ILLUMYS: A Centralized LEM Project Control Management System for Industrial Construction Projects
I often hear that tracking and transferring data is one of the greatest challenges facing companies that manage complex construction projects. Paper options are too slow, with submissions quickly becoming decentralized and messy. Project managers end up with countless spreadsheets, last-minute invoices and payments, and no clear picture of where a project stands.
So, what are the alternatives? Although construction project software solutions are available, many of the options currently on the market can’t be configured to support the project, companies, and systems involved. This leaves a gap between owners and subcontractors – a gap that can be costly in terms of timelines, expenses, and labour.
When the Gemstone Logistics team saw our industrial construction clients facing these challenges, our response was straightforward: create a configurable construction software tool that provides real-time reporting. We knew that an all-in-one construction management solution that integrates with other programs would bridge the gap between project logistics, budgeting, and accounting. Our development team started working on an integrated software solution, and ILLUMYS was born.
A Single Source of Data Truth for Your Projects
Before ILLUMYS, our construction clients faced an uphill battle maintaining a single source of truth in recording data. When subcontractors submit documents and there isn’t a single housing system for those records, data quickly becomes skewed. Reports come in late, data entry invites errors, and project timelines are lengthened. These were the primary issues the ILLUMYS development team converged around.
In ILLUMYS, project data is fully centralized and easy to read. Information feeds back and forth between owners and contractors, updates can be made daily, and managers can see what’s going on at a glance. There’s no more decentralized data and no more duplication of systems to house that data. Instead, you’re left with a single source of truth that can be used throughout a project.
Here’s an overview of how ILLUMYS works at its most basic level:
Contractors submit labour, equipment, and material (LEM) reports through the system. All site contractors can be granted access to ILLUMYS so they can enter their information directly and remotely.
Once reports are submitted, project owners and managers can approve the data, view reports, create reverse invoices for contractors, make actual payments based on the submitted data, and compare budget and timeline projections to real-time progress reports.
This eliminates the need for multiple paper submissions of LEM reports and invoices from contractors. It also gives project owners a complete line of oversight, leading to improved efficiencies and advanced control over project budgets.
Cost Controls & Project Budgeting
As we all know, projects rarely progress exactly as planned. In long-term projects with multiple subcontractors, the main challenge is creating a connection between what was forecasted versus the actual completion.
One of the main advantages of ILLUMYS for owners and project managers is the ability to show progress reporting. The software is able to capture physical progress and/or quantities completed against rules of credit for lump sum and unit rate contracts and calculate various earned value metrics such as CPI, SPI, etc.
Each subcontractor can be set up with individual unit rates or lump sum contracts, providing an unprecedented level of detail and insight on the current progress of your project. As subcontractors track their daily progress, project managers receive updates and can make adjustments. This critical functionality is what differentiates ILLUMYS from every other data capture software tool in the market.
Work submitted by contractors can easily be paid via the reverse invoicing system, which creates invoices and payments on behalf of your contractors based on timesheets and LEM reports that they submitted, eliminating another step of the payment cycle. ILLUMYS’ rapid electronic approval system means less effort is put into reconciling data and sending out payments. Plus, integrations with your accounting system allow for direct payments based entirely on what the contractor submitted on their LEM’s.
The benefits of ILLUMYS’ efficient payment system are two-fold. First, it reduces the time spent on accounting and bookkeeping for project managers and owners allowing contractors to be paid faster, which they love! Second, it creates better working relationships with subcontractors. In fact, subcontractors have used the software for their own reporting and accounting purposes, tracking LEMs and paying their own employees using the data stored in ILLUMYS.
Simple Configuration & Integrations
One of the main reasons industrial construction owners choose ILLUMYS over “off-the-shelf” options (or even Excel!) is the flexible structure of the software. The Gemstone Logistics team helps each client configure their software to fit with current project management processes. We provide in-person support during the setup process, and in-person or virtual support on a continuous basis. This allows us to reconfigure software as projects progress or business practices change.
In addition to support, integrations are available to ensure ILLUMYS can fit smoothly with current processes and facilitate better information transfer between existing project management systems. The two most common integrations link ILLUMYS with project planning software and with accounting software. ILLUMYS is designed to fill the gap between these tools, creating a bridge between project planning and execution.
The ILLUMYS Development Team
My role as Product Director of ILLUMYS means I get to work closely with the ILLUMYS development team, led by Dr. Jianfei Xu, Gemstone Logistics’ Chief Technology Officer. Dr. Xu has a Ph.D. in Construction Engineering and Management from the University of Alberta. He’s held software design, engineering, and architecture roles throughout his career. Like all of us at Gemstone Logistics, Dr. Xu’s goal is to simplify complex data through an easy-to-use interface.
I encourage you to reach out to me, Dr. Xu, or any Gemstone Logistics team member, to learn more about ILLUMYS and our other solutions for remote workforces. Our support and training team would be happy to demo the software for you and help you apply it to your current projects.