The Keane Group Introduction:

The Keane Group Construction, based in Oxenfrod, Australia, specializes in commercial and industrial construction, primarily industrial. They build new warehouses or refurbishment projects.

The Keane Group has been using Planyard for three months, and Jason is sharing the case study on why they needed a new tool, how easy it is to get started, what Planyard’s benefits are, etc.

Jason’s role in the Keane Group is project management. He also helped the company develop systems and processes and was responsible for implementing the Planyard.

He leads the team regarding productivity and ensures that the financial systems are in place to track project costs effectively.

Background and why they needed a new cost control system:

Before looking for a financial program, they used Excel sheets. The Keane Group is a very young company that has been in business for two years. It was easy to commence and manage everything using Excel spreadsheets at the company’s start. Jason explained that you can collaborate and everyone can use Excel spreadsheets simultaneously, which is great.

However, as the projects increased in value and complexity, they needed to find a system that made it easier to maintain the overview of the financials and keep everything in one place.

The director and Jason have worked together in different construction companies for many years and have experience using best-in-class project management systems. They knew they needed to introduce something other than Xero to help them manage the cost-tracking and invoicing process.

Jason Escobar, the project manager from the Keane Group

What were the main struggles of using spreadsheets?

A combination of things arose while using different systems that did not talk to each other and were separate from Excel. Keane Group use Xero to process and approve purchase invoices. Then, there were spreadsheets for project budget tracking where he put all the budget items and then tried to extract information from Xero, somehow match it, and understand how the budget was tracked against costs and expenditures.

Well, to put the status of a single project together and understand the costs by exporting all the information from Xero, it could take me two to three days every month for a single project alone to understand the financial position and to have it presentable, and even though I wouldn’t be 100 percent sure that that was the actual cost because it’s not live data.

It was very time-consuming. For example, with Planyard, the financial numbers are live, so you can see the data in real-time. In contrast, when I was on Excel, I could only do that once a month, and it would take me a couple of days to get the data that I wanted to reflect.”

Jason Escobar, The Keane Group

Why Planyard?

They were already familiar with the construction industry’s flagship programs. They knew these systems were tailored to bigger companies, so they were probably not at the point where we needed to start looking for that complexity.

Jason knew from the start that they needed something more straightforward, efficient, and user-friendly. Usability and ease of implementation are critical because, Jason explained, everyone would be onboarded simultaneously. This is where Planyard stood out from the competition.

Planyard is a user-friendly system. All the information is there, and links within the pages take you to the various queries you probably have about that project. If you are wondering what that cost is, you can quickly find it in the attachments.

Jason Escobar, The Keane Group

What advice would you give to teams looking to make the software evaluation process easy?

Jason used to look for programs and then try to find a video to see what they did. If he could not get into it within the first minute, I’d forget about it and go to the next one. So, the system needs to be easy to understand, and you want to figure that out in the first few minutes.

Many of the programs Jason had previously used were outdated, so there were just a lot of numbers, and it looks like they were built on Windows 95.

It may work, but it could be more user-friendly. Then, you have to go through countless training sessions with the team. Even after that, you still get a 100-page PDF guide that most people need to pay attention to. So, this is something you want to avoid.

What is Planyard?

Planyard is a practical project cost-tracking program that integrates with Xero. It allows everyone in the company to see actual costs and forecast them in real time.

Planyard has many features that complex systems have, but it’s also straightforward to use, Jason explains.

The project managers must know that the budget we’ve been given has been tracked and that they are not overspending. And if they are overspending, they need to know which line items are over budget, how we handle expenditure, and how to forecast that.

So, next month, there will be no surprises. That’s where Planyard stands strong; it visualizes the cost codes with the budget, the costs, and the forecast, showing any variances between the budget and what’s being spent to date.

They also have site engineers and administration managers who do a lot of the processing, and the system also needs to be simple or easy enough for them to use.

Planyard helps the team save 3-4 work days per project while managing the financials

Jason would probably take a week to set up a spreadsheet with the cost codes against the budget. The spreadsheet would then have different columns for the costs committed each month.

With Planyard, all I have to do is download the template, print the costs, put the costs into the cost centers, and upload, and it’s pretty much done. So the whole process takes me no longer than one hour now. And that’s just to set up a project.

Then, it’s just the whole thing about maintaining the project financials while running projects, which is time-consuming via spreadsheets. And you don’t even always have time to go back and try to update those spreadsheets because it just takes too much time.

You also spend roughly one or two days creating cost reports, presenting them, and understanding the project’s financial position at the start of the month.

Planyard helps us save three to four days compared to using spreadsheets monthly per project manager.

Jason Escobar, The Keane Group

Automating the subcontractor progress claims (payment applications) provides additional efficiency

Jason says the other way to save time is to automate the progress claims via Planyard. So, you know, we have a project with ten subcontractors, each with a contract value between 50,000 AUD and 300,000 AUD.

Before Planyard, they set up Excel sheets to process the subcontractors’ claims (payment applications). When the claims came through each month, the site engineer processed the subcontractor’s claims sales, checked that the formulas were okay, etc.

So, previously, processing a single subcontractor claim used to take the site engineer two to three hours to get it right. With Planyard, you know the numbers are right when the claim comes through.

The subcontractors must fill in the online form fields (no need to log in anywhere or create accounts) and do the data entry job, and Planyard automatically gives you the progress claims. You don’t need to worry about spreadsheet errors, progress claim calculations, or the PDF that can be issued back to the subcontractor within a few clicks.

You’re saving about two hours or roughly assessing a claim for a single subcontractor rather than doing it on Excel.

Jason Escobar, The Keane Group

How easy or hard is it to get started with Planyard?

Jason says getting started with Planyard is relatively easy. He adds that it might be because he has previously used similar platforms.

The team has just reviewed the tutorial videos on the Planyard knowledge base to learn how to use the system and get started with Planyard.

The videos have helped the team to self-teach how the program works, which makes the tutorials great.

Setting up the Planyard takes probably two hours because of some terminology issues, such as the chart of accounts, etc.

Learning to use Planyard would probably take the team two to three hours, no more than that.

Jason Escobar, The Keane Group

Conclusion:

So, in conclusion, you can have Planyard up and running in 2-4 hours, you’ll have a spreadsheet and duplicate data entry free process, with real live costs control and accurate forecasts, and the time is well invested as the system helps now save 3-4 days for each project manager every single month.

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