ERP vendor Viewpoint viewing collaboration space

While not a household name in the European construction ERP market, Viewpoint is eyeing opportunities across the Atlantic and knows a thing or two about the collaboration space.

“How come you dominate your marketplace and yet I’ve never heard of you?” – This was just one of the questions I asked Viewpoint Construction Software CEO Jay Haladay and VP  Strategy & Corporate Development Matt Harris during a WebEx session earlier this week.

While the 250-strong Portland, Oregon, US-based vendor is best known for its ERP software, it also supplies a document management module, and I was keen to learn more about its view of the architecture, engineering and construction market. As a UK-based observer, though, I was surprised to hear that Viewpoint leads the US ERP market, being used by 94 of the ENR Top 400 contractors, and yet it is almost unknown in UK construction accounting circles (which tend to look at RedSkyIT, COINSAccess, Sage, Causeway and IFS, among others). However, even if I hadn’t heard of Viewpoint, its CEO was certainly familiar with several of the SaaS construction collaboration technology vendors and their operations in the US and elsewhere.

Jay described Viewpoint’s recent history and its recent sustained organic growth – revenues up 46% in 2011 (on top of 40%+ growth in 2009 and 2010). Its solutions are heavily used by infrastructure owners and by contractors – with three-out-of-four of its 850 customers turning over in excess of $25m per annum. This has seen it make big US gains at the expense of rival solutions such as Sage, Intuit, CMiC, Maxwell, Oracle and others – and, according to Jay, 94% of its customers also use Viewpoint’s document management and project management modules included in most deployments.

Watching the collaborators

This has led to Jay and his senior team to keep a close eye on businesses offering similar functionality. For example, Viewpoint’s recent expansion into Australia (it set up a Melbourne office in 2008) exposed it to locally-based SaaS vendor Aconex, and while applauding its success in dominating the Australasian market, Matt says he is not surprised Aconex has found the US market tougher to crack. “Here, the market is more dominated by contractors than owners,” he said, “and contractors often regard ERP as the transaction ‘backbone’ of their business and want solutions that incorporate that.” He also talked about BIW’s and others’ “good-looking solutions” for project management.

So is Viewpoint going to move into the SaaS collaboration space? Perhaps in the long-term. For a start, its focus is solidly on the ERP market, most of its loyal core contractor customers prefer in-house hosted solutions on enterprise licenses, and Viewpoint takes great pains to deliver what its customers want and ensure high satisfaction rates. It also sees SaaS collaboration as a complementary solution that could be dovetailed with its offerings where appropriate. However, it is also investing in extending its product portfolio to include functionality that will increasingly overlap with that of some collaboration vendors. For example, with various software partners, it is developing solutions for mobile devices, particularly tablets, to enable reporting (we talked briefly about business intelligence – topical, following last week’s blogs about BIW’s BI module and kykloud), document management, and remote service management for geographically dispersed workers in large companies.

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