How DSI Streamlined Operations with BuildOps
Aug. 26, 2022
“BuildOps is a valued partner of ours. We selected them because their UI was superior to anything we had seen. And now that we’ve gone “live,” I’ve been impressed by their industry knowledge, development team and willingness to adapt their product to our workflows. Our Executive team is very excited about having better visibility into our Service work and believes BuildOps will help us increase our Service business.” – Randy Smith, DSI
Curious about BuildOps’ onboarding, implementation, and its true impact on operations? Hear it direct from the source. Join us as we interview Dynamic Systems, Inc.’s Director of Enterprise Applications, Randy Smith. Watch the video above or read the interview below for the full scoop on how DSI streamlined operations with BuildOps.
Arvind: I’m super excited to welcome Randy Smith, Director of Enterprise Applications at DSI. And he’s going to talk about how DSI has helped streamline operations with BuildOps. Randy, really, welcome. I’m excited to have you on here. And please tell us a little about yourself and about DSI.
Randy: Sure. Yeah. Arvind, thanks for having me. I’ve enjoyed working with you guys. So, when he kind of came to me and talked about wanting to do something I was happy to do so because one of the things you find out after you start talking to any new software providers, you kind of get the sales pitch, right. But then you end up inevitably wanting to speak to someone actually using it, because that’s where you learn the real stuff, right? And you learn the things that are working, maybe some things that aren’t working, but you get the real deal.
So, Arvind, as you mentioned, I’m the Director of Enterprise applications here at DSI, or as I sometimes put on my conference badges, I put CKO for Chief Chaos Officer, because I tend to create chaos in areas that sometimes people don’t want it, right, because people always love change, don’t they? But anyway, Dynamic Systems, we’re a mechanical subcontractor based here in Austin. We’ve got several branches spread across the country. We started in 1988. And we’ve got right around 1,900 employees right now. So, we’re a union shop. So, for those of you that might be a subcontractor, or you work with a GC just means that you end up employing union labor for your field labor, so probably 1,500 of our 1,900 are union folks. And then the three or 400 of us that are non-union, most of us are in the office and they’re the ones that do all the real work, right? We just end up here on a computer screen with Arvind.
So, I’ve been with DSI for seven years. I was initially hired because we switched over to Viewpoint, which is from Vista or Vista by Viewpoint, they keep coming up with different names for it. But we used to be on a computer guidance CGC ERP, and we had been on that for probably 28 years. So, our entire life as a company, we have been on one platform, but we made the switch over to Vista. And I think it’s a good one because I think Vista provides a lot more flexibility than what CGC was doing. And I don’t know, I’ve heard some other people say CGC isn’t putting as much money into their product as well. So, we’ve made that decision and we’ve been in it for roughly seven years now. So, it’s been good. It did a lot of things to help. We went from managing projects in Excel to now everything being in one place, right, which is kind of what you want with your ERP.
So, I’ve been in construction for probably 25 plus years. I got my cut, paste and — I say my CPA certificate, I call it cut, paste and assemble. That’s what kind of what you do when you get it. So, I got that back in 1990 out in California. And I call myself a recovering accountant, because I’m not in accounting anymore. I used to be. So, seven years ago when I joined DSI, they brought me on to help convert to Vista because I had done that with a GC here in town. And then because of having that accounting background, I can walk down the hall and talk to the accounting folks and somewhat know what I’m saying. Right? And then sometimes they even come to me because they’re like, hey, what do you think about this and all these different things?
So, it’s kind of fun now because I’m in the IT department, so I ended up getting to help different people. I kind of get to stretch across most of the company, which is kind of fun. I get to interact with different people with helping them, you know, why are you doing everything in Excel like that? We could automate that for you or just be more efficient. You know, why are you guys still doing paper time cards? That’s crazy. So, anyway, it’s been a fun role, and I really enjoy it and kind of — Even though I’m not an IT guy, it’s still — it’s kind of a fun place to be.
Arvind: Thank you, Randy. Yeah. No. And that cross functional experience has been great for us working with you which we’ll obviously talk a little bit about because that helps us think about the holistic solution. Right? And that’s what we do is we come in and as you said, introducing a new ERP. And so we’d love to actually dive into that piece. Kind of before BuildOps prior to working with BuildOps, what were the pain points or challenges that you were facing with your business operations, and what was the catalyst or finding that better solution?
Randy: It’s a great question. You know, we, like I said, we had gone live with Viewpoint seven years ago. And we use almost all of the modules within Viewpoint. So, in Viewpoint, they have a service management module, or the SM modules. So, for any of you guys or gals in Vista, you probably know it already. So, we have two major lines of business, right, construction, which are the bigger construction, jobs, and then service. So, we made a conscious decision just two or three years ago that we wanted to grow the service department. Because you don’t want to necessarily have everything in the construction basket, because inevitably the real estate cycles go up and down.
So, fortunately, it’s still a hot market here in Texas and some other markets that we’re in. So, construction is doing really well. But there will be times where it’s going to slow down and just like it has in the past, when the 2008, when the capital markets a lot of things went away, because the lending went away. So, we wanted to grow service. And for those of you familiar with Vista, the Service Management module is really hard to work with. I’ve been told that it was not written, like all the other modules were kind of written by the same people. And the service module was not. It was almost like it was an outside, possibly, an outside platform that they brought in and bolted it on. Because the underlying data tables are nothing like anything else. So, it’s not very mobile friendly.
And our techs, they literally have paper with these books where they do POs and they track their time and the work that they do, they kind of do it on a PDF. Then they have to come in at the end of the week and turn all this stuff in, right? So, for a full week, you don’t really know what they’ve been working on. You get all these receipts and it’s just kind of a mess. And we had actually, three years ago, Vista has what they call strategic partners, where they kind of work with other software providers that if there’s a gap in what they offer, then they will kind of work with a couple of other firms and give them access to the code, right? So, that firm — So, typically, that means they have good integration with Vista. And so we started working with one firm called FieldConnect and got, man, we were like a full year into it, got to the point where we were ready to go live. And then our service management just didn’t engage didn’t, even though we had spent all this time trying to help them get it together, they just didn’t engage with it. So, it just died and we finally had to just say, all right, we’re not going to support you anymore if you don’t want to do this.
So, then we moved on to another platform. And then this one turned out to be, you know, so the Field Connects worked and then this other one didn’t work, even though they were a strategic partner as well. We basically spent a bunch of time with them and then found out that, wow, the software really just doesn’t work very well. And we, even after talking to multiple other Vista customers, they all said the same thing. They said, “Yeah, none of us have been able to get that to work.” So, we finally had to pull the plug on that. So, we’ve been at this several years, like I said, so we were really wanting to get something better.
And then we kind of stumbled upon BuildOps and loved what we saw in terms of the user interface. We just felt like there was nothing else out there that offered that. And then we started talking about the integration. And I think one of the nice things about what you guys offer is, you’re not necessarily tied to one single ERP, right? You’ve done it with multiple ERPs, and your other customers. So, having that type of flexibility I think is really big. So, helping us to be more mobile friendly, being able to have techs understand where things were and who they have been assigned — I mean, it’s just been such a improvement over what we have with —
So, our goal is, we’ll talk, I think, in a little bit about this as well with some of our implementation. But our goal is to have all of our service, we’ve got five service divisions. We want all five of them to be fully operational in BuildOps because I may be able to turn off some licenses from Vista because I’m envisioning — I don’t need anybody to go into the SM module anymore. And we had the same type of situation with another platform. And we were able to reduce our license count by 10. So, I think we may be able to do the same thing with you all. I think we might be able to save like five to 10 seats.
Arvind: Yeah. Randy, that’s great to hear. And kind of touched upon a couple of different pain points that I think from obviously us working together I know we’ve been able to address those. So, I’d love to drill into those a little bit deeper as we talk about, specifically, around the field techs and the dispatch board. But you noted talking about the onboarding process. We took a pretty specific strategy with your organization that we collaborated on. And I think it worked really well and wanted to talk a little bit more about that piece, about how you chose to roll out specific division and how it’s really been effective to get adoption and thinking about that change management piece. You guys have done, a very large organization, you’ve done a phenomenal job managing that change and wanted to talk about that a little bit.
Randy: Yeah, sure. You know, it’s definitely been a partnership. I think we’ve talked about it before. At times, it’s been challenging, and it took me, man, it probably took me a good three months to get my head wrapped around how we were going to integrate with Vista, right? Because we obviously did the demos, we talked to some other people, they loved your product. And I kind of went in with the assumption that you guys were connecting to the SM module, because I just kind of felt like, okay, well, they’re service, right. So, they’re just going to replace the service module and connect to it. But then after we kind of got into it and realized that those underlying data tables in the Service Management module are really not very good. They’re not built that well. They’re kind of like all over the place. There’s not much form and function to them as much as you would think.
So, when you guys first proposed not using the SM module that like, my head blew up. I was kind of like, now, what are we going to do? It took me a while to get my head wrapped around the fact that we were not connecting to SM, and instead, we were going to use job costs. With all of our construction work we’ve got a ton of money flowing through the job cost module. And now being through this and having gone live, to me this way, makes so much more sense. But it took me a while to really work through, because I had to work through all the different scenarios of like, okay, well, how are we going to pay our people? Right? How are we going to track their time? How are we going to pay our vendors? How are we going to bill our customers? How are we going to create the — You know, so all of that took me a while because we’ve always had just one job cost company. We don’t, like some people I know have multiple companies because they’ve got like a heavy highway civil division over here, they might have a concrete group over here. Well, we’ve always just been one, we’re mechanical, we hang pipe and duct. Right.
So, when you guys came to me and said we could do it with a new job cost company, that one threw me out for a loop. But after a while I finally got comfortable with, you know what, that’s actually better because the reporting in job — we’ve got like hundreds of custom reports already built. And if we can reuse those and the job cost reporting is so much better, the reporting in the SM module of Vista is really kind of convoluted, you know, you get profitability that some of them, well, one of them does not include service agreements and you’re only doing — And I’m like, that doesn’t make any sense. Why would you only show work orders and service agreements are completely outside that. It’s just weird.
So, when you guys, when I got my head wrapped around the fact that we could use job costs, we can still use — we didn’t have to make changes on the AP or the AR side. Meaning, when you create a new job cost company, I had some concern about well, I don’t want my AP people having to go into these other companies, and then back and forth, because they’ll be confused. So, the fact that we could do that, and they can stay in their JC company and process the service work, that was a big one. And now we’re roughly two months in, and we’re starting to see those job cost reports. So, it’s been really nice to be able to see that because we’ve replicated some of the drill down reports that we had, and we did not have that ability in the SM module. So, that part has been really nice to see and now starting to see some results.
So, when we started, you were asking about implementation. So, we kind of broke it down because we have those five different locations. And we thought, you know what, let’s start with one of the smaller groups, because it’ll be easier with the tech. They’ve got like eight to 10 techs. It’s not — we’ve got some a couple of groups that have like 20 to 30 techs. We’ve got probably roughly 70 to 80 techs total. But we thought let’s start with one of the smaller groups. And one of the groups, our San Antonio group, they raised their hand and said, yes, we’d love to help. So, they’ve been a big catalyst, because obviously, they’re doing it from the field side. And then I’m on the back end side making sure that we’ve got the proper integrations, the reporting, and how are we going to handle that type of thing. So, we started with them, and they did a really good job with tech adoption. I think you made a comment about how did your technicians when you started working with them, so what we did was, we made like four fake jobs. You know, one of the nice things that you guys offer is you have a sandbox, and you have a sandbox and our ERP.
So, it was really nice to use your sandbox and connect it to our test environment of Vista, because then we can actually see the data, right? We can see when jobs show up, we can see the AR invoice show up. So, we got it into the sandbox, started playing around with some of the basic functionality. And then we felt like, okay, we understand how to create a job, how to bill it, how to open a PO, we brought the tech in and they all have iPads. So, we had these four different jobs on different areas of the room. And they did a nice job of laminating some things that like, okay, here’s your customer, here’s how long you’re going to spend here. This is the equipment that you’re working on. Here’s a Lowe’s receipt, here’s a this receipt. So, all of the techs had to go to each of those jobs and do like what they would normally do. So, we assigned them in advance. So, coming into the training, Arvind and Randy have been assigned to these particular jobs.
So, then the techs knew, open the app, go in here, then take a picture, make sure you choose the customer, here’s where you go to create your POs, snap a picture of that receipt, and put in your vendor number. So, that’s a nice thing about the integrations you guys, you integrate it for us, you brought in our customer list, you brought in our vendor list, so they don’t have to like type it all in, right. They just type in the first few letters of In-N-Out Burger, and it finds it for them. So, then they have some other — we built in a list of like a material list that we have on our site. So, they adopted it really well. And I think it’s because of doing that, kind of the setup in advance with them having those four fake jobs to — they actually had to do something, right. It wasn’t all just classroom education of like, all right, hey, when you get out in the field, make sure you clock in and… You know how that goes. They forget, right? And then if they can’t get logged into the app, then they just forget it. I’m not doing this thing.
So, I think that worked really, really well, because they did all four of them. And it was really interesting that some of these guys are not technically savvy. They’re not technology people. It tends to always be the younger guys that are, or the younger girls. But they adopted it really pretty fast. I mean, I was surprised at the — We had a few questions here and like your team was on standby, because we had a couple of techs that couldn’t get logged in. So, we had to work out some issues for them. But got all that worked out, all the techs got logged in and did their — I mean, within two hours they were done and there were not that many questions. So, it was like, wow, that actually went pretty well.
So, we did that with the techs first and then we had a couple of training sessions with your group and our administrative group down in San Antonio that actually run the service department. So, we were running through a bunch of things in that sandbox with jobs and customers and identifying, oh, we need to do that or we need to clean up the sales tax list. Because when you bring all that in, we had a bunch of them in there that didn’t need to be in there. So, I think choosing to go with one group like that has made a big difference. Because now we’ve gotten to the point now where they’re roughly two months, they went live roughly two months ago, we’re seeing some financial results. AP has seen invoices come through for POs. We’ve got AR payments being made. Some of our work is for our construction jobs, so we had to come up with a workflow for that, others are just being built to outside customers. So, payments are starting to come in.
So, it’s kind of neat to see that integration, because now you see the fact that, okay, Randy billed Arvind $10,000 for this work. Well, okay, we see Arvind’s payment. It was applied in Vista but it actually shows up and BuildOps. When you look at the job list there, that’s one another nice thing about your platform is you’ve got some really nice summary screens in there that you can see this list of customers, you can see like locations, but we use like the jobs list a lot, because it shows all the jobs that have been pulled. I mean, man, in two months, that San Antonio, they probably pulled 90 to 100 jobs already. So, it’s pretty interesting, and to see those payments flowing through because then it updates in BuildOps to show that, oh, Arvind’s bill has been paid. So, he’s got a zero balance. Right? So, it’s been interesting because of the workflow and getting the techs involved.
So, one of the things that it really has done is it has really improved the visibility of our work. I mentioned early on that the guys were doing paper, bringing in these books at the end of the week. Their time wasn’t getting posted until the end of the week, we’re on a weekly payroll. But we had no idea until that last day that oh, Arvind only worked 32 hours. But now because the guys are — that was another aspect of the training is marking their time in the app instead of marking that thing on a piece of paper and bringing it in at the end of the week, they do it at the end of the day. We showed them and you know, one of the interesting things that came out was a couple of the guys forgot to clock out. So, our San Antonio service manager, he’s calling this guy like 10 o’clock going, what are you doing? You’re showing that you’re still working? He’s like, no, I logged out a long time ago. So, we had to fix, not — we had to kind of train them on making sure that they got logged out.
But one of the other nice things about what you guys have done in partnering with us is, you’re improving the product as we go because we early on saw some things that we thought we’ll when we go to review tech time, we can only see it on a daily basis. Or actually, the first thing that happened was, like, that tech didn’t log out, he had a bunch of hours because it tagged his time, it tracks the time and it has timestamps on the start and the stop, right. Well, only the tech at that time, only the tech could fix it. Our administrative guy, he couldn’t fix it. So, we brought that up with you early on and you guys fixed it, you added a feature that now with the admin people can actually adjust the guy’s time. Well, then another thing came up was, when you see the tech time, it was daily. But at the end of the week, it’s already posting to the job daily, which is really nice. So, when you go to bill it, you see all that time. So, I don’t have to wait on Arvind to come in with his friggin book, and give me his hours and his POs, because I already have it, I already see it. So, that was really nice.
But then you, it was a little bit harder to review the time for when we turn it into payroll, because now you’re only seeing it daily. So, you had to start with Monday and go like, okay, he’s got eight, he’s got eight, he’s got another eight. So, then you guys added a new report for us that actually summarizes all the tech time for the week. So, it’s nice, because now we get an email notification that says, oh, here are your hours for the San Antonio branch for last week. And you can quickly see, oh, Scott’s only got 32 hours. What? Oh, yeah, he was on PTO that one day. That’s right. Okay. Oh, Randy’s got 45. And this guy’s only got 10. What is going on? Right. So, we’re able to see that a lot better now. And like I said, the visibility of the information it’s now real-time, right?
You know, one of the things I did is — Our corporate offices here in Austin, so we’ve got some big TVs in the conference room. So, once we had gone live, I went up there and actually turned the dashboard, the dispatch board on for them on the TV and it was hilarious, because the senior management guys are walking by this conference room, and they’re all looking in and they’re like, “Whoa. What is that? That’s really cool.” Because it showed all the techs where they were at and what they were doing. So, they thought that was really nice, because that’s something that they never had in Vista. I mean, we could have built them an SSRS dashboard, but I don’t have to now because they’re seeing the real-time list.
And they even know that one of the other flexibilities you guys offer is we have all our techs in there. But we got HVAC and plumbing, we have two different types of techs. Well, some people like I don’t know that Arvind is a plumber, or that Randy’s a sheet metal guy, right, HVAC guy. So, we added that in front of their name, we put an H or a P. So, anybody can look at the dispatch board and know that oh, Arvind’s HVAC, Randy’s a plumber. And it’s kind of like, oh, that’s kind of neat. So, now we’re looking forward to rolling it out to our next branch, Houston, and that’s going to happen probably within two weeks from now, I believe. And you guys continue to help us.
You know, one of the other things that we identified is the attachments. When you bill a customer, or you create a PO, someone had to go over to the Vista side, you got to actually post that thing. Right. And that’s not bad, because sometimes you want that review, especially our accounting people want to review that AR invoice. But one of the things that we asked for that you guys are almost deploying, I think supposed to deploy next week, the ability to automatically attach that invoice or that receipt for the PO in the Vista, because that was something that is just an extra step for our people. So, we’ve been doing it in the interim. But when you go to post that batch, and then hey, I want the receipt, right? Or I want that AR invoice, I want to know what you guys sent to the customer. So, now you guys are working with us. And we’re very close, I think next week, it’s supposed to deploy in the sandbox. So, we’re really excited about testing that out, because I think that will help our people just reduce their workflow.
Arvind: Absolutely. No, thank you for that great answer, Randy. It’s really great to see all the various levels in which we’ve been able to add value to your business. And I think from our perspective, I think it’s important for the folks listening in to know also is how well partnering has been with you, as you noted. You know, an implementation doesn’t always necessarily follow, everyone’s on the same page, especially at the beginning. But your team being transparent about your concerns and voicing those and us working through those solutions collaboratively has not only led to kind of, as you said, setting up your business in a better way, but also us finding areas in which we can enhance our product and give you the customer a best in class solution. So, it’s been great to have that feedback loop. And that’s one of the values of working with us and being able to work with you too. So, it’s been great.
And I know from our conversations, we were always concerned about the techs. So, right, it was always, even from day one, it was, they’re going from pen and paper, as you said, it’s a pretty big change. And you have quite a large number of technicians. So, it was very happy for all of us to see that — We’ve always had a good experience with tech training. And I know, we told you that before we came down. And it was great to validate that with you and kind of see the aha moment from both the technicians and the senior management. It’s a lot of the fun wins that we get as part of the implementation and change process.
Randy: I know one of the things you had that we talked about a little bit is also part of that implementation. That’s one of the things I appreciate with you guys, is that we’ve been — you’ve really put the resources, you’ve brought them to bear when you needed to. Because like I said early on, it took me a while to get my head wrapped around how we were doing this integration. So, then once we got — once I kind of figured out okay, now I get it, I see what we’re doing. So, then we started ramping up the frequency of meetings.
So, it was kind of nice, because we were all sitting in a conference room for almost the entire week, and you had people from the technical side, you had some of your engineering people available. And then, you know, so it was nice to be able to walk through a lot of the workflow, just that entire process of creating jobs. And where do you see it? How do we assign roles? And how do we do this? And so it was really helpful to do that.
Arvind: Yeah, I appreciate that. And that’s one of the key aspects of six successful deployments, as you noted, is that collaboration and being able to take your feedback. And so one thing I would like to drill a little bit deeper on is kind of that Vista integration piece. I know, it was a very big piece. We highlighted some of the kind of change in — the paradigm shift that we were thinking about in the beginning. And how’s it working for you now? And I know we’ve identified some areas in ways we can enhance it, which, as you noted, it’ll enhance it not just for your business, but for all of our customers using the Vista integration, which we love doing. And so I just wanted to talk about that. Let’s talk about the process and how it worked for your team?
Randy: Yeah. No, it’s worked well, like I said with the sandbox, before going live, we did a lot of things where we were creating new customers, creating new jobs, and knowing the integration of like the purchase orders. Because in the past, like I said, the techs were doing a PO on a piece of paper. Or they would just get the receipt, or they go to the Ferguson desk, right and get whatever they needed to pay for it with their card and be done. So, having that in place and being able to see that PO in Vista like the same day like from yesterday, generally, we’ll get a notification that oh, you’ve got these POs that need to be posted. So, then our person in San Antonio, she knows to go in and post them and the commitment is already there, which is awesome, right? Because then when the bill or the receipt comes in, they know where to apply it because these are all mostly committed costs.
So, being able to see the integration work was really nice. Because like I said we were all kind of new to the new job cost company. So, we really wanted to see like, okay, where’s the job go, right? And then I want to see the PO. And then how am I going to pay the techs, right? So, we’re working with you on — we get that summary report that I kind of mentioned earlier from BuildOps. And then we still take, because we’re still paying people through Payroll Module on Vista, right. BuildOps is not a payroll provider. So, we just get that information and we put it in an Excel sheet that actually can be imported by the payroll ladies. So, being able to see that part, and then actually, the last piece of that is where you bill it, billing it to the customer and actually seeing that invoice get created in Vista under that customer name, that your integration actually push that data across.
So, for all of these things, you guys brought in the information from Vista. So, we’re using the exact same, it’s not like they’re going out and creating these new vendors, new customers, that type of thing, you’re using the ones that are in our system. So, that integration going back is really critical, because now nobody has to go in, other than the fact that they got to go post the batch, but they don’t have to enter that stuff. Your integration the group that you’re working with, with the integration, they do it in Vista or in BuildOps, the data lands in Vista, it gets posted, and it’s like, okay, there it is. Now, I can actually, I can run a receivables report, I can run a PO commitment type report to show oh, I can see that these have been paid, I can see that the AR invoice has been paid. So, that bi-directional integration, I think, has been really helpful. Because like the service techs, they basically live in a BuildOps app, the administrative people live on the BuildOps website. So, now that we’re starting to get a few reports, we can actually start to see some of the profitability of some of these two months worth of service work.
Arvind: Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, I wanted to ask you, specifically and you, as you said, kind of a recovering accountant, whenever you make a change of this magnitude with a new ERP and operating system, of course, the folks on the finance and accounting side are hesitant to change, right? There’s concerns about how the data will flow. How’s that been for your team? How’s the accounting team feeling, processing — you’ve highlighted a number of areas, but overall, managing the expectations, those stakeholders usually is a bit of — some fear in the beginning. And I feel like things have gone in a good direction, wanted to hear a little bit about that.
Randy: Sure. Yeah. I realized from other implementations that you need to involve the various people that are going to be impacted, right. So, several months ago, when I was in that period of struggling how to understand this whole new job cost company thing. I had several conversations with our controller, because he and I kept going back and forth of like, all right, well, what’s going to happen when this and what are you going to do with that, and how are you going to get to see this, right? So, he and I worked through that early on to get them kind of onboard. And understanding that — because you have to create, there’s a whole level of security behind this whole new company, basically, right? Because it’s in the ERP, but we have a lot of job level security. We got roles, and we got all these data secure — all these different things.
So, it took us a little while to build some of that out because now you’re using a new job cost companies. So, now there are all these new little things that you kind of forget about, like, oh, man, we haven’t done that for seven years. Now, I got to create a new department master for all of the branches. And then I got to put reviewer groups together for them to see an invoice. I worked with him quite a bit for several months to kind of figure all that out. And then he kind of went to his folks like the people that apply the payments on the receiving side or the invoice side I should say, and then the AP team.
So, then right before probably the week before we went live, I sat down with both the payroll people and the AP people and the AR person and kind of said, all right, here’s how this is going to work, right? You’re going to see PO numbers that are different than what you’re used to because our normal construction work is a six digit PO number. Well, the service work is now going to have a four digit number dash one, right? And if it’s a dash two, it’s the second PO for that service work. So, now they know that okay, the numbering is completely different. So, if I see a 1048-1, well, that’s a service job. That’s not a construction job. And then the same thing on the invoicing side is because you’re creating an AR invoice, you’re not using progress billing like we do on the construction side, so completely different invoice number on the progress bill versus the AR invoice.
Also the fact that we purposely chose not to use our construction work, they use four digit job numbers. So, we purposely did not choose that because service work, you tend to do a lot more jobs in one week than construction ever does. Right? So, we purposely chose a numbering scheme in the service work side that’s way higher. It’s got like nine or eight digits to it, I think. So, it’ll take decades for construction to ever catch up to that. So, those were some things that we purposely did, to segregate because we knew that the job cost company is going to segregate it by itself in terms of the data. But we also need the people that are entering a lot of these things to know. Oh, yeah, this is coming from BuildOps. So, it helped a lot, I think by help — They had a couple, the first few were a little weird for them, because they just weren’t used to it.
But once they entered, and they didn’t even have to — that’s one nice thing about it is for them, they don’t have to change companies. They still do all of their work in our same company, even though all the job cost data, it’s going to a different place. So, they just go to the exact same form that they’ve all used for an invoice that comes in or an AR invoice to apply a payment. And they just put the PO number, it’s a different number. Well, then it automatically defaults to the other job costs company. So, it’s worked out well.
Arvind: Yeah, that’s fantastic. And it’s interesting because it’s those — it seems pretty small to think about how you know, a numbering change. And folks take those things for granted. But it was that kind of foresight, thinking about how it’s going to impact down the road, especially as a lot of jobs start getting created. That’s really good coming back to that collaborative piece about working with your company. That’s been great. Because those are things that we learn as we’re able to work with you, and each business kind of has that unique setup. So, it was great to identify those. Thinking about kind of others that are considering BuildOps, Randy, what are kind of your takes on suggestions for folks thinking about BuildOps, and kind of the top three things that may be top of your mind, as a part of the implementation process that you would recommend other folks thinking about through our onboarding?
Randy: Yeah, I think I would recommend — I mean, definitely look at more than just one. Yeah, I don’t want to steer you to say BuildOps as the only answer, right? But based on our experience, the fact that we tried two other implementations, neither of them — the one product didn’t work, the other one, our people didn’t engage and didn’t want it or didn’t help it. So, when we couldn’t get that second one to work, we started looking around again, like we even looked at the same ones again, and look at different ones, because you — and make sure when you talk to the people that get into some detail there, like I said. Because you’ll talk to the salespeople, and they know how to sell the product and demo the product, right. But it’s always a good idea to get some references, because that’s why you know, I was — I wanted to kind of do this with you guys. Because I can tell you like, here’s exactly what we experienced, right?
So, we did the same thing. And just make sure that you have a good list of questions of how certain things work. Because if you don’t have Vista and you have a different ERP, well, then you need to understand like, okay, BuildOps where are we going to integrate? Right? What modules or what areas are you guys going to touch? Because that’s a really important question. Because like I said, I kind of went in with this assumption that, oh, we’re just using SM and that wasn’t the case. So, make sure you talk to or see a few different ones, and then get some of their customers, talk to some of their customers, because you’ll get the real deal, typically, when you speak with the customer of that time of how long did it take and were they good to work with those types of things.
But I guess I’m trying to think of a couple of others to make sure you look at the others, talk to other people. Oh, and make sure you get, don’t just — I don’t think most of you would do this anyway, but don’t make your decision in a vacuum. Make sure you get other people involved. And like, you may see the demo yourself, like I did initially, it was myself and a couple of other people. But then we had several other demos after that, because you need to have service people looking at it to see — because they’re going to have a bunch of questions that you don’t think of, you need to have some technical people, you should also have some of your accounting people. So, they can ask those questions of like, well, where are you guys going to integrate? What accounts are you touching? Did you know because there were some considerations there that we had to set up a few new accounts, since our service work now is going in through the job cost side instead of the old Service Management module. So, make sure you get several of those people involved.
And then when you do start going, make sure you have a frequency of meetings between yourselves and BuildOps. But also your team internally. And so don’t just get these other people from the other groups in those meetings, because what will happen if you don’t is, okay, Randy made this call that he’s full of you know what. He doesn’t know that this thing over here doesn’t work, or that this is what we always run into. So, it makes sure you get them other stakeholders involved, so they can weigh in and understand it. Because otherwise, if you just say, yeah, hey, guess what we’re doing with BuildOps, you’re going to get a flood of questions of how all this is going to work? And did you think about how are we going to pay the tech? Well, I don’t know, I didn’t even really think about that. Dang.
So, make sure you do that and have those frequencies of the meetings with you all during that period of even prior to go live, you got to have all that because you need — We need to be accountable, you need to be accountable. So, both of us need to be working together to know that, okay, we’re waiting on that.
Arvind: Thank you, Randy. You know, that’s great advice. And I think, for folks on the line, I wanted to move over to some Q&A, Randy, if you’re okay with that.
Randy: Yeah. So, Arvind, while you’re checking the Q&A, all of the people that we’ve worked with on your team have been great. You guys have been really good at bringing resources, like I said before, bringing resources to bear, getting the right people to help us. You know, we’ve talked, we’ve got, man, probably five or six different people on your team that we know to go to Andy and Josh for the accounting integration. Okay, I know to go to Tom for this type of reporting thing. And then I know, oh, I know, I can go to Arvind if we’re having an issue in an overall sense that we need to elevate, type of thing. So, you’ve got a really good team of people that are knowledgeable, they know construction, but they’re also willing to listen.
Arvind: Thank you, Randy. I appreciate the compliment. And I of course, the timeline for your organization, since we were really kind of fleshing out aspects of the Vista integration to enhance it, which is really, I think, some of the time that we’d spent going back and forth. And that was a valuable exercise because as you noted, through that development process, we’re able to build really a best in class integration that all of our other customers are gaining benefits from too. And so now the rollout time and the process around that is dramatically faster. So, it’s been great to collaborate with you on that. Yeah.
Randy: That’s one of the things that’s been nice working with you guys is that I feel like it has been a really good partnership. And because you guys are willing to listen and then we kind of talk through like, okay, well, why are you wanting that? You know, and then it’s kind of like, what you said, You guys are, I think, it helped you and it helped us. It helped us understand the integration aspects and what we’re going to see or not see. But then I think it’s helped you all on this side of the workflow to know that, okay, that is kind of a typical request. And you’ve even had a couple of your guys have said, yeah, we’ve had some other customers asked for that too. Right? So, then we know that it’s kind of like, okay, this isn’t just a DSI thing. This is kind of a typical, like, hey, anybody in the service business, they’re probably going to want something like that. So, I think it has helped both of us.
Arvind: Absolutely. Absolutely. All right. I’m looking here. I got a good question actually, Randy, on this one. We know a lot of folks are working on — I’m going to paraphrase here. We know a lot of folks are seeking to expand and grow their business, right? There’s a shortage of labor and a real push towards maximizing efficiencies as you grow. And so as you’re looking to continue to grow your business, how has BuildOps been a part of that roadmap? I know, we’ve had discussions about scaling, and how this has been a key piece. But love to just hear a little bit about that.
Randy: Oh, sure. You know, and that’s a great question, because that’s exactly why we ended up choosing you all, because I think some of the other platforms were probably scalable. But to me, the visibility of the information is so much better. And the scalability in the sense that we’re about to add a second branch, and we’ve got like three others after that. So, we’re going to be going to Houston next week, to start training there. And being able to segregate that, that’s the other nice thing about, I think your platform is even down to as simple as the dispatch board, I can filter that by branch. I can go in and say, okay, I only want San Antonio, I only want Houston because that’s what the branches are going to do. Right? But I’d say that integration with Vista and the immediacy of the data is so much better. And I think that’s why it’s going to be so much — I think it’s going to be critical to us helping grow that because I just can’t see doing that with the SM module. It just, there’s — I mean, I know they’ve been working, Vista has been working on their, what they call field service. And we considered that early on, but because their integration is really, really good, right? Because that portal is their product. So, the integration with Vista is really good.
But to me the user interface that you all have is superior, still, to what they’re doing. And you know, the fact that we’ve been able to solve and build this integration, we don’t have to rebuild this deck for others. That’s why I feel like it’s so scalable is we’ve kind of taken that into account, right? Because we’ve done the filters by branch up front, and we’ve done this. So, when we go down to Houston, I don’t have to recreate all these G — I mean, that stuff’s already done. Right? So, to me, adding other branches is going to be pretty easy. I think, in our mind, the only thing we want to see is adding a second branch, and then filtering that — we know we can filter the dispatch board, and then some of the jobs list and some of the other reporting.
You know, I’m just curious to see how, but I think we’re going to be fine, because we spent so much time up front with you all talking through like, okay, we’re going to use the same department numbers that we use in the ERP. That way we match everything up, it’s consistent, right? And so the fact that Houston is going to start sending workout, they’re going to create visits, send their techs, they’re going to bill people, it’s not going to be like a steep learning because it’s the same stuff that everybody’s doing already.
Arvind: Yeah. Yeah. That’s great. Randy, that’s really exciting to hear. And even, as you noted, thinking about the other solutions that are there really focusing on putting in a best in class field ops system, even those bolt-ons sometimes, right, they’re not thinking about it the way we are. We are constantly thinking about how we can maximize efficiency for the field ops and the operations. And as long as we can get the data over to the accounting side, both parties win, right? So, you guys really embrace that.
Randy: Yeah. And to that point, you guys did that with the POs. You know, when we first turned on the app, with the techs, they — Basically what happens is you assign a visit, right? You say okay, I want Arvind to go out to SWRI and he’s going to be there all day. So, you assign that so it shows up on your field — on your builder. apps app in your iPad so you know, oh, here’s where I’m going. But one of the first things you do when you get there is we said, all right, we want before and after photos, right? So, that’s part of one of the flexibilities you guys offer is, we can say, you can’t complete this job until you’ve done these five things. You’ve taken before pictures, you’ve marked your time, you’ve taken after pictures, and you’ve done PO.
So, one of the first things we saw was in the PO side of that, they would go into their visit on the app and to create a PO, they know that, oh, I got to stop by Home Depot on the way out there because I need some filters, or I need some refrigerant. But at that point, they had to back out of that screen, they had to go to a different place for the PO. And we were like, that makes — What the — Why is — This is weird, right? Because they got to go to like three different screens. They got to like create the PO, they got to receive the item and then they got to go back and do this thing. And so you guys fix that, you changed it, like, within — it didn’t take that long. It’s probably two to three weeks later that we kind of called it out and said it’d be nice, if they didn’t have to go out of that screen, they could — Then you guys had it right there. It’s like right below one of the other steps. And then they just click on the PO, select the vendor, and it was like, oh, man, so much better.
Arvind: Yes, so it was very good to be able to release that enhancement. And again, that’s been the great kind of working with your team, we enjoy working with all of our customers on. As I noted earlier, kind of the purpose of success is to help your companies maximize the value of BuildOps. And that was one immediate example that we also identified that, hey, everyone could gain value from this, let’s update this. And being an agile software company, we’re able to iterate much faster than a lot of folks too. And that’s been a great theme that we’ve been able to convey during the whole process. So, I appreciate you bringing that one up. Well, Randy, I think that we’ve covered a lot today. Did you have anything else kind of for the audience as we wrap it up? I’ve obviously really enjoyed taking this time, and I really appreciate you taking this time to discuss this. We talked about it here and there, but it’s nice to kind of bring it all together for other folks to hear.
Randy: Yeah. I think just going back to that comment I made before about if you’re evaluating BuildOps or other people, like because I’ve seen this happen, especially with those other two platforms is you kind of, you see the demo, you got a bunch of people in the room. And they all think, yeah, that looks good. Let’s go with it. Well, one of the things I’m seeing is, you need to spend a little bit more time thinking through the, like, get into the weeds, because you need to really vet that because, I mean, you’re not necessarily — you’re never going to know all on the situat– I don’t think you could ever cover all of the different situations. But I think you got to think through like, okay, what is our current workflow in the system that it’s in, and then hit those with the BuildOps guys. Like go through like, okay, how am I going to pay my people? How am I going to pay the vendor? Those things I kind of said before.
Go through the basic workflow of that, like, don’t just assume that oh because what they showed me looks awesome. It’s because they’ve got that built out for you already, right? But when it when it comes time for you to do the stuff that’s why you got to — I think that’s why it’s important to like, kind of make a list of those things, and hash those out, like, like, say, you’re not going to be able to dress 100% of everything upfront, that’s just not realistic. But if you hit those major things with the BuildOps crew up front, you’ll have a better — instead of losing sleep like I did when I’m sitting there trying to figure out and wrap my head around this job cost company. If you get into a little bit of that earlier with them, I think it’ll help you a lot more. Because then you won’t be sitting there like telling my wife in the morning that man, I was dreaming about BuildOps last night. I just can’t because that’s a true story. You know, she thought I was nuts. So, you can avoid that.
So, I think just hit some of the highlights. Like I said, I don’t think you can cover 100% of the things that you’re going to encounter. But if you can do some of the basic stuff of like asking them all right, how are we going to create a job, how are we going to create or how’s our — who’s going to do the PO? Where’s it going to go? How do the guys get paid, where do they put their time in, right? How does the vendor get paid on that invoice? When you go to bill it, how am I going to bill it? Who’s going to bill this thing, right? And then where’s that thing going to go? Well, then, okay, then when the money comes in, how’s that going to happen? Right? Because now you’ve kind of walked through the entire process of the service job.
And then also kind of think through I think your existing ERP and reporting. Like if the reporting you have you like or if you don’t, then do like us going through the job cost module ended up working out pretty nicely because I’ve already got a lot of reports built over there. Now I just — I send it out and say, okay, hey, can you adjust this report to now look at this other job cost company? So, that’s why we’re already starting to see some cool profitability reports that give me the ability to drill down to like labor and material. You know, that was the other nice thing about, I should have mentioned this before that one of the things I like about what we did with you and your platform is, we really simplified the cost reporting. Like in our construction work, like for you guys, any GCS or other subs, you’ve got your like, a bunch of different cost codes, right? And so you’re either using the CSI division 40 codes, or whatever it is now, I think it’s like 40, or something. It used to be 16 and now it’s bigger.
So, for us as a sub, we got 100 phase codes for construction work. And on the surface Berg, we never had that, right? The service work because of the nature the Vista module, it just ran through this GL account, literally one GL account, everything, revenue costs, etc. So, it was hard to really understand how well something was doing. So, I think one of the beauties of the integration with job cost now is that we’ve essentially — service now has just three cost codes. That’s it, because we’re using job costs, so you needed to hit something. But we have a labor, a material, and a subcontract cost code. That’s it, nothing else. So, it’s so much simpler. You know, I don’t have to see 30 different cost codes. It really helped out. I think it helped a lot on that in terms of simplifying, because we had some discussions early on of like, oh, well, we could create all these phase codes, just like we do with job costs. And we were all going like, okay, you’re making that way too complicated. Let’s just keep it simple because this is service work. You’re in and out of there in a week or less.
Arvind: Yeah, I think that’s a great point. And even thinking about kind of wrapping it up on that final thought, as you know, a part of our implementation process is a full blown discovery of your organization. And to kind of reiterate your point that we’re as good as the information we get from our counterparts. And we are truly a team during the implementation process. So, we really enjoy it when clients are coming with that list and kind of asking those questions. Because we, of course, present the entire workflow. But there’s always nuances to a business and they’re always questions and so we’re always as good as the information we get. So, I’m glad you brought that up. It’s a very good point to kind of wrapping that up. But I think this has been a great conversation, Randy. Again, I really, really appreciate your time. I know you’re a very busy man. And so, again, if there’s anything the audience has, reach out to us and let us know. At BuildOps, we’re more than happy to answer any questions. But, Randy, thanks again. We’ll talk to you soon.
Randy: You bet. Yeah. Thanks for having me.
Questions for Arvind or Randy at DSI? Let us know! And when you’re ready to reinvent your operations to drive efficiency and boost revenue, give us a call.