16 October 2018

Interaction- Lalu Varghese, Director, CCS Asia

We provide leading edge software


Construction Computer Software, founded in 1978 provides integrated applications for construction Project Management and budgetary control. LALU VARGHESE, DIRECTOR, CCS INDIA in an exclusive conversation with CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES shares about the USP of the products, latest technology trends and the future outlook for the industry.



Briefly give us an overview of the Construction & Project Management Software industry, the latest technology trends and the business drivers.


Many companies took the opportunity presented by the economic slow down to consolidate and train staff to use our CCS solutions properly and maximise on their investment. When the market does pick up again, which it is doing now, they will be even better equipped to utilise the software tools to aid decision making, accuracy and control to meet and better their margins. The challenges presented by the construction slowdown, actually worked in our favour as companies realised the inherent benefits of proper control, speed and accuracy required to make better decisions and execute the right actions to minimise losses and maximise gains in a challenging market environment.


Contractors are often indecisive when it comes to software; during boom times they struggle being too busy to evaluate and implement new systems; while during slumps they feel ill-prepared or resourced to risk the investment. Couple this with the difficulty of actually assessing good construction software and it makes them resistant to change. But, in today’s changing world, nothing works efficiently without appropriate computer systems, and really, they shouldn’t rely on a spreadsheet type of approach to do this. That is suicide in today’s climate. Companies suffer massively from poor information flow.


Over the years, the Indian Construction industry has become more and more competitive: with more and more construction opportunities, more and more contractors descended on the region. CCS comes into its own in this competitive environment, providing the contractor with a facility to implement, record, manage and gain competitive advantage, while maintaining sound construction and business practices.



Tell us about the solutions and services offered by your firm in the Construction and Project Management space. Briefly talk about your main software solution, its applicability to various areas of construction, infrastructure and real estate and its advantage to users.


Candy provides integrated applications for construction project budgeting and budgetary control through modules of Estimating, Planning, Forecasting, Cash flow and Cost control while BuildSmart is a web-based, ERP solution facility to record the actual costs and expenditure of a construction project (and business) through its integrated modules of construction orientated and specific Procurement, Accounting and Payroll.


CCS products are continually evolving in line with industry and technology trends. Candy, our Estimation & Project control software offering, is not sold but rented on a monthly basis and new releases and upgrades are made available free of charge to Users on a regular basis. BuildSmart, our Construction Costing and Management solution is web based and regular upgrades are made and done centrally on the client server. CCS has a rather unique approach of adding modules or enhancements to the existing software rather than developing and releasing separate “new” applications.


CCS has an active development and research team of highly qualified construction industry experts concentrating on producing focused and tailored products that ensure the integrity of data in all phases of the construction process and beyond. From the production of quantity take-offs from 3D models, Estimates, Planning, Cash flows, Sub Contract Management, Budget Production and Cost and Allowable reporting to the complete Procure to Pay cycle and the timeous daily cost information covering all cost elements in real time – Labour, Plant and Equipment, Materials and Sub Contractors, right through to the final books of account. Latest development released integrates the Sub Contractors Candy operational information, BOQ, to the BuildSmart Sub Contractor procurement works order, certificate and payment process, allowing the sharing of full information between operations and finance. CCS systems address the daily challenges of a construction business in a unique way.




What are the USP’s of your products Vis-à-vis competition?


First and foremost, CCS products are designed and developed from the bottom up for the construction industry by construction industry professionals. So, from Construction Computer Software’s humble beginnings, our direction has always been to service the construction industry needs with technology, rather than produce a generic software package. In other words, the company emphasis is on people and their tasks-at-hand, not technology for its own sake.




Which are the important projects with which your software has been associated with and name your major clients?.


Some of our major client partnerships in India include Tata Projects, ITD Cementation, AFCONS, L&T, Patel Engineering, Capacite Infraprojects, PSP Projects, URC, Brookfield Multiplex, CVCC, Marymatha Construction, Marian Projects and many others. Premium academic institutions such as NICMAR, RICS & NAC have also included our software as part of their curriculum.




Please provide details on your emphasis on research, design and innovation.


CCS Candy and BuildSmart together include modules for estimating, planning, valuations, forecasting, cash flow, procurement, accounting, wages, plant, yard and stock management and document control. Separately, these are available from a myriad of suppliers, but what distinguishes CCS from all other software offerings is the degree of interconnectedness of these modules. BuildSmart in unique and sets itself apart from your typical general accounting ERP systems in that it is customised and designed to cater for the unique demands of construction where information is project based, needs to be tracked by activity as well as cost type, is being produced and processed in many different locations, and is needed by management in real-time for effective cost control. This highly scalable system seamlessly integrates all functions and stages of the construction processes and is entirely focused on and designed for construction – it is not a set of relational databases pressed onto construction people. Because the construction process is unique, complex and organic, and more crucially because CCS has developed and perfected this system for over 35 years through a highly interactive and consultative process with the industry, CCS manages the numerous links between all functions and all the people involved in the construction process in a systemic way based on how these things were done manually.




Tell us of the role played by your software in bringing time cost and time overruns in projects with examples from some projects?



Candy provides the industry’s most effective link between Budgeted Cost and Time (using interactive Estimating & Planning), Candy will produce a detailed Cost, Activity and Time project model. The cost and time savings are a direct result of what we call “Upfront control of costs”, i.e. control the costs before you spend not try after you’ve already spent. “The Candy ‘shopping list’ changes business parameters and adds a whole new dimension, giving the client complete control of what they purchase.


The system restricts and red flags differences between tender and actual requirements and once a full measure has been carried out after the engineering phase of works has been completed, there is little room for error when procuring materials and issuing allowable amounts to the contract teams or sub-contractors. It has been well established that by implementing and utilising both BuildSmart and Candy, it is possible to have systems that control all of the processes from the estimation sheet to the final deliverable. Because this Candy model is built up from the most basic resources, individual resources budgets can be sent directly to BuildSmart to allow resource procurement with complete accuracy and effective control of both quantities and buying rates providing an UPSTREAM control on the spend. Unless the control is in place at the procurement stage, the margin cannot be protected and this is where costs are controlled and money is saved.


BuildSmart will then manage the complete Procure to Pay cycle and report ALL project costs in the same Cost and Activity matrix used in Candy to allow a one to one match between budget and actual for all resources. Used together, BuildSmart Cost Management and Candy Estimating and Project Control uniquely tie the financial processes to the physical processes of your enterprise construction projects. This means that an accurate and Real-time appraisal is presented of each construction project of your enterprise.


Candy and BuildSmart together provide the most powerful tool in the construction industry today to provide critical real-time management information to you to take timely management actions to control your project cost and to increase your margins. Separately, these are available from a myriad of suppliers, but what sets CCS apart from them is the interconnectedness of these modules…one company and solution for your entire contracting business.



Future outlook for the industry and from a company perspective.


The distinguishing factor separating the CCS system from others is the fact that the software has been produced by construction professionals, was written specifically for the industry and addresses all the budgeting and cost elements in the course of the construction phase of projects. We have produced software that uses the latest technology, is innovative and ‘leading edge’ – not bleeding edge, makes use of an unique process to identify cost information from the original source documents and so enables the organisation to produce timeous up to date and accurate information. It is also able to schedule and forecast cost information from a single product offering.


Traditional systems cannot do this. For the first time, construction organisations can view the status of their projects from anywhere and any device using the web interface and can transact from anywhere on the globe. Information critical to their business is available at the click of a mouse.


The management and staff of CCS are all trained construction professionals that know and understand the issues around the construction process, so when required to consult to the industry the information supplied is backed up by solid knowledge and experience. For more details visit:  www.ccsasia.com

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