M+W UK streamlines commercial management with Causeway Project Accounting

M+W UK, a leading engineering and construction partner for technology-based clients, is implementing Causeway Project Accounting (CPA) to streamline its commercial management processes and enhance control of project profitability. The company expects to reduce the time taken to produce monthly performance reports by 50%, while also benefiting from more accurate and up-to-date information.

M+W have recently selected Causeway to deliver a solution for supply chain accreditation and performance management and the decision to select CPA is part of a wider plan to reduce risk and cost across its operations.

“We have been using a combination of Sage accounts software and Excel spreadsheets for many years and, while this does what we require, we recognised that we could do things smarter and more efficiently,” explained M+W Commercial Manager Mike Heesom. “So we looked for a more integrated system and CPA, which will link into the Sage financial software, provides us with the functionality to do that,” he added.

One of the key areas that CPA addresses is reducing the time required for surveyors to access the cost information they need. “With the old system, if a surveyor wants to get actual cost information on their project they have to submit a request to the central accounts department, which inevitably results in delays,” Mike Heesom continued. “The new system will enable surveyors to access this data directly through CPA, making the information more timely and meaningful. Our commercial team can make more impact sooner on project profitability – whereas traditional methods may result in identifying a cost overrun when it’s too late.”

A further challenge for the commercial team is that the information from the corporate accounting system bears no relation to project progress and is in a different format from the spreadsheets that are maintained at site. Consequently a considerable amount of time is consumed in producing Cost & Value Reconciliations (CVRs). “In some projects we could be dealing with tens of thousands of lines of data, each with its own cost code. So it would typically take around two days per month to generate CVR reports and I expect CPA to halve that time, as well as reducing the risk of errors” Mr Heesom predicted.

CPA achieves these time-savings by automatically matching costs against the work breakdown structures in the system, so that cost and value data is available in the same format against the same activities – enabling the two to be quickly compared at any given point in time. This is further facilitated by the CPA Reporting solution, which allows detailed analysis of performance with full drill down to source cost transactions, all delivered in an Excel environment. CPA reports are produced in the same format as the original spreadsheets, making it easier for managers to find the information they want quickly.

“The ability to develop the report layouts in a way that mirrors what we currently produce offline is important, because all of the key performance data is in familiar places, so people will find it easy to work with the new system. The flexibility of CPA means that we can easily produce reports in different formats to suit the requirements of our clients and the different types of projects – all based on the same raw data,” Mike Heesom observed.

Earned Value Analysis
With such structured and auditable data available in CPA, combined with the integration with project planning tools, M+W will be able to proactively monitor project progress and performance. 

Using Earned Value Analysis techniques, M+W will compare project plans with actual costs and measured progress which means they will be able to produce a cost performance indicator and the schedule performance indicator respectively. These comparisons will then enable accurate forecasting of ‘best case’ and ‘worst case’ final project costs. This feature will help M+W maintain control of projects and satisfy client reporting demands with accurate forecasts to completion.

 “M+W UK delivers many high-tech projects on a global scale and we need to ensure we remain at the forefront with our own use of technology. Teaming up with Causeway to integrate and automate our key business processes is helping us to achieve that,” Mike Heesom concluded.

For further information visit www.causeway.com

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