Mercury streamlines time management process on construction sites with bespoke mobile solutions
CHALLENGE: Manual processes meant low project visibility
Building and managing complex engineering projects within Enterprise & Hyperscale Data Centers, Life Sciences & Technology, Building Services, Healthcare, Fire Protection & TSS takes monumental skill and effort.
With a company-wide passion for creating innovation and change – and the belief that real innovation happens if you’re willing to be brave, Irish based European Contractor Mercury is breaking new ground, reimagining how people work and live in the built environment and going mobile.
In an industry that’s been traditionally slow to adopt information technology, that’s no small task. Especially when you consider how complicated and customized processes are when creating new structures designed to last hundreds of years. That is why Mercury Engineering’s digital steering committee meets quarterly to identify and prioritize opportunities to drive improvements using technology. Finding a simple, effective way to improve the user experience across highly customized processes was high on the list.
Because they rely heavily on the SAP enterprise solutions, including materials management, payroll, finance, project management, and even distribution, the digital steering committee knew they needed a flexible strategy that would help them create easy-to-use apps for teams working on job-sites throughout the UK & Europe.
“Building sites aren’t necessarily IT-friendly, and our teams weren’t using the SAP solutions directly. Instead, they manually tracked the hours that crews worked on site and spent considerable time and effort on the phone, said Brendan Docherty, Team Lead at Mercury and Mercury. “Given the size or our construction jobs, the process for tracking time and payments was fairly complex.”
Each site foreman typically oversees the work of 20-30 workers, many of whom are direct employees. Additionally, Mercury subcontracts a number of companies to tackle specific pieces of work.
The fast pace of construction projects meant they required real-time, immediate visibility on work progress. At any given time, the company needed to track labor allocations and know if teams are delivering on the effort.
“We wanted to make it easy for our foremen to review, allocate, and change hours and feed data into SAP using their mobile phones,” said Brendan. “And we needed a solution that leveraged SAP more effectively for our productivity solutions and which was able to scale and change with us in the future.”
“After hearing about Neptune Software at UKISUG, and comparing other vendors, it quickly became clear that Neptune Software was head and shoulders above any other solution for us.”
APPROACH: Pilot customized projects across increasingly large job sites
After the decision was made in October of 2018, the Mercury team moved quickly and launched the project in February of 2019, working closely with Neptune Software and Client Solutions (Mercury’s ERP Partner) to create a staged approach for the initial project.
In February, the teams spent a week defining the requirements of the project. Mercury initially launched a small pilot project involving 5 site foremen and 40 crew members, with two larger projects already rolling out in Q4 2019.
The UX would be designed to be unique to each foreman, so they could work the way they prefer. And given the nature of their job sites, which often have limited wireless connectivity, being able to work online and offline would be key.
They will be looking to move more of their functionality in the future using Neptune Software such as approval for sub-contractor payment certificates. To keep work moving, the ability to do more mobility projects, faster is important.
“Training was simple, completed in three days, and was very seamless. Our trainers showed us how the low-code application development platform worked, gave us access to test data to experiment with, and within a few short hours we were up and running, submitting real data.” – Brendan Docherty, SAP Team Lead at Mercury
RESULTS: App development with no delays in data access and a new time management process
Today, site foremen have a user-friendly way to keep job site crews and progress under control, with no delay in data access. And that means no more paper, no more back and forth on the phones. And more importantly, each foreman quickly gets the user experience that best suits their needs.
Feedback has been very positive.
“Users quickly began working in the productivity apps and are really happy. The foremen find the apps easy to learn and use. The speed and connectivity are good, too. In fact, the results coming back are perfect,” said Brendan.
With productivity hours and time management processes now completely digital, workflow is much faster. Site foreman have immediate access to summaries of each days’ shifts, giving them greater visibility into job progress and streamlining the way information is shared and used.
“We can easily track productivity on our jobs sites and know whether we’re staying within the budget hours per work breakdown structure. This also helps the teams adjust when needed.”
Now that the time management process apps have launched, Mercury is looking to the future. They’re already adding more capabilities to the Productivity Tool and are preparing for additional key projects using Neptune Software to extend their SAP solutions.
“Working in Fiori can be tough. With Neptune Software, it was easy. Today we have the flexibility to improve the design and user experience of our mobile apps that rely on SAP back-end solutions”, added Brendan. “Plus, the simple design and usability mean we can quickly roll out apps to more and more jobs. Now that’ we’ve deployed this software in one area of the business, we’re confident we have the knowledge and skill to deploy to other key areas of SAP across the business.”
Customer Industry: Construction and Engineering
Geographic Reach: Ireland, United Kingdom and Central Europe
Solution Scope: Operations & Maintenance
Functionality Scope: Mobility
System Version: SAP Materials Management, HR, Finance, PS
Devices: Android phones & tablets, iPhone, iPad
Implementation Timeline: 4 Months
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