JK Williams builds project management excellence with IFS applications

Australian civil contracting company JK Williams selected IFS Applications as their project-based ERP to manage their project portfolio and support future growth.As a highly respected Australian civil contracting company, JK Williams has experienced a steady growth year-on-year for the past five years.

With more than 20 projects on the go at any time, ranging from $100k to $20 million in value, JK Williams needed to modernise operations and better manage live project costs while supporting employees to make decisions in real time. They selected IFS Applications as their project-based ERP to manage their project portfolio and support future growth.

Limited insight into daily operations

To manage their project portfolio, JK William’s IT landscape consisted of a project management tool that was outdated and had limited uptake across the organisation.

There was no purchase order system, manual spreadsheets were used to track production, and there was no way of tracking daily costs.

Penelope Beckett, Finance Manager for JK Williams, says, “Managing and reporting live project costs proved difficult and we didn’t know our financial position until month end. We didn’t know how many hours people worked on a project until site supervisors returned to the office and hours were manually entered on a weekly basis.”

Production rates and quantities were tracked manually, as was procurement and stock usage. “Someone would order cement, for example, and pay the supplier, yet we had no system for raising a purchase order. Accounts would then need to match to dockets and work out which project incurred the cost,” says Ms. Beckett.

Limited insight into daily project progress, activity costs, and how projects were tracking to budget existed due to a set of disconnected business and operational systems.

“Each project manager had their own methodology,” explains Lachlan Goldsworthy, Project Manager, JK Williams. “Although we were not impacting the client experience and we continued to successfully deliver projects on time, we were not managing our projects as effectively as we could have.

“We had no consistent view, with a foundation for relying on paper documents that were susceptible to going missing,” says Leigh Hartog, Managing Director for

JK Williams. “We had to find a better way to tap into information stored in our employees’ heads to better manage our project portfolio and live costings,” says Mr. Hartog.

“IFS the best fit”

IFS Applications was selected because “it was the best fit,” says Mr. Hartog. “The project management functionality enabled us to manage the project lifecycle supporting crucial daily site activities and live costings. It is a progressive system that enables us to increase efficiencies and productivity as we grow. Furthermore, real-time reporting, IFS Lobby and the structured implementation plan were the standout reasons we selected IFS.”

JK Williams implemented IFS Applications dedicating two full time resources. “With clear direction from senior management, we were committed to getting the solution right and managing end users’ expectations and attitudes towards the change.

We provided detailed work instructions and training in the new system such as how to raise purchase orders and allocate new cost codes,” says Mr. Goldsworthy.

“The IFS team coupled with Penny and Lachlan have been instrumental in the success of implementing this project,” says Mr. Hartog.

Site staff now enter data on production activities, project costs and project progress such as tracking and measuring bulk earthworks and trimming. Managers receive daily reports such as the Daily Site Sheet, and Daily Tracking of Production Rates & Actual Costs. “By tracking projects in real time, we have greater control and visibility. We can manage progress and respond to any issues at hand across any project, enabling us to better manage cost, time, risk, and if we are working to budget and program,” says Mr. Goldsworthy.

With real-time financial control that is linked to the project plan, “Project Managers are now more accountable, having improved insight and control into incurred, committed and actual costs,” says Ms. Beckett. “By managing live costs and project progress, our estimate at project completion is more accurate.”

IFS Applications now tracks contracts and every bid throughout the tender process. “Projects are now tracked in the one system from tender stage through to project completion. We can analyse performance and who is the best project manager or site supervisor for particular tasks/project types, track historical data and record best practices across projects,” says Mr. Goldsworthy.

Personalised lobbies “are a big benefit,” says Mr. Goldsworthy. By customising views for managers and site engineers, they have project information tailored to each role in real time. “The IFS Lobby is a feature that users really like,” he says. “If an issue arises, it is highlighted in a quick view ready for action.”

Looking to the future

By integrating various functions into IFS Applications, processes are streamlined and a single version of information is available to employees across the business.

“Both the Finance team and Project Managers have a consistent view of project performance and costs,” says Mr. Hartog.

JK Williams looks forward to unraveling additional functionality and maximising IFS Applications, such as fully embracing real-time reporting, asset management, and document management.

“JK Williams continues to enjoy strong growth. IFS Applications provides a strong foundation for managing our core project portfolio. It enables us to be competitive and continue meeting the needs of our customers while giving us the tools to manage tomorrow’s challenges,” says Mr. Hartog.

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