Champion Crane

How Skeleton Key Improved Workflow Operations in the Office and the Field for Champion Crane

Champion Crane, founded in 1959, is one of the oldest providers of crane rental service in Central Iowa, with commercial and residential clients throughout the Midwest. It is a small, family-owned business that nevertheless has always made a point to embrace new technologies. For example, they were early adopters when it came to leveraging a back-office database system for handling estimating, job orders, job changes and scheduling—and everything else they thought was needed for smooth operations. Champion Crane Logo

The Problem: Workflow Efficiency

Champion Crane’s existing database needed an upgrade because their older system had not been designed to be, as Ben Six, President of Champion Crane points out, “future proof.” This meant that their operations were much less efficient than they could be and were destined to degrade over time without intervention of some kind. It was not an efficient workflow.

After a while, the system began to show its age. The biggest gap in functionality was the lack of a mobile interface, which forced Operators in the field to rely on printed job tickets that contained vital details such as contract terms, specific information about the job site and rigging diagrams. While changes to the initial job ticket could be communicated via email, this still made communication with the office cumbersome, delayed and thus prone to error. It also meant that employees were required to return to the office each day and manually enter job updates and billable hours at an office workstation, well after the day’s work was complete.

It soon became clear that Operators in the field needed some kind of mobile connectivity to maximize their efficiency. iPads would allow everyone to have remote access to the solution and thus receive and make real-time updates to job information, but it wasn’t entirely clear if the current solution could offer an easy-to-use mobile interface that would meet all of an Operator’s needs.

In addition to streamlining workflow for field personnel, the company also needed to better integrate its database solution with QuickBooks; initial estimates, employee schedules, payroll and costs for equipment maintenance all needed to flow through the accounting package as well, so Champion Crane needed a solution that would tie all of their systems together automatically.

Finally, there was the issue of future support and sustainability. The future was uncertain for the proprietary platform they were already using—would it be able to grow and evolve with the organization as needed? And even if that platform could meet their technical needs, it wasn’t clear that the service and support would be there. The company needed a best-in-breed platform and solution that would be well supported into the future.

The Solution: Customized Claris FileMaker

To address Champion Crane’s needs, Skeleton Key created a new system using the Claris FileMaker platform. Skeleton Key’s solution was custom tailored to their workflow, making access to critical information extraordinarily easier.

Operators, who were responsible for up to six jobs each day, could now easily manage their jobs in the field by making immediate updates via the new application. By making those system updates in real time using iPads, employees no longer had to spend an hour at the end of a long workday manually logging updates to projects and their hours worked on specific jobs.

Project Management System Built to Fit Current Businesses Structure

Using a custom FileMaker solution, all of Champion Crane’s business operations are now seamlessly integrated. The back-office team now efficiently communicates with field staff and can easily track real-time project status and statistics for as many as 15 operators distributed across a multitude of worksites.

Furthermore, the software training needs to launch the solution into day-to-day use were minimal, even for employees who were less tech-savvy. By building a custom solution that worked the way Champion Crane approached their workflow, even new solutions and technologies felt user-friendly and intuitive.

The Results: Streamline Project Management

“We’re not chained to our office anymore. That one thing opens everything up for us: our estimators, our management team, our operators… all of them can do work wherever they need to, including while they’re out in the field meeting and talking to customers.”

—Ben Six, President of Champion Crane

Our custom FileMaker solution streamlined all phases of project management, from estimate to completion, with tangible results:

More Effective Time Management

Champion’s management team spends 30% less time in the office, which improves quality, customer service and retention.

Greater Efficiency for Field Staff

Estimators and field staff no longer spend an additional hour at the end of the day re-entering data manually, and all staff now have greater access to real-time, on-site data and quote details.

Error Reduction

With operators no longer having to rely on outdated physical copies of job tickets, updates and changes are immediately added via a mobile interface, thus reducing the potential for error in communications between field staff and back-office personnel. An efficient single system for work management can help your business too.

If you would like to learn more about how Skeleton Key’s work with custom data solutions can help your business manage time and information more effectively, and thus help make your team work more efficiently, simply fill out our contact form for a free consultation. We would be happy to explore how a customized Claris FileMaker solutions can suit all of your company’s unique needs.