By running a cost analysis with BuildSoft's construction management software, Robertson Brothers Co. in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., discovered that it ran up $250,000 in additional costs to pour cement for basements during the winter.

Now, Robertson Brothers pours its basements only during the summer, a move that avoids the equipment rentals needed to rip the frost out of the ground, removes the cost of heating the basement in the winter to get the work done, and saves labor costs, since workers don't have to spend a lot of time preparing the jobsite to protect the ground from the frost.

Robertson says BuildSoft lets him run monthly reports that automatically extract and graph the cost variances so he can see why a project may be over budget. In the past, a staffer would look at every line item and input that variance information into a spreadsheet--a time-consuming and often inaccurate process. Under that system, Robertson Brothers would review costs only at closeouts, typically six months after the project started.

"I would find the variances, but many of them would have happened six months ago," Robertson says. "Now, we see the variance reports in real time every month, and instead of it being at $250,000, we're more likely to catch it at $20,000. The other thing that's nice is that you can drill through the data and the system will tell you where the cost overrun is. You can get as much detail as you want."