Project Management Software Gives Better View of Financials to General Contractor


Western National Construction found itself in a quandary when it realized that commitments didn’t show up in financial reports until they were executed, which was up to 90 days after they entered the pipeline. That meant there was no easy way to get an overall financial picture of a project underway.

"It could be a $60,000 commitment, but if it’s not signed and fully executed, our accounting system had no idea where it was in the system," says Ken Hodges, manager of technical services for Western National Construction.

The Irvine, Calif.-based general contractor turned to Timberline’s Project Management for a system that integrates with accounting for a real-time view of the profitability of a project.

Standardization of tracking methods

Prior to using Project Management, project managers had their own methods of keeping track of a project, using Excel spreadsheets and disparate databases.

"What Project Management did was allow us to bring everyone on board and bring all the information the project managers were using into Timberline. That gives us a cohesive picture for everybody to use," Hodges says.

Western National Construction most appreciates the real-time financial reporting it gets with Project Management, Hodges says.

"It allows us tremendous visibility on our projects," Hodges says. "We can tell significantly farther in advance than we were able to in the past about where our project is going. We can tell whether it’s going to be under budget, over budget, how the specific project manager is managing the project."

Saving Time

Using Project Management cut the amount of time it takes to prepare contracts and change orders in half, Hodges says. In the past, contract administrators would type out lengthy contracts in Microsoft Word, which would later have to be entered into the accounting system. Project Management allows Western National Construction to eliminate the data entry duplication because contract administrators create the contracts within Project Management, which automatically enters the information into accounting.

"It really cut down on the amount of time it would take for the contract administrator to produce the document because it’s all coming out of the system," Hodges says. "It also eliminates a lot of the inaccuracies that occurred in the past with math errors. It’s a tremendous achievement for us."

Remote Access

Western National Construction has remote offices with project managers who need the real-time reporting capabilities of Project Management, so the company set up an intranet to allow access to the Timberline data.

"It’s helped us out that anybody anywhere can access Timberline directly," Hodges says.

Simple to Customize

Hodges says his company likes the fact that Project Management is intuitive and simple to customize.

"The way the work flow works is exactly the way we use it in the field," Hodges says. "They’ve done a good job making the product into something that the operations guys and people who may not be familiar with computers are able to pick up fairly quickly."

Project Management helps users make informed decisions so they can act quickly, Hodges says. "We can find out in real time that hey, this doesn’t look like it’s working for us and we need to make a change in strategy or figure out what’s wrong with this line item. We can pinpoint problems quickly."