Case Study | KCS West: Using Real-Time Insights to Improve Cost Controls in Construction Management
GoalKCS West, a construction firm that completed approximately $200 million in projects in 2020, needed an all-in-one project management software solution that could support drawing and document management, project cost management, field documentation, and more.
ChallengeThey needed a customizable solution to fit their unique needs.
ProjectSight provided a comprehensive, centralized solution that could be tailored to meet their needs.
Ongoing BenefitsWith implementation of ProjectSight, KCS West has gained real-time insights that help them improve information flows across all aspects of a construction project. The solution also allows them to streamline communication between stakeholders and integrate the software with their existing ERP system. It standardized their project level processes across all projects and staff.
KCS West, part of Kajima U.S.A. (KUSA), operates mainly in southern California and completed approximately $200 million in 2020 alone. The company started using construction management software in the mid-1990s, but recently began looking for a more up-to-date option. “The older software didn’t handle drawing management well, which was always a challenge,” says Dan Bentil, project manager at KCS West. “Ultimately we made the decision to update, so we started looking around to see what was available.”
Vetting a Solution
Bentil and his colleagues spent the next year and a half conducting market research and vetting potential products. They reviewed five options by seeking demos, talking with other users, and evaluating their capabilities. “At the end of it, we landed on ProjectSight for a few key reasons,” Bentil says. “One was Trimble’s commitment to the product. They promised upgrades and we saw them follow through with that.” Another was ProjectSight’s support both before and during the implementation process. “That was extremely helpful to us.”
KCS West teams also appreciated ProjectSight’s emphasis on user input and willingness to listen to feedback. “Being able to request capabilities and functions that would help our business, and seeing them deliver those, has been an important piece for us,” says Bentil. “Some products we looked at were a little rigid, but we’ve been able to configure ProjectSight to operate the way we want to use it.”
“At the end of it, we landed on ProjectSight for a few key reasons. One was Trimble’s commitment to the product. They promised upgrades and we saw them follow through with that. Another was ProjectSight’s support both before and during the implementation process. That was extremely helpful to us.”
– Dan Bentil, Project Manager
Implementing a Real-Time Information Hub
Today, KCS West utilizes nearly every module in ProjectSight, including budget tracking, document control, drawings, and specifications. It serves as the single platform for their operations work, creating a hub of information that administrators, superintendents, project managers, subcontractors, A/E’s and owners can access. “Before ProjectSight, we had superintendents filling out Daily Construction Reports long hand, administrators working from a separate database and project managers were still working in the old software or on custom spreadsheets that required triple entry of the same information. Now, we’ve centralized all that, not just on a project level, but also on a company level. Sr. management can get real time insight into any of the projects at any time, whether on the cost or document side.”
Standardized safety information was uploaded. Now superintendents have started using checklists embedded in ProjectSight for project safety. ProjectSight’s mobile app allows superintendents to access the forms they need while in the field.
“Before ProjectSight, we had superintendents filling out Daily Construction Reports long hand, administrators working from a separate database and project managers were still working in the old software or on custom spreadsheets that required triple entry of the same information. Now, we’ve centralized all that, not just on a project level, but also on a company level. Sr. management can get real time insight into any of the projects at any time, whether on the cost or document side. ”
– Dan Bentil, Project Manager
Advantages of Collaboration and Configurability
When it comes to cost issues, KCS West needs input from a range of stakeholders, including subcontractors, vendors, designers, and owners. “Having a single platform where everyone can collaborate is extremely valuable,” says Bentil. “It saves time and a lot of headaches. And for owners, it allows them to see how the project is actually shaping up.”
Project managers and superintendents are able to access cost information in real-time through ProjectSight’s mobile or desktop app, allowing them to see and process change orders much more quickly. In an industry where information has historically been collected and stored in separate silos, enabling collaboration and securely syncing data is game-changing. “Being able to work and access information from a single platform saves time and helps you perform consistently,” says Bentil. “Ultimately, it invites more owners to give you more projects.”
KCS West has also been able to configure ProjectSight to suit an owner’s or contractor’s unique preferences. “We can offer those personal configurations, but also remain consistent as a company in how we manage and report our costs,” says Bentil. “This allows our management teams to digest information and make quick decisions as needed.”
“We can offer those personal configurations, but also remain consistent as a company in how we manage and report our costs. This allows our management teams to digest information and make quick decisions as needed.”
– Dan Bentil, Project Manager
Currently, KCS West is working on an integration between ProjectSight and their ERP, Viewpoint. With this integration, cost information that goes into ProjectSight will flow directly into the ERP, further breaking down information siloes and easing communication between administrative and accounting staff. “Administrators and project managers don’t have to learn the ERP, and accountants don’t have to learn ProjectSight,” says Bentil. “Each department works in their own platform, but those platforms are connected.”
Keys to Successful Implementation
Looking back at KCS West’s successful adoption of ProjectSight, Bentil emphasizes the importance of buy-in from management when implementing a new system. “Without that, you can try to push it along but it goes nowhere because people have their own ideas about how they should do the work,” he says. Convincing all stakeholders of the benefits of the system—particularly how it will save them time and effort—is also key. “If they can’t see the benefits, suddenly you have a system that nobody wants to use.”
Providing ongoing support is the most important part of getting and keeping everyone on board, says Bentil. “When they get to a point where they’re stuck, make sure there is someone available that they can call to help them through it. That removes the hesitation and gives them the confidence to go ahead and use the system.”