TaperedPlus Project Connect Case Study
The sky’s the limit for award-winning flat-roof expert TaperedPlus. Since going live with RedSky’s construction project management and collaboration platform in January 2021, the company’s efficiency and accuracy have improved dramatically.
Donna Wilson is General Manager at TaperedPlus. Here she talks about the dramatic improvements in efficiency and accuracy achieved through Project Connect, RedSky’s award-winning construction project management and collaboration platform.
What prompted you to look for a new software solution?
Our 21-strong team has ambitious plans for the business: we are planning vast growth over the coming years with a dedicated team in both the new-build and refurbishment sectors. We knew we had to find a software solution that could help us transform our business by introducing new efficiencies and sharpening up our processes. We needed a flexible solution that could accommodate – and facilitate – rapid business growth.
What was holding you back?
We were using a range of software programs for our operational systems and processes. Our working methods were inefficient: colleagues were copying the rest of the company into emails, to keep everyone in the loop, but this was generating a ridiculous amount of internal email traffic.
Did you have a system in place for customer relationship management (CRM)?
Yes. It was a live sheet on Google – I say ‘sheet’, but it actually ran to several pages. We also maintained a sales database and ran an invoice process. Nothing was interlinked; everything was completely separate.
That sounds very labour-intensive…
Believe me, it was. I was always conscious of the risk of errors whenever the team was keying or cutting and pasting information into Excel. When an order became live, for example, we had to transfer all of the original design and quote details manually into another part of the system. It was very time-consuming.
What about management reporting?
Our five project managers always prepare a report for our monthly management meeting. Before RedSky, they dreaded having to do this because they had to extract a mine of information from the Google sheet, including how many designs had been completed, how many quotes had been issued and how many orders customers had raised.
Goodness, how long did that take?
Around five hours for each manager, every month. That works out at about 300 hours of managerial time wasted each year on a hugely frustrating task. It’s quite shocking when you add it all up.
It was definitely time for change, then?
Yes. We’re a very fast-growing company and the CRM system couldn’t keep up with all the new processes and changes that we were introducing. It had been set up by a local software developer before I joined the company and the program language was fast becoming obsolete. I spent about a year trying to make it work, but then I had to admit defeat. I knew we had to stop throwing money at it, because it would never be able to do what we wanted it to do.
What did you want from your new solution?
I needed to find an efficient, flexible, collaborative system that would grow with us. We wanted to digitise our processes and be able to run reports based on the data in the system.
How did you find one?
We went to market and ended up talking to three or four companies, including RedSky. Having learned a lot from our first software experience, we did a huge amount of due diligence with RedSky – probably a lot more than they would normally do with a new client.
What made you choose RedSky?
Some of the other companies were just hounding and hounding us. We just didn’t need that. There was no pressure from RedSky’s Chris Winson. He took on board the fact that we’d had a bad experience in the past. He understood that we wanted to take our time, look at things carefully and ask a million and one questions. He gave us the information and reassurance we needed. It was very refreshing. That gave us confidence in the future of working with RedSky.
What happened next?
Once we’d signed up for Project Connect, we had a couple of very in-depth scoping sessions with RedSky Consultant Tim Allen. We wanted a customised solution, so he helped us decide on the best way to start the build, based on our processes. We asked every department what they wanted from the system and shared that information with Tim.
How useful was that early scoping work?
It was great. Tim would go off and build the part of the system that we’d discussed and then he’d give it to us to test while he built another part. He was amazing at responding to our requests for little tweaks here and there and adding new bits on. We worked with him throughout the build.
You mentioned making “little tweaks here and there” – was it difficult to know when to stop?
Yes. The learning curve for me was that I became a little too invested in it. I was so excited about all the amazing potential within the RedSky system that I just wanted to keep on adding, adding, adding! I should have stopped. I had lost sight of the original scope – it’s a common problem for project managers. I’d been getting stressed about not finishing in time, but when I took a step back, I realised that we had achieved our original end goal three months earlier.
What about training?
It was all done virtually by RedSky’s Wayne Simmonds. He trained two super users: me and my colleague, Becca. The training was recorded – we have both found it very useful to refer back to the recordings. We have also produced some inhouse step-by-step videos ourselves, to help us pass on the training to others within the company.
Are you now able to amend the system yourself?
We can sort out any little system tweaks ourselves. The same goes for any small process changes in our ordering system. We’ve been taught how to do all of that. We only need to go back to RedSky for major changes. That’s one of the things I really like about the RedSky system.
How was your implementation experience?
We ran our old system and RedSky alongside each other for two months. Our Design team was the first to switch off the old system – they mainly do data entry. To be honest, they were confident to do it after two weeks, but I asked them to hold fire, just to be on the safe side. Our Orders team ran both systems for the full two months and experienced no issues, so they were very confident about switching off the old one. We’ve been running RedSky for just over a year.
You now have a highly bespoke Forms solution in place. How is it?
It’s great. The system spans all our departments and processes, from initially speaking to a customer about a project that they would like us to design and quote, right through to the final delivery. The whole in-house system is now channelled through RedSky. Automatic notifications keep us all in the loop and prompt us on the actions we need to take.
How does the new process work?
When a customer gets in touch, we log the enquiry immediately on our system and the automatic workflow keeps everyone in the loop. The notifications are produced automatically by the system. They have massively improved operational processes between departments.
Could you give me some examples?
As each stage is completed, the system triggers prompts. For example, when an enquiry comes in, the Design team is notified that they need to do the design work and the Sales team is notified that a quotation needs to be completed. The notifications continue throughout the process. When the item is delivered, the Accounts team is prompted to raise an invoice and the Customer Services team is tasked with contacting the client, to check that everything is okay and to ask if there’s anything else we can do for them.
Is email overload still an issue?
No. Under the old system, 20 people were routinely copied in and each was spending at least an hour a day reading the hundreds of internal emails that were flooding our inboxes daily. With such huge volumes to cope with, some emails would inevitably be missed or lost. The automated notifications have put an end to all that chaos and dramatically improved our processes. I’d estimate that RedSky has saved our business 20 hours a day on reading unnecessary emails – that saving is unbelievable.
You now have greater visibility of your data – what difference has that made?
It’s made a massive difference. It’s so much easier for the Sales team to monitor projects, to see if we win them. And when a customer places an order with us, the Procurement team can access all the information from the original quotation in an instant, including the gross profit margin. They can see what was quoted to the customer – the products, the U values, the supplier we’re using, and so on. It’s all on the system and readily available.
What insights are you gaining from the sales data?
A major plus point for us is that we can now value the current sales pipeline. We know which customers have yet to confirm their order, how many designs we are converting to orders, which products are most popular and what the value of a particular sector of the market is. Also, from a performance perspective, we can review how each salesperson, department and sector is doing. That’s important to us.
Are these insights leading to business improvement?
Yes. For example, we don’t charge for design. By analysing the data on RedSky, we discovered that we were doing a lot of design work for certain customers but weren’t getting any orders from them. That sort of information is invaluable because it enables us to know where to direct our effort. We now give these customers an estimated price (without the design) and we provide an actual quotation only if they place an order. Our design team is now far more efficient.
Have there been any revelations?
We have two sides to our business: new-builds and refurbs. We always believed that the conversion time on new-builds was around six months, which we thought was two times longer than for refurbs. But when we looked at the data overall, the difference between them wasn’t three months – it was seven days. We couldn’t believe it. This knowledge has had a big impact on the accuracy of our financial forecasting from the sales pipeline.
What about the monthly management reports?
The management team absolutely loves the RedSky system. The data is live and updating all the time, so managers always know how their part of the business is doing. It used to take each of our five managers around five hours to prepare their report for our monthly meeting, but that information is now automatically displayed on their dashboard and they see it every day. They don’t even have to press a button.
Has the Board noticed any improvement at the management meetings?
The Board members are very impressed. Previously if they asked us a question, we would say that we’d find out and bring the information to the next month’s meeting. But now we can answer their questions during the meeting because we can sort the data there and then, on our laptops. They are amazed!
Have you improved the accuracy of the data on the system?
Yes. We have removed a lot of the potential for human error that was in our old system. For example, with certain customers we have to use a specific project reference number, but sometimes we would forget to do that. The information is inserted automatically now, which stops us making that mistake and conveys a more professional image to the client. The same goes for new and updated quotes – the enquiry reference number is applied automatically.
What difference have your new dropdown lists made?
A big difference. All of us work on two or three screens at a time. When we were using Google sheets, sometimes we would overtype on data cells by accident and it would then be saved automatically. There was no way to go back and find what the original data was. This caused us a lot of problems, especially if we had clicked and dragged the cell all the way down the column. That type of overwrite error can’t happen on RedSky because every customer order or enquiry is on a separate form. The user opens the form and edits the data, just as they would on a Google sheet. But on RedSky the data doesn’t update automatically. Instead, the user must actually submit the data – this important additional step enables them to check that the data is correct before it’s updated on the system.
How about commission reporting?
The RedSky system has made a big difference. Monthly commission is based on orders made. To work it out, we used to have to go through the customer list, to see which account manager had won which project. But now, when a customer enquiry is entered onto the system, it’s allocated to their account manager automatically. The information is also available on the dashboards: the Accounts team use them to work out salaries and the National Sales Manager uses them to monitor the performance of his team. Each account manager has their own dashboard so can view progress towards their monthly target.
What about KPI reporting?
Internally we have lots of KPIs around customer service levels. In our industry, when a customer makes an enquiry it usually takes up to 10 days for them to receive the design and quotation. We’re very different. We aim to turn it round in 48 hours – that’s one of our KPIs. In RedSky, each job has a status that’s updated as the work progresses. We monitor how long it’s taking for jobs to move from ‘Design Required’ to ‘Quote Completed’, to make sure we’re consistently hitting that KPI. If we exceed 48 hours, the job is highlighted in red on the system and we now address the issue in real time, rather than at the end of the month. It’s awesome. I’m loving it.
What was it like to work with the RedSky team?
Chris was extremely supportive throughout. Tim’s design knowledge is exceptional. And Wayne was really good at training us in a way that helped us to understand. Your business transformation journey is now well under way.
What’s next on the cards?
The system already does far more than we initially wanted it to do. At some point I’d like to look at giving our customers a portal to their own project, so they can check on progress and place orders direct into the system. I’d like to explore Invoice Automation too. The possibilities with RedSky are endless – the only limit is our imagination!
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Our business is changing all the time and growing at a rapid rate. The efficiency savings that we’ve made since going live on RedSky in January 2021 are phenomenal. It’s very reassuring to know that we now have a flexible system that can accommodate our growth plans and help us achieve them.
With offices in Stockton on Tees and Wolverhampton, TaperedPlus is a national leader in providing quality flat-roof design and building services for domestic, commercial and industrial property. The company uses cutting-edge design technology and revolutionary roofing materials to ensure a high-quality finish is achieved every time.
RedSky software enables construction companies to achieve and maintain competitive advantage. We make real-time actions visible, enabling you to control change, eliminate risk and achieve ongoing incremental gains from improved operational efficiency. Across all types of construction and contracting projects our software is scalable, modular and proven to improve performance and productivity.