Aurigo and SBS Group Partner to Address the Construction Market in US with Microsoft Dynamics AX-based solution

January 1, 2010

Aurigo Software Technologies Inc. and SBS Group have teamed up to provide a pre-built Microsoft Dynamics AX-based solution the construction industry in the U.S.-a partnership that will help Microsoft Corp. make inroads into the professional services arena.

Under the agreement, SBS will market, implement and support Aurigo BRIX 6.0, the latest version of the company’s web-based construction project management and inspection system, across the Midwest and the Eastern region of the country, according to the company.

The Microsoft-Aurigo ERP for construction offering combines Aurigo BRIX 6.0 integrated with Microsoft Project Server and Microsoft Dynamics AX to automate the critical areas of finance, HRMS, CRM, inventory and material management, according to the company.

“All we do is work with owners or builders of infrastructure in the public and private sector to streamline and automate construction processes,” said Kevin Koenig, Vice President of U.S. Operations for Aurigo. “We recently partnered with SBS to build out our channel in the U.S. market. SBS has a specific focus on construction so they make a perfect partner for us.”

BRIX 6.0 focuses on automating traditional processes of land management, cost estimation rate analysis, sub-contract management, change orders, pay estimate generation and digital field inspections for construction houses worldwide-many of which are still paper-based.

“[BRIX’s] whole goal in life is to help AX become capable of managing [these processes],” said Koenig. “Eight-five to ninety-five percent of construction companies are still using manual processes with some individual and standalone applications to help them. They’re still using Excel and e-mail to share data. And they’re using paper forms to do all of the project documentation that’s required and all that information just sits in different silos in different parts of the organization and there’s no easy way [to share that information.]”

Getting to the integrated solution was no easy feat, according to Koenig, who added the company is still perfecting the offering.
The challenges of ERP systems including Dynamics AX is that while they automate back-office functions, they don’t automate what people are doing on specific projects, he said. And unless companies automate those processes, they’re missing a chance to streamline their businesses and operate more efficiently.

Dynamics AX doesn’t automate the construction processes that are already in place in an organization, he said. That functionality needs to be built on top of the ERP system and that’s the challenge, he explained.

“BRIX takes a standard ERP platform like Microsoft Dynamics AX, which was borne out of manufacturing, and it adds in all the processes that are specific to construction like estimation, budgeting, subcontractor management, project documentation, subcontractor payments, invoicing, purchasing as it relates to a construction project or capital project,” he said. “All of those processes are what BRIX augments on the AX platform-it makes AX capital project ready.”

Koenig said Microsoft also provided Aurigo with monetary support, although he declined to go into specifics.
Microsoft is looking to expand Dynamics AX’s reach in the professional services market and has grouped the construction industry in that category, he said.

“AX is their flagship product and they have professional services as a major focus for AX and we fit into that strategy,” he said. “We’re the only construction product that’s certified for Microsoft Dynamics. On the AX platform, there are probably two products that consider themselves to be competitors but neither is sold in the U.S.”

Robert Helm, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, said although construction isn’t one of the core verticals Microsoft is tackling, it is tackling professional services. He said Microsoft has been trying to improve Dynamics AX’s capability for project-based or professional services businesses in general.

“I do think it’s an area that’s going to get more attention in the future, at least from partners if not from Microsoft,” Helm said. “It’s interesting because Microsoft has another product – Dynamics SL – that was heavily used in the construction industry whereas AX got its start in manufacturing and distribution in Central Europe. I think Microsoft has been enhancing a lot of the areas that AX has that would be valuable in construction firms. So I can picture a partner using AX and going off and building a solution on top of AX.”

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