When Ryan Companies US, Inc., a $4.2 billion construction firm and an ENR Top 400 contractor, set out to overhaul their approach to construction cost management, they knew the keys to success would be a combination of great team culture, great processes, and great technology.
With over 2,000 employees spread across the U.S., achieving Ryan’s goal of keeping costs in line was no simple feat. It required a company-wide effort where everyone involved in each project knew the role they had to play in protecting profits and ensuring efficient project delivery.
After a deliberative process, the 84-year-old family-run business selected Procore as its construction management platform, working side-by-side with the team over the course of the rollout. The impact was transformational. Ryan now has a more efficient way of collecting and sharing data across teams, dramatically improving visibility into budgets, schedules, and project health.
Read on to learn about the five ways Ryan leveraged Procore’s tools to curb project costs while improving the quality and usefulness of its data.
1. Prioritize a Collaborative Culture Based on Accountability
Lisa Leighton, Director, Operational Excellence at Ryan, strongly believes cost management has to start with people, and fostering a culture that encourages the entire team to take ownership of their respective roles as well as the greater project.
Ryan sets the stage for successful teams by ensuring easy access and equal visibility of project data across all team members. Utilizing Procore and an ERP integration, Ryan aggregates the financial data teams need from multiple sources in a single place.
“Make it a one-stop-shop,” Leighton explains. “Because that’s going to create efficiencies for your team.”
Successful projects require teams to be on the same page, which is why Ryan implemented a solution to provide everyone with visibility into the data they need. This culture of data transparency also helps develop trust between the project management, field and leadership teams.
One particularly useful solution Ryan developed utilizing Procore’s custom tool embedded app was its Project Health Dashboard, which provides teams with the data transparency they need to better manage their costs. By connecting their ERP (Oracle’s JD Edwards) to Procore, Ryan was able to update the dashboard each night to provide real-time data to its project teams.
Ryan also relies on Procore Invoice Management to create owner billings. Since their ERP is integrated with Procore, the invoices are also visible from the accounting system, meaning everybody — from the field, to the finance team, to leadership — can see whether they’re billing enough, what they’ve billed for, and how job profitability is trending.
2. Invest in Technology for Project Cost Management
Once you’ve taken steps to foster a healthy culture around cost management, establishing strong, trusted processes is the next big leap forward. Fortunately, by providing your team with the tools they need to do their part to manage costs as outlined above, you’ll have laid most of the groundwork for engendering that trust.
With the right people and processes in place, it’s time to supercharge your cost management with great technology on board to bring it all together.
“When you make the investment and bring all that information together, you have really powerful information. It’s going to help you make better business decisions,” Leighton says.
Through Procore, Ryan takes data from its Project Health Dashboard and further aggregates it onto their regional dashboards. This empowers regional leaders to look across the entire regional project portfolio and spot potential risk areas, quickly identify projects in trouble, and deploy the necessary resources to support those teams in need.
This enhanced visibility has also allowed leaders to catch simple process errors, like unpublished schedules, and quickly reach out to the appropriate team to get the answers they need. Ryan used Procore to help them identify these risks before they become major costs.
“People, culture, and technology go hand-in-hand,” says Leighton. “You have to have all three.”
Procore not only brings all project data together in one place, it also makes it easy to digest the data through different lenses and at various levels of detail, depending on who’s looking. This unique functionality Procore offers has enabled Ryan to build numerous presentations of the data for different internal stakeholders, boosting efficiency by cutting down on redundant overlap.
Procore also gave Ryan the ability to make smart, clear-eyed, data-driven decisions during the chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic, which created or exacerbated many industry challenges, from supply chain woes to labor shortages. Using the platform, the firm was able to determine which of its 300 ongoing projects needed attention most urgently, helping them marshal the necessary resources where they were needed most.
“That was done in 24 hours. Without Procore and that financial integration, this would not have happened in the timeframe that it did,” says Leighton.
3. Leverage Real-Time Insights
The most sophisticated dashboards in the world aren’t going to help you manage costs if the quality of the data they show is poor; if the data you’re collecting is bad, the reporting will be too. Ensuring you’re capturing good data from the field requires a technological solution that’s easy for boots-on-the-ground team members to use.
“We need to make sure Procore is easy for the folks in the field. And it is. Our superintendents love it,” says Leighton.
That kind of usability drives consistent engagement with the solution in the field, across all jobs. In turn, it’s this engagement that allows Ryan’s leadership team to trust the information from the field is solid, current, and complete. Its seamless connectivity to Ryan’s ERP system means the same high-quality data is being utilized by the accounting team. The result is true visibility — for everybody — to the true financial health of the project.
This high degree of project visibility came particularly handy during the height of the pandemic. Procore helped Ryan navigate the ever-changing supply chain and labor challenges during the crisis by enabling them to quickly make “smart, clear-eyed, data-driven decisions.”
Using Procore, Ryan was able to review all committed costs, and identify which of its national subcontractors had the largest open amounts. In 24 hours, Ryan’s leadership team was able to prioritize which project teams they needed to focus on.
“We narrowed it down from over 300 projects to just a handful that needed that quick attention to make sure we didn’t get ourselves into a bunch of trouble. Without Procore and that financial integration, this would not have happened in the timeframe that it did,” says Leighton.
4. Create Company-Wide Alignment Around Costs
From operations to accounting, controlling costs requires aligning an organization around its processes, technology, and people. Ensuring billings and payments are being made on time is essential, and everyone on the team has a role to play in making money for the company, so Ryan created a dashboard that provided construction teams with greater visibility into owner payments.
Ryan’s Project Health Dashboard provided the company with information such as whether they’re billing enough and whether they’re getting paid. But they took things a step further with its Accounts Receivable Dashboard, which made it easy to correct these issues and ensure payments are going out the door in a timely fashion.
By providing this dashboard team-wide, everyone becomes empowered to help collect those payments, and gets better insight into whether the company is making or losing money. Leighton says each month she divides the dashboard by region and sends out specific emails to team members about which projects are most overdue, how leadership can help collect on those payments, and which clients are consistently paying the slowest.
“We love competition at Ryan, so we like to show regions how well they’re doing at getting owner billings out the door. The faster we get paid, the faster we can pay subs, which makes everyone happy,” says Leighton.
5. Standardize the Processes
A necessary part of keeping costs in line is ensuring you have clear, integrated processes that encourage collaboration and visibility.
“If Procore is just a thing you can use if you want, it won’t have good data. It can’t be optional, it can’t have side spreadsheets. Otherwise you’re going to have a lack of consistency and therefore bad data,” explains Leighton.
Ryan needed a better method of tracking hours for calculating their monthly profit projections. The accounting team needed this information from the construction team in order to accurately project net profit vs. gross. The internal IT team, along with construction and accounting, built a tool to collect these hours, and used Procore’s custom tool embedded app to keep the construction team right in Procore.
The increased visibility into both billable and non-billable hours enabled Ryan to make better projections. Through the dashboard, Ryan provides a quick link to its full time card report so accounting can dig into individual users on a project to see if they’re inadvertently logging billable hours as non-billable.
Through Procore’s timecard tool, Ryan was able to enter data into Procore and bring it all together into their embedded app for their hours projection tool.
“Simply having technology and no process will lead to bad data. Our projections need to be completed the same way each month. Procore’s embedded app has really helped us keep the project team in Procore and accounting in JD Edwards,” Leighton says.
Without accurate and complete data going in, nothing good can come out. Because Ryan knew they were inputting good data, the company was able to quickly develop custom dashboards which more quickly provided teams with information and allowed leadership to review it more efficiently.
“It’s everyone’s job to know if we’re making or losing money. This can be done by collaboration between departments and integrating their tools,” says Leighton.
“Ryan and company has really been able to take its data analytics to the next level with the help of Procore financial tools and the integration with our accounting system. We’re excited to continue to explore ways to use Procore’s data that we’re collecting in such an efficient way.”