Carnegie Strategic Design Engineers scales business from 30 employees to more than 400 using Ajera.


+ 3-4%


Increase in project profitability driven by clear visibility into project management through Ajera's easy-to-use, intuitive process.

+ 11%


Ajera simplifies project set up, invoice review and resource scheduling, reducing project managers' admin time and increasing project management utilization.

+ $240k


Ajera's powerful and efficient billing and workflow requires 50% less admin staff.

"We've educated and empowered our department and project managers. We've made them more responsible for project execution and performance. I post a PM scorecard each week outside my office; it's like finals for these guys, everyone wants to be at the top of the list." - Tony Custer, CFO

Customer Details

CSD Engineers

Company: CSD Engineers
Industry: Engineering
Size: 450 employees
Location: Pittsburgh, Exton,PA and Houston, TX

Background on CSD

CSD is a growing multi-faceted engineering firm servicing oil and gas production, power generation, heavy industry, manufacturing, asset and infrastructure integrity markets. The 400+ employee firm operates seven separate companies and was named the second fastest growing engineering company in the Pittsburgh region in 2009. In 2011, CSD was approved as a member of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

Summary of the Challenges Prior to Ajera

  • Project and department managers were not self-sufficient in setting up projects and retrieving project progress reports.
  • Entering time and reviewing invoices was a difficult process requiring extensive time commitments from billable staff every week. The delays in performing these tasks led to lost billable time and various errors on timesheets all dragging down utilization and revenue.
  • Growing the business required a high number of additional administrative staff to handle managing timesheets and expense reports, and preparing project reports.

Summary of the Benefits of Ajera

  • Improved project profit by 3 to 4% - From project set up to project management through project closeout, the Ajera solution drove a 3 to 4% improvement in average project profitability for CSD.
  • Increasing project manager utilization by 11% - The functionality of the Ajera solution, designed from the bottom up for the A&E industries enabled project managers to increase their utilization by 11%. This dramatic improvement itself more than paid for the cost of the Ajera solution.
  • Scalability - Through Ajera's easy-to-use and efficient-to-deploy solution, CSD has grown from a 30 person firm in 2007 to a seven company, 400+ employee firm today.
  • Reduced burden on billable staff - The streamlined back office features and functionality in the Ajera solution enabled CSD to increase billable staff from 30 to 400 without increasing the admin staff at the same rate they historically realized. With just four accounting staff, they are able to manage seven general ledgers and 400 employees. Each year, CSD realizes a savings of over $240,000 in reduced admin costs.

Before Ajera

With seven distinct companies to oversee, CSD's management team needed to find a solution that combined resource management, project accounting, and real-time project visibility to achieve the growth and profitability goals they set for themselves.

Project profits suffered. Before Ajera, department and project managers had to contact the accounting department to find out whether they were on budget. Project financial performance was difficult to manage due to the lack of access to real-time information. Everyone did the best they could with the information that was accessible and available, but most people were making decision based on outdated information which often negatively affected profits.

Manual tasks drained staff resources. Everyone at CSD was spending more time looking for what they had done rather than what they needed to do. The firm wanted, and needed, an integrated, automated solution to eliminate the time-consuming manual entry of information across various systems to free the CSD team, allowing them to focus on clients' needs. They knew they couldn't continue with paper-heavy processes and disconnected systems, which resulted in delays and errors.

Company growth was difficult to achieve. Trying to grow the company required a business management solution that could handle increased process flows and sophisticated accounting needs without deploying an army of administrative staff to make it work. CSD's experienced management knew they couldn't rely on the legacy systems they had used at previous companies if they hoped to achieve their growth target of scaling to over 500 employees.


CSD chose the Ajera software solution because they needed a flexible and scalable project management and accounting solution that would address the company's current needs and be able to meet the future plans of continued growth and success. Integrating project management, accounting and resource scheduling through Ajera provides project managers real-time information, enabling them to deliver more profitable projects and save CSD considerable time by streamlining the flow of information within the company.

"Ajera has provided us with a platform for growth. We're no longer inhibited, but rather enabled to thrive by our software today." - Tony Custer, CFO

They can also better understand the staus of related tasks, schedules and responsibilities of their staff members. But, perhaps the greatest benefit the company has achieved is a rapid return on investment by increasing utilization for their project managers by 11%. Additionally, Ajera's Paperless Invoice Review and Billing has reduced the time and effort it takes to prepare, review and approve invoices, decreasing the burden on project managers and admin staff. Also, accounts receivable days outstanding were reduced by 3-4 days. Client invoicing is now more accurate; services that go above and beyond those initially contracted can be readily identified and invoiced accordingly. This administrative oversight historically would have required eight administrative employees to accomplish, but the efficiencies provided by Ajera allow CSD to carry out the same workload with just four admins; saving CSD $240,000 annually.

"I can have a guy working on a project down in North Carolina reviewing an invoice for the project he's managing in Georgia. That's efficiency!"- Tony Custer, CFO

CSD uses Ajera to manage seven separate general ledgers today. The ease and flexibility of the integrated accounting and project management functionality within Ajera provides the management team with a platform to quickly integrate new acquisitions.

"I could acquire a 50 employee firm with a little bit of historical data and have them integrated into our platform in a weekend." - Tony Custer, CFO

Ajera's streamlined integrated project management and accounting software has provided CSD with a platform for growth. With company-wide visibility into the performance of projects and resources, principals now have access to real-time information to drive proactive decision making. Today, CSD has very few projects that turn "ugly." They are able to react much quicker to any issues that arise resulting in an average increased project profitability of 3-4%. The confidence Ajera provides CSD's team has allowed them to scale their company to more than 40 employees.

"Ajera has evolved within our firm - it drives our whole culture. You open it up and you have the project command center. This is how you have to manage your company." - Tony Custer, CFO


A printable version of this case study is available in PDF format. Download the Carnegie Strategic Design Engineers Case Study.

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