Reliance Construction Group is one of Canada’s largest privately owned construction companies with headquarters in Montreal and regional offices in Toronto, Ottawa, and Quebec City. Reliance offers a full complement of services in all aspects of project planning, execution, and delivery, with projects across Ontario, throughout Quebec, and in the Maritimes.
In 2020, Reliance made the switch from a manual payment process to Oracle Textura Payment Management as part of their overarching digital transformation initiative. The objectives:
Since the inception of Reliance, forty-plus years ago, company founder Stephen Kaplan approved payments personally and by hand. Over the years, as the business grew at a rapid clip, what was once a manageable number of subtrades grew to well over 500, with a corresponding increase in the number of monthly pay applications.
Reliance started looking for alternatives. Steven Victor, vice president finance, reached out to his network to find out who was using what, and the name Oracle Textura came up.
Not one to waste any time, Steven Victor met with the Oracle Construction and Engineering team in Montreal in January 2020. During that initial meeting, Bryan Kaplan, president, and son of company founder Stephen Kaplan, quickly realized the efficiency gains that could be had from automating and streamlining the back-office processes with the construction payment management tool.
For example, it would get rid of the need for someone to constantly chase after the subtrades or manually enter invoices in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
“What struck me almost immediately is how much bandwidth this solution would open up for our staff, and how much waste it would eliminate,” says Bryan Kaplan.
The meeting at Reliance headquarters kicked off the decision-making process.
Next, Oracle Textura had to meet Reliance’s rigorous selection criteria.
First, the technology had to have all the functionality needed to support the monthly draw, compliance, approvals, and payment processes, and support the workflows needed to meet Canadian payment regulations such as the Ontario Construction Act, French language requirements in Quebec and laws under the civil code of Quebec.
Second, data integration between applications was a must. Third, Reliance requires that their technology suppliers have a support model that meets their business needs during initial implementation, onboarding, and enablement, and for ongoing support. Finally, the Oracle solution had to prove that it delivers business value and ROI.
Oracle Textura checked all the boxes. The construction payment management software streamlines and automates the construction invoicing processes for billing, payment, and compliance management, including lien waiver management, with integrations to ERP applications, analytics and reporting, and unrivaled client services.
As with all customers, Reliance received a dedicated client services team and full support during implementation and for as long as they continue to use the Oracle solution. This is included in the price; there is no separate fee for services and continued support during the product lifecycle.
This also applies to Reliance’s subcontractors who can get the support they need in both English and French. The Oracle Construction and Engineering team was also able to show that about 50 percent of Reliance’s regular subtrades were already trained and using the Oracle application.
“It’s the software equivalent of a turnkey construction project. I’ve never seen another technology vendor so in tune with the construction industry as it relates to their business strategy and pricing model,” says Bryan Kaplan.
The original plan was to implement the projects in the Toronto regional office as a pilot, and then roll it out in Montreal, Ottawa, and Quebec City. Then the pandemic hit, and everyone started to work from home. This highlighted for Reliance’s management team the immediate need to pivot to a platform and workflow that better supported the needs of the times.
Victor made the decision to go all in soon after and roll out the Oracle application to all projects that were less than 80 percent complete in all regions. The full rollout was virtual.
They went live on 19 projects, across 250-plus vendors, with 10-plus custom pay application forms, in May 2020. The implementation was smooth even with everyone working at home.
“I told Oracle, ‘We’ve never missed a deadline and we’ve never missed a payment and I don’t intend to start now. And this implementation can’t affect our normal course of business,’” Victor says. “And it didn’t! I probably gave Oracle Textura client services sleepless nights, but they really delivered.”
The result: a secure, scalable, flexible, collaborative web-based environment that people can access from anywhere to do their work.
“We saw an immediate hard savings from not having to deal with paper invoices, cheque printing fees, bank processing fees, envelopes, and stamps,” says Victor. “Sure, now I have to pay for Oracle Textura, but add the efficiency gains from getting rid of the manual steps and the software most likely pays for itself. Plus, I can pay my trades about a week faster than before, which they really like.”
The security afforded by the application was important to Reliance both in logins and workflow access, and around electronic payment of subcontractors.
“With paper cheques, we couldn’t easily guard against the occasional occurrence of cheque fraud from mail theft. Moving to 100 percent online payments through Oracle Textura has eliminated this threat,” says Victor.
For the implementation, Oracle worked hand in hand with Reliance to adjust workflows and integrations for Quebec, Ontario, and/or Canadian requirements.
“As long as we make a strong business case to Oracle for why we want something for our markets, Oracle listens,” says Bryan Kaplan. “And if new capabilities get added, they’ll benefit the whole construction community, not just Reliance. I like knowing I had a part in that.”
View this article in French here.
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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.