We are very happy with the long-standing cooperation with Thomas Werkhoven. He has more than earned his spurs within the construction industry and held several financial positions (currently, he is the CFO of Bouwhuis Groep). His input allowed us to customise our standard software – in his previous job, a touch of a button would get him the reports from Exsion Reporting and Exsion Corporate that he envisioned. Super-fast reports, easy consolidation and pro-active, data-based management are important feats of this co-creation.
The First Time We Got in Touch…
It was October 2015. At that time, Thomas was working as a financial controller for a large construction company with an annual turnover of over one billion. The organisation opted for Microsoft Dynamics (now known as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central). Prior to making this choice, it was indicated that Exsion Reporting would be a great addition. Thomas got in touch with HB Software, and soon, we found out he wanted more…
According to Thomas: “In 90 percent of the cases, Exsion was suitable for construction companies, but not for us at the time. I concluded that we were primarily busy with registration, due to size of the company I worked for then. Focusing on improved reports still meant a lot of fuss with lists and all kinds of documents exchanged between staff members, whereas it really comes down to gaining insight and being able to timely make the right decisions. I believe it has to be done differently, that is, shift the focus from reporting to analysis.”
Thomas has a progressive mindset and likes to ponder on what information (specific data and/or reports) should be available to managers. In his words: “Many reporting tools are limited to data registration. However, what managers need, is correct analysis that allows them to rapidly make decisions. These days, they require predictability, in any area whatsoever. When you solely focus on creating reports, the following scenario more or less arises: Several questions are put to managers. Different systems are consulted, with the possibility of incorrect assumptions. All kinds of things are added manually. Furthermore, there will always be people who paint a picture that is rosier than reality. For example, they do not tell, that only 70% of construction materials have been purchased so far. To make accurate decisions, the bias (i.e., prejudices) must be eliminated. You can only make the right decisions if all management information is 100% accurate. That was and will remain my vision.”
Co-creation and Relationship with HB Software
Thomas says he was at the HB Software office every Wednesday, every other two weeks, for three years: “And not only to co-create ‘at-the-touch-of-a-button’ software for the construction industry. Alfred van Duren, managing director and owner of HB Software, turned out to be an important coach to me. If you aim to be ‘innovative and different’, you will quickly come to the conclusion that not everybody is eagerly anticipating change. Resistance against change is well-known human behaviour. Alfred taught me how to handle this better and even better persuade people.”
What One Touch of a Button Will Gain
Prior to answering the above, Thomas states the urgency of smart software for the construction industry: “Construction costs rise, due to, among others, scarcity of raw materials, tightness of the labour market and the energy crisis. Because of this, margins are under pressure and you cannot afford mistakes (anymore).” With the co-created solution, one touch of a button allows construction companies to gain, among others, the following:
- Financial data, for example, outstanding claims, sorted by date;
- Consolidation of all prognoses, for example, the consequences of changes in labour costs are automatically calculated and passed on in all projects;
- Consolidation of all purchase and sales orders;
- Consolidation of project budgets, to maintain a total overview.
When construction companies work on the same projects with different operating companies, consolidation is required to maintain control. This will gain insight at all kinds of levels, which allows for better capacity planning (as in available manpower) and avoiding unnecessary budget overruns.
Thomas summarises the results as follows: “Unnecessary administrative processes and useless activities have been eliminated. Let’s face it, in all honesty, we often keep each other busy with reporting. Now, there is time left to do what construction companies love to do: Build things! Together with HB Software, we have developed a rapid and efficient process to calculate budgets. The fact is, that ‘one touch of a button’ requires the backend process to be fully fine-tuned. That took a lot of time and energy, but together we made it work. The big difference with bygone days, is that users no longer have to retrieve data. Instead, they can rely on up-to-date, correct data, provided to them automatically. This ensures that misunderstandings are avoided and people can enjoy working together, without having to ask everything. It even irons out hierarchical relationships because there is less to manage.”