Sunday, July 25, 2021

Spotlight-CCS India

Cost control solutions


A growing number of users across the world have profited from using two leading software products of CCS, Candy and BuildSmart, as an integrated Cost Management Solution


CCS was started in 1980 by Murray & Roberts, a South African construction company, to write an estimating system for their building and civil engineering divisions – this product became known as ‘Candy’. Over time, the Candy System was expanded to included project control and on-site operations. In 1990, CCS was bought out by the CCS management team and operated for the next 24 years as an independent company supplying software to construction companies around the world. In 2008, CCS merged with BuildSmart which develops and markets an ERP system designed specifically for construction. Candy and BuildSmart have subsequently been tightly integrated to provide a complete construction management system. In 2014, CCS was acquired by EOH, a South African company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. CCS continues to be run by the previous management and will slowly integrate with other EOH related organisations that operate in the construction and mining industries.


Insight into the industry:

Having spent many years in construction, CCS has defined and refined a computerized construction management solution that allows construction organizations to evaluate, monitor and control their spend in real time – effectively integrating their cost management and reporting with their books of account.

The solution makes use of the web to allow for the accumulation of daily costing data, from remote locations to a central server. The information gathered is used to compare with budgeting information prepared during the bid phase of the project.


What CCS Software does in a nutshell:

Candy provides integrated applications for construction project budgeting and budgetary control through modules of Estimating, Planning, Forecasting, Cash flow and Cost control while BuildSmart is a web-based, ERP solution facility to record the actual costs and expenditure of a construction project (and business) through its integrated modules of construction orientated and specific Procurement, Accounting and Payroll.


Main target users/user group:

Construction contractors and subcontractors, i.e. General or Building Contractors, Civil or Infrastructure contractors and MEP contractors


Recent upgrades to CCS Solutions

CCS products are continually evolving in line with industry and technology trends. Candy, our Estimation & Project control software offering, is not sold but rented on a monthly basis and new releases and upgrades are made available free of charge to Users on a regular basis. BuildSmart, our Construction Costing and Management solution is web based and regular upgrades are made and done centrally on the client server. CCS has a rather unique approach of adding modules or enhancements to the existing software rather than developing and releasing separate “new” applications.

CCS has an active development and research team of highly qualified construction industry experts concentrating on producing focused and tailored products that ensure the integrity of data in all phases of the construction process and beyond. From the production of quantity take-offs from 3D models, Estimates, Planning, Cash flows, Sub Contract Management, Budget Production and Cost and Allowable reporting to the complete Procure to Pay cycle and the timeous daily cost information covering all cost elements in real time – Labour, Plant and Equipment, Materials and Sub Contractors, right through to the final books of account. Latest development released integrates the Sub Contractors Candy operational information, BOQ, to the BuildSmart Sub Contractor procurement works order, certificate and payment process, allowing the sharing of full information between operations and finance.CCS systems address the daily challenges of a construction business in a unique way.


On-going plans and key innovations

Emerging technology trends could encompass the likes of BIM, 4D, 5D and “6D”, which could add significant value to accurate and streamlined cost and execution of projects. However, the success of these technology advances are still hinged on the fundamentals of proper resource based and analytical estimates, critical path precedence network planning and accurate forecasting/cash flow projections. Many construction companies aren’t even getting the fundamentals right yet.

In terms of individual client use, both Candy and BuildSmart are extremely versatile and powerful systems and we often find that organisations under-utilise the software. It’s plain to us (and them) that full use of these control systems brings massive improvement in productivity and profitability, so part of our forward customer interaction is to assist our clients in the region to realise the full potential benefits to their company through the proper use of our products, without buying add-on products.

Construction organisations are becoming increasingly aware of the need to integrate traditional accounting and financial data with engineering data to get real time and reliable CVR reporting, a critical prerequisite for decision making, pre-emptive corrective actions and accurate cost to complete and at completion computations.


Strength of the market for CCS software and how the market (and demand) has developed

Many companies took the opportunity presented by the slow down to consolidate and train staff to use our CCS software products properly and maximise on their investment. When the market does pick up again, which it is doing now, they will be even better equipped to utilise the software tools to aid decision making, accuracy and control to meet and better their margins.

The challenges presented by the construction slowdown, actually worked in our favour as companies realised the inherent benefits of proper control, speed and accuracy required to make better decisions and execute the right actions to minimise losses and maximise gains in a challenging market environment

Contractors are often indecisive when it comes to software; during boom times they struggle being too busy to evaluate and implement new systems; while during slumps they feel ill-prepared or resourced to risk the investment.

Couple this with the difficulty of actually assessing good construction software and it makes them resistant to change. But, in today’s changing world, nothing works efficiently without appropriate computer systems, and really, they shouldn’t rely on a spreadsheet type of approach to do this. That is suicide in today’s climate. Companies suffer massively from poor information flow.

Over the years, the Indian Construction industry has become more and more competitive: with more and more construction opportunities, more and more contractors descended on the region. CCS comes into its own in this competitive environment, providing the contractor with a facility to implement, record, manage and gain competitive advantage, while maintaining sound construction and business practices.


How CCS software aids the construction/ design process

CCS Candy and BuildSmart together include modules for Estimating, Planning, Valuations, Forecasting, Cash flow, Procurement, Accounting, Wages, Plant, Yard and Stock management and Document control. Separately, these are available from a myriad of suppliers, but what distinguishes CCS from all other software offerings is the degree of inter-connectedness of these modules. BuildSmart is unique and sets itself apart from your typical general accounting ERP systems in that it is customised and designed to cater for the unique demands of construction where information is project based, needs to be tracked by activity as well as cost type, is being produced and processed in many different locations, and is needed by management in real-time for effective cost control.

This highly scalable system seamlessly integrates all functions and stages of the construction processes and is entirely focused on and designed for construction – it is not a set of relational databases pressed onto construction people. Because the construction process is unique, complex and organic, and more crucially because CCS has developed and perfected this system for over 30 years through a highly interactive and consultative process with the industry, CCS manages the numerous links between all functions and all the people involved in the construction process in a systemic way based on how these things were done manually.


Key differences in CCS products which help it stand out from competitors

First and foremost, CCS products are designed and developed from the bottom up for the construction industry and professionals by construction industry professionals. So, from Construction Computer Software’s humble beginnings, our direction has always been to service the construction industry needs with technology, rather than produce a generic software package. In other words the company emphasis is on people and their tasks-at-hand, not technology for its own sake.


Training courses at CCS:

Candy and BuildSmart have different training requirements. Candy training usually takes place in a “classroom” style environment followed by on-site consulting. BuildSmart, on the other hand, being a full business ERP solution, training and consultation is initially carried out during implementation, departmentally and using a hands-on approach. More and further training and/or consultancy following implementation is arranged and conducted on an as needed basis.

Candy courses can be conducted as standard or customised as required. Regular, scheduled Candy training courses are conducted locally depending on demand and user base but can also be conducted at company head-office or on site. These courses are intended to bring new users up to speed and encourage existing users to take advantage of the powerful new features of Candy.

Standard Candy training course topics include: Construction Estimating & Valuations, Construction Planning & Programming, Integration of Estimating & Planning and Construction Valuations & Commercial Controls.


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