Q&A With New Team Member, CFMA Chairman, Ken Chiccotella
We sat down with one of our newest team members at Bangert, Ken Chiccotella, who will join the Client Services team as Consultant II. Ken has been a part of the construction industry since 1995 and has held controller and CFO roles for nationwide Fortune 500 construction managers to privately held, regional general contractors. In short, his experience speaks for itself! Learn more about Ken, and how his experience from the user-side of construction software and his past leadership roles in CFMA will be an asset to our customers, by reading below.
Why did you choose Bangert?
One of the first things that drew me to Bangert, after my phone call with Kurt and Reid, was this line from the website: “Bangert was founded on the premise that technology can profoundly transform business processes.” In an industry where companies will invest significant cash on equipment to get the work done in the field more efficiently, the “home office” is usually the last place where money is spent on improvements. Many companies still operate under the premise of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The issue is, they may not know it’s broken. I look forward to helping companies see the value of using technology to transform their business processes.
How does your experience as a CFMA Chairman help your role in consulting?
As CFMA Chairman (and during my 6 other years in CFMA national leadership roles), I was able to travel the country and meet many different types of people in the construction industry. One thing I can say the vast majority of people have in the industry is the desire to improve. They want to improve themselves, the people around them, and the companies they work for. CFOs, controllers, risk managers, insurance and bonding agents, software consultants, and others all want to help each other to make things better. I certainly fall in that mix and will use my 26 years of experience on the user-side of software to encourage clients to think of improvements they can make to their current processes to improve their companies.
What is one of Bangert’s Core Values that you most align with?
I most align with “We are passionate about our customer success.” There’s a saying I like that goes “a rising tide lifts all ships” and I think that it dovetails in with this core value nicely. If your customers are successful, you’ll be successful. I believe that success breeds success.
You’ve worked in the construction industry for 26 years, how has construction technology shifted over the years?
I have seen A LOT change in technology. When I first walked into my office at Centex (now Balfour Beatty) in Nashville in 1995, there were two monitors on my desk. One was a dos-based green-screen terminal for the AS400 system that operated our Computer Guidance accounting software. The other monitor was for e-mail, Excel, Word, etc., but it had no internet. There was also a ledger size green-bar paper printer for the AS400 reports. The CFO had the only cell phone and it was in a bag that had to be carried around; it was “for emergencies only.” To produce financial statements, reports from our accounting software had to be printed out and then the information had to be put into an Excel file.
Today, we are at a point where we can access financial and project information on one platform and we can also access that information on our phones.
You also have a lot of experience working as a controller, what drew you to consulting?
I’m excited about the idea of using the experience I’ve gained to help other companies improve their systems. There’s a story you might hear me tell sometime about “ham in the pan.” The story is an analogy for “that’s just how we’ve always done it.” I’m not a fan of that sentiment. There may be a valid reason for doing something a certain way, but I will always pose the challenge and ask if there’s a more effective and/or efficient way of doing something.
How did you develop your passion for technology?
By attending CFMA conferences, I was exposed to vendors in the exhibit hall who had a seemingly endless number of technological tools to help CFMs. It was honestly overwhelming at first, but as I got more into my job, I knew I had to start reviewing and researching products to make improvements to processes and procedures. The alternative was to be left behind. It’s as true today as it was 25 years ago and perhaps even more so today.
The first major piece of technology I implemented was a document imaging system from Construction Imaging Solutions. The system involved investing in the software, servers, and a relatively new piece of hardware – a scanner. This was a major investment at the time and involved significant changes to how we did things, but ultimately, it saved the company significant time and money.
Another example of how technology has changed in my career: at that time, the document images were stored on platters and there were six of them stored in a case. In fact, it was called a ‘jukebox.’ The disks held a lot of data, but they did get full. When the platter was full, it had to be removed and stored offsite in a secured facility and a new disc was installed. This process was still so much more efficient than storing paper documents in boxes and shipping them off to a warehouse. This is quite a difference from where we are today with being able to store documents in the cloud. Seeing the changes in construction technology overtime has been really intriguing.
The construction industry is headed into a new era of cloud-based financial management. What excites you the most about this change?
This is such an exciting time but one thing I am most excited about for our customers is to have access to real-time data from anywhere they are, from any type of device.
What excites you about your future with Bangert?
I’m looking forward to working with the many smart, talented, dedicated people I’ve met just in the few days since I started working here. I can’t wait to learn from everyone. There are many people here who have made a significant impact on technology in the construction industry. It’s blatantly obvious that everyone here has a desire to see the customer succeed.