When a fledgling construction company compiles a list of tools crucial to its success, construction management software may not seem as immediately imperative as trucks, backhoes, and ladders.
But these days, construction firms need to be internet and tech savvy to compete right out of the gate. Charlottesville, Virginia-based GW Real Estate Partners realized that early adoption of construction project management software was a competitive advantage as the company was in its formative stages in the early ‘20s.
A multifamily development and construction firm with an ambitious growth plan across the Southeast United States, GW Real Estate knew an automated construction payment management system was a must-have to build trust and simplify the draw process before a shovel ever turned up dirt.
As a development company with GW Builders as its in-house general contractor, GW Real Estate’s principals have amassed decades of combined experience in the construction industry, yet they maintain an entrepreneurial attitude and understand the value of technology investment. They were keenly familiar with the pinpoint accuracy of Oracle Textura, having used the automated construction payment management system at previous career stops.
“We were introduced to Oracle Textura by one of our principals, Russell Whitworth; they used it extensively at his previous job,” says Chris Danner, senior project manager at GW Real Estate. “This is my first time using the software, but everything has been easy to catch on. There's been a lot of involvement from Oracle Textura getting us up and going, making sure things are working right and constantly checking in. It’s all been very helpful with picking up a new software solution.”
With a tech-heavy project management plan in place, constant communication with solutions providers is vital. Training was geared specifically for GW Real Estate with the Oracle Textura team there to answer any questions that arise.
“I like that it’s been Will and Amy from the start. I can call either one, and they get back to me right away. There’s a lot more engagement from your side as opposed to some of the others,” Danner says. “I know Oracle is huge, but you don’t normally get this level of service from a company of that size. It’s taken a lot off my plate of trying to figure it out on my own.”
Oracle Textura’s efficiency also has impressed Danner. GW Real Estate currently runs lean—they have nine employees—and that means Danner wears several hats. As senior project manager he occasionally heads to a jobsite for important meetings or bank inspection visits as well as his multiple in-office responsibilities. Oracle Textura allows him to do the work of both admin and accounts payable, which in previous jobs would mean two more employees to handle the draw because of that company’s labor-intensive manual processes.
“I initially felt like I would need an admin but it’s one of the first areas where we’ve scaled that need back and focused personnel elsewhere,” Danner says. “Taking draws used to be a couple of days versus a couple of hours in Oracle Textura. Everything is automated now.”
Danner adds, “You can’t really get Oracle Textura’s streamlined payments and smooth ACH transfers elsewhere.” GW Real Estate also uses Oracle Textura to track compliance. With an owner-controlled insurance program (OCIP), Oracle Textura provides a “payment check. It is very helpful to have that second layer before the money goes out,” he says.
Oracle Textura’s compliance tracking tool ensures that subcontractors have adequate insurance before sending an ACH payment. The comprehensive SOV breakout functionality also provides a line for the OCIP cost on each sub’s SOV.
Danner explains, “We have a specific line item in Oracle Textura for insurance, which covers builders’ risk as well as fees associated with getting it all in place.”
Aligning subcontractors started last year as its inaugural project, the Class A 265-unit Montage at Marquis Apartments, first turned dirt in September. Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing subs are signed on as concrete work begins, and Danner says more billings are coming through with the framer for materials.
With two more projects slated for groundbreaking this year, GW Real Estate will make subcontractor payments through Oracle Textura for all three jobs. Danner estimates 60% to 70% of their subcontractors already have used Oracle Textura, and another 20% have heard of it or used another automated payment software. Yet there is a handful of subs that aren’t automated yet.
That’s to be expected in an industry like construction where some subcontractors run the gamut of savviness and sophistication and are a little leery of software. GW Real Estate is happy to help them get up to speed, and Danner tries to simplify the connection as much as possible when needed.
He says Oracle Textura has an Excel template, and the extra 10 minutes he spends uploading the document is worth it to help out a subcontractor who’s uncomfortable on a computer. He also can put in a request with Oracle Textura to work with the subcontractor, as well.
“What automatically makes subcontractors’ eyes pop open is telling them that with Oracle Textura they’re going to get paid up to a week ahead of what they’d typically expect,” Danner says. “They’re really excited when they hear that.”
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Lucie is an experienced technology marketing professional with a current focus on payment and cost-related products in Oracle's construction and engineering global business unit. At Oracle, her work in product marketing is centered on customer engagement and creating the right content to support our customers.
She has over 20 years experience in engineering, product management, marketing, project management, and sales. She holds a BS in Electrical Engineering and an MBA, from McGill University, Montreal, Canada, and can be found most nights at the dance studio, prepping for her next ballroom competition.