How CapTech Took Control of Its Growth

What should professional services firms do when rapid expansion leads to growing pains? We talked with Heather Long, CFO of CapTech, to learn how she helped her organization solve increasingly complex growth challenges.

For organizations, growth is almost always a good thing. But the way rapid growth strains and breaks internal systems and processes is not. 

“There are good problems to have when it comes to growth, but they’re problems nonetheless,” said Heather Long, CFO of CapTech, an IT services and consulting company, in a recent converation. 

For CapTech, a national expansion threw its issues into sharp relief—which included the significant effort ensuring the accuracy of its financial data and forecasting, inefficient organizational silos, and outdated legacy systems. 

“We decided to open four new offices in one year,” said Long. “And we realized that we can’t continue our manual operational systems and processes office by office anymore.”

We spoke to Long about CapTech’s journey moving to one system for managing project workflows and data across her organization. She also discussed the integration process and best practices when implementing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

Can you share more about what CapTech does, and how it operates?

CapTech is a national IT services and consulting company. We just celebrated our 25th anniversary in April and have expertise in technical engineering, customer experience, and data and analytics, among other areas. Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, we have a physical presence in eight locations across the country and employees in about 35 states.

We’re definitely a technology-first company. The underlying piece of DNA that separates us is that we’re technologists, engineers, and integrators doing cutting-edge and custom work. We also live and die by our core values of being resilient and flexible. This has served us well in adapting over the past couple of years.

How has CapTech grown over 25 years? Were there any issues due to that growth?

There are good problems to have when it comes to growth, but they’re problems nonetheless. If I could name the issue in one word, it’d be “disconnection.” We evolved from a local, mid-Atlantic firm to one with a much larger national reach. Our tools were designed, however, to support an organization with everybody located in one area.

Prior to Workday, the time spent verifying data was challenging. Our HR systems were separate and distinct from other areas of the company, such as financial, payroll, and operations. We all had our own data and our own methodologies for calculating different metrics and tracking different performance values. We did a lot of things manually, including HR processes. We kept stuff in SharePoint, Excel files, and Word documents. 

We couldn’t move faster because our tools required manual inputs. Even simple things became an issue. We spent the majority of our time making sure data was correct across multiple tools and systems.

We couldn’t help the organization determine what that data meant across silos so it could make real-time decisions. There had to be a better way.

Was there a specific impetus to begin looking for solutions?

We decided to open four new offices in one year. And we realized that we can’t continue our manual operational systems and processes office by office anymore. We can’t run performance processes for employees in Denver, Atlanta, and other places without an actual tool to help us connect and run the business. As we rapidly expanded, things became even more complex—keeping things simple became harder.

As we’re a services organization where people are your product, we needed an enterprise system that was fully integrated end to end so that the people, information, and governance processes were married to the financial and project processes. We looked at the full competitive landscape and realized that a single solution was the best scalable platform for growth. 

We eventually selected Workday because of the architecture. We liked the single solution, but we homed in on the architecture most of all. I could also visualize where I wanted to go from a reporting point of view for different dimensions of our business.

“Workday PSA has been a game changer for us and where all of the magic comes together.”

Heather Long CFO CapTech

When you decided to move forward with a full solution, what was that conversation with management or the board like?

It was fairly straightforward and not a hard sell. The team understood it was necessary because we were approaching the end of the useful life of our old processes. We could not help the organization grow. We couldn’t continue to operate through spreadsheets. A manual process leads to all kinds of risk. This is table stakes for where we wanted to take the company. 

It was fully an investment conversation. The executive team only wanted to make the right investments, and this was a massive investment for us. Deciding to go to an ERP, or full-platform, solution, was an additive cost for us. We weren’t transitioning from one big system to another big system. We pitched it as an investment in growth

When evaluating the single solution, were there any specific requirements that you had to have in your selection?

We were looking for a technology-first approach to match our company philosophy. A best-of-breed cloud technology and mobile application were super important to us. We wanted to also move to best practices and preconfigured business processes. We adopted the Workday business processes as much as possible, instead of engineering our old processes to match Workday.

How has the single solution helped you to achieve some of your goals?

I always like to begin with the end in mind—know where you want to go and configure yourself in that direction. My goal was to build a flexible system so that we could enable multidimensional profitability measurement and reporting, including by location, practice, and service.

One of the most important things we do at CapTech is putting the right people on the right work, at the right rates, at the right time. That’s really where Workday’s solution has aided our process.

What does “putting the right people on the right work, at the right rates, at the right time” look like today?

When you boil that process down, it’s simply matching supply and demand. How well does our supply match the client demand we’re seeing? 

We’re trying to measure many things about our people, such as their certifications, experiences, skills, and preferences. How does that match up with what the client needs? It’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle. But that’s essentially what we’re doing in Workday Prism Analytics today. We’re solving that jigsaw puzzle. 

We’re combining data from our customer relationship management tool and from Workday to generate insights for making the best decisions, considering constrained resources. With demand outpacing supply, how do we make the best deployment decisions around our current supply? And then how do we go about filling the gaps? All of these decisions flow to a financial outcome, which we wouldn’t be able to do without the ability to automate and extract our data. 

And because we have better data, we can do better matching between a consultant and client project. And we can have better conversations with our consultants about what they want to do and their career goals. It prepares us for what’s next on the horizon so we can make the best decisions for our business.

“One of the most important things we do at CapTech is putting the right people on the right work, at the right rates, at the right time.”

As your organization has a very project management focus, what can you say about Workday Professional Services Automation (PSA)?

Workday PSA has been a game changer for us and where all of the magic comes together. We could make sure that end to end we have the right people staffed at the right rates in an automated and seamless process, which translates into effectively billing our customers. 

We use Workday in all of our client-facing and internal projects. It’s been enormously valuable for us as we can determine when we’re understaffed or overstaffed, because our rate sheet is integrated with Workday. 

We can do all of the project reporting and project profitability reporting that we had envisioned. It’s super helpful for us as we can get our arms around the hundreds of projects going on at any one time. 

How was the integration process with Workday?

It took us about nine to 10 months to get Workday configured and ready to go. We were not planning to run in parallel with a gradual Workday integration. Instead, we wanted one go-live date. Due to this design, we had a pretty extensive list of go/no go requirements. 

My advice is to never underestimate the scope of change management and training. Our 600 consultants needed to know what to do when they arrived at work on Monday. It was an enormous but valuable effort. We spent a lot of time preparing the organization, and doing readiness and awareness training. We focused more on employees who spend almost all of their time on Workday during the day, versus others who may only use it for a few tasks. 

We knew we were ready when we could pay people on the first day of go live. We also needed to know that we could bill our clients or record time and have that flow through to billing. If we had struggled with payroll, then I would’ve said we’re not ready. Once we were comfortable that we could do that at a minimum, then we felt like we could make just about anything else work.

Another thing I would add is, as we switched to the new Workday system, clients did not notice a change. It was a seamless, invisible transition for them, apart from small changes to the look and feel of invoices. There wasn’t a “what-the-heck moment” on the client side. It was a complete success. 

Can you share the biggest lesson you’ve learned from retiring legacy systems? 

Retire it faster. If I could go back in time, I would have pushed harder to convert sooner. It’s painful to go through, but then you’re out of the cycle of having to make sure legacy systems don’t come apart at the seams. The time you spend trying to connect all the dots is better spent helping drive the business forward.

Where should organizations start when trying to remove friction from processes?

Sometimes, when going into projects like this, you don’t fully understand where all the friction is. Make a good inventory of where the friction might be. And then determine what you want to measure. And what tools do you want to have available to you—such as dashboards or scorecards—and how much do you want your organization to be self-service? 

What do you want the organization to look like two or three years down the line? If you don’t have a good sense of where you want to go and what you want to measure, the exercise becomes a little more like lift and shift—taking the same old processes and moving them to the new system. Think about how to level up your organization and how you want to use your tools to enable that.

How has Workday PSA improved your project efficiency and profitability?

We use it all the time and we’re receiving great grassroots information about individual project profitability. We can then roll up those many projects into a single customer view, then a portfolio view, and eventually a company view. Workday is super flexible about allowing us to slice information by geography, by practice, and by account. The visibility helps us make intentional decisions about profitability. 

We try to look at trends and see where projects and accounts are going over the longer term. We can have more intentional conversations that provide us the visibility and direction for the next best decision.

To learn more about how Workday helps professional services firms drive digital transformation, visit our website.

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