This cloud case study describes how iPurity, a company that installs clean pipe in factories making computer chips and medicine, chose a cloud enterprise resource planning system from Plex Systems as its integrated IT solution. This cloud computing example highlights the creative ways cloud offerings can be used to inject more productivity into construction processes, and in this case how they can simplify and speed-up business start-ups. While much of the information comes from a published case study put out by Plex Systems, there is also unique content and perspectives from two of the primary architects of the new company-Kurt Gilson, CEO of iPurity, and Ron Nussle, Jr., president of ICR Group, Ltd, a company offering products and services for integrated cost reduction, lean supply chain, China sourcing and construction supply chain. This is Part 1.

Kurt Gilson, a former CEO of a Silicon Valley high-tech construction company, and a 20+ year veteran of the silicon-valley construction industry, decided to launch a start-up based on the latest in digital construction technology. As with all start-ups, Gilson wanted to limit the investment and working capital required to launch. He also wanted to avoid relocation of key executive staff to conserve cash.

The new venture was to be in the “clean process piping” segment of mechanical contracting, installing high-purity process equipment for the semiconductor and the biological/pharmaceutical industries. To help out, Gilson approached Ron Nussle, Jr., then a Silicon Valley technology and business consultant and former senior operations executive for Lam Research, Honeywell and Cessna. Nussle had led the transformation of these businesses by applying lean supply chain strategies to achieve improvements in cost, quality, and installation cycle-time.Nussle agreed to put his consulting practice on hold and join Gilson’s venture as its COO and co-founder

“I knew what we wanted,” remembers Gilson, “I just didn’t know what platform to (use for) a totally new, efficient company that could succeed in this demanding high-tech construction industry.” The team was searching for an answer that had an integrated system and had all the tools needed to make the enterprise thrive. Nussle wanted a software solution, but didn’t want to bother with the infrastructure that many of the older legacy systems required. Then too, the solution needed to be easy to configure and not cost a fortune.

Nussle had a lot of experience with SAP, and Gilson had used Oracle. But neither thought the start-up was a fit with these behemoths.

“We knew we never would have been as successful with Oracle or SAP” says Nussle. “We would never be able to get their attention.”

Instead, they looked for a company that focused on small to medium enterprises (SMEs). Gilson started the search like many do by typing “ERP Hosted Solution” into a search engine and then began reviewing the first 100 hits. He kept going until he hit the Plexus Systems Web site. When he saw one particular screen it was an Aha! moment.

Then, the question became whether a manufacturing platform could be configured to work for a construction company, and more specifically, within the highly-regulated, bio- pharmaceutical construction industry. There was reason for concern. It’s typical for a large clean-process-piping construction project to have literally 1,000 or more 3-ring binders filled with the traceability and conformance documentation required in an FDA-approved drug manufacturing facility. iPurity proceeded with a “shoot-out” between Plex Systems’ Plex Online and Salesforce.com. Three to four months of intensive evaluation later, they had the answer.

Read Part 2.