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Connected Construction Data:
The Details Matter, Field Execution

 

Originally aired on 3/16/2021

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Scott Seltz:
Hello and welcome to this webinar, Connected Construction Data: The Details Matter, Field Execution. This event is brought to you by Engineering News-Record and is sponsored by InEight. Hi, I’m Scott Seltz, publisher of the ENR, your moderator for today’s event and thank you for joining us.

Scott Seltz:
Ensuring your project success today requires crystal clear reliable details delivered in real time, all while catering to increasingly diverse teams. With the right connected data flow from your field teams, you can have it all and more. Today, InEight seasoned industry veterans will explain best practices within today’s advanced project platforms.

Scott Seltz:
Please join me in welcoming AJ Waters, Vice President of Industry Solutions at InEight. AJ will be leading today’s panel discussion and will introduce the rest of our panel later in the program. AJ Waters leads a team of engineers who work with customers to develop solutions that help solve their greatest project challenges, while increasing their profitability and agility.

Scott Seltz:
He helps drive digital transformation in the industry by bringing together innovative technology and data. Prior to InEight, AJ led the Center of Excellence team for the Kiewit Technology Group, acting as the point person for the training and adoption of new software solutions. Before we begin today’s presentation, please enjoy this brief instructional video on how to use your webinar console.

Speaker 2:
Welcome to this webinar. Before we begin the presentation, I want to provide you with a few housekeeping items. On your screen, you will see a task bar with icons. Each icon is assigned to a particular element of today’s webinar. Click on the person icon to learn more about today’s speakers. Throughout the presentation, you can network with others or submit questions to the speakers in the Q and A and chat box next to the slides.

Speaker 2:
Download resources from the cloud icon. After the webinar’s over, please take our survey to tell us how we did. Today’s event is being recorded and archived and will be available within 24 hours. For on-demand questions or comments, send us an email by clicking need help, email us. If you experience any technical issues today, please refresh your browser by hitting F5 for PC or Command + R for Mac. Now I’m excited to turn it over to today’s moderator.

Scott Seltz:
Don’t forget to submit your questions during the presentation. Later in the program, our presenters will address as many as possible. Today’s event is being recorded and archived on enr.com/webinars so you can share this presentation with your colleagues. Now, I’d like to turn it over to AJ Waters. AJ.

AJ Waters:
Thank you, Scott, and good afternoon or good morning everyone, depending on where you’re joining us from. We’re really excited to be here with you today and I’m also super excited about the panel that I have today. But before we do that, again my name is AJ Waters and we’re going to set the stage really quick as to why we thought that this particular topic, the details being important when it comes to field execution, it was a topic worth taking some time on today. It really all begins with your perception of what is complete.

AJ Waters:
We’ll start with an example from everyday life that maybe all of us can relate to or at least in some way relate to. We’ll take a couple of cooks or grill masters that might be doing some cooking out back of a burger. When it comes to two different perceptions on looking at that particular burger, one grill master may look at, “Hey, there’s eight things here as far as the ingredients are concerned. When I have four of them place, I’m about half done.”

AJ Waters:
But if you want look at the burger real closely, and you think about those eight ingredients, where is the majority of the effort in this? Well, it’s in cooking that patty. The other cook may look at the burger itself, the patty and say, “You know what? I’ve got that grilled, which the prep, the cook time, everything to get that particular ingredient done is really about 90% of the effort. Then I’m just throwing it all together.”

AJ Waters:
That perception of what is complete or how much effort it might take to complete operation is not just an everyday life thing. That’s something out on the job site. If we pull one example from construction and a couple of hard hats out there, let’s look at a foundation that has an integrated slab. When it comes to this foundation, if you don’t have the experience that it takes to lay this foundation, one might say we’ve excavated, we’ve put in some rebar and so we’re about half done. That’s two of the steps.

AJ Waters:
Whereas another person might think, you know what, getting that slab in place. That means we’re almost all the way there, but until we pour the slab. You can’t say that we’re about half done because that slab could be 5,000 square feet compared to what this one location in the footing is of the real steel. This perception that we have of what is complete, our perception is a direct result of our experience with the operation. Or in some cases, the lack thereof.

AJ Waters:
The details at which we are planning and executing our work out in the field are incredibly important to getting the most accurate perception of completeness. With that, we’ll go ahead and we’ll introduce our panel of field experts. As I prepare to do these introductions, first and foremost, you may have looked at the webinar for today and noticed that everyone on this panel has a title that includes InEight. But one of the things that we wanted to show today is that just because we all worked for InEight now doesn’t mean we always have. In the introductions as we go around the panel, we’ll have each individual talk more about what their field experience was, then this InEight experience. We’ll start off with Megan.

Megan Siefker:
Hello everyone. Thanks for having me, AJ. As you said, yes, I did come from the field, so I worked for InEight now have for the past three years. But prior to my time at InEight, I worked for a large EPC contractor. I was a superintendent over mechanical and structural work. Spent some time as a project engineer and then spend a bit of time in startup and commissioning, doing a lot around project controls and how do we manage a field execution. So really excited to talk to everyone today.

AJ Waters:
Thank you, Megan. Up next we have Austin.

Austin Wilcox:
Hey Everybody. Thanks AJ. I’m Austin Wilcox. I’m a solution engineer currently at InEight about two and a half years now. But prior to that, worked for a construction company called Cherne contracting doing field engineering more specifically, more recently. The post-weld heat treat side of that so a little bit of experience piping, but also dealing with quality, et cetera. Also happy to be here.

AJ Waters:
Thank you, Austin. Next up, Pranay.

Pranay Enamela:
Thanks AJ. I’m Pranay Enamela. I’m currently a client success manager here at InEight, but before that I worked with a couple of large EPC contractors across the United States. Being a field engineer and also primarily specializing in the electrical construction on some large capital projects.

AJ Waters:
Thank you Pranay. Last, but certainly not least, Hayes.

Hayes Heimbaugh:
Thanks AJ, and hello to everybody in the audience. Appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedules to be here. Currently with InEight I’m a product manager, but prior to coming over to InEight, a mixed breed in my field and project level experiences on the commercial side and by estimating experiences really on the heavy industrial side, so I’m looking forward to the conversation today.

AJ Waters:
Thank you, Hayes. I completely understand that mixed breed is my estimating experience is in the commercial sector and my project controls experience was in the infrastructure, so that’s just how it works sometimes. We’ll off today’s question and answer with Megan. Megan, let’s begin with you and take a look at what was the most extreme level of detail that you’ve ever been asked to track in the field?

Megan Siefker:
That’s a great question and it’s interesting that you say you were asked to track that in the field. I think broadly speaking, I was always asked, what’s the percent complete of the scope of work I was responsible for? But then you’d get questions to prove that percent complete was right. Personally, in order to do that, I would go to a much more extreme level of detail.

Megan Siefker:
I can remember when managing structural work, it was very easy to just, let’s just track all the piece marks of field. Where are they at? Have they been moved to the area of work? Have they been erected? Are they hot bolted, fully torked. That was really simple with steel, mechanical was a little bit more complex because it doesn’t break down into these nice clean piece marks, so going through instructions manuals, figuring out what are all the individuals step.

Megan Siefker:
I think that getting to the more extreme level of detail was really important for me. It’s like thinking like a to-do list, because that’s basically what we’re doing when we’re claiming construction, is checking off items on a big to-do list. It’s just a much longer to-do lists than we’d seen our day day-to-day. But I never want it to get to a point where at the end of the week or at the end of the day, I don’t have any items to check off on my to-do list because they’re too big of buckets.

Megan Siefker:
Then I have to start introducing some of my own personal biases to say, well, how much percent complete am I with one of those items on my to-do list? Trying to eliminate as much optimism bias or the different types of biases that we have personally, and just make it very clean and clear. I’m checking off these items that I’m able to complete in a single day.

AJ Waters:
That’s a really good point. Like you said, right away, it all goes back to being able to prove it. Because the optimism factor sets in, you think you’re so far, but then you’ve got prove it. Moving on then, Austin, what about you? What was the most extreme level of detail that you’ve been asked to track out in the field?

Austin Wilcox:
For me, it was in that post weld heat treat world, working with quality. It’s pretty structured and regimented there that we have to have records on every single weld that’s being tracked and making sure that we have all the tests records and everything for that. For me, it was the individual welds on a project and rather large one that was thousands of welds to keep track of.

Austin Wilcox:
But more specifically again, to the prove-it mentality. I had to take it a little bit further than just, was it complete or not? What were the steps involved in a hybrid crew that I was dealing with, the pipe fitters and electricians and they performed different steps in the process, so I had to keep track. I located the pipe fitters do their work and the electricians get their stuff done. Then we had a sub that was also doing some of the work, so it was a bit of a mess, but that’s the most detailed I ever had to get.

AJ Waters:
With that detail, you had a number of different stakeholders that you were trying to, not just collect data from but also pleased with all that data.
Austin Wilcox:
Precisely.

AJ Waters:
Pranay, You have a little bit different experience. You were in the electrical side of the house. What was the most detailed level you had to track in the field?

Pranay Enamela:
AJ, on the electrical side, as you imagine, the primary thing that we have to install is cable. As you know, some projects, cables just go all over the place. Sometimes the entire project site. When you have to track all those cables, essentially everybody goes off the term cable schedule. It’s a gigantic list of cables all over the entire project.

Pranay Enamela:
Tracking all those cables on every project can get extremely difficult. Some projects you can have 500 lines, some projects, the one I’ve been on, I’ve had up to 10,000 line items that I have to track. When you’re tracking these, you’re not only tracking where they’re installing but also the inventory. Do I have enough cable to buy in the first place? And is that going to surprise where they’re going to be installed, and all that kind of stuff.

Pranay Enamela:
Cable, conduit, cable tray, all these different electrical components, they’re very detailed, they’re very specific and they’re also always pretty much in most projects they’re huge volumes. Trying to capture where they go and are they done installed, it’s just extremely difficult. We’re always going off a to-do list, like Megan was saying, in keeping tabs on all of these items and making sure that they’re being installed.

AJ Waters:
Right. Up until this point, out of the three we’ve heard from, all very detailed. Hayes, then it comes to you and I, right. And we spend a lot of time in that commercial or that general contractor world. What was the most extreme level of detail you were asked to track in the field?

Hayes Heimbaugh:
AJ, I’m glad you called that out. Because obviously, wholly subcontracted or primarily subcontracted work is a bit of a different animal. Typically on my projects, I’ve been more concerned with maintaining and tracking schedule percent complete, where we would get into a little bit lower level of detail is a critical path items with tracking at the commodity level of cubic yards of concrete, square footage of metal decking, piece kind of structural steel. At least with that I align with my colleagues, but otherwise it’s probably up a level from what they’re discussing.

AJ Waters:
you make a really good point in there, Hayes, about how it depended on the operation. Because you went from maybe tracking the schedule to on a critical path item going a little bit more deeper. That-

Hayes Heimbaugh:
That’s [crosstalk 00:15:24].

AJ Waters:
… should be one of our first best practices that our tips is, well, it depends on the operation. What do you need to track and what’s important to you, right?
Hayes Heimbaugh:
[inaudible 00:15:40].

AJ Waters:
Then moving on, I guess, since we’re there, Hayes, let’s step to the next side of things. You spent time as an estimator as well. Is there often a comparison you can draw between that level of detail that you’re tracking in the field and the takeoff with estimating? Is there any correlation or connection there?

Hayes Heimbaugh:
Sure AJ. I think there’s a few ways to compare and contrast the two concepts. Really, on the estimating side, your designs less detailed and less certain, certainly, so the estimate doesn’t always reflect how the work will be built but maybe incorporate historical context or past project, similar project type objects.

Hayes Heimbaugh:
Really, they assume that average or ideal scenario, whereas in the field, you’ve got a little more design certainty. You can certainly get down to that next level of detail to see how you’re actually going to construct the work and provide that extra level of detail to track against the role up to maybe those higher level summary items. But at the end of the day, that is all to say that good tracking in the field really feeds the quality estimates because they are based on that historical context and drives greater cost predictability.

AJ Waters:
That’s a really good point driving the predictability after the fact. Because the next estimate is always the one that as an estimator, you’re worried about. This one’s done. Let them go build it. Are we going to do the next one? What about you Austin? When it came to taking what estimating did on those welds, was it something you could utilize or did you have to rethink the wheel?

Austin Wilcox:
A lot of times, at least from my experience in the company I worked for, our process was I usually had to redo everything. To Hayes’ point, there was usually more information, we had more design, we had a better idea of what the project was going to actually look like. It wasn’t quite as conceptual anymore. A lot of times I was having to go through that and redo it and almost re-estimate it in some ways.

Austin Wilcox:
Now, luckily for me, I didn’t have to come up with the rates we used, et cetera. I just had to come up with the new quantities and apply those. But at the same time, I would have loved the ability at times to look into the estimators, more detailed takeoffs, which I didn’t always have access to, just to at least get an idea of how they were putting it together, what they had to work with. It would have been helpful to have that insight at times.

AJ Waters:
Yeah, especially if you’re working on a project that maybe is a fast track or a design build, being able to tell what’s happened to the quantities over the time, right?

Austin Wilcox:
Exactly. No, they typically get grosses, which you’re normally going to see and rarely goes the other way, so being able to understand that’s always a good thing.

AJ Waters:
That it is. Then if we look one way with estimating and then look the other direction with the control budget, Megan, how about how those quantities you’ve tracked out in the field have compared with what maybe the cost engineers are tracking in the control budget?

Megan Siefker:
The quantities that we’re doing out at a very detailed level in the field, really should ideally be rolling up to a control budget where they’re just sitting with like types of work. If I’m erecting steel, then it’s going to that erect steel code. Maybe I’ve broken that down a little bit into some more granularity, depending on how, to Hayes’ point how I want to benchmark it. If it’s more difficult work, if it’s elevated, or if it’s heavier steel, I might try to differentiate that in my cost codes so that I can get some really sound accurate data for benchmarking.

Megan Siefker:
But I see all those quantities roll into that control budget that’s sitting at a higher level where we’re able to do forecasting at an efficient manner. We’re not trying to do budget variance and forecasting down at the piece mark of steel, obviously. We’d want to be able to very smoothly see how those quantities roll into a control budget, so it definitely sits at a higher level than I was mentioning in the first question.

AJ Waters:
Okay. You got this rolled up control budget, you’ve got those higher levels. You might be doing some benchmarking. How, Pranay, if the control budget is totally rolled up like this, how do you take that simple structure and then slice and dice it? How do you turn it into that complex tracking that you’re talking about out in the field?

Pranay Enamela:
Well AJ, the simple answer is it’s very difficult. It’s extremely difficult in doing that. Now, when you deal with complex large amounts of data that essentially don’t translate very well from one hand to the other, like estimating to project controls to field, that’s the exact challenge we face today, is how do you slice and dice it, especially when they’re not in the same format.

Pranay Enamela:
It becomes extremely difficult and we have to rely on standardizing how we break our control budget, how our estimates are done and how field is tracking. Some kind of a level of things rolling up, things trying to group sort filter. Then we have the ability to slice and dice that data. The simple answer is if you have a standard way of understanding how you’re going to track it on the field and work our way back, then obviously it makes sense to easily dissect these structures, have them roll up, have them group in a way where it’s easy for us to consume. But traditionally, we just struggle with this.

AJ Waters:
It’s traditionally been a tough situation and thus the idea around connected data. Maybe Austin, in your case, you took what was a single weld and there were very important steps, quality steps that could make or break that well, quite literally. How did you take these simple counts of welds and slice that into the very important detail, of this isn’t safe if we don’t to see this right.

Austin Wilcox:
To Pranay’s point, it wasn’t really easy and to be honest, most of it was done through Excel. I had to do a lot of workbooks and my own version of keeping track, to Megan’s point earlier of building a to do list of all the little things that had to happen. What steps needed to be completed and when and who was responsible and did I need to submit paperwork to get that done or was I reviewing that chart quality needs to review it, et cetera.

Austin Wilcox:
All those little things led into the overall, was it completed? Trying to keep track of that was really difficult but Excel was the way I had to do it, which obviously isn’t ideal because there are better tools out there for that.

AJ Waters:
Every engineer’s best friend is Excel, right?

Austin Wilcox:
Yeah.

AJ Waters:
Austin and Pranay, you talk about how difficult it was when it was your own work, when you were self-performing. Hayes, how did you take these simple structures and slice them down when it’s not even your work to track in the first place?

Hayes Heimbaugh:
Sure. I think AJ really, Pranay hit it on the head. Beginning with the end in mind is certainly key and managing how you’re going to track these items. Tracking really should facilitate that planning effort. Because at the end of the day, that’s what you’re trying to uncover when you’re getting to this granular level, is any variance that you need to dig into.

Hayes Heimbaugh:
Because ultimately, those structures are the same. A cubic yard of concrete is the same cubic yard of concrete, regardless of where it’s being placed. But what varies are the jobs specific conditions. Even if you aren’t self performing that work, having the ability to interface with your operations and your subcontractors operations on a daily or even weekly cadence is certainly key to being able to track and understand where they’re at from a percent complete even without that direct control over their claiming schemes.

AJ Waters:
There’s a key word there, Hayes, you just mentioned claiming schemes. Megan, I know you have a lot of experience with that. Are there ways to do that with maybe some detailed claiming schemes, if you will?

Megan Siefker:
I would say absolutely. Where the industry is going, I think this is probably the biggest reason I came to InEight, is because we have this purposely built tool to track progress at a more accurate level. It really takes into consideration all these points that we’ve touched on, from all the different disciplines, how difficult it is to track this stuff and then roll it up to different levels when we’re tracking the very detailed level of work. To have a solution and new technology just keeps advancing, but have a tool that accounts for all that.

Megan Siefker:
What we have is, your control budget’s maintained in your control system. Then you have the ability to expand that out into all the details that we’ve touched on. Then beyond that, so now I have what we call components. All the components could be piece marks of steel, could be Pranay’s cable schedule with all the cables he needs to pull, could be all the welds for Austin.

Megan Siefker:
Then on top of that, you’ve got those steps, the claiming schemes that Hayes mentioned, often referred to as rules of credit that you want to associate with each one of those smaller scopes of work. This works as an accordion structure where the rule of credit is associated with a component that a component is associated to an item in your control budget so that it all rolls all the way back up to that control budget in this accordion type manner.

Megan Siefker:
You can drill down in when you need to see that level of detail, but you can also view at a higher level for some of those high-level reporting type things. I think to Hayes’ point, early on he said he was tracking more on a schedule level. Well, what’s really nice is those components sit below all your different structures. They’re sitting below schedule WVS, below your cost structure, and you can assign both structures to that lowest level component.

Megan Siefker:
Now I’m able to roll up and see my progress at a schedule activity level too. In my steel example, where I’ve got a piece mark of steel that goes to my erect steel cost code, but it probably goes to wrecking this specific structure in my schedule. Well, I’m able to take that percent complete that has a rule of credits, and it’s very standardized. I know I’ve eliminated the optimism bias or my own personal biases and I’ve got an accurate progress on this quantitative and measurable.

Megan Siefker:
Now that’s going to roll up to my schedule, to my cost structure, maybe I want it to roll up to some turnover packages to see our progress there. Very, very exciting stuff that we’ve got going on for progress tracking to get accurate percent complete to all these different higher level structures by really getting down into the detail.

AJ Waters:
You make a really interesting point there, Megan. If you’ve got all of the data digitally and that component, those thousands of items, whether you were talking about the welds or the piece marks of steel or the cable schedule, if you associate the correct metadata to those items, you can roll that structure back up into whatever you might need it to be.

AJ Waters:
That leads me to an intriguing side question. With that in mind, and these thousands of pieces that you’ve all talked about, what is the last field data capture method that you used? obviously you’re all at InEight now, but in your actual day-to-day, what is the last field data capture method that you were using, Megan?

Megan Siefker:
If I were looking up to use the very early versions of our InEight quantity tracking modules before that though I was definitely in Excel and I still have my Excel worksheets where I would maintain all these different claiming schemes and I was trying to match up to a schedule to this and that. It was a very tedious process to maintain all that in Excel. We had an operations tool that we use that was homegrown in-house but didn’t take into consideration how to get that information to the foreman or the different things. We’ve really come full circle and it’s exciting to see how far we’ve come.

AJ Waters:
You were using some of the early versions, but before that, Excel. Pranay, what about you? What was the last thing you used when you were out in the field?

Pranay Enamela:
I got one word for you, AJ, taper.

AJ Waters:
That sounds [crosstalk 00:29:49]. How?

Pranay Enamela:
That was pretty specific… Go ahead.

AJ Waters:
How did you do that on paper?

Pranay Enamela:
I had to print 11 by 17 copies of the cable schedule. I would take those out on the field and I would have to physically mark items complete, the cable that had been pulled or conduits had been installed manually on paper. Then I had to come back and then enter all that data back into the systems. It was not a fun process but that’s how it all started.

Pranay Enamela:
Funny story there is I went from actually using paper to technology and then back to paper. That’s when I understood the true importance of technology and why it’s so important to use technology to eliminate items such as data entry and manual tracking on the field.

AJ Waters:
How late were you having to stay at the job site to get that data entered back in?

Pranay Enamela:
I was probably spending an average of three hours a day just collecting and then coming back and entering that data. That’s per day. That’s on top of my regular eight-hour shift that I would put in. Pretty much five, six days a week.

AJ Waters:
Getting those details into a connected system, theoretically eliminated two to three hours of your day?

Pranay Enamela:
Absolutely.

AJ Waters:
All right, so then continuing around the horn, Austin, what was the last system that you used for field data capture?

Austin Wilcox:
Well, the official answer here, AJ, is we had a homegrown system. Unofficially it was, as I mentioned before, Excel. The reason I say that is that homegrown system we had was a bit archaic. It was something that I believe had been developed in the late eighties and it was a shared version of an Excel spreadsheet, not database driven but it looked like a spreadsheet and multiple people could go in and worked on things and they could create views and claim things and mark them completed and keep track of everything.

Austin Wilcox:
But the problem was, again, it was old and the person who originally designed it had left the company and was no longer there, and so it tended to break down about every other week and it would always take our IT group a couple of weeks to figure out what was wrong because they didn’t actually build it.

Austin Wilcox:
I couldn’t go a couple of weeks without being able to track things so I was always putting them into Excel and then they’d get it back running. I have to go enter it back in and even when it was running, I always had to keep the Excel file up to date just for when it would crash again. I’m a bit of a mess going back and forth there, but that’s the way I did it on the last project I was officially on.

AJ Waters:
Then similar question to Pranay is how much additional time was that duplicate entry to keep yourself safe. Take it.

Pranay Enamela:
I was easily probably three to five hours every week at minimum, of just extra entry, data entry, keeping track, making sure it was all online and hunting down the typos that I would make half the time and trying to enter those on the manual entry. You’re always going to fat finger something and trying to hunt it down. Where was it? Where’d it go and why aren’t these things matching up once it was time to make sure that they were in line with each other.

AJ Waters:
That’s a good point. With Excel, you lack some of the data validation with the typos and such. Then Hayes, back around to you, what was the what was the last method that you used to capture items out in the field?

Hayes Heimbaugh:
Sure AJ. I have the benefit, I guess, of reaping some of Megan’s early career opportunities that she had with our earlier systems then we deployed planet progress on our job site. One of the main benefits of that was we were able to really align that control budget to that WVS in the schedule, so taking that traditional approach of schedule percent complete.

Hayes Heimbaugh:
Then transforming it into more of a weighted milestone or weighted steps percent complete across the job. What that allowed us to do is standardize on the activities that we were able to and then focus further on the job specific parameters. One of the unseen benefits that came out of that is, as we aligned our schedule to our control budget, we realized that how the preliminary schedule was built was not at all reflective of how the work would test flow through the site.

Hayes Heimbaugh:
We completely reconfigured our approach prior to even commencing any other major trade work on the actual building itself. I thought really, that was all made possible by having that standardized set of rules that we typically approach that type of project with, and then conforming the remainder of the details to set the project specific parameters.

AJ Waters:
I think you hit one of the biggest points that we’ll probably talk about today, and that’s the standardized rules of credit that you mentioned. Because when you standardize those steps, that’s where you start to really overcome that perception of what I think is complete versus what you think is complete.

AJ Waters:
Going back, Pranay, you’ve implemented InEight systems with multiple customers. Is this something that people typically already have a handle on or is this something… The standardization, is this really the backbone that you need to implement before anything else?

Hayes Heimbaugh:
It’s a mixed bag of both, AJ. There are companies that already have a ton of standardization in place but they didn’t have the right tools to make it easy for them to continue the standardization. On the other side, there are companies that we worked which they don’t have any standardization, they have no idea on how to bring these things together and what’s important to them and how they want to track it or connect the dots from estimating all the way to field execution and back, so it’s a mixed bag of both.

Hayes Heimbaugh:
However, engineering construction as an industry, the steps that we go through to install our finished product, whether it’s electrical, piping, mechanical or structural, we have certain steps engineering wise that we follow. Like form pour strip, install cable they dig a trench, put the cable in the ground. There are specific steps that you follow, so standardization is there in a way.

Hayes Heimbaugh:
The problem that we see across the board is what level of detail are you willing to settle? And then how do you make that detail available to the field and how do you make it easy for them? But you have different people wanting different levels of detail that we have different stakeholders. We have all these different factors that come into play when you’re talking about standardization. That’s what we tackle with when we implement with the different customers is everybody wants different levels and different ways of standardizing things.

AJ Waters:
I’ll throw then, the same question over to you Megan, because your title today is customer or client success. How much of a role does being able to standardize your percent completes play in customer success?

Megan Siefker:
Standardization to me is really just getting to a more accurate picture of reality and trying to remove that perception bias. One of the ways I think about it is it doesn’t seem like a huge deal to say, okay, you as superintendents, what percent complete are you on this scope of work? They say 50%. Okay, that’s a pretty good guess. But what if in reality we’re only 48% complete with that scope of work?

Megan Siefker:
No, one’s probably going to just tell you 48% complete because you’re going to round up, because you think you’re a little bit farther on than you are and that doesn’t seem like a huge difference when we’re talking, okay, to percentage points. But if this scope of work is $10 million worth of work, then that means we’re throwing our forecast off by $200,000.

Megan Siefker:
As these numbers keep getting bigger, how many scopes of work are we relying on? Different people on the job site could just give us their best guess. That starts to really sway where we’re at potentially on our forecast. Maybe we’re not identifying issues that could be resolved, as well as our schedule. Because when we’re talking percent complete, we’re really looking at, how are we performing against schedule and how are we performing against costs?

Megan Siefker:
We want to get that as accurate as possible. By introducing standardization, you start to become this learning organization where, to Pranay’s point, if we put form and strip at a 60, 40 and then we keep seeing, okay, when we get to 60%, actually we’re never spending as much. Maybe it’s really 55, 45. You start learning and then can be making those decisions at an organizational level, so everyone is standardized, which is huge for the overall success. People start trusting those numbers, and then it builds that confidence that what we’re reporting is accurate and we can start making informed decisions on that data.

AJ Waters:
That’s such a critical point there. Not just being a learning organization, but also the note of the whole foreman’s thumb in the air and guessing within 5% and thinking that that’s close enough, well, on these projects that keep getting larger and larger, that thumb in the air is worth a million bucks. That’s a big, big deal.

AJ Waters:
We’ve talked a lot up to this point about these super complex claiming structures and what it takes to get into the details that matter. Well, what about those who don’t need that complex level of detail? Megan, what are you doing in that case for the stakeholders that are, they just want to know where you’re at overall?

Megan Siefker:
That’s the nice part about an accordion type of solution that operates that way, is if someone wants to see it at the high level, they absolutely can. Then back to my initial points on, when you start getting questions, this looks a little off, well, then you’ve got the entire expanded level of proof that you can drill into. It’s very nice, at a high level, even rolling up at a project level for some higher executives to be able to see. You can see the data at whatever level you want when it’s all connected.

AJ Waters:
When it’s all connected, those levels become other things as far as you mentioned the metadata, tying it back to the schedule, tying it back to things like work packages. Pranay, going back to you, what are some of the ways that you’ve seen maybe the ability to report on this data, or even visualize this data? How can you get this complex structure into other people’s hands?

Pranay Enamela:
As we know, different stakeholders on projects need different levels of detail. The field might really care about which areas, how the work is doing by area. But my project engineer or my project manager might only care about the detail at the budget level or at the overall project level. Then same goes for the executive sponsor or the executives of the company, wanting to know the overall project situation.

Pranay Enamela:
Because we know that they want different levels of detail for different stakeholders, the ability to roll things up and slice and dice data as we talked about earlier becomes extremely important. If you have a consistent way of knowing what the end detail is going to look like and have an ability to roll that up in a nice way without having to really change the data, that’s a game changer right there.

Pranay Enamela:
That’s where the whole connected construction data comes into play, is it’s truly not just rolling up but it’s truly connected in a way where you can manipulate it and see it in all different fashions that needs that project manager criteria, the level of detail the foreman wants and also the level of detail that the engineer wants. So having powerful technology in place to have that ability to change the detail and roll things up is the really the way to do it.

AJ Waters:
Then Hayes, what about the most of the stakeholders, the owner? How does all this detail impact the client or what is being reported to the client?

Hayes Heimbaugh:
Sure AJ, I think as Pranay and Megan mentioned, you’ve got to be sensitive to your audience and I don’t know that they necessarily need to see how the sausage is made, but having that backup sitting behind all the data is certainly helpful. Definitely feeds into a reporting by having that standardization and so what that ultimately gives to your owner, your end user, your customer, is that higher confidence and transparency into the health of the project.

Hayes Heimbaugh:
All of these processes that we’ve discussed are focused on eliminating that redundancy and minimizing those repetitive tasks. Which really makes sure that schedules are met, progress is optimal and you’ve got your phasing correct. Financial integrity of the project is high.

AJ Waters:
And Austin, any other ways that this can impact the owner or be more beneficial for the clients? Did we lose you, Austin?

Austin Wilcox:
Sorry about that. Can you hear me now?

AJ Waters:
Yes.

Austin Wilcox:
Okay. I was going to say, one thing I wanted to hone in on that Hayes said was really confidence, and to go back to some of Megan’s points, the accordion style set up, all the details there. While for the owners, they’re typically looking at the higher level, big picture, the bigger numbers were rolled up.

Austin Wilcox:
They have the confidence to understand how it was done, but there is a system in place that it’s not, and there are no biases in those numbers. There’s nobody to your point, out in the field throwing the thumb up in the air saying, “We’re about halfway done there.” There’s actual processes. There’s detailed steps and they’re standardized for the organization and so that just gives them more confidence in the contractors and the numbers that they’re being provided and helps them make their decisions moving forward on projects as well.

AJ Waters:
More confidence I think, is the key here. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about delivering the project on time and on budget. If you can surface those details soon enough, then there’s confidence in, yes, we’re going to hit that date. Or if we’re not, what do we need to do to mitigate?

AJ Waters:
Real quick, we want to make sure that we can get to the question and answer but before we do that, maybe just one last thought from everyone on the panel. We’ll start with Megan, and then go Austin, Pranay, Hayes, in that order. Are there any other benefits you can think of to having this level of detail in a digital format outside of the paper?

Megan Siefker:
I think just making it accessible to all, so the procurement group might want to know how things are tracking, the accounting department and having all that data in a centralized location, where it’s being… coming directly from a foreman in the field and getting back to this central repository where all the information is stored and I can slice and dice it however way I need to, to fulfill my role on the project.

Megan Siefker:
That’s just something that without the technology and the digital format, you’d have to do the duplicate data entry into all these different views and scenarios. There’s just huge advantages to have it in a digital format so we can reduce those duplicate data entry.

AJ Waters:
Austin, on your end.

Austin Wilcox:
I would say that, compounding on Megan’s point, when you have all that data in a common area, in one place that everybody can access, it makes it so much easier to become a learning organization, to learn from the data and how do we improve? How do we take the information from the past project and be able to use it in the future, on the estimating side to win work and understand where we can be more efficient. Then also the next time we execute it, how can we be better than we were before, et cetera. It really just starts to have a spiderweb effect throughout your organization to improve everywhere.

Pranay Enamela:
AJ, for me I think the most important thing is to make the life of the field easy. Take that extra duplicate entry work out of their hands and make it simple for them by giving technology. If we can achieve that with the right level of detail, then everything else will play itself out where people are focused more on a planning culture rather than just tracking items every day.

Hayes Heimbaugh:
Just building on what my colleagues have said, really having that greater level of detail in that digital format centralizes all that information that is typically, as we’ve heard today, existing at a point location, an Excel spreadsheet, maybe a piece of paper, God forbid in this day and age, in somebody’s desk.

Hayes Heimbaugh:
Having real time or near real time insights into the project, rather than at the time of monthly billings or your weekly superintendents meeting, certainly allows you to identify those variances sooner and be a lot more proactive. We’ve talked a lot about a learning culture. I would just add to that as well, planning culture. That productivity rather than the historical context of maybe reactive and putting out fires.

AJ Waters:
Being proactive versus being reactive. That’s what everybody’s heading toward. Well Scott, I’m going to turn it over to you. If there are any questions that are coming in, we’ll go ahead and we’ll surface those up for the panel now.

Scott Seltz:
Thank AJ, as well as Megan, Austin, Hayes and Pranay. That was a great presentation. I want to remind our viewers that we’d love their feedback, so there will be a webinar survey that they’ll be presented on their screen now where they can fill it out the conclusion of the webinar. But yes, we did get some great questions. Let me get into that. Okay. A viewer is asking, does distributed ledger and/or smart contracts come into play? AJ, I’ll throw that to you to pose to the panel.

AJ Waters:
That’s a great question, and Megan, I think this is a good one for you, based on you mentioned those components living below all other structures. Are there ways to get that into the ledger and/or contracts?

Megan Siefker:
Yeah. And Hayes might be able to touch on this a little bit more. But managing items, if you’ve got a schedule values with some, for contracting that’s definitely things that you can put into quantity tracking and be able to attract those at the more detailed level where it rolls up to line items on a billing schedule or a contract, the distributed ledger.

Megan Siefker:
My mind goes to a GL accounts or general ledger account, so might want a little bit more information on that. But definitely if you’re trying to look at labor versus equipment, some of those high level cost categories, those can also come into play with your budget. As you’re spending money in those different buckets, you can be claiming them differently as well. That’s like procurement activities or engineering activities, things like that. If we need to sidebar that too and catch up with whoever asked that question to get a little bit more background on specifically what you were thinking there, we can.

Hayes Heimbaugh:
Megan, I don’t-

AJ Waters:
Great, Hayes.

Hayes Heimbaugh:
… have a lot to add to that. Other than I’d say, based on my really high level understanding of distributed ledger and smart contracts, I don’t know that any technology is there yet. Based on the fact that it’s built on blockchain, I think it’s certainly something that is on the near horizon.

Hayes Heimbaugh:
We at InEight do have some concepts of the distributed ledger in our control and that it is universally accessible to anybody who has project level access or pendant level access if they’re within a company. But I think that that is just one step down that path, based on what I understand of the technologies.

Scott Seltz:
Great. Another viewer asks, can InEight integrate with any project management software to be used for say, monthly requests, a mental process, punch list, tracking as examples?

AJ Waters:
Yeah, I think I might throw that one over to you, Pranay and then maybe Megan, again, as folks who have implemented the InEight solution, how do we integrate with other systems?

Pranay Enamela:
Primarily, InEight has a suite of tools that pretty much does the main project management section of the work. Whether it’s scheduling, project controls, budget management, forecasting. There’s different tools in our suite that take care of form building which essentially it can be a punch list.

Pranay Enamela:
We have smart forms, workflow forms, document tracking and all that stuff. That’s how we try to incorporate. As far as integrations go, we do have some integration but those are morally custom build for ERP stuff, but we typically don’t try to integrate with other project management platforms, at least not that I’ve seen. I’ll pass it on to Megan.

Megan Siefker:
There’s definitely some opportunities to it. You have a system that you’re using for punch lists, for example. Of course, InEight also has solutions for that as well, that are integrated within our own set of solutions. But you don’t always want to get rid of something that you’re using that works really well, so there is a little bit of plug and play that can work.

Megan Siefker:
Of course, it’s the most efficient when you pick up the InEight tools which are inherently connected. But we would just look at that and we kick off every implementation with a process assessment to understand all those inputs and outputs that we need to communicate with external systems and how’s the best and most efficient way to do that.

Scott Seltz:
Great, thank you. Another viewer asked, any suggestions on how to handle personable, identifiable information?

AJ Waters:
I’ll take that one. Scott. That’s obviously an incredibly sensitive topic, and something that’s often difficult to manage, one of the things that we do or that we recommend folks do when it comes to personal identifiable information, that’s a mouthful, is make sure you understand the security roles and permissions that are available by whatever solution you’re reviewing.

AJ Waters:
Because you want to be able to know, when it pertains to that type of information, who has access to it and how, and how those roles and permissions can support. Typically, today’s technology solutions have very robust and detailed security permissions built in and only a certain admin or HR role would be able to get to that level of information, where they should be trained in the utilization and protection of that. But at the same time, if you’re not seeing that detailed or definite set of security roles and clearances, that should be a flag for you when you’re in those research phases.

Scott Seltz:
Great, thanks. A question occurred to me during your presentation. There’s a fine line between detailed field tracking and analysis paralysis. Do you have any best practices on what might be the ideal use case for detailing claiming rules on projects?

AJ Waters:
Yeah, I think I’ll have maybe each one of you answer this one. We’ll start with Austin because you mentioned just thousands of welds and then breaking those welds into more and more pieces. At what point, Austin, does it become analysis paralysis? What would you say as far as best practices in how to break that apart and not be too much?

Austin Wilcox:
It’s a tricky topic. It’s a tricky situation to get into. It’s going to be different for every company and every person. But at the end of the day, it’s what level of detail do you need to be able to track too? I think it was Pranay who mentioned earlier, a lot of times the answer to that is you got to think about the end in mind, so what ultimately do you need to be able to track at? What level do you need the data to support? That really helps drive how detailed do you need to get there.

Austin Wilcox:
Now there are some general rules of thumb we try to give on occasion. There’s certain situations where some companies will come to us, they have these grand plans, and to Megan’s claiming schemes, they want 10 steps and we try to reel them in and say, “You know what, that’s a little bit much. Maybe three or four is more of the sweet spot for most people.” And try to give that. But it’s really a case-by-case basis in reality. It’s just what you’d need it to be.

Megan Siefker:
I would add to that, that we talked about a lot of detailed, every piece mark of steel, every cable, every weld, and that often seems like a daunting task. But this is information that already exists on construction projects. You get a cable schedule and so we’re just taking that and importing it. I think that it comes off like, “We’ve never tracked to that level of detail. This is going to be a huge undertaking.”

Megan Siefker:
But when you actually break it down, it- simplifies it a lot. Because all you have to do is check off the items that you’ve completed. Now, am I ever going down and analyzing at that very, very low detail? Not typically. You avoid the analysis paralysis by looking just at the level that you want and by using the different attributes that you can assign to components to say, “I want to view a report to see my percent complete by schedule activity.” Or by start-up turnover package. I’m able to look at just the information that I want and know that I can trust that. I think you lose that analysis paralysis just because you’re not ever diving deep into the details until you need to examine something further.

Pranay Enamela:
All I’ll add, AJ, to that comment is, we have to make it simple to the field. Whatever you’re claiming, whenever you’re standardizing these things, if they’re not simple enough for the field to consume, then it’ll be really difficult to use it going forward.

Hayes Heimbaugh:
Just to round it out, practically speaking I don’t have a lot to add to what Pranay, Austin and Megan have said. But more generally speaking from an organizational or even operational standpoint, the most successful deployments of these types of methodologies, and they certainly don’t require software as they are processes first, is to incorporate that feedback from your end users in the field.

Hayes Heimbaugh:
They’re the ones who are going to be using this day in and day out. They most likely have the best understanding of the work as it applies to building it. once you’re able to incorporate that feedback, you can create these processes that further enhanced their understanding of that work overall, as well as the value of their capture in the big picture, feeding into better estimates and higher quality budget controls.

Scott Seltz:
Thank you. Unfortunately, that’s all the time we have for questions today. Please join me in thanking AJ, Megan, Austin, Hayes, and Pranay for their presentations and discussions, as well as our sponsor, InEight. If you have any additional questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to click the email-us button on the console, and we’ll share those with our presenters so they can respond to you directly.

Scott Seltz:
Also be sure to visit our handout section, that’s the cloud icon on your console, for additional information that you can download from InEight. Please visit enr.com/webinars for the archive of this presentation to share with your colleagues, as well as information about our upcoming events. Make sure to tune in tomorrow for committing to total wellness and holistic safety, airing at 2:00 PM Eastern Standard time. We hope you found this webinar to have been a good investment of your time. Thank you, and have a great day.