Orion Companies

Written byBjørn Koding

Orion Companies gains real-time visibility to profitability across hundreds of projects, saving 200 hours a month on resource allocation

With decades of experience in real estate development, general contracting, and subcontracting, Orion Companies didn't evolve from one to 10 businesses overnight. Despite its tremendous success, the addition of each business unit made it increasingly more difficult to measure growth and profitability at scale from within their legacy applications.

Since every Orion-owned company operates independently, each was managing its own separate instance of QuickBooks for accounting and TSheets for time tracking. Recognizing this model was no longer scalable, CFO Thomas Cochran led the organization’s digital transformation effort, including replacing QuickBooks with cloud-based platform Sage Intacct.

Making the move to Sage also necessitated upgrading the companywide payroll, HR, and time tracking software. When he learned that the new payroll solution, ADP, didn't have the functionality they needed to manage shared employees in a multi-entity structure, he felt like they had hit a brick wall. Not wanting to lose the features in TSheets that made it the perfect solution for construction job costing - a fundamental component of their business model - Sage Intacct partner, Sockeye, recommended bringing Venn Technology into the fold.

“I hadn't even considered the opportunity of building out a fully custom solution. Sockeye made the introduction and right away it was a super fast and easy sales process with Venn.” - Thomas Cochran, CFO, Orion Companies

Cochran was also looking for a solution that could handle very large volumes of data emphasizing, “We are running twelve thousand hours of payroll to ten different companies and hundreds of projects each month.” 

Prior to the integration, each Orion company had to run a manual connector in QuickBooks to first sync the data before exporting to Excel pivot tables. These were sent to every project manager by project type for review. Upon completion, the spreadsheets were imported back into QuickBooks to kick off the payroll process. “We were processing payroll ten different times before we put this new technology in place,” said Cochran.

“Now, we don’t have someone having to constantly go back and forth between systems, so the information is far more timely and much less error prone,” he said. 

He estimates the custom integration between TSheets and Sage Intacct now saves Orion Companies at least 200 hours per month and one full-time person per year, who can now be better utilized on higher-value tasks. It has also dramatically simplified the payroll process for the payroll department, as Tsheets links to ADP which allows for instant employee time syncing and multi-entity payroll processing.

“We’ve automated the way people get assigned to projects with this integration. Without that, we’d be spending tons of time manually assigning people to their specific projects. We have thousands of projects flowing in constantly.” 

He also noted time savings as a result of not having to train staff on a new time tracking system, which allowed them to focus on other aspects of their digital transformation. “The big goal for us was we wanted to make sure that it was an easy change for the employees,” said Cochran. Had Orion not been able to continue using TSheets for time tracking, they would have been forced to continue with its manual process or invest in and train staff on another solution altogether. 

“The real benefit here, even beyond the financial savings, is that the timesheets are being pushed over in real time, rather than the sync happening once a month. Now we can stay on top of our job costs, job profitability tracking, and the hours we have allocated to our projects.”

Now, Cochran believes that Orion has the right tools in place to support future growth at scale.

“I really believe it's totally scalable at this point. We could add another two hundred, five hundred, a thousand employees, a thousand projects - and nothing would really change from a management perspective. Scaling otherwise would have been completely impossible.”

Venn is pleased to have played a role in the Orion Companies continued growth and ongoing commitment to providing an exceptional experience for both employees and clients.

Bjørn Koding

About the Author

Bjørn Koding

Bjørn hails from Tallinn, Estonia, and wears multiple hats here at Venn (mostly fur). He's got a knack for making the right connections and having the right conversations—which, in our business—is the name of the game. He's a blast to have around the office and brings a fresh new perspective to the party. Now, if we can only get him to leave the thermostat alone (55° is a tad low for us Texans).