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Computer Guidance Corp’s Construction ERP Longevity

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: May 21 2014

I have only recently been made aware of Computer Guidance Corporation (CGC) and its leading construction enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution for architecture, engineering, and commercial construction companies, even though the company has been around for over 30 years. CGC’s eCMS Construction ERP solution had then and still has among the best construction accounting, payroll, and job cost functionality around (see Figure 1).
 

Figure 1. eCMS Look and Feel
 
The feature-rich application set, Web-based access, and integrated BI and analytics applications (e.g., bid data analysis) are just some of the areas where CGC’s ERP excels over the competition. CGC has recently had several wins from both brand new customers and existing customers looking to capitalize on these functionality.
 
George & Lynch, one of the largest and most diverse infrastructure contractors serving the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, has implemented CGC’s construction ERP solution.
 
Shaw-Lundquist, a family-owned general contractor providing design/build, general building construction, and construction management services, has also implemented the hosted eCMS construction ERP solution for the management of its growing general contracting business. Shaw-Lundquist, a CGC customer since 1994, will leverage over 16 eCMS applications with this ERP upgrade, including core financials, HR, payroll, job costing, equipment accounting, time and material billing, business intelligence and analytics, ECM, and more. Having a document imaging application that is part of the ERP application suite, along with a hosted, cloud-based deployment option were the key driving factors in the company’s selection process when it decided to replace its legacy software.
 
Borderland Construction Company, a general engineering contractor who performs site work for housing subdivisions, business facilities, public works projects, underground utilities, grading, paving, structural concrete and curb work in the Southern Arizona region, also selected Computer Guidance’s hosted, cloud-based eCMS construction ERP for the management of its heavy and civil engineering construction business, based on its satisfaction with the solution since 1998 and due to its advanced and dynamic reporting functionality.
 
CGC was one of the first in the industry who came out with a cloud-based offering, easing the buying decision for those who are not comfortable with an IBM platform. IBM still provides great flexibility, scalability, and reliability over Microsoft Windows platforms but the industry does not necessarily always see it that way. The competition has grown, and many players have resurfaced with fancy new apps and new vendors have entered the market, with everyone offering very similar functionality and look and feel, including SAP, Oracle, Dexter + Chaney, Viewpoint Construction Software, CMiC, and many others. Within this competitive marketplace, CGC remains well positioned, with a strong customer base and a solid and proven product.
 
The eCMS construction ERP solution provides financial accounting and project management applications supported by advanced business intelligence (BI) and productivity tools. eCMS has been selected by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) as the construction management solution of choice for its members nationwide since 2010.
 

Figure 2: eCMS’s functional footprint
 
CGC – Then and Now
 
Computer Guidance was founded by Roger D. Kirk in 1981 as a privately held company offering the one and only construction cost accounting software system available at the time. The solution was hosted on IBM’s System i platform that was suited for the construction industry and was scalable to meet the needs of contractors of all sizes. In the 1990s the owner began the process of investing in a new graphical user interface (GUI), moving away from the “green screen” metaphor. Over time, the company expanded in other functional areas of the construction industry such as project management and service management, and it also brought into the system productivity tools such as reporting and enterprise content management (ECM).
 
In January 2014, global construction software vendor Explorer Software Group bought CGC, but is keeping the brand, customer base, product, and employees. It is running CGC as a separate division with about 75 employees, and investing in the product and resources, as it wishes CGC to become its North American operations and solutions for the construction industry.
 
The stated direction by CGC is cloud, mobility, and big data (insights), all with user accessibility to business-critical data. Computer Guidance is a strategic technology partner with IBM, providing a solid technology foundation for both its managed hosted services and on-premise flagship eCMS offering with complete infrastructure management. High-availability and disaster recovery solutions are also offered.  Mobile eCMS, a remote time and data entry solution, is tightly integrated with eCMS ERP, and provides contractors with the ability to submit time entry, installed units, and time and attendance (T&A) information; enables field personnel to accurately input payroll information; captures percent complete and installed quantities at job sites; and allows users to report working hours, breaks, overtime, and activities as they occur.
 
CGC’s strategy is to stand for what it has long represented: solid, reliable construction software for the core competencies—job costing, payroll, and accounting. In addition, the company is bringing in the future “data and insights”—connecting people and users with data—project, financial, equipment, human resources (HR), etc., and translating this data into information that is valuable through dashboards, reports, alerts and analytics. All this can be accessed through browser-based solutions, cloud, and mobile technologies (see Figure 3).
 

Figure 3
 
We will likely be hearing more about this vendor, and we will keep a close eye on the moves of its competitors. Based on CGC’s longevity and tenacity, one should imagine the vendor being ready for anything that the market forces and competitors throw at it.
 
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