With headquarters in Geneva, Swissroc is a rapidly growing real estate developer and general contractor that has quickly grown its business both within Switzerland and internationally. It is among the first in the country to use BIM and is known for its innovative solutions to create successful builds.
As a small five-person team, Swissroc used multiple project management systems. However, as its project portfolio grew––as did its team––disjointed systems and data silos made project management increasingly complex. Furthermore, this approach provided minimal visibility and hindered communication between teams.
With a single, centralized platform, Procore helped Swissroc streamline workflows and standardize processes, saving the team not only days, but weeks in administrative work. The platform offered a comprehensive toolset that allowed Swissroc to manage more projects. With higher quality builds, they began to see an increase in referral business. With the help of Procore, Swissroc multiplied revenue by 300% for three consecutive years and expanded internationally.
For many rapidly growing companies, veteran team members often become expert jacks-of-all-trades. Julien Fersing of Swissroc is one such expert—someone who has not only experienced the company’s growth firsthand, but who has also come to wear many hats along the way. As the Executive Director, he acts as BIM manager, head of innovations, and oversees the implementation and usage of Procore. To add to his professional repertoire, he is also the Co-Founder and Managing Director of the company’s newest division dedicated to innovation and technology with offices in both Switzerland and Poland.
When Julien first joined Swissroc, he was tasked with enhancing the company’s technology solutions. At the time, Swissroc used a combination of document management systems including Dropbox, Google Drive, Excel, and email. However, this approach was becoming increasingly complex and time-consuming.
‘I recall managing the access of shared folders on Dropbox, and that was a nightmare because we didn't know who did what or who deleted what’, Julien recalls. ‘It was not at all efficient because we had three project managers at that time, and that meant three different ways of managing the projects. There was nothing in common when sharing data. It was really problematic.’
Problematic, largely because it created disjointed systems and data silos that hindered communication. It meant collaborators did not always have the most up-to-date documents, and the owner often did not have a full picture of how the project was progressing.
‘Communication was a nightmare for the client. It was also difficult because they had absolutely zero visibility. They didn't know what was happening. They were copied on email sometimes, but not all the time.’
Julien decided something needed to change. He made a comparison chart of various project management solutions and researched in detail the specific pain points his team was facing.
‘I spent time with the project managers and the company directors, asking where the bottlenecks were and where they were losing the most time and money. My task was to find technology that would offer solutions. To be clear, we didn't implement all this technology just to be tech-friendly or for getting clients—we did it for the image, better management, and satisfaction of actual clients.’
To help alleviate some of their internal issues, the team turned to Procore. While the platform offered a comprehensive toolset, it wasn’t the only factor that played into Julien’s decision.
‘Procore’s tools could answer the problems we had then, but it also had tools to answer problems we would have in the future as the company grew,’ he recalls.
In November 2016, Swissroc partnered with Procore and implemented multiple products including Project Management, Quality & Safety, and Construction Financials. With an intuitive interface and a robust online certification course, Procore allowed employees to quickly learn the platform. This boosted employee adoption, allowing teams to standardise processes and streamline workflows companywide.
‘Having everybody working on the same platform helps us grow’, remarks Julien. ‘When we hire new employees, we ask them to spend their first week getting the Procore certification. Everyone is on the same page, technologically speaking, and the methodology is the same—even when we multiply by three or four, we just have one method. All data is in one place and managed the same way.’
For Julien, this helped Swissroc’s rapid growth trajectory. ‘Implementing Procore was definitely the first step in our expansion. It was the technology that allowed us to streamline our processes and grow, while also limiting our risk at the same time.’
In addition to the various product lines, Swissroc also implemented vital integrations such as DocuSign which saved not only days, but weeks in manual administrative work.
‘One contract used to take a minimum of three weeks. We have approximately 40-50 subcontractors per project—multiply that by 35 simultaneous projects, and you see how much time it was taking. With Procore, you don’t have all the scanning, printing, and mailing of documents. Everything is done digitally. With the DocuSign integration, we went from one month of administrative work to less than a day. The longest this full process has taken is 22 hours, although right now, the average is between 10 to 12 hours,’ says Julien.
With more efficient processes, employees also took on more projects. Prior to using Procore, project managers would typically handle 1-2 projects at a time, whereas now they handle 3-4.
‘Procore has allowed us to double the number of projects we can handle with the same number of people. The quality is just completely different too. The image of Swissroc is built on the satisfaction of the client and the quality of construction, so the satisfaction of the client is priceless,’ he says.
Not only has Swissroc boosted efficiency and seen higher quality builds within each project, but it also brought in new business for the team.
‘After using Procore, our clients strongly recommended us not only because of the quality of the execution, but also because they were extremely satisfied with the way we managed the project, and that has to do with the open communication we have. Everything is on the platform—everything is accessible.’
Julien adds that referrals are just one aspect of the increase in business volume. ‘When we first meet with clients and explain how we manage projects, using Procore is a big, big advantage. Even though another company may have 50 years of experience, we are managing in a smarter way, and that's what clients want. They want something fresh. They want something that makes them feel confident in project management. They want something that is transparent and provides clear communication. Procore definitely helps us close many more deals than we had, especially considering that we are only a three-year old company.’
During the few years Swissroc has been in business, its project management team has grown from 3 to 30, and revenue has grown just as quickly. In fact, the company has grown from an annual revenue of $7 million in 2016 to $65 million this year. Next year is projected to reach $100 million. At the new division in Poland, the team has grown to 20 employees in just under a year.
‘The division in Poland is growing even faster than headquarters’, says Julien. ‘We’re planning to have more than 30 employees by the end of the year, and by the end of next year, 100 employees. The group has a growing factor of 300% for the third consecutive year. It’s skyrocketing—everything is expanding extremely fast.’
In fact, it has grown so fast that Swissroc has left other Swiss general contractors bewildered. ‘Only few people outside the company understand how we have been able to move so fast, how we went from a company making just bathroom renovations to now competing against really big companies—and the Swiss market is extremely competitive. Now a lot of companies are calling us saying, “We have clients asking us to manage as you guys are, but we don't understand how you are managing projects.” I strongly believe that having tools which help us smartly manage projects definitely helps us grow fast.’
While Procore has helped Swissroc streamline its processes and grow as a company, it also remained committed to enhancing its product.
‘That's a big difference between Procore and other technology—with a lot of software, you just get updates at the end of the year, like a “2019 version.” Take it or leave it—that’s the new version, and you have no impact on that. With Procore, I really like that we're part of the process. We have something to add of value—each country, each continent has its own specificity. Being able to exchange ideas is definitely a big plus of Procore.’