Suffolk is a nationally recognized, privately held real estate and construction enterprise that invests, innovates, and builds. The organization has long emphasized innovation to drive success and maintain its position as a leader in construction industry technology.
With $4.2 billion in annual revenue and offices and jobsites throughout the US spanning New England, Florida, New York, Texas, Montana, and California, automated solutions are a must to accommodate the volumes of contract work and frequent payments a company the size of Suffolk manages nationally.
And like jobsite security to stop intruders from stealing valuable construction equipment, protecting its online activities and transactions requires impenetrable security tools inside the Boston-based company’s walls. Suffolk is hyper-vigilant to thwart a devastating security breach and ensure the safety of its own invaluable data as well as that of its customers and partners.
Security was crucial to Suffolk when it sought to move past manual processes and upgrade the accounting side of its business, which had to keep pace with the growing diversity in its construction portfolio management that ranges from hospitals, academic facilities, and life sciences research labs to office and residential towers, resorts, airports, and casinos.
Suffolk views security as a constantly evolving journey, not a destination, said Doug Myers, executive vice president and chief information officer at Suffolk. It’s not a narrowly defined IT metric but a critical underpinning of system reliability that helps ensure Suffolk employees can be as productive and protected as possible to the benefit of its clients.
“Partnering with Oracle Textura Payment Management and integrating the technology into our ecosystem was one of the more important steps we have taken in recent years to bolster our security capabilities,” he says.
Oracle Textura is a cloud application for construction payment management that helps general contractors, owners, and subcontractors simplify the construction invoicing process. The super-secure and simple-to-use platform streamlines and automates construction finance processes for accurate billing, prompt payment, improved compliance, and lien waiver management while making cash flow more predictable.
Suffolk employs a comprehensive technology architecture review process before proceeding with the implementation of any new system. From a security perspective, this includes a variety of best practice considerations including support for multifactor authentication, identity management integration, encryption, and role-based access controls, to name just a few elements.
“Oracle Textura has a compelling offering along these dimensions, which is critically important for any system that enables the construction industry’s payment process,” Myers adds.
Suffolk’s payment management processes desperately needed to change as the company enjoyed a sustained, torrid growth spurt several years back. Project accountants would spend countless hours deciphering poorly written documents and suffered through the “historically archaic” manual process of emailing subcontractors, collecting everything manually, then corresponding by email again for any item that was missing or needed revision.
Manual billing was frustrating, labor-intensive, and a drag on productivity. An automated payment system would allow accountants to partner with project teams and focus on analytics rather than tediously cutting and pasting billing information into simplistic Excel files.
Onboarding Oracle Textura in 2019 not only brought order to the Suffolk accounting department’s chaos, but peace of mind knowing that security is a premium for owner invoicing and subcontractor payments.
Payment processes typically have extensive workflows that can vary based on predefined circumstances. It’s critically important to have application and data controls that align with a role-based access model.
The encryption and data access controls that Oracle Textura offers are a significant benefit to any enterprise seeking to safeguard its payment process.
“All of this helps mitigate fraud risk and, in the process, augments Oracle Textura’s operating efficiency value proposition,” Myers says.
Madelyn Smith is Suffolk’s operations financial analyst and has seen firsthand the night-and-day change Oracle Textura has brought to her organization.
Having a secure, centralized platform where all billing information is stored makes it easy to onboard a new team member or shift an assignment to a different project controller, Smith said. There’s no need to start from scratch since everything already is organized and formatted.
“Some of our project controllers who have been with Suffolk for years feel like Oracle Textura gives them the ability to complete the full paperwork cycle of something that is historically so drawn out, tedious, and manual in a drastically condensed timeline,” she says.
Assuring that a Suffolk project controller or accountant has secure access to certain settings in Oracle Textura is handled through the single sign-on process. Project managers are given certain limitations as well, so that only the finance team has the ability to authorize payments, for example.
“Another piece is, making sure our ACH payments that are disbursed through Oracle Textura are secure so that we are comfortable in knowing subcontractors are getting their payment,” Smith says.
Smith found it simpler to put into words rather than numbers when asked to quantify Oracle Textura’s value to Suffolk’s payment processes.
“It's huge. It's life-changing,” she says. “It's night and day how Oracle Textura streamlines the process. We've taken away manual entry of project controllers having to input every single invoice. It gets rid of duplicate data entry and the potential for errors. And then at an enterprise level, the ability to reduce exposure to risk, because we're able to have more control over the process and streamline it.
“Oracle Textura has been invaluable to us.”
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