Not all missed connections are the stuff of Craigslist and romantic movies. Take for example Webb Electric Company in Pensacola, Florida — a specialty electrical contractor with over 50 years of agency and government experience. Like a lot of contractors who were heading into Y2K, they were forced to make a tough choice. Their construction accounting software at the time decided not to make the transition from MS-DOS® to Windows®. If Webb Electric was going to move forward with technology, they needed technology that would move forward with them.
The One That Got Away
Around that time, Webb Electric’s corporate CPA, Cindy Webb, remembers seeing an ad in the mail from Foundation Software. But their eyes were already on another software vendor. With no reason just then to look elsewhere, things had been moving forward with them in a hurry. Putting FOUNDATION® out of mind, they implemented the new software in May of 1999.
“It wasn’t so bad at first,” Cindy remembers. “We were making it work. It was great compared to what we had before.” But the honeymoon phase didn’t last — does it ever? Eventually the vendor grew, and another company acquired them. Everything changed. What used to be just the construction-industry software they needed expanded to incorporate real estate accounting and filled each screen with fields Webb Electric would never use, making the whole system increasingly cumbersome. Even system “improvements,” like new paperless features, required clumsy integration with other applications, and it seemed to get worse with each update.
“They have an accounting package for the general ledger, then there’s an accounts payable add-on that’s not really in sync. Then you add job costing, but you have to go back and forth.” All of those integrated modules turned out to be less integrated than they might have hoped, and that meant a lot of time had to be spent just navigating the system, pulling data from different parts and juggling pieces of reports you could hopefully stitch together in the end. “It grew into some monster,” she says. “We weren’t comfortable with anything anymore.”
Second Chances Only Come Twice
Then, 15 years after Webb Electric made their first switch, Cindy came across another ad from Foundation Software for a free webinar. She thought it might be worth 30 minutes of her time — just to see what else is out there. (They already had a construction accounting system, after all.) The webinar was a live demonstration of FOUNDATION, showing all of the ins and the outs of the actual application. “I had pages of questions,” Cindy recalls, “and they answered all of them. I told my boss, ‘We’ve got to have this.’”
But the road forward wouldn’t be clear of obstacles. Cindy’s boss simply couldn’t get time to watch the demo for herself. Shortly after, Webb Electric lost their bookkeeper. Cindy, who was already working in overdrive trying to manage the old system, was now doing more than two jobs just to make it work. Everyone was just making it work. Finally, though, the opportunity opened, and she seized on it. With the owner on board, Webb Electric signed on to FOUNDATION in May of 2014 and “went live” later that year.
They felt the difference right away. FOUNDATION automated processes that once took tedious data entry and switching between modules, like easy-to-use recurring invoices and importing of receipts. Payroll, which took three days before, now takes a fraction of the time. The FOUNDATION mobile® field log app has assisted with that, and the Document Imaging Module has helped them go paperless too, giving them true integration with their accounting system.
For Cindy, reporting was one of the biggest day-to-day improvements. Because FOUNDATION streamlined and automated so many processes, data is more available to them and more up-to-date than ever. “There are so many things the guys can do for themselves now.” Everyone has access that should, and people are able to run, design and modify their own reports whenever they need to see something. Project managers just open the dashboard and see invoices and job costing for their jobs.
To talk to Cindy, it sounds like this time, the honeymoon is still going strong and showing no signs of being a phase. Foundation Software has grown a lot since 2014. But unlike that old vendor relationship, things have stayed steady for Webb Electric. Those notorious “updates” on their old software are replaced with a pipeline of useful new features, and an ever-expanding support team is always quick to get back to them if there’s a question. There’s no more “just making it work.” This time, they found a partner that really does work.