Total Access

The acquisition of EasyBuild by The Access Group starts 2021 off with a strengthened line-up of management software and services for the construction industry

As if 2020 hadn't already provided EasyBuild's CEO Carol Massay with an action packed schedule, it looks as if her workload is going to be further increased in 2021 following the acquisition of EasyBuild by The Access Group. This is the second major acquisition in the construction industry by the software and services company, which also acquired ConQuest, suppliers of software for Estimators and Quantity Surveyors, a couple of years ago. Adding the Borehamwood-based ERP solutions provider to its portfolio provides The Access Group with a comprehensive and market-leading set of software solutions for the industry.

EasyBuild, which we have been following over the last couple of years in this magazine, was founded in 1999 with the aim of providing ERP software to meet the specific needs of a number of individual companies in this complex sector. Whilst it covered the requirements of main contractors in the industry, it also supplied tailored solutions to companies with more particular requirements, such as civil engineers, demolition contractors, concrete frame erectors, interior fit out, roofing and cladding contractors, joiners and rail, highways and utilities. EasyBuild provided all of the critical tools they needed to manage projects in a timely and efficient manner.

Adding ConQuest's range of solutions for the construction industry further strengthens and fills out the range of solutions that the Access Group, the new parent company, can offer to the industry. Following Carol Massay's success as CEO of EasyBuild over the last five years, it is only appropriate that she is tasked with taking this sector of The Access Group forward as Head of Construction.

Carol is happy to extend her 30 years' experience of working within the construction industry. Starting with one of the top ten housebuilders, she continued her journey with an established Irish-based civil engineering and building contractor. With the experience gained in her role there, Carol moved into construction technology, where she has since helped drive the message to embrace technology to promote a more efficient way of working within the sector.

EasyBuild has grown significantly in the last five years since Carol joined as CEO, winning awards for their software every year for the last four years.

Her new boss will be Brendan Flattery, Managing Director of Access ERP, who commented "The Access ERP business already has a strong footprint in the construction sector, serving over 1,000 Access customers. Since the acquisition of ConQuest in 2018, we've been looking for other complementary solutions to expand our offering, primarily in the UK, but with an eye towards Europe. With their range of ERP solutions, specifically designed for the complex project management needs of this sector, EasyBuild was an obvious choice. We are really excited to be welcoming Carol and the whole EasyBuild team into the Access Group."

Carol Massay said "Joining Access gives EasyBuild a new level of expertise in the provision of integrated software solutions, an acceleration of our product development and gives our customers the opportunity to explore a wider range of business solutions from one provider."

It has been Carol's personal ambition to help transform the sector and deliver the message to embrace technology to promote a more efficient way of working. Commenting on her new role further, she said "My journey continues now as part of The Access Group, and I'm really excited to be joining Brendan and the team as part of the Access ERP business."

The Access Group, founded in 1991, is a leading provider of business management software to a wide range of mid-sized UK organisations, of which the construction sector is just one part. It provides software and services for more than 35,000 customers across commercial and not-for-profit sectors, supported by its innovative Access Workspace cloud solutions which transform the way business software is used.

Amongst the applications that Carol will be adding to her team's portfolio are the ConQuest estimation and tendering applications, designed to automate and speed up the ancillary processes that construction companies have to deal with. ConQuest Estimating software, for instance, is packed with features that help remove time-consuming administrative tasks from an employee's workload, such as the creation and distribution of hundreds of subcontractor enquiries, or the ability to locate detailed project reports and audit trails. It also enables users to revise quotations in seconds in order to accommodate changes in requirements or quantities.

Automating much of the process enables estimators to speed up the responses from subcontractors, eliminate mistakes and erroneous information and, ultimately, price more projects. Quantity Surveyors and Finance Directors are also able to benefit from ConQuest Estimating, giving the improved project costing and better control over projects, and therefore the management of subcontractors. Because of the way the software is designed, historical pricing is available to be brought up to compare with current and quoted prices.

With better access to costs, Finance Directors can analyse historical trends, and link the information to future requirements to provide more accurate budgets and forecasts, and ConQuest Estimating software also comes with full report generation capabilities.

As with EasyBuild's ERP solutions, the devil is in the details, and ConQuest addresses the individual requirements of a number of specialised subcontractors.

Companies engaged in 'fit out and refurb', for instance, operate on the fringes of construction, and need a degree of flexibility in the measurement of the quantities they require. They operate on higher level cost plans and bills of quantities, allowing them to meet the needs of clients of bespoke and one-off projects. One of the key features they demand, for instance, is the ability for their estimators, designers and planners, to extract data from onscreen models.

Building contractors, on the other hand, need to be able to import or create a bill of quantities on a first principles basis, which means that they need to know the exact costs of labour, materials and other resources. Likewise, civil engineering contractors tend to estimate by first principles, but prefer to incorporate their own labour, resource and plant information.

ConQuest software enables users to build libraries of cost items and create in-depth gang build-ups, all of which ultimately contribute to pricing, resources requirements, supplier quotations and other composite items, as valuations. Subcontractors apportion their costs in a range of categories - per sq.m, or by the hour, day or week of a shift's work input. They also like to import the bill of quantities in any number of formats from ConQuest's libraries, which contain millions of items specific to their trade, and get access to it all with just one click!

Estimating and Quantity Surveying are a natural addition to EasyBuild's range of ERP tools, but there are undoubtedly a number of other tools within The Access Group that will benefit the construction industry, which will become more evident as the new arrangement matures. We will be sure to report on their development and integration in the future.