For more than a decade, Accelo has grown alongside this Canadian naval architecture and engineering firm, lending its team flexibility and transparency as it tripled in size.
Allswater is a single-source naval architecture and engineering firm headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Its team specializes in marine and offshore applications. Founded in 2003, the firm offers “turn-key” ship design, as well as project management and operations support.
This specialized business has engaged in complex projects such as design and construction of large offshore fishing vessels and electric boats and conversion of work and offshore construction vessels.
In 2020, Allswater’s Lady Comeau III was recognized as a Significant Small Ship by the Royal Institute of Naval Architects (RINA) and as the Best Scallop Boat by Baird Maritime in 2021.
Principal, CEO and Naval Architect Rob Crutcher reflects on another time — over a decade ago — when the firm was using several software platforms to piece together its systems. With one for timekeeping, one for invoicing and another for project management, work felt cumbersome.
Rob says it was particularly challenging not to have a reliable way to catalog digital correspondence, given that Allswater’s projects can last years.
He went searching for a more comprehensive tool that would house both contacts and communications, plus help the team more quickly progress workflows.
The answer, he found, was Accelo. It was the immense flexibility he loved most.
“The ability to customize systems for your individual business is key,” says Rob. “Many software platforms we’ve looked at in the past just haven’t been able to do that to the same level Accelo does.”
He describes the one-product-at-a-time implementation as easy. It was clear that Accelo had the power to consolidate and simplify Allswater’s key internal functions.
- Project management: Thanks to the seamless connection between quotes and projects, the team can easily build project plans, compare plans to outcomes and see all tasks and communication. They also use costs and budget records from similar jobs to forecast upcoming work.
- Reporting: Using both internal dashboards and exported reports, they can track and rank success for each type of job.
- Resource management: Allswater uses Accelo for time tracking and team scheduling. Leaders regularly review employee utilization in management meetings.
Leadership loves how Accelo tracks and relays communications because they no longer have to guess where data is housed. Rob recalls instances when the searchable Activity Stream has saved them. On a job site, a client or third party sometimes struggles to recall a decision that was made long ago about the project. Allswater always has an accurate record on hand, saving time and preventing costly miscommunication.
This visibility has been vital in uniting headquarters with the firm’s two additional locations in San Sebastián, Spain, and Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
Over the years, the team has built custom workflows in Accelo for everything from current jobs to QA practices. Most impressively, they revamped their ISO 9001 (QA) system to match the platform. This further enhanced visibility, facilitating annual audit pulls straight from Accelo.
“It’s helped to fill in some of the gaps and streamline a lot of our processes, taking them from manual to automated,” Rob says. “It’s one of the key tools for everything we do in the business.”
Allswater’s team now feels comfortable experimenting with unique ways to use each. Not only do they use the Sales, Billing and Reports products, but they’ve expanded Projects to include purchase order management and Tickets to handle QA and administrative functions. Rob notes that the ability to adapt the platform to the marine industry is a testament to its value.
It does take some people time to understand the value of the platform, and it requires an understanding and dedication at all levels to make it work properly. But the insights you’re able to provide to your clients are invaluable.
Rob Crutcher, CEO
In the 11 years Allswater has used Accelo, it’s tripled in size and successfully opened two new locations.
“As we’ve grown, Accelo has grown with us,” Rob explains. “We consistently figure out better ways of doing things, and we don’t have to start all over again.”
The platform has even been a critical partner in some cases. For example, when a client thought Allswater might have made a mistake in design, Accelo’s clear history of the project proved the mistake happened during the installation process instead.
“Being able to correct the things you don’t know about before you start — that’s where the real value lies,” Rob says.
Accelo has given his team the confidence that they have accurate insights into how each project is going financially and how much pipeline they have. As the firm continues to mature, taking on bigger and better projects, Rob sees no limit on the horizon.
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