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Connected Data: Starting Projects With the End in Mind

Part 1

REGION: US

 

Originally aired on 10/29/2020

56 Min

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In this webinar, our panel of experts breaks down the benefits of using project controls software to connect data and how this can guide better outcomes across the capital project life cycle.

This webinar also explores:

  • Jobs in the office and the field that have evolved with access to connected and visual data.
  • The best project software today that spans business processes and demands access to consistent and trusted data.
  • How reporting and dashboards provide live consolidated data regarding project progress and health.

Catie Williams:
Thanks, everyone for joining today. My name is Catie Williams and I am a product director at InEight. I oversee the products for connected analytics, which includes everything from master data to reporting and analytics. With me today, I have Mark Edwards, he’s the chief delivery officer at InEight and Colin Bunker, assistant project director with Kiewit. A couple of housekeeping things, you will be muted the entire time, but please ask questions. I’m going to be asking a series of questions to both Mark and Colin. So at any point, if you want me to ask more, throw that in the question box, and I will make sure that we get it asked. I think to just kick things off, we’ll be talking today about the impact and value that having an integrated system has had on the construction and engineering industry. Mark, why don’t you go ahead and tell us a little bit about your background.

Mark Edwards:
Thanks, Catie. Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining. As Katie said, my name is Mark Edwards, they call me the chief delivery officer at InEight. And basically all that means is my responsibility is from a product perspective, maintaining the roadmap, what’s coming next from a product enhancements, and then getting that work all the way through development testing, and ready to turn over to our customers and implemented by our services group. Prior to InEight, I spent several years at Kiewit doing the same thing, rolling software out to various Kiewit projects. I tell a lot of people, that I have the best job in our company, because I get to see things all the way from that idea or that that thing that’s really going to, we believe, make an impact all the way to rolling that out on projects, whether it’s Kiewit or other customers across the world. And seeing that it really does make an impact. It’s a really great place to be. And I’m excited to talk a little bit more about some of that. The value of that connected data here today. Again, thanks for joining, Colin.

Colin Bunker:
Thanks, Mark. I’ve been in the construction industry for about 18 years, been with Kiewit majority of that time. Have been lucky enough to serve in multiple spots around the country. And even internationally, I’ve taken a trip down to Australia for a few years and gotten to work in a variety of markets. And some of the fun thing about working Kiewit you get to work in a variety of positions. I’ve been able to see it ground level through leading projects and deal with a variety of applications and all those roles. I’m a bit more on the user side and gotten a bit of experience with both connected data and disconnected data.
Thanks very much for having me.

Catie Williams:
That’s great. Thanks, Colin. And since you pointed out that you’ve been in the industry for 18 years-ish, maybe you could start by telling us a little bit about how technology has changed throughout your career.

Colin Bunker:
Funny thinking back to some of the experiences at this point. When I started with the company I started with a part of it that really wasn’t a component of computer usage at all. And that made for a lot of really old school methods for correspondence and tracking with paper RFIs, we had manila folders, all that stuff, that was stamp or transmit a receipt, and that’s how things got done. The amount that we focused our time on computers just pretty much, just financials schedule and pretty much dedicated to those tasks. Since last time I’ve seen this live the evolution, from that manila folder style through the shared drive, through more of a shared workspace online. And recently, we’re starting to see a lot of more of the systems actually come together to be that integrated system model, which is pretty fun. Definitely a lot of efficiencies gained.

Catie Williams:
That’s a great example. Do you feel like the change management of getting… as you’ve been on this journey, how has that process been? Interacting with something new, the new tools. How have projects adopted that? You mentioned being on projects that were very pro paper and technology adverse. How has that process happened?

Colin Bunker:
Well, I think there’s been stages, and depending on who you are, and what part of the company you’re with. I’ve seen some projects where they try to take on a whole lot of different softwares at the same time. And that hasn’t necessarily always worked well. It creates a lot of learning curves for people just to do their basic job functions. I’ve been on others that are the launch of a new product that was a key transition for the company. And those tended to have a little bit more focus, we were better at identifying a champion lead and cater it to a business purpose. And those style rollouts of technology seemed to be a lot more effective.

I think there was a while where there was so much new stuff popping up, there still is. That if people aren’t filtering it well, you have a tendency to bite off a bunch of different things that that may not actually complement the way you want to do your work. And so having that vetting process, and then, denoting the appropriate personnel to champion the transition has led for much a greater successful approach in what I’ve seen. I don’t know if that answered your question there.

Catie Williams:
Yeah, no, that’s great. I don’t know, Mark, I think you have a little bit of a different perspective. I don’t know if there’s anything that you would throw in on the lines of change management, or just overall implementations, because you’re coming at it from a little bit of a different angle.

Mark Edwards:
Yeah, I think the comment that Collin made about, biting off a bunch more that may not be in line with your project, I think that’s such a tempting thing to do early on. There’s so much that looks like it could help you. And what we’re talking about here today is, starting with the end in mind, and it’s so hard to do that, especially early on as you’re adopting some technology, because you’re so focused on what does each piece of software do for me, and I think there’s just a lot of so much focus there. There’s trust that is an aggregate, it’s going to help you. And it’s not until you start cranking on that project that you realize, oh, man, I need to report out for example, my progress, and where am I and in a variety of ways. And you have all these chunks of software that now you got to figure out how you’re going to get all that data together and get a summary about where you are.

And I think what I’ve seen happen over time as people… projects begin, as they get more familiar with, the software, assuming that software is consistent on projects, they start to think about how I’m going to run my work, what reports am I going to use to see that I’m sticking with my budget, for example, right? And then based on that, they can then go look at the applications that are going to be used to expose that data. I think that’s what I’ve seen a kind of an evolution. I was lucky enough to get into places and they’re still places where we’re trying to… customers have lots of manual effort, and they’ve got manila folders and they’ve got manual, they’ve got paper time cards that are sitting on dashboards of people’s trucks and all that. Lots of customers still doing that today. So a lot of progress we can make. But I think most of the customers that I work with have understood, “Hey, we can this a lot better.” And that’s the evolution they’re starting.

Catie Williams:
You mentioned integration and I know this is a big broad question. But to both of you, how do you feel that integration or connected data, whatever you want to call it has helped the construction industry? Do you know how to solve productivity challenges? How do you feel having connected systems where the data is flowing through, you’re not having a bunch of data redundancy? How has that impacted the ability to manage projects.

Colin Bunker:
If you don’t mind Mark, I’ll dive in a little bit. Well, there’s a couple places. We tend to find ourselves in more and more relationships with clients and start ahead of construction. We find ourselves in the position where we’re modeling schedule options, we’re looking at design potential, we’re doing iterations of that, and having a better connected data has helped to is help our clients justify their decision making with very intense levels of detail across the longer term project. And there’s been a lot of value on that side. When you start shifting from, shaping the project into executing the project, time is money, no more clear place that applies than construction. Having that real time analysis of, what you’re doing compared to expectation allows you to make reactions that should ideally steer the ship back in the direction you’ve effectively been promising your client. The more that we’ve been able to pull tools together and have some of the dashboard reporting that Mark was alluding to, where you have things that really tell a clear picture. It helps you steer the decision making and ultimately drive a more successful project from all parties perspective.

Mark Edwards:
What I think, Catie, as an industry, we’re really on the early cusp of that integration and seeing what that is. Certainly, we’ve got some of our customers are further down the road than others. That initial work to agree on some of the critical data that you’re going to use to track work, I can’t under-emphasize the importance of that. Colin mentioned, on a given job, and it’s absolutely critical on a given job, but where it even gets more critical and honestly more valuable, is as you do more jobs with that same critical core data set, because then you can start to see trends across a whole bunch of really cool variables, whether it’s something relatively straightforward, like part of the country or part of the world it’s in, versus the actual work, or those two things in combination, anyway.

You can see how all that… it’s just that the value of that data is incredible. And if it wasn’t integrated it would be useful during the project, but probably not afterwards. I think we’re in a really fun place from an industry perspective right now. And all that stuff, you hear about construction hasn’t taken advantage and the productivity hasn’t moved, I think we’re in a place where we’re going to start seeing that move. And it’s pretty cool, we can be a part of it.

Catie Williams:
Yeah, definitely. Colin, is there anything that’s going to either be a positive or negative? Any surprises or gaps that you’ve seen that you would expect integration to be there, or that integration has given, made possible because of there? Anything, a specific example, or something tangible on a project that you can think of?

Colin Bunker:
I guess, when I look at some of the key reporting tools that we use to manage by, there tends to be some type of report that compares your physical production and what you expected to what you’re doing, right. Some might call it a labor report or productivity report, something like that, that you can look at, either daily, weekly, monthly and see how you’re doing compared to what you’re expected. What’s still disconnected in many cases that I’ve seen is that you live in another world for your scheduling software. And you’ve got this model of how things are supposed to happen over time. But it’s not always the same. And they’re not always telling you the same story. And I think it’s a pretty common problem. And it’s not always that easy to solve depending on what the contract looks like and other things. But that gap is still out there, I think in lots of projects. I know some things that spin out of that gap are a bit of a data date issue where you’ve got some data that’s reported to some date, some data that’s reported to another.

And for the offsite project leadership trying to understand story, a lot of the times they’re looking at a little bit of a broken picture. I’ve seen a lot of progress in that. And depending on the job I’ve seen, it’s actually pretty well connected in my experience, but I know that that gap still exists. Just one other thing, I guess one of the surprising things about the technology is simply having so much data available, when you start having it. If a lot more things for people to look at and review. And I think when you’re talking about not yet seen the productivities shift, Mark, I think a lot of times we’re seeing that in the office, that we just need more people, because there’s so much more data to explain. And there’s so many more people asking detailed questions. And it’s a funny thing that hasn’t yet driven down the amount of staff required. It’s almost people are excited to see some shiny-

Catie Williams:
Do you think that’ll change though as more trust… Because Mark talks about the trust. As more trust is built into the systems, doing the math right, the calculations are correct. Do you think that that will shift? Or do you just think that’s the trait of engineers, liking to be in the detail and… I don’t know [crosstalk 00:16:32].

Colin Bunker:
I think it’ll shift and in a fun way where more people are focused on the causation influencing the data, and what the data is showing you. And I think the more efforts that are consolidated into impacting what goes into the numbers is what’s going to drive ultimately, efficiency, and ROI and investment and all that stuff to a much greater extent. I think when people start getting into that level, as a team, across the engineer, say client, if they’re not the engineer, and then contractor spectrum, then you get to look at driving organizational efficiency across multiple projects, and it gets really, really fun. Because you get to do more dollars than you’ve done before.

Mark Edwards:
I think there’s something about… I know I’m guilty of it, right? I see data for the first time, and there are more questions I can ask than you can shake a stick at, right? But over time a little bit I start to get… You start to focus on where the outlier is. And that’s, I think, Colin what you’re saying, let’s go look at where we have trouble and what’s causing that trouble. You begin to only look for exceptions rather than sifting through a bunch of data just because it’s interesting. I think that’s going to be the key, and we’re all going to have to get through that being enamored with a bunch of data problem because I’ve actually seen that same thing, the number of… Once a project has data, the number of reports, the number of this and that. All of a sudden, you’ve got more than you can possibly imagine and try to consume.
And I think part of our challenge as an industry and those of us helping use technology to solve some of these problems is to highlight those exceptions, rather than all of the data, and you can come up with… You find the exception. Here’s the data, we need to help find the exception, so we run that to ground right away.

Catie Williams:
Do you think the construction industry views their data as an asset? Or do you think that that’s still shifting and evolving? How does an organization… Or do you have tips on how they manage their data and this large asset that they’re acquiring? That’s loaded, I know sorry.

Colin Bunker:
From my perspective I know they’re trying to pursue and continue relationships with clients. That data is incredibly important to help inform their decision making when they’re looking at the concepts that they want to go build and how to deploy their funds. But I think I come from a background where that data has been treated like an asset, protected and has value, and it can be applied to material things consistently. I think it’s a very good asset. And I think the clients that we work with that have been able to benefit, especially when we’re involved as the project shaping get to see the value of that in their informed decision making, and they get to march forward with a lot more confidence that the concepts and the conceptual evolution they’re managing, is leading towards a better outcome for their organization.

Mark Edwards:
I couldn’t agree more. I think customers that are interested in the integrated story that we’re talking about here, the disciplines and life cycle and all that being integrated, I think they absolutely view that data as an asset. And will do lots of things to protect it. When we see RFPs, and things like that, it’s noticeable the number of questions in there that are about data protection and privacy and all that. I would also tell you that it seems to me and this is just my opinion, just based on what working with customers in various locations. The Asia Pacific type customers that are on bit ahead about, how to single source of data, a data centric environment. Those things are, they seem to be a little more mature in what they request when you’re looking at… when they’re considering buying some software. But yeah, absolutely an asset that they’re very protective of, rightfully so.

Catie Williams:
Colin you’ve mentioned the client multiple times about the importance of having visibility and providing the information. How would you describe the changes in expectation from clients over time as you’ve been with all of your experience on projects?

Colin Bunker:
Well, I guess it’s funny. And you’ve actually reminded me one of the gaps that I was talking about earlier. But one of the most obnoxious gaps that we have, your question being answered, is that a lot of time, we’re doing lots and lots of work on the contractor side, in our bubble. And then what jumps over in a data leak to the client comes in the form of say an invoice, or a schedule export. We’re not necessarily playing in the same sandbox. And so in that transition… sometimes those transitions are from a very complicated system into an Excel file, printed to a PDF and then launched. And when we look at that chiasm, it creates a lot of room for distrust and additional work and analytics as it goes through the cycle. Sorry, I just need to circle back to that real quick. But in terms of what I’ve seen in the client side, and how they become involved, we’re talking about more data, more reporting, more questions.

We’ve seen that in that when we come up with an incident, we have an incident report, we work through the root causes of it, we do that more collaboratively, we share more that data, our document control systems are developing in such a way that a lot more is out there on the table to share and to see, because the projects lately that I’ve been a part of have been way more of a team effort than isolated bubbles. And so you end up exposing a lot more of what had previously been internal type reports because it’s going to help that relationship and gather that input from your partner that you sometimes didn’t treat like that through at least my whole career. I think really, from what I’ve seen in some of the clients that I’m working with, is they want to get into more of the details that almost they haven’t been allowed to get into before. And when there’s a good enough platform to house that conversation, you can do it without crossing what might be still contractual boundaries in a way that’s really positive for the team’s development.
I just say, getting a lot more involved, getting a lot more data, and the more that can be consolidated quickly reported real time that really helps steer the job on the team ship, or the team path.

Catie Williams:
Mark, would you say that we’re seeing more interest in integrated end to end system being driven from owners? How is that working for more of an innate perspective?

Mark Edwards:
Yes, is the answer. We’re seeing owners drive, it’s exactly what Collins has said. They really see value of getting into a level of detail rather than looking at a PDF that they got in a quarterly or monthly meeting. They want to be in that system, or they want to see the same dashboard that we’re using to run the work on. Initially, that’s a pretty uncomfortable place, given where we’ve been. I believe nobody is trying to consciously hide anything. But there are times when there may be an issue on a job that turns into not being an issue. You don’t want to cloud things up with that because you may believe in your heart that it’s not going to be an issue, so let’s just let it go for a while. Well, if the customer sees that, that’s all good, customer meeting the client, the owner sees that, that’s all good. And even if it ends up being a non-issue that’s fine too.

But if something happens, and it flips, and it ends up being an issue that you need to deal with, they knew that right when everybody else did. It really is fully transparent. And we’re talking about the owner and the contractor, But even the disciplines on a job, for example, right? You can now see across disciplines on a job that you may not have seen before, or you can see progress in one discipline that may be impactful to you and work that you have that’s dependent on that work. That integration is good from an owner and contractor, and then within the job perspective as well. We haven’t really even touched on the whole engineering side of that, what I’m talking about just extends to there too. There’s no difference there. And when I think of integration that’s what I’m thinking about is all the way from engineering through turnover, because everybody pinches each other depending on what the schedule looks like.

Catie Williams:
Yeah, absolutely. Do you feel like Colin was having integrated systems, it’s changed the way you get and build work, manage work, has having the technology there available change anything about how the work is actually managed?

Colin Bunker:
I’d speak in the sphere of document control, which is a passion. Like right now, being able to play in the same EDMS system, and have like Mark was just describing, everybody in the same sandbox, for document management, from the engineers through the subcontractor, going back to some of the manila folder days. You take it, you stamp it, you get it received in one company and then you move it over to the next company, and they take it receive and stamp it. The timeline of transition of information with detailed recording of events has really shaped a new playing field for how fast some design modifications can be reacted to, and still be kept under commercial control without people feeling like they’ve sacrificed, by moving ahead of risk. And I think just the speed of that, and the connectedness of just documents, and having a thorough robust history has been a bit of a game changer in terms of being able to accommodate late decision making or maybe change decision making from the engineering side without derailing the entire project.

That’s probably been, in my mind, that’s one of the clearest places where I see impact of technology, making the speed of projects and staying on a controlled course improved by light years from what it was when I started.

Mark Edwards:
Catie, I’ll add to that, I like the column brought [inaudible 00:28:51], because that seems like one of the very first places even during the estimate. We want to get a document control system in place as early as we can, because all of that… That’s where everything starts, right? I absolutely I’m seeing this federation of everybody in the same box and everybody sees histories. Obviously, applications roles and security is critical, but making sure that everybody is seeing the most recent stuff that they need to see is getting more and more critical. The other thing I’d say around timing is some of the… I keep going back to some reporting and dashboard stuff. That you go and do lots of projects today, and they’ve got people on the job that are collating data and creating reports and grabbing… creating Excel spreadsheets and turn them into PDFs. That process may take, I can’t tell you how many man hours, but it might take two weeks to do.

And by the time the two weeks is over, you’ve got a problem that has been there for two weeks that you didn’t know until two weeks later. And now you got less time to fix it. With the integrated nature of some of the systems we have today, you can know that every day, you don’t have to wait two weeks to put together a report about how did you perform against budget yesterday. And that helps you in lots of different ways from lots of different perspectives. And that connected data gives you that timely information. Bad news doesn’t get better with time, you need to know that as early as you can.

Catie Williams:
You said something’s supposed to be a random question. But with everybody being in the same sandbox, “Oh, this looks like a doc control.” But with everybody being in the same sandbox and being able to see each other’s results on projects and how they’re doing. I used to hear all the time about how this project is sandbagging, and then they end up making a ton of money and being great, even though everyone thought it was a really dire situation. Competition is really healthy and prevalent in this industry. Do you think that that has changed? Because now I could go and look at another projects results? Or I can see myself on a scoreboard and being compared to another project? How has that changed the dynamic of how projects interact? Are there any positive sides that maybe have changed in terms of how projects compete against each other now? Hopefully that makes sense?

Colin Bunker:
Oh, yeah, no, it makes total sense. I think, again, organizationally dependent, if you’re set up in such a way that you’re categorizing work activities in a consistent manner. And you’re actually acquiring and accumulating that data in a consistent manner to a shared space. Absolutely, it helps build the potential for a scoreboard and drive expectation that somebody better do better than somebody else. And I’ve seen that within our company at least. The idea is that longer term that just keeps making us better and better at that specific task, because you’ve got a growing data pool of experience to go analyze and pull information from, to apply to your current situation. It only makes sense if that works over time. And we’ve seen it do that. I think trying to standardize the way that you’re gathering and grouping those things is a bit of a challenge. But to the extent that he can keep that as simple as possible, it will undoubtedly result in long term success.

Catie Williams:
Great. Competition still alive and well, it just isn’t necessarily hidden.

Mark Edwards:
You can probably tell just because of the way we smile when we talk about how to categorize work. That is a critical part of what Colin just said, and I want to underscore that. I’ll never forget the first time I was in a job review. I think it was in Louisiana. And we showed a histogram of productivity for a given piece of work. That was other jobs that had done that same piece of work in other locations around the US. And the crew we were with in that job trailer, they just were 100% sure they were knocking it out of the park. And they were doing well. But when we showed that report, they saw that, “Oh, my God, you mean there’s somebody…” And there was. There was somebody on the East Coast that was doing, I think it was an MSC wall placement work, and they couldn’t believe that somebody was beating them from a productivity perspective.

That’s when you can see those… We’re all competitive people. That’s one of the reasons we do what we do. But the nice thing is, that now starts to bridge parts of the company. If Colin was running that work on the East Coast, we showed who was running that work, and I call Colin and say, “Hey, man, what are you doing here? How did you achieve those productivity numbers?” Without that, no one would have ever known that Colin was not going to further out of the park than me. And I think that’s some really, really powerful stuff.

Catie Williams:
Just keeping on with reports, are there any reports… How did that change for you? The information that you consume to manage a project. Do you still look at the same things that you always have? And what are some of those things that help you gauge how are projects doing? What are the things that you care about on a project Colin?

Colin Bunker:
I think if you touched on the fundamental project management tools, that’s something I have not seen a lot of change in, the actual parts and pieces that I was taught, and I still look at to analyze how and where we are. You boil back down to those reports that tell you how much you got done versus how much you expected to do and gauge progress in that manner. You still got the schedule, which in some cases, a lot of cases is still disconnected, you look at that, to see how you’re doing compared. I’d say a new area of reporting that I’d never had access to before with a better centralized document control tool, and monitoring outstanding actions and communications where maybe a sub has sent us a letter, and we owe them a letter back. Being able to see roll up reports and that space, where just the health of the contractual arrangement, you could analyze with statistics and see if you’ve got a person that’s overwhelmed with the amount of stuff in their inbox, that needs to be responded to, that’s been like a whole new realm of management opportunity, where you can really help dive into people who are getting flooded, and support them when needed and faster.

But, again, the classic tools of knowing where you’re at on a day to day, week to week, totally unchanged in terms of the basics. What’s changed there is more the rapidity and ease of the data being available, having good integrated tools. Some of those reports come automatically, when it used to be somebody punching stuff into a spreadsheet, just to generate, the amount of people that get access to those is obviously that scalable thing that can go off project, which helps people focus in on challenge areas. I’d say the same fundamentals but some cool enhancements.

Mark Edwards:
On top of that too, back to that competitive and social piece of that. If you take that report that Colin just mentioned about, how did we do? How did I do yesterday relative to what I had planned? We’ve also seen a bunch of really good value out of, “Hey, let’s send that report, not just to a project director guy like Colin, let’s send that to the job.” A bunch of different people on that job, so they can see across the whole lot. How did Mark Edwards do relative to what he was supposed to do yesterday? And then because if I didn’t make it, I can’t tell from some of my peers… There’s actually two things that we’re seeing people use more and more is, what are you planning? Are you planning to win tomorrow? Are you planning to beat your budget tomorrow on that given category of work? And then how did you do yesterday? It’s this interesting place of am I… How well am I planning for tomorrow? Because, well, obviously, we want everybody to plan to beat their budget, or am I planning to miss my budget?

And then how did you do yesterday relative to what you thought you’re going to do? And then when you expose that to everybody on the job, it becomes even more powerful, because you get that social pressure? I think it’s a pretty cool dynamic.

Catie Williams:
Yeah, nobody wants to be on the biggest loser’s list.

Mark Edwards:
Yeah, I know.

Catie Williams:
We’ve talked a lot about the reports, the integration, the connected data. The whole intent of this webinar was to talk about starting with the end in mind, which is really the output. And I think, Mark, you talked a little bit about how someone that is struggling with that, how do you think of what you need when you’re implementing a new system? And maybe you could elaborate a little bit more on what does someone do? What process should they follow with… If that’s what they’re struggling with, they know they need an integrated system, but they aren’t really sure how to get to that output that we’ve been talking about, all these benefits we’ve been saying are because we have an integrated system. If you have any other tips or things that you’ve seen or learned along the way that an organization could put in place?

Mark Edwards:
Let me use an example I just did about these the… I’m just going to call it a daily planning report. At the simplest level, I know that every morning I want to have a daily… I want to have a, what work are we doing today and who’s doing what, right? You’re going to go through the work as an everybody’s getting started in the morning, and I want to know what that looks like. I know, again, back with the end in mind, I know that I’m going to operationally do that every day. In order to make that an efficient meeting, and make that data most useful to the people that are going to be there, I’ve got to get that data somewhere. In order to get that data somewhere, the question is, okay, so where is planning taking place? Where is a engineer or a foreman, superintendent doing the planning. Let’s go look at what’s the minimum necessary functionally now to enable them to plan so that I can run this meeting every day on the best data possible.

And it’s so easy to miss those, you’re so focused on the planning functionality, and you forget about the report. And what I’m saying is start with that report, or start with a dashboard and swim upstream. And that is really, really hard to do. It’s so tempting. And I know I’m guilty of it, too. When I’m looking at new software, guess what one of the last things you think about? Dashboards and reporting. And unfortunately, when it comes to operational work, we’re all in the business of doing, those are what keeps you going every day. I don’t know if that really helps. But I think trying to just make it as simple as possible to get the data you need, and accurate data you need to make those day to day operational sessions most useful.

Catie Williams:
That’s great. Okay, I only have a couple more questions. And the last one is to both of you, but I’m going to ask you in different ways. Colin, if you could imagine your ideal state of tools, integration, your utopia, whatever you want to call it, your unicorn, what does that look like when you think about, managing projects going forward with all that’s possible through technology, process, any of that?

Colin Bunker:
It’s on my head it just jumps to that single sandbox type theory, where as soon as that concepts launched, you’ve got the sandbox. And then as new people come in, they integrate with it. And the work is just funneled to where it needs to be one time and when people are analyzing it, they’re focusing on the same data. When I look at the disconnection between the sub invoice to us, where we PDF it and then analyze it and pass it along, so much times wasted, and the transition from box to box. Just living and playing in that same space, I think starts taking away all these time wasting useless administration type transitions, and really has the team energized, motivated and concentrated on the same mission. Mark had talked earlier about disconnection across maybe a schedule or disciplines, when they’re all seeing the same living, breathing thing with the right level of control, mind you, because as all students making mistakes. Just having everybody living and breathing in that space, the priority updates, just giving people an update on where the project is schedule wise.

Some of those things just decline in their importance when you’re in the same space. And people can see the data and they can watch it change, they can understand how floats are influenced and better apply their resources to what’s going to make their business most successful. It’s really playing in the same space with connected, storytelling that you can trust. We’re seeing it bit by bit trend in that direction, for sure. But once we get there, I think everybody will feel it. And as we’ve unlocked certain parts, like I talked about our current document controlled space. It might be tough, but as soon as people get over that hump, and it’s working, and everybody understands the rules and how it functions, and it does function, it’s powerful, and you look back on what you’ve done before and you’re never going back, you now depend on it.

Catie Williams:
Yeah, that’s great. I have just twisted a little bit for you Mark, that same type of question about what’s your future state, but are there also other technologies that you see coming into this space? I know you and I have talked about drones, when you picture that perfect world of how technology and integrated systems helps in this construction industry, how do you see it?

Mark Edwards:
I share Colin’s view for sure. Like I said earlier, I take that all the way from engineering. That view of advanced work planning, packaging where the way the work is going to get done on site, the constructions are going to get done should influence all the way back to engineering. And then once that starts, you can start to… And then you’ve got an integrated scheme all the way from front to back. The value of that is so varied, is so exciting, right? Because you can see, if something moves around from a scheduling perspective on engineering, you can see the ripple effect of what that might do to procurement and equipment and the things that you’ve got to worry about when you’re getting ready to do that work. From a, if you want to call it that, cutting edge technologies, other technology that I think’s coming, I’m a drone geek, I believe. It’s cool technology. I would just grab one and go play with it. But that’s all cool.
But I really believe the data that those things collect is only going to get better. And we can start to use that in ways to help make us more productive. There’s many examples where drone flies a job site, and you can set them up to fly the same pattern every dog on day, and then download that data and analyze that data and figure out how much especially on the infrastructure type job, figure out how much dirt’s been moved, right, from a volume perspective, and it’s accurate as it can be. And how do we now take that and use that in our productivity type of stuff. I think that’s amazing. And then you just put some icing on the cake, when it comes to the cool pictures that it takes, right? You can use that and back to the owners feeling like they’re a part of something, you can make that available to owners all over the world.

Not only is it giving you great data from a productivity perspective, but it makes the owners feel like they’re there, and they’re part of something. The money that they’re spending, they’re seen what’s happening with it. Everybody knows how exciting that is, building a house… you don’t drive by that house every day and see what’s going on, right? I think the same thing whether it’s drones or, some of the stuff we’re seeing with people with cameras, the safety implications are also incredible about the wearable stuff. I think there’s some really neat new technology that’s not just a shiny object, it’s a science fair project. I think it’s getting to the place where it really is going to drive productivity and increase safety on jobs. I think that’s going to be way cool to.

Catie Williams:
Great. Thank you. All right, before I open up questions to either of you have anything else you want to add that I didn’t think to ask? All right, we’ve got about 10 minutes left, so we will open it up for questions if anybody has any. I must have just asked all the good ones.

Mark Edwards:
I’m sure that was it.

Catie Williams:
Okay, so here’s one about real time data. Are you seeing that you’re having real time… What’s the data lag that you’re experiencing on projects in terms of data freshness? I’m going to interpret that.

Mark Edwards:
Okay. You want to go first Colin?

Colin Bunker:
Yeah, again, I would probably compartmentalize it a little bit. With financial and quantity style things, it’s lagged by how often you gather the data input. Do you reflect costs in your system every day? Do you reflect quantities in your system every day? I would say those type spheres right now we’re pretty much on a daily basis. It’s not necessarily down to any interval smaller than that. When you look at schedule type updates, again, it’s how frequently do you update that document and gather that data? Usually, it’s broken between shorter term and longer term schedules. But in things like the document control world, I’m getting instantaneous emails when things are shifting through phases of a approval if I want. There’s a few things along those lines like incident reporting, basically instantaneous, if you’re set up with the right notifications.

It really just depends what sphere you’re thinking about, but to the stuff that’s event based that has the right system behind it, it’s down to instantaneous I’d say to things that require some data date type. Does cost hit, for example, it’s only to the frequency that those programs run and printed to the background. Getting a lot closer on a lot of things to basically live in real time. But again, there’s still a chiasm between, maybe a subcontractor perspective, and a client’s perspective, depending on whether or not they’ve gotten into the same program set that we’re using. I don’t know if that answers well enough.

Mark Edwards:
I totally agree. I think, figuring out what is the data going to be used for helps determine how real time it is, what are you going to do with that stuff? Because I think sometimes real time data can cause more confusion than anything, right? Because it’s constantly changing and you don’t know when it came in. And however, like Colin said, whether it’s an incident report, or you got material that you’re waiting on, you want to know when that stuff hits the job. If you’re waiting on it, you got work to do. There are cases where you want to know right away, but other cases where, if it’s time or productivity or something like that, you can do it on a daily basis. My experience most time, because people don’t always understand what the data is going to be used for, it’s easy to fall off into, I see it in real time, right?
That’s some crazy behavior from a system perspective. But if you really figure out what’s going to be used for, generally you don’t need to do that. It can be a little bit less than that, and maybe a little more.

Catie Williams:
Sure. You mentioned sub, Colin, I’ll throw in this question. And we’ve got one more. What’s your usage rate among specialty subcontractors? I’m guessing that means usage of the integrated system?

Colin Bunker:
It depends which sphere we’re talking about. A lot of the times, we have a true specialty Southern partner, sometimes they’ll get their own ability to play within master schedule stuff. But that’s a pretty specialty. And by approval type basis. Within the document world, we’ve seen adoption at all levels, even minor subcontractors, because it just helps keep that traceability history and connectedness to the current version of the truth. Within the financial world, there’s still a lot of chasms that exist where people are submitting PDFs outside of the system. And it’s being processed by administration staff and things like that. But I think, just touched on the real time, the what do you need it for questions, I think is a really, really good one to ask. What I’ve seen is, a lot of managers default to, “Oh, I want the daily report. I want notifications of everything that came in yesterday.” And I’ve seen a lot of people just become numb to it, and not really have a method for dealing with it, or set up their notifications and reporting to something that’s actually digestible for them.

And in a cadence that allows them to still proceed with doing their jobs. A lot of people just get smattered with reporting, because reporting is available, and they’ve got a great file in your inbox, but it starts to become less useful. Just focusing down if it’s once a week that you’re going to focus and sit with superintendents to make sure that their plans been adjusted to get back on track. You might not need everything every day. But if you have critical delivery, whatever events you need to react to, maybe that is more real time.

Catie Williams:
Great, thank you. Okay, the last one unless anyone else has questions is, what is the largest barrier to having an integrated system? I’m thinking this means organization size or change management, maybe involving different systems.

Mark Edwards:
I think a big part of it is just, from my experience you get on a job and you’ve got… The history is that, everybody gets to work in their little pod. The information in that pod is shared, let’s just call it a discipline or set of disciplines. The information in your pod, you manage it, you might have a project director, somebody that is across those pods, but that information is very, very contained. As soon as you begin to dissolve that into just a set of people working in the same sandbox, it becomes a little… It’s a little nerve-wracking, right? That other people are going to see how I’m doing all my work, and it becomes this… it’s an uncomfortable place for a while. I think just overcoming that level of discomfort, and showing that nobody’s going to get their clock clean because of something that they… We’re all in this together thing starts to help overcome that.

I think that that initial, “Oh, my gosh, really, we’re going to be that transparent here?” Is scary. I have seen that…you think it was not a big deal, but it’s a big deal.

Catie Williams:
Sure.

Colin Bunker:
From my perspective, it’s like, I’ve been on projects where systems have been forced onto the job team by a partner. And I think where that’s broken down is, it’s because the system worked well for a small group in that company, and that’s what they’re used to, and that’s what they want to see. When you talk about getting everybody together in the same global software, you really have to make sure you’re addressing each party’s needs, and that they’ve got a way to achieve their business processes efficiently within that space. Even in something simple, we keep it going back to document management… it’s an excellent example lately for me. We’ve had to treat it like a development exercise, where even though there’s this basic foundation that works, until everybody understands how they’re going to participate, and see how and why it does work for them.

But as soon as you’ve eclipsed that, and you’ve truly made it the sandbox, everybody feels comfortable. People just start to rely on it. And there’s no longer even a conversation about, should we’ve done it or it’s just the tool everybody depends upon, and their right to do it because it saves everybody time, creates efficiencies.

Catie Williams:
Great. Thank you. Well, we’re almost out of time. Thank you everyone for joining our webinar. And Thanks, Mark and Colin, really appreciate it. And hope everybody has a great day.

Mark Edwards:
Thanks, everybody. Thank you Catie.

Catie Williams:
Thank you. Bye.