By Doug Segrest
Necessity is the mother of invention. But in Birmingham, a father-and-son team has devised an innovative app to help businesses effortlessly manage ongoing construction and facilities maintenance projects.
KMS, formerly Kemp Management Solutions, has spent the past decade growing the company while helping much larger businesses flourish, including Regions Bank and peer banks.
When the global pandemic hit, KMS didn’t miss a beat.
“When we went remote on March 13 , it was literally a non-event for us,” said CEO Mike Kemp. “With our new project management system, we were able to continue to do business, and manage our schedules, costs and collaboration. We have a live platform providing real-time data. It was a tremendous asset.”
The proprietary software platform is called Frameworq, which KMS provides for its clients.
“Frameworq will become a business verb like Zoom. It is that transformative a solution for the level of business,” said Marcus Lundy, supplier diversity function manager for Regions. “This software is so unique because it provides a seamless overview of project management from start to finish.”
Two years ago, Mike Kemp thought the time for such a new platform had come.
He reached out to the University of Alabama Business School’s Management Information Systems group, which helped devise a beta program. Then he brought in Airship, a local software design and development company, for their expertise in writing code.
“We drove the direction as to what we wanted to do and how it was to function, and they helped us build it out,” Kemp explained. “We spent 2019 investing in the software and rebuilding it to a workable condition by late 2019, then rolled it out.”
Every step of the way, he had his own in-house project manager: his son, James, who received his MBA at the University of Alabama and has an eye for innovation as the KMS director of business operations.
“We realized there’s a unique market that needs to manage multiple projects all at once,” James Kemp said. “That’s our wheelhouse – managing high volumes of small projects efficiently –producing real cost and time savings for our clients. We wanted to manage our projects and reports in a clear, easy way from anywhere.”
“Something Of Value”
Originally named pmngr, the Kemps rebranded to Frameworq for the start of 2021.
“There’s a wave of new products coming in this industry space, and I think what we have is unique,” James Kemp said. “Ultimately, this is the Frameworq for your all of your projects. This is a tool to move forward. It can eventually be used to manage process and activity at scale in several different industries.”
Regions is on board. So are fellow banks, including Truist. Alabama Power is now utilizing Frameworq to manage projects for its energy services group.
“When we engage with our clients, we can bring something of value with this new tool,” Mike Kemp said. “In the construction management business, there are very few black-owned companies operating in the large corporation space. So, to come into an organization like Regions goes beyond just project management. It ties to our mission statement to bring innovative solutions.”
KMS manages offsite ATMs for Regions, tracking multiple projects with the new software.
“To date, they’ve done roughly 24 projects for us,” said John Earley, senior retail project leader for Regions. “And we have a large list in 2021 they’ll be performing. We’re looking at other ways to do things with them and grow on the project side.”
Scott Riley, head of corporate real estate operations at Regions, points out that KMS has answered each call for change.
“We’re always in a mode of testing, piloting and challenging ourselves – as well as our existing service providers,” Riley said. “We’re constantly looking for providers that we can test the market with. Frankly, a lot of those companies don’t pan out. But KMS’ solid performance and ability to innovate has not only improved us, it has also made us more efficient.”
The Kemps recognize the contributions of others, from academia to small business, in making Frameworq come to fruition. But there’s a special praise reserved for when they talk about each other.
“I’m super proud of James,” Mike said. “He took this concept of an idea I had and shepherded it through, even down to how we’d package it and secure it. It was awesome to watch. A lot of the enhancements to the system were his ideas, his understanding of the business and the ability to translate that to the software.”
James deflects the praise and returns it to the original source.
“I give the credit to my dad for the idea,” James said. “He’s an industry veteran. He has been around tons of different software. And he could see that something new was needed for managing a high volume of smaller projects—projects ranging from $50,000 to $5 million.”
Haley Medved Kendrick is the director for the Bronze Valley Accelerator, a gene8tor program that supports innovation and technology-enabled companies created by diverse and underrepresented founders.
“Frameworq is bringing the strength and flexibility of digital project management tools,” Kendrick said. “By integrating cost and milestone functions into the tool, and aligning with the PMI standards, Frameworq’s tool can transform the way the construction industry manages their projects.”
From banking to utilities to construction, KMS is working to create something that levels the playing field for small businesses.
“It allows us to serve Regions at the highest level and give them the service they expect in the most efficient manner,” James Kemp said. “From using our software platform, we’ll be able to figure out how to do it even better by understanding the underlying analytics.”
The Kemps are determined to stay one step ahead of everyone.
“We believe continuous improvement will allow us to build on our relationships and to help our clients achieve their goals,” James added.