EPCM organizations that are using just Timesheet & Billing software are finding themselves swamped in spreadsheets to cover the greater technology needs they face. It used to be that all an EPCM needed for enterprise software was a decent-enough timesheet tool to track their billable hours; and an integrated billing tool to invoice their customers. Things have evolved however, and EPCM’s are now seen as the go-to company for project management, procurement, document management, project controls, etc. These requirements obviously go well beyond what a timesheet tool can support. So, confronted with a lack of available tools, project managers & engineers have resorted to building cobbled-together solutions in spreadsheets to cover the gaps.
The many challenges with using spreadsheets for this are vast – and can cause issues from productivity loss, to errors, to a compromised service to customers. I was in a meeting with a new client a few weeks ago. During the meeting, one of the guys – who had obviously faced the pain of too many spreadsheets for too long – said to me, “I’ll be happy if I never have to see another spreadsheet for the rest of my life.” He was clearly motivated to up their technology game.
And that’s just looking at it from the perspective of providing the right tools for their staff. There is an additional growing pressure on EPCM’s to demonstrate good practices and tools before they can even bid on certain projects. Many clients aren’t willing to hand over critical pieces of their project to an EPCM that’s using hacked-together or home-grown solutions. Owners especially are looking under the covers now as part of their due-diligence to determine which engineering companies they’re prepared to work with. If your company doesn’t make the grade, you’re not going to be invited to the table.
The EPCM is more than just an engineering company. If you’re branding yourself as an EPCM, then there is an expectation that you are delivering expertise beyond engineering drawings and impact assessments. Your reach also dives into some or all of the following areas:
- Project Management
- Document Management and Document Controls
- Project Cost Controls
- Construction Management
- Vendor Management
There is an expectation that you have the resources, best practices and technology tools to be able to execute with precision in these disciplines. What I’m getting at, is that your timesheet system and a big stack of spreadsheets is simply not a workable or scalable solution for you. Even if you only specialize in a handful of the above.
The image below shows a simple customer-facing report produced out of 4castplus. It demonstrates a just a selection of capabilities that regular timesheet systems don't provide. Such as: a work breakdown structure, change orders, progress measurement by workpackage, and cost code management. These are just a few simple, but critical, project management and project controls elements that an EPCM is expected to provide.
If you'd like to know more about how 4castplus provides the integrated suite of software to cover the complex needs of the growing EPCM, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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