Sending files back and forth between costing, procurement and suppliers. Procurement wondering why costing has not sent a particular construction specialist an invitation to tender. Phoning around just before the deadline to find out why no quotes have been received yet. These are but a few of the problems that Croonwolter&dros was confronted with before the company started working with 12Build. “Every department can now see in Matchmaker where we stand. And that saves us a lot of time.”
Mathieu Koomans van de Dries is the Procurement & Logistics Manager at Croonwolter&dros. “IT and process optimisation are two of my responsibilities,” he says. “But I do not personally work in 12Build.” Ronald Vredegoor, a colleague in the costing department, does. He has been working for the company for 22 years. “New innovations are very important here. You must continue to develop yourself.” Mathieu supports this. “I have been working here for 13 years. In all that time, the sense of family and personal stimulus have remained paramount.”
Mathieu is an ardent supporter of technology. “I have always been fascinated by apps, new technology and IT, but we can also overexaggerate. Standardising and automating everything is taking it too far. That is not the case with 12Build, however, which does it perfectly. With the implementation of 12Build we have taken a big step in automation while retaining the possibility to have personal contact with construction specialists through e-mails and personalised invitations to tender.” It is a logical step for Croonwolter&dros, a company that states on its website to have been a leader in new developments for 140 years. The website of the main contractor asserts: “At a time when the role of technology is becoming increasingly important, we are a driver of new technological developments and innovations. We have the knowledge, experience and expertise to design, develop, implement, manage and maintain intelligent systems and integrated, sustainable solutions.”
The costing and procurement departments were working at cross-purposes
Croonwolter&dros merged in 2017 from two companies: Croon Elektrotechniek and Wolter & Dros. The creation of Croonwolter&dros brought together more than 280 years of experience in technology and engineering. We quickly set about finding the best possible collaboration. Mathieu: “The merger introduced different working methods and resulted in different house styles for e-mails, letters and memoranda. And this meant that the costing and procurement departments would be working completely counter productively. We had no insight into what was going out to tender and to whom. You end up gathering information and repeatedly enquiring at various departments about what has already been done… A situation that is anything but effective. It is extremely time-consuming.” Croonwolter&dros employs about 2,700 people with 2,200 current projects. It is therefore essential that the communication is up to scratch and that you achieve as much as possible together. “With regard to communication, our intentions were fine, but we were not doing the right things.”
The costing department sent out invitations to tender to three of its regular construction specialists and the procurement department then did the same to three others. We all had our own preferences and these were often not the same. Mathieu: “The procurement department thought A, the costing department thought B and ultimately we chose C. We would be wearing out the soles of our shoes trudging between costing and procurement.” Ronald: “We would get a last-minute call from the procurement department expressing their surprise at still not having received any quotes and asking us to see what the hold-up was. They did the same with their ‘own’ construction specialists, which meant that we would all be spending even more time on the tender process.”
Ronald has been working in costing for many years and has experienced the situation first-hand. He is pleased that the process has changed. “I now enter the suppliers that I want to invite on the basis of their specialisation. The procurement department sees this immediately and can add to the list if they want,” he explains. “Both procurement and costing can select preferred construction specialists in Matchmaker, by allocating a green or gold star. This provides more insight into the regular suppliers.” In addition to the preferred construction specialists, Ronald also always sends an invitation to tender to one or two other parties in the market. That is very easy, because 12Build has the largest online database of construction specialists as a result of collaboration with organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce.
“The collaboration between departments is more effective and efficient with 12Build”
“In the past, you would submit the invitation to tender to well-known suppliers and that would be the end of the story,” continues Ronald. “We could simply rely on it. Nowadays, we are sending them to many more parties, because you can see in a single overview in 12Build which construction specialist has responded to your invitation.” Mathieu adds that about 75% of the construction specialists and suppliers respond through 12Build. And he expects this percentage to continue to grow in the coming years.
Additional benefit: document management for construction specialists
Ronald loves new gadgets, new systems. Matchmaker is one such example, used both for collaboration with procurement and for document management. He outlines a situation of a few years ago. An invitation to tender was sent to a construction specialist. This was accompanied by documents. Dozens of spreadsheets and Word files were sent to the construction specialist through WeTransfer. A week later Ronald received an e-mail with the message that the WeTransfer link had expired and requesting him to send the files again. On average, 2.8 invitations to tender are submitted for each component of contracted work. That meant a lot of calls and e-mails relating to expired WeTransfer links. And when the construction specialists did manage to download the link on time, they would be inundated with piles of documents, which meant Ronald could expect many more calls and e-mails asking which documents were relevant to specific construction specialists.
“We receive quicker responses from construction specialists, because we organise the documents beforehand”
That all goes much quicker now. Documents and invitations to tender are always available with 12Build. “You upload all the files and indicate which file is relevant to which construction specialist. They will then receive only those documents they need to see,” explains Ronald. “This in turn results in much quicker responses, because there is no need to rummage through every document. And the same efficiency applies to memoranda. If there is a memorandum concerning a change, you just send a single update to all relevant parties. Two minutes later, you can move on again.”
Does this mean that 12Build gives you time to spare? Mathieu: “No, we have no time to spare. Working with 12Build enables you to do more with the same people. We have more time for specific issues and we can focus on quality. The costing and procurement departments then have time to do their necessary work, instead of unnecessary administrative tasks.”
System for the users
The largest digitalisation undertaking carried out by Croonwolter&dros in recent years was to find a system that would be universally accepted by the users. “It would be ideal if everyone ultimately adopts one standard method,” says Mathieu. “But then it still needs to be easy to use. A system that has been determined ‘top-down’ simply would not work. We were informed that this was the working method and that was how we should do it. It failed. Now we have one user-friendly platform in which we all work: 12Build.” Collaboration is very important at Croonwolter&dros. For a company that operates nationwide in utilities, industry and infrastructure, with numerous ventures and specialisations, it is essential.
Croonwolter&dros continues to develop and wants to carry on growing in digitalisation and automation. Mathieu draws the comparison with his own home. “In offices you are pulling on levers, whereas everything at home is connected. Your TV, your lights, your telephone. Everything works digitally and sometimes even automatically. Our aim in this area is to bring the office and the home environment closer together to help lower the threshold.” Mathieu sees the roll-out of 12Build as having a ripple effect. “We want to use the entire range of facilities of 12Build. Our sales department is going to use it and we are looking into what we can do with Promoter on the side of the construction specialists,” he explains. As such, Croonwolter&dros will play a dual role as main contractor and construction specialist. “We have 133 units and departments, 60 of which are potentially entering the market. For them, 12Build is an excellent platform that continues to grow and provides the possibility of receiving potential assignments as a construction specialist.”
“In offices you are pulling on levers, whereas everything at home is connected”
Collaboration with 12Build
“The collaboration is awful!” says Mathieu with a laugh. “No, I am only teasing: I am very happy with 12Build. Roy Welink introduced us to Matchmaker. The good thing about Roy is that he has a background in construction and knows exactly how the processes work. He knows the types of problems we face and helps us to resolve them. We have one contact person at 12Build who is able to provide the full range of services. From start to finish. 12Build does not come with idle talk but really puts words into action.”
Croonwolter&dros held many meetings with 12Build as part of the onboarding process, because the company has several branches throughout the Netherlands. Mathieu: “The investment in time was quickly recovered through the effectiveness of the system.” And Ronald adds: “The more you work in 12Build, the easier and more logical it becomes. We look forward to having a long and productive collaboration.”