specialized in mission critical, multi-year Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ), Job Order Contracting (JOC) and Simplified Acquisition of Base Engineer Requirements (SABER) contracts for the federal government. Since then, the company has built a strong reputation for the effective delivery of projects that range from simple renovations to highly technical, classified buildings.
Key Challenges: The Reliance on Legacy Systems and the Lack of Integration
As the company has continued to grow by taking on more and larger contracts, President and CEO Marie Willis found that the company tools and processes weren’t able to keep up. She explains, “Our accounting system was at the end of life and we never had a formal solution for project management other than spreadsheets and Microsoft Office documents. Therefore, we were seeing some disconnects, double data entry and storage issues. We wanted a project management solution that could be interactive, multi-level and include financial accounting for all our jobsites in multiple states.”
In 2019, MW Services began evaluating top ERP cloud-based solutions on the market.
“When CMiC talked about FIELD R12’s ability to streamline data collection, workflow management and analytical reporting for the entire field-based team, it seemed like a good fit for our business workflow,” she adds. “We looked to CMiC to replace all financial accounting, job costs, payroll, and hopefully, some business development tracking which we were doing in Excel.”
With an eye on implementation by July 1, 2020, MW Services began the transition.
Initiating the Business Transformation
For every company, the transition to any new enterprise solution requires careful planning—and MW Services was no exception, with its highly distributed business model. At any given time, the company has multiple projects ongoing across the country. Further, one multi-year JOC or SABER contract is made up of many task orders that have to be completed in a given timeframe. Every contract has a project manager with administrative support and several dozen subcontractor partners.
Willis says, “As we went through the early CMiC implementation, I was concerned that I wouldn’t get buyin from our corporate and jobsite offices. Even though we’d outgrown our current systems, change can be difficult.”
MW Services corporate office is relatively small with an accounting manager, construction/payroll administrator and finance manager — Willis pretty much oversees everything else.
“Fortunately, CMiC is flexible as we needed to make this transition first in the corporate office because my field-based teams are busy with task orders,” she adds. “They needed to stay focused on production, not software implementation. That said, we did have each project manager set a goal to finish as many projects as possible by June 30, 2020, so as to minimize the amount of data that would need to be converted to the new system.”
When asked about adoption and acceptance, Willis notes that having her people attend CMiC Connect 2021 user conference was very helpful. “They could see what our systems will be when we are fully deployed,” she says.
Now a year after initial implementation, she and her team are realizing visible value. It was a paradigm shift in thinking from our prior system, but it was worthwhile.
Early Wins: Data Visibility, Joint Venture Account Management and Opportunity Management
One of the clearest benefits of the cloud-based solution has been accessibility to real-time information.
Willis says, “When a project manager enters a transaction, I have immediate visibility and can respond to any questions or help resolve issues. With our old system, we had to wait for system updates every evening. Now I see the entries as soon as they’re entered.”
Another clear process improvement is joint venture account management. As such, teaming is a common way to win large contracts for MW Services. In the past, managing these joint venture accounts has required that accounting create a whole new company to manage reimbursables, payroll and billing.
“We used to have to do a reverse entry into our previous accounting system and then in the joint venture books. If you’re not detailed, it’s easy to make a mistake,” she adds. “Now with CMiC, joint venture account management is seamless. We enter data once in payroll and it’s automatically billed to the right joint venture and the right project. No more guesswork or double entry. What used to take a couple of weeks for billing, now takes a couple of days. It almost seems too simple to be correct!”
A third immediate improvement in MW Services workflows has been opportunity management. For years, tracking costs associated with bidding on jobs has been managed in a spreadsheet, which provided limited feedback to support strategic business decisions.
Willis explains, “To optimize our business opportunities, I need to know how much we spend to form a joint venture or travel to bid on a job or how much time the project manager takes to prepare bids and estimates. These bids can cost upwards of $100,000 and when we’re bidding on many of those each year, the costs add up. With our previous tools, we weren’t able to do that because everything was tracked in general accounting.”
Now Willis says she has a specific account, Bid Jobs, to segregate this information. Once MW Services wins the bid, it’s a simple matter to uncheck the Bid Job box and the information goes straight to job costs.
“Now we’ve got an instantly accessible and searchable database of all the bid opportunities for reference and cost management. That’s invaluable information as we continue to grow,” she says.
One unexpected benefit of the transition to CMiC has been with MW Services work with the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, which requires all contactors to attend training in how to use its Electronic Construction and Facility Support Contract Management System (eCMS), a web-based, enterprise project collaboration tool. Through eCMS, users are able to manage documents such as RFIs, submittals, payouts, photos and daily report. NAVFAC’s eCMS is built around CMiC, which made MW Services training fast and easy.
On the Horizon: Optimizing Workflows and Demonstrating Compliance
Now that the foundational accounting systems are in place, Willis and her team are focused on implementing additional CMiC process workflows such as document control, drawing management, change management and forecasting.
CMiC’s timekeeping module is also on the list for deployment in 2022. The workflow is designed to simplify how employees complete timecards. Willis says, “It will allow us to utilize our resources better and empower the rest of our team as they have more control and responsibilities at their jobsites.”
Streamlined work in progress (WIP) reporting is also in the works. “Accounting staff and project managers all struggle with WIPs. CMiC has the workflows to help us created a process that will simplify this traditionally complex task.”
She’s also looking to utilize DocuSign, a CMiC partner solution, to support digital signatures for subcontractor agreements, purchase orders and subcontract revisions and some mobile applications.
An Upward Trajectory: The Growth Potential CMiC Brings to the Table
MW Services is in the midst of developing the policies and procedures for federal cyber security certification, specifically Federal Risk and Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC)—which are expected to be mandatory in the future.
Along with CMMC compliance, MW Services will develop the necessary processes for integrating its AutoCAD drawings with estimating, scheduling and project management.
Willis says, “There are many ways CMiC can help our company grow in the long term. With readily available reports we can accurately track expenditures throughout our company, we will have the tools to see how our teams are performing and track trends. With this tool, our project managers can be proactive versus reactive. Our company is evolving from a small business with limited function and capability, into a very sought-after business for niche applications within the federal realm.”
She concludes, “We have to be able to dream big, even though we’re a small business. CMiC can help us validate that with its reporting and integrated systems. What we have learned is that CMiC has huge growth potential for MW Services. This is software that can support us into our next 20 years in business.”Scale your construction business with CMiC.TALK TO AN EXPERT