ESS Builds New & Improved Data Infrastructure

Sarah Brown | Tuesday January 5, 2021

ESS Builds New & Improved Data Infrastructure

Sarah Brown | Tuesday January 5, 2021

It’s no mystery that company growth is essential. Without it, operations and goals would stagnate. Luckily for Emery Sapp & Sons (ESS), growth is a fundamental component of our business and we’re not putting a stop to it any time soon. In order to manage this growth and make better decisions at scale, our data must be organized accordingly.

Enter – the new and improved data stack at ESS! Now, if you know what a data stack is, that’s awesome, you’re awesome, but we’re going to explain it anyways. The new modern data stack allows us to pull data out of all our business systems more efficiently. Our technology team has strategically selected the most sought-after tools on the market to build a cloud-based architecture that best suits the needs of our people and processes.

Ultimately, the team chose the Google Cloud tools, BigQuery, and Looker, combined with an automated data pipeline, Fivetran, to equip our employee-owners with a user-friendly solution accessible across the whole company. The data warehouse includes the entire ESS family of companies – ESS, Hutchens Construction, Achen-Gardner Construction, and Premier Testing Laboratories – all in one place. These tools can help us unify critical information coming in from multiple data sources such as HeavyJob, Accounting, Job Cost, Salesforce and more.

 
Director of Technology for ESS, Clayton Hicklin said, “with Fivetran, BigQuery and Looker we can prioritize business needs and related workflows. For example, we track our Zendesk support tickets in Looker so we can easily see what’s open, urgent, high priority, pending, and closed. Similarly, our accounts receivable team can instantly see total outstanding amounts and bills owing. Vice Presidents can see that information by customer and prioritize who they need to follow up with. Being able to visualize the information intuitively lets us understand what’s important, and act on it quickly.”

Up until now, most of our data analysis has been performed manually through Excel workbooks. Although a familiar process that many are accustomed to, Excel alone is no longer going to suffice as our key system for leveraging data. As mentioned earlier, vast company growth and desire for more efficient methods warrants the need to reinvest in our data. In response to the capacity need, our technology team has built a structure that will enhance the way employee-owners access reliable and real-time data at their fingertips.

“We believe we can realize significant time savings by automating manual reporting wherever possible. One of our accounts payable specialists used to spend six hours every month manually generating cost reports for each of our branches. We’ve now built reports and set up the necessary data feeds, so this data is automatically delivered each month. Those hours are now dedicated to revenue driving activities instead,” stated Clayton Hicklin.

Our employee-owners know first hand the incredible amount of data that is generated each day at this company. As a 100% employee-owned company, our team members have a vested interest in finding efficiencies and elevating our financial performance. Out in the field, we continuously need to know where we’re at in terms of cost-to-complete. We all wonder if we can do a better job at recruiting and retaining quality talent. For the financial folks, it’s important to forecast and predict where the business is headed. Thanks to the new data stack, it’s all possible and can be done much more efficiently.

While we have seen some early successes with the new tools, Finance, HR, Payroll, Operations Managers and others will be engaged in Q1 and beyond to start developing key dashboards and reports on the new platform.

Dan Hoover, Executive Vice President of Finance for ESS said “both employee-owners and clients alike will begin to see the positive ripple effect from this investment over the coming months and years. We pride ourselves on delivering big results for ourselves and for our partners. This new digital infrastructure will strengthen our competitiveness so we can do just that. With a new foundation in place, our position is strong. I’m excited to watch this momentum continue through 2021 and beyond.”

These improvements to the system not only prioritize the needs of our employee-owners, but also the company vision at large. We can continue to be competitive, cost-sensitive and compliant in everything we do. These tools offer us much more than greater efficiency. Long-term, we can pursue more complex opportunities knowing that we’re fully equipped to make well-informed and accurate decisions to get the job done, and done right.

Our ESS technology teams new data stack was featured as a case study on Fivetran’s website and published as a blog post for Looker.

 

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