Implementations, Data, and the End of the Operations vs. Accounting Saga

Kiersten Rippeteau | OD Business Consultant

"In today’s market, these are the practices that will allow Construction companies to compete and thrive at the highest levels in this digital world."


At Palmer, we have the unique advantage of seeing the ways many Construction companies are moving forward and thriving in a fast-paced digital world. The most prevalent driving force behind sustainable growth we’ve seen is data. Our clients are investing in collecting data from the field and office, and using it to make real-time, forward-looking decisions.

We also have the unique advantage of seeing our clients’ organizations through a holistic lens; both the people and the systems and technologies they rely on. So when we talk about data-driven decisions and implementing consistent and repeatable processes, we’re also talking about how to create the behaviors that will make these concepts reality.

So if data needs to come from and be used by both the field and the office, how do you ensure the field and office are working well together?

Find the platform for change.

Companies face a lot of opportunities to create and execute a data strategy, but one of the most prevalent platforms we see is ERP implementation.

The Construction leaders we work with purchase new ERP systems primarily to instill processes and capture data that support continued growth without sacrificing profitability. The biggest misconception we hear at the outset of an ERP implementation is “this system is supposed to make my life easier.” But the biggest concern when running a project is not whether a particular step is easy for a particular individual; it’s “is the process as a whole more efficient and generating reliable data that drive profitable projects?”

The driving behavior? An owner mentality. When employees operate day-to-day with an owner mentality, they see the responsibility of a new step in the process as a contribution to the system, not an inconvenience. Sure, they might be frustrated at first or need time to get used it, but “owner-minded” employees will adopt the responsibility and get the business to the intended benefits sooner.

Shift the Operations-Accounting relationship.

Owner-minded employees tend more toward collaboration with other business functions. We’re seeing more and more the “Operations vs. Accounting” mentality being replaced with a new normal: “Operations with Accounting.”

The idea that data entry and collection is for those behind a desk is gone. Systems today allow data collection to be done right at the source—in the field—driving both accuracy and efficiency. It is for this reason we have seen the most success with clients who align their Operations and Accounting teams to work together and to understand the business and its data more holistically.

Aligned Operations and Accounting functions creates the space needed for better data and communication. In this environment, Operations and Accounting are making more informed decisions and taking an ownership mentality that drives performance. They’re paying more attention to the data they need, and finding ways to capture and analyze that data together. Now you’ve created a workforce leadership can rely on to carry out business objectives because they are understood and the workforce has the right access to the right data.

Align your people, processes, and systems.

Your business is more than just the systems you use; it is also the people who do the work and use the systems day-to-day. So when we help clients improve business processes, we also make sure their people and teams are aligned around those new processes. When aligning your people, processes, and systems, it’s important to:

  • Look at how Operations and Accounting currently communicate and share information

  • Assess how a Project Manager and Project Accountant can work together most effectively

  • Create a communication channel that allows Operations, Accounting, and Leadership to communication with each other about the data they need

  • Identify and eliminate the barriers and gaps between current and needed structures

In today’s market, these are the practices that will allow Construction companies to compete and thrive at the highest levels in this digital world. The advantages are plenty; from greater profitability on each job, to a happier, more engaged workforce. Shifting an organization in this way is not easy work, which is why the companies taking the time to do it are competing best in the market. And that’s why Palmer is here to support leaders through the transition. +