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CMBA Architects is an “upward-thinking” architecture and design firm focused primarily on healthcare and education builds in Iowa, Nebraska, and the Dakotas. Everyone on the 57-person team is “trained to think up to the next level of innovation and creativity throughout every phase of the design process.” This produces excellent results for their clients.
Ken Lutz currently serves as CMBA’s CFO, principal architect, and office manager of the Des Moines location.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CMBA offices operated somewhat independently. However, with everyone working remotely in 2020, the teams began to collaborate more across offices. According to Lutz, the pandemic “leveled the playing field’ in that they were now able to utilize resources across all departments, regardless of location. But they didn’t have a good way to manage everyone. They tried to use their ERP’s project management tool—but, according to Lutz, the user interface wasn't visual and the process was very manual. Then, the shared spreadsheet the team exported broke enough times that eventually everyone just stopped using it.
Ultimately, no one knew if the right people were working on the right projects—and, as a result, the team was struggling to meet project deadlines. According to Lutz, people were getting spread too thin and principals were more or less wrestling over staff. “It got to be confrontational,” he said.
After their ERP was acquired by another company, Lutz considered using the parent company’s tool, but he didn’t want to run into the same poor usability issues they had already experienced. Plus, “they’re not friendly to work with,” he said. “So I’m not interested in throwing money their way.” They also talked about hiring someone to build them a custom spreadsheet—but that would have still kept them using a spreadsheet and everyone has varying Excel skills, which would’ve made maintaining the sheet challenging.
Fortunately, after a year of discussing potential solutions, someone from Mosaic serendipitously reached out with an offer to demo the product—and the team at CMBA liked what they saw. According to Lutz, the Mosaic team “was very open and honest about the product.” After all, it was still in development at the time, which Lutz was perfectly fine with. In addition to its excellent customer service, Mosaic’s biggest selling point for CMBA—the thing that most got Lutz’s attention—was its integration with its ERP. With that connection, the team no longer needed to recreate the information housed in that system, which was “manual and very annoying.” Instead, when they export important project phases into Mosaic, it reproduces them automatically.
Plus, because of Mosaic’s intuitive and easy-to-use interface, training for the CMBA team was a breeze, which, Lutz said, would not have been the case had the team gone with their ERP’s planning tool.