Choate Construction Company Saves 135 Hours a Month with Spreadsheet Server
- Choate Construction Company experienced strong growth but needed to update their tools and processes to scale
- Manual reporting process consumed valuable finance team time
- With Spreadsheet Server, the company was able to automate its manual reporting processes
- Query Designer allowed Choate to create reports custom-tailored to business needs without deep technical knowledge.
- Choate Construction Company reduced reporting prep time from 45 minutes to 10 minutes per report.
Founded in 1989, Choate Construction Company was a basement start-up during a recession when construction projects were sparse, and the employee roster was small. Today, Choate Construction employs 550+ full-time professionals and is 100% employee owned.
Choate is a leader in financially viable and functional construction solutions. By investing in tools to promote advances in safety, virtual construction, sustainable construction, preconstruction, and risk mitigation, Choate is on the forefront of industry standards.
As one of the largest general contractors in the Southeast United States, Choate considers its reputation to be its number one asset, with future success founded upon the strength of employees and client relationships.
Bogged Down by Manual Processes
Previously, Choate Construction’s reporting process consisted of an array of manual steps. Project managers would print out reports from Viewpoint Vista, assemble physical pages of disparate information together, scan them into a single PDF document, then email the documents to Steve McDaniel, Controller at Choate Construction Company.
“Our process hadn’t changed since our company started in 1989,” McDaniel said. “It was a very manual process. Even with minimal changes in any particular month, it would take at least 45 minutes to prepare a single report.”
Project managers at Choate often manage six or more projects at a time. With such a time-consuming process, reporting would consume several hours per project manager every month. It also ran the risk of human error. With over 100 project managers running reports, McDaniel estimated the company would spend nearly 170 hours per month on reporting alone.
“Each month, I’d get close to 200 job reports,” McDaniel explained. “If you took the amount of time these project managers took to prepare job reports, 45 minutes for each of the 225 projects, it was a time-consuming process for everyone.”
Introducing Spreadsheet Server’s Query Designer
Because Choate’s monthly reporting consumed well over a hundred hours each month, McDaniel needed a more automated reporting process so that project managers would no longer be bogged down by manual steps. In 2016, the company sought technology that would enable it to:
- Reduce reporting cycles.
- Work in a familiar, Excel-based format.
- Save time from repetitive, manual work.
- Integrate easily with Viewpoint Vista.
- Enable Choate to create its own custom PTC/job report.
- Create a one-stop shop where project managers could monitor job progress
Choate discovered the solution it needed was Spreadsheet Server, specifically for its Query Designer feature.
“We had not found another program we felt would do everything we needed it to do,” said McDaniel. “We were introduced to Spreadsheet Server in 2016. At first, we were able to do some general ledger inquiry reports, then we were introduced to the fact we could build out our PTC report through Query Designer around 2018. In 2019-early 2020, we were able to roll out a finished product – our custom PTC report – to all our employees.”
- Spreadsheet Server saved project managers 135 hours per month on reporting.
- Query Designer allowed McDaniel to create a PTC report tailored to Choate’s custom needs with little technical knowledge.
“I’m an accountant. I don’t know code. Without that background, Query Designer has been amazing.” – Steve McDaniel, Controller at Choate Construction Company
A Custom Query for the Entire Company
Query Designer by Spreadsheet Server allowed McDaniel to custom tailor his own query in the form of Choate’s proprietary PTC reports. Project managers run these reports to track and report on specific contracts and clients. Because this is a custom report built for Choate, no ERP-native reporting tool could have fulfilled this specific need.
“The PTC report we created with Query Designer has introduced tremendous efficiencies to our process,” said Matt McGarry, Project Executive at Choate Construction. “Not only has it combined what used to be several separate documents into a single and easily accessible file, but it has also allowed us to implement a dashboard that incorporates both current and past financial data. It even includes graphs and other visual indicators that clearly organize, track, and display critical data. These improvements have allowed us to conduct more consistent and thorough reviews, in less time, and with fewer errors or oversight than before.”
Streamlined Manual Processes
After an hourlong training session, project managers at Choate Construction rolled out their new reporting tool. The PTC report McDaniel designed allows data to be pulled directly from Viewpoint Vista and requires no manual entry, cutting report preparation time from 45 minutes to 10 minutes each. Project managers are in full control of a more automated reporting process, afforded a real-time view of their job data that they can refresh at any time.
“With this new report we have, it can be updated and ready to be submitted within 10 minutes. With 200+ reports, there are 130-140 hours saved on a monthly basis,” McDaniel said.
Improved Data Culture
Spreadsheet Server equipped Choate’s project managers with real-time reports they can generate within minutes – all without the need for IT intervention. Spreadsheet Server offered Choate a single version of the truth with trusted data, vastly improving the company-wide data culture. Important decisions made using the reports Choate uses are based on consistent, reliable, and accurate information straight from Viewpoint Vista.
“Spreadsheet server has reduced the opportunity for data entry mistakes,” explained Matt Matthews, Project Executive at Choate Construction. “In the past our staff would have to pull financial information from several sources and manually add them to our cover sheet which was a standard Excel sheet. Not only was this a timely process but opened the door for mistakes. With Spreadsheet server, that process is automatic, thus saving time while eliminating mistakes.”
Query Designer allows us to spend more time doing what we need to do as contractors.