FIRST PRINCIPLES CONSTRUCTORS
Owen Hicks is the Chief Financial Officer of First Principles Constructors in New Zealand. When the company launched its new business in 2018, Hicks knew he wanted to work with Cheops because it was powerful construction management software that he had used previously. “When we considered the options for managing our new construction business, we immediately went to Cheops.”
First Principles is a large commercial builder with a focus on building facilities for dairy and food processing companies. Among the company’s projects are factories that produce milk powder and meat processing plants. The company’s role is to act as head contractor, coordinating civil works on site, working with 10 to 20 subcontractors on each site at any point in time; and having 5-10 active projects spread throughout New Zealand.
“What Cheops allows us to do is keep really tight financial control across our portfolio of projects and ultimately our entire corporate financial ledgers. What commitments have we made to our clients? How do we keep track of variations requested and costed? What sub-contractors have we engaged and what commitments have we agreed with them? What variations have we approved? All of this leading to how each project is tracking and are there any risks across the portfolio that we need to be aware of? That’s the critical role Cheops helps contribute to managing.”
Consistency Makes Construction Companies Stronger
Hicks identifies an important principle of working with a complex construction management software like Cheops. The system has been tried and tested over many years by many other construction contractors. “We will achieve greater levels of consistency of processing when the company can utilize as much of the out of the box setup as possible. Whatever processes you choose not to do inside Cheops, you’ll have to do outside Cheops somehow. Training and supporting our team to use the features readily available in Cheops ensures that each and every project is run in a similar manner.”
While Hicks had previous working knowledge of Cheops, he says he welcomed the opportunity for our whole Commercial team to assess the software with new eyes and see where evolution in Cheops could benefit his business: “Often we think that just because we have always done something a particular way, we should always do it that way. Implementing new systems is a great chance to check in on whether there are new opportunities to gain efficiency benefits or better management of risk.”
Invoice Scanning Provides Efficiency Gains
Among the new features that Hicks was happy to implement, invoice scanning (ISL) was the standout for aiding and improving efficiency in his department.
Previously, there was a multi-step process to manually handle invoices. Invoices arrived at a central point, but then passed through many hands and many departments. Along the way they were scanned, emailed, printed, signed, and processed. The process was inefficient and time consuming.
But with the integration of Invoice Scanning, says Hicks, “the invoice comes in once to a central accounts inbox and it gets put into the workflow. From there it can be approved or rejected, and no one’s printed anything. The whole process can be completed within minutes when you need it to be, but otherwise drops into processing queues so our people can review, comment, reject at a time that suits them. We no longer have invoices sitting on site that no-one knows about until the suppliers start chasing!”
He says ISL a far better way to control the flow of invoices coming in from suppliers. Using ISL also means that Hicks can run a very lean finance team and frees up more time to focus on more productive tasks.
Bespoke Reporting Supports Forecasting
Hicks wanted to have a comprehensive monthly project financial report that reflected the work of the company’s Quantity Surveyors when they produced their monthly forecasts for each project. CSSP’s consultants leveraged their web reporting tool so that First Principles would be able to run a report that shows a whole project outlook, including debtors, creditors, and retentions.
“Now at a press of a button every single project in our business gets the same report produced at the end of their forecasting cycle. For the senior team they can look at it and quickly see the numbers they want to look at. It’s just so easy to read.”
Cheops Business Consultants Help Solve Business Problems
Ultimately, Hicks says, Cheops can do a massive amount, and because it’s powerful and flexible software, he’s found it very worthwhile to raise business issues with the CSSP consultants.
Cheops is “an outstanding product for the construction, and head contractor industry, and to get the best way of working with Cheops you do need to continually have conversations with the CSSP consultants, present them with your business issues and with their experience they will offer the most practical process solution.”
Over the years, Cheops has continued to develop and invest in deeply understanding the construction industry. Beyond the good advice from its consultants, Cheops is developing innovative ways to present data, which Hicks calls “very cool.” He says he’s excited about new business analytics features, which he’ll be utilizing going forward. “We do enjoy Cheops. It’s a good product.”
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See the simplicity and ease of the Cheops interface, with industry-relevant workflows and terminology and a user-friendly design.
We Work With The Best
“It’s got to be one of the best job costing systems that I’ve seen. Cheops is a great construction management tool to help our team run their projects, because we can go through every single cost attributed to the job, and you can see everything straight away.”
Dynamic Project Management & Prestige Joinery
“Cheops is really our source of truth for financial information and that’s the way we want it because we don’t really want to depend on manual workpapers outside of the Cheops system.”
Patterson Building Group
“Cheops plays a critical role in ensuring we maintain robust financial control over our projects. Cheops allows us to keep really tight control over the subcontracts that are out in play at any point in time: Who have we engaged, what commitments have we agreed with them, and how they are tracking against those commitments. “
CFO, First Principles Constructors
“Our business has been using Cheops for approximately 4 years, and Cheops ISL for about 2 of the 4 years. Not only was Cheops ISL an environmentally friendly decision, it streamlined our invoicing process almost immediately since implementation and we have never looked back.
Cheops helpdesk staff are friendly, supportive and always happy to tackle any issue no matter how big or small. The system is easy to navigate and 9/10 there is an existing report that can be generated which will suit your reporting needs. If not, the team can assist you with customising any report.“
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If you would like to know more about Cheops Construction Management System or have some specific questions you would like answered, give us a call or request a demonstration. We are here to help!