Founded in 1971, JMT provides a full range of multi-disciplinary engineering, architectural, and related services to public agencies and private clients throughout the US. JMT has more than 1,600 professionals in offices across the country, including engineers, architects, planners, environmental scientists, surveyors, construction and program managers, inspectors, designers, CADD technicians, and GIS and information technology specialists. JMT provides planning, design, surveying and mapping, construction management, and environmental consulting services in markets that include transportation, buildings and facilities, water/wastewater/utilities, energy, IT, and federal programs.
The Need for a Modern, Unified Platform
For years, JMT had run their business on a series of standalone business applications. This included Microsoft Dynamics SL as their accounting platform, Unanet for time entry, Deltek Vision for CRM, and a number of specialized applications for human resource management.
Because most systems didn’t talk to each other, employees were spending significant time manually entering data, and many processes were paper-based. In addition, employees spent a lot of time asking staff in other departments to send them information that they didn’t have access to. “When a new business opportunity presented itself, the marketing team would ask the operational people ‘what was that project we worked on that was like this?’ and ‘who worked on it?’”, explained Bill Smith, Sr. Vice President and CIO for JMT. “And then someone in operations had to stop what they were doing and gather all of that information and send it over.”
Furthermore, remote access to on-premise systems was challenging, making it difficult for employees to access information from job sites when they were away from the office. And JMT’s IT staff was also challenged having to support so many disparate systems across disparate technologies.
Making the need for a new platform even more of a strategic imperative was the aggressive growth goals that the firm’s management had set. JMT had set a goal to double in size every few years and become a Top 50 ENR firm by 2020. To achieve these goals, JMT recognized that it needed more modern, enterprise-level technologies.
JMT set out on an exhaustive evaluation of new business applications, looking at options from Microsoft, Oracle, BST, and Deltek. “Even though some within the firm considered it to be risky not to adopt one of the niche A/E/C industry systems that many firms use, we decided that the Microsoft platform was the best solution for us, especially when we look at the long-term”, described Smith. “With the Microsoft cloud, we can achieve our vision of a unified infrastructure with a common data model that deliver consistency in workflows and user experience.”
The Microsoft Dynamics 365 Solution
Having begun its IT overhaul by migrating its on-premise Microsoft Office tools to Office 365 in the cloud, JMT then set out to design an end-to-end, enterprise-wide business platform based on Microsoft Dynamics 365.
JMT selected aec360, an industry-specific version of Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 for Sales CRM platform. aec360 not only offers all of the native CRM features required by A/E/C firms to manage their clients, prospective clients, and pursuits, but also provides a centralized database of project and employee experience and qualifications, which is essential to the marketing process.
aec360 also provides unique relationship intelligence capabilities that can help firms connect the dots in terms of who at the firm knows who, who they’re communicating with, who is best positioned to lead a pursuit, and other features critical to selling in a relationship-centric industry like E/A.
JMT also selected Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations ERP platform to manage their core financial management, project management and accounting, and, operational business processes. This was complemented with Projects+ for Dynamics 365, which provides enhanced features and a pre-built BI and reporting solution for E/A firms.
A critical element of JMT’s strategy was the ability for data and processes to flow seamlessly across not only these business applications but their Office 365 productivity and collaboration tools as well. For example, JMT implemented a process whereby a pursuit that had been “won” in the CRM system automatically created a project record in the ERP system to be used for project execution and accounting, as well as a collaboration site in SharePoint Online for sharing documents and other project information. This automation happens in real-time, making the information available to the entire firm immediately.
Choosing a Business Partner They Could Trust
JMT viewed the selection of a Dynamics 365 consulting partner as a critical part of their initiative. After engaging with several Microsoft partners, JMT chose to work with sa.global, Microsoft’s leading Dynamics 365 solution provider in the A/E/C industry. sa.global provides a complete suite of industry-specific Dynamics 365 business applications and consulting services to help its clients successfully implement and adapt their Dynamics 365 platform. “We chose sa.global as our implementation partner based on their experience in the A/E/C industry and their ability to understand even our most complex business requirements”, stated Smith.
Through the implementation of the Microsoft cloud platform and Dynamics 365, JMT has been able to accomplish a number of important goals, including:
- Providing marketing team members with answers to key questions, such as ‘what similar projects have we done?’, ‘who worked on which projects?’, ‘what did they do?’, ‘when did they do it?’, and ‘how many hours did it take?’.
- Digitizing workflows that had previously been heavily paper-based, such as invoice approvals and expense reporting, which not only saves time but provides for a better employee experience.
- Serving up multi-dimensional reports and analytics through Power BI and embedded workspaces in Dynamics 365, including the ability to slice-and-dice the data in order to see information however employees need to see it.
- Enhancing collaboration capabilities with employees and outside constituents through the use of Office 365’s cloud-based tools like SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, and Office Groups.
- Improving IT security controls and governance capabilities through a more enterprise-level cloud platform, which reduces the risk of data loss and unauthorized access to information.
- Gaining a modern, flexible, and scalable platform that will help the firm continue their rapid growth and ascension into the ENR Top 50.
“With the Microsoft cloud and Dynamics 365, we’ve achieved a unified, end-to-end, all-cloud solution”, explained Smith. “The benefits of an integrated platform speak for themselves, and we’re in a much better position now to achieve our firm’s strategic goals going forward.”