*Nature of Innovation – Keen on Lean
The shop, just north of Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham, is an impressive sight. Polished concrete floors, open concept offices, and a fleet of shiny green custom wrapped trucks. Let’s not forget the view of perfectly lined saplings in the nursery, the 30-foot diameter “Big Ass” fan and the abundance of natural sunlight. There is no question these guys are doing something right.
The culture at Geoscape operates like a family, that’s because they are one. Sean Ciampaglia is the General Manager and he reports directly to Paul, his Father. Sister, Melissa, is their expert in bookkeeping and sets the pace when it comes to organization. It was 1986 when Geoscape was born, over the 30+ years, the four-man business grew and is now 55 plus depending on the season. With a focus on its core values, they have been able to grow and develop a team of professionals nurtured by culture like no other in the industry. You can tell by the photographs that there belongs a strong sense of pride, comradery and care. They are constantly trying to push boundaries, improve themselves and their processes internally to best serve their clients and facilitate their employee’s workflows.
Over the last decade, the company has grown from an operation where Sean and Paul were basically running the show to one now with four project managers, an operations manager, an office manager and many other field personnel. Since they tend to work with land developers and their landscape consultants, managing landscape construction projects throughout the GTA, contract administration is a big part of their workflow. This impacts how efficient they can get a job done, how quickly they can get change orders processed as well as get invoices out the door. The old systems from a decade ago would not suffice, they needed something new, something to keep them organized, something to automate their workflow.
In 2015, Sean was given the reigns to implement something new. At the time, there was a serious issue concerning the firm’s cash-flow and keeping up with administrative demands. Documentation of proposed change orders and unsent invoices were piling up on their desks (or even worse, in the back of their minds). It was always a challenge to find time to get back to the office, sit down with Melissa to draft an invoice or proposed change order. It also seemed that the consultants were having a hard time processing their documents as well, which only compounded the situation. They were dealing with BIG money and BIG stress.
Sean Ciampaglia, a UofT mechanical engineering grad, would not let this continue and his affinity to problem-solving led him to create ContractComplete, a contract administration tool for contractors and their consultants. The original objective was creating an internal workflow solution for the chaos in their office. Endlessly searching emails for the latest version drawings, improper invoicing for work completed, redundant double data entry, numerous proposed changes that were never properly processed, and a lack of pricing history for staying competitive when bidding on new projects. I know what you’re thinking if you know contractors… Yes, it’s all too familiar. The end result was a collaborative platform that brought all stakeholders of the project together on the same portal in order to save all parties time, money and headaches.
The evolution began when Sean and Paul were analyzing their cash flow. The best-case scenario is to receive a payment within 30 days of work completed, in turn, Geoscape could pay their sub-trades shortly after and everyone is happy. Too often, these sums of money are actually received between 90-120 days following the invoice delivery date and can sometimes take as long as 6 months if payment certification is delayed. This issue gets compounded if change orders are not properly reported, presented, created and signed by all parties.
There were a number of troublesome consultants that seemed to take months to return change orders and payment certificates. After speaking with his consultants, Sean discovered that they simply didn’t have enough time in the day to create the project documents in a timely fashion. They got busy and it seemed to be the least important task on this list. Of course, the contractors get the short end of the stick.
Sean thought “if we could get all stakeholders on the web-based system, have them utilize the same format and allow them to automate and generate documents at the click of a button, that would help solve our cash flow issue!”
The results created are more than they ever imagined. ContractComplete is now a fully collaborative web-based platform supporting ALL the stakeholders on a project. Owners, Consultants, and Contractors can access a high-level dashboard where they can share and find the most recent administrative updates. All parties are working from a principle ledger. This allows proposed changes, invoices, payment certificates, and addenda to be tracked without the requirement of double or triple data entry; and, all your proper documents are generated instantly. By automating many of the manual steps involved in “working a contract”, users are able to sustain their focus, complete tasks in half the time or less, and deliver accurate professional documents with confidence.
For Melissa Ciampaglia, the office quarterback, ContractComplete was a long-overdue solution. During their busy season, from July-October 2016, the company had maxed out their line of credit to $1.4 M and they were constantly getting stressful calls from their sub-trades and suppliers; looking for payment. Geoscape was adamant about good business and needed an explanation. They were proud of the work they delivered and the mutual relationships they have with other stakeholders. They are not the type of company that cuts corners, so why were they in this position? Some might suggest it is the cost of doing business in the lucrative fast-paced GTA market. Others might say this is normal and until the recent changes to the Construction Lien Act, the construction pyramid playing field has never been level. Since using ContractComplete, Geoscape’s cash position has been mostly positive since 2017 and today they have $300k in the bank. Aside from keeping all of their project managers organized and allowing them to create progress reports from anywhere using a web browser, ContractComplete has helped Geoscape improve their collections. Using the collaborative project administration tool, Melissa has been able to free up extra time for her to address accounts receivables by saving about an hour of her time per invoice generated automatically. Geoscape is a company that issues about 200 invoices a year and saving an hour on each one adds up fast.
By popular demand, Sean and Dan realized other contractors could benefit from applying ContractComplete to their process. The value in communication, collaboration, and the organization was also very appealing to the construction consultants and clients working on these same projects. ContractComplete now serves all stakeholders very effectively at a lean cost of $39/month/user. For Geoscape, that’s if they were required to pay for service, would be paying about $320 / month for the general manager, 4 project managers, their office manager, administrator and estimator; 8 users in all. For growing construction companies, it can be overwhelming finding software to support their employees. There are products that cost more than some of your staff and for those taking the risk to create their own internal IT solution, they learn this talent isn’t cheap and implementation time is never timely enough.
What makes ContractComplete exciting is it addresses the modern demands for technology. It is accessible from any web browser, intuitive, mobile-friendly, it is secure, and prioritizes UX (user experience) before anything else. One of the objectives was creating an “off the shelf”, plug N play-like product with little requirement for training and implementation. Plug in your contract spreadsheet and have more time to play: with your kids, golf, squash, CrossFit, chess, … or however you prefer to indulge during your free time!
Sean and ContractComplete co-Founder, Daniel Moore, have been working on the project after hours burning the midnight oil in order to build a product that is extremely valuable to its users. They have invested thousands of dollars of their personal money, put hundreds of thousands of dollars of borrowed money on the line as well as thousands of hours of their personal time into the product. And still do, every day.
*Due to the nature of innovation and intellectual property, this software is copyrighted.
4822 19th Avenue
151 Charles St. East
Contact: Alex Aubry – 519.778.1908 – email@example.com