Agility’s project management module is so integrated with the rest of the software’s accounting and inventory capabilities that we take it for granted that it was always part of the program. Not so. The module came about due to a unique collaboration between DMSi and Bridgewell, an existing Agility customer whose extraordinary growth led to the tool’s development.
The Contractor Direct division of Bridgewell, whose business is dedicated to the supply chain management of vast product lines, was bringing in new, large, and complex contracts that required serious coordination. For instance, a builder’s requested delivery date and order size might suddenly change – several times. Purchasing, shipping and invoicing orders would need adjusting with little notice, also a growing challenge. Bridgewell’s existing tools simply weren’t suited to the unique demands of these large contracts. They needed a better method.
As an existing Agility customer, DMSi agreed to work with Bridgewell to create a project management tool in Agility. This would eliminate the need to synchronize data with an outside application or to double-enter information.
“Our approach was to have one centralized order and inventory management and accounting solution,” said Scott White, Bridgewell’s Director of Information Technology. “We were already on Agility and we wanted to keep it that way.”
DMSi’s development team began working closely with Bridgewell to understand the company’s needs. Representatives from DMSi met with the division vice presidents as well as the sales and buying teams.
“It was a very collaborative process,” says White. “We had a two-day session with them to really clarify the requirements.”
The project management tool would need to centralize key functions so contracts could be updated quickly and easily. Bridgewell also wanted to see each contract as a unified project rather than a series of separate transactions. This would help departments coordinate and would give management a better sense of how a contract was progressing. DMSi continued to work closely with Bridgewell throughout development, making sure the project met the original objectives.
“As sprints were completed, the individual teams would show what they had developed and we would either unofficially sign off or ask for tweaks,” said White. “That tighter collaboration really added value.”
Bridgewell began integrating the Project Management window almost immediately, adding additional functionalities as they became available.
“Our buyers now make changes, particularly in lumber, that they couldn’t do before,” said White. “Now the admin staff is out of that process. It’s mostly in the buying team’s hands, which is where we always wanted it.”
In 2013, DMSi released the Project Management window to all its customers as a new feature in Agility. It contained the essential functions for managing contracts with multiple deliveries over time: changing item quantity on a quote, updating estimated delivery dates, committing inventory to a sales order directly from a quote, and tracking change orders. Grouping functions together meant admins no longer needed to move between multiple menus for a single transaction.
So where did this powerful project management tool translate into a competitive advantage for Bridgewell?
“Our edge is that our business processes can scale up where they couldn’t before,” said White. “Now, we compete for those 5-6,000- product-line job contracts that are out there.”