Thursday, March 26, 2009

More than Shovel Ready

Collectively we need to emerge from the "wait and see" philsophy prevalent in the construction industry today and boldly move onward. We all need to take an active role in our company survival and planning for prosperity. Of course you've eagerly consumed every Construction Forecast, studied the reports of the forthcoming stimulus dollars and their proposed impact in our communities. But, have you invested the same in effort in planning how you will "do more" - for your clients, for your bottom line, and ultimately for keeping your job - "with less"?

You are not alone if you have focused primarily on the big issues of our market. But now is also the time to intelligently review every opportunity to increase competitiveness and eliminate waste.

Without debate, the days of fat margins are gone. Competition for jobs, pricing pressure and delivery expectations are fiercer than ever. Yet, a remaining opportunity to maximize your margins on every job remains largely unrealized. Inefficiency is a lingering problem; eating an estimated 3-7% of your gross margin on every project.

Get more than shovel ready; Get 'the Hub' and get ready to capture an average of 3% more revenue on every project, every day. Start your free trial today!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Site Safety Best Practices

Significant industry resources are applied to ensuring jobsite safety, appropriately so. Insurance provider Liberty Mutual findings (T. Christensen & C. O'Connor, ConstructionExecutive, May 2008) demonstrate what you practice daily in the field - incident response planning and documentation are critical in mitigating the financial risk to GCs by minimizing false or inacurrate claims and providing proof of professional diligence (vs. negligence).

Recognizing construction safety as an independent professional discipline, ConstructHub can offer additional value to GCs by serving as an important link in the process. Through Daily Reports and Safety modules, on site staff can readily access and document incidents according to appropriate procedures - with consistency and clarity. The quality and timeliness of documentation surrounding an incident is of fundamental value in defending claims (pg. 18). An ability to document utilizing photos, movies with sound and written reports while managing the incident from the field is seemlessly supported using ConstructHub's net-native tools with pda & Internet access.

ConstructHub's software as a service and technology agnostic platform make it simple and cost effective to add value to your project management and jobsite safety programs. Learn more today.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lean and Green - Join the Movement

Everywhere you look in our industry, the buzz is centered on 'green' construction, LEED certification, 'lean' project management, etc. An AIA study in 2007 cites the volume of municipalities with green building programs has increased 418% since 1992. Construction Executive Magazine in its' June edition even coins a new term to my vernacular - 'green collar jobs'.

Nobody argues the inherent nobility in the efforts, but standards are a work in progress as is risk management and litigation. Green is front and center, and for those in construction a common question can be 'where do we start'?

A low hanging 'green' fruit is to be had in the minimization and/or elimination of the mass volumes of printed matter associated with construction program and project management. Use of electronic content management and delivery systems to organize, store, retrieve and archive project documentation is here today.

And electronic project management is now financially accesible to small and medium sized businesses using Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery methods. SaaS simply means that you focus on your business of managing construction by offloading the IT aspect of project management. Furthermore, instead of investing in servers and licenses, SaaS allows you to pay for what you use; a cost structure that mirrors your business activity levels.

Online, electronic project management also increases the velocity of business workflow, reducing costly delays in distributing RFIs, CORs, Drawing Revisions etc. Automating your business processes, eliminating data re-entry, and minimizing the hard copy ouput are all readily achieved green practices to embrace today!

As Cianbro Project Manager Brian Watson shares, green building is "not {necessarily} extra work, just a different kind of work" (Pinch, 2008, p.36). Hitting send to distribute your Meeting Minutes isn't more work, it is just different. Let ConstructHub show you how easy it can be to take important first steps in your going green initiatives.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Richest Data Comes from the Field

April 2008's Construction Executive Magazine's 'Tech Trends' section validates the opinion that construction's front line of field personnel - field engineers, superintendents, foremen etc. - are today's knowledge workers. And as such, the front line field staff can have considerable, direct positive impact on a project's bottom line (Webb, p.12-15).

ConstructHub shares this perspective and offers GC's the often missing or incomplete tool to capture the data as it happens on the site. PDAs, dummy terminals and simple notebooks with Internet connections allow field and management staff instantaneous access to site documentation, photos, videos, meeting minutes, daily reports, and inspection reports with self-managed alert functions. The field staff is empowered to easily translate the information in real time and the PMs at the office are automatically alerted when information of designated importance is completed.

Empowering project field staff is a win-win. Superintendents using ConstructHub tout its ease, organization benefits, flexibility and accessibility to project information from anywhere, anytime. Webb points out the secondary benefit of employee engagement from use of a collaboration tool in field and goes on to offer 10 implementation factors to consider.

Before finalizing a decision for tool selection, ConstructHub welcomes the opportunity to partner with you in determining success factors for your business. Leveraging mass customization and Software as a Service delivery methodologies deliver web 2.0 value to Construction Management and Project Management disciplines using ConstructHub.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

stagflation with a small 's'...

Is the small 's' intended to make us in the construction industry feel better? Anirban Basu, chief economist for the Associated Builders and Contractors calls current industry economics just that (T. Grogan & T. Illia, 'Stagflation Threatens Construction As High Prices Stare Down Recession', ENR, March 24, 2008).

Higher steel, cement and asphalt prices are prime for increases next quarter; oil and gas prices at record highs; and, anticipated labor shortages in key trades. All are conditions which emphasize our need as an industry to address the low-hanging opportunity of achieving efficiency gains - of both hard and soft costs.

While not having direct influence in reducting cost indexes for Construction and Building, ConstructHub does offer GCs an opportunity to see immediate ROI via the SaaS delivery model and quick start implementation. Perhaps best of all, you don't have to take my word for it...try it yourself for 30 days free to experience 'efficiency through simplicity' in your project management.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Preventing Scope Creep Payment Disputes

Cynthia Tari , partner at Hermes Sargent Bates LLP in Dallas reiterates a frequent and at times costly process for GCs asked to modify original and/or contractually documented scopes of work will in the field (Construction Executive, February 2008). At debate is not whether to perform the additional work, but rather how to document the request to avoid payment disputes.

Tari offers clear advise for preventing disputes includes: "document the authorization to proceed" (p. 56). Very sound advice however, easier to manage from the office, but not always so in the field. This issue is an opportunity for ConstructHub to demonstrate two key attributes - efficiency and asset protection.

Efficiency gains to document changes in scope are easy with a 24/7 web-based tool such as ConstructHub. For example, an owner requests out-of-scope modifications when talking to your site superintendent. Following the conversation, your Sup documents the issue in his Daily Report and assigns the Ball-in-Court (BIC) to the PM on the job. The PM (or PMA) receives an alert on their PDA when the Daily Report is marked 'final' , compares the request with the Owner's Contract and notes the need to gain written authorization for the requested additional work. A COR is immediately generated via PDA - using the information entered from the Daily Report - and transmitted electronically to the Owner for approval. The owner authorizes the work by email and the work begins same day. Nobody had to travel to an office, re-enter data, or produce numerous physical copies to fax, mail or courier. And importantly, "email communications...are effective in proving such authorization" (p.58) shares Tari.

Nice and easy; Efficient and protected. Everybody benefits and work continues on schedule. Don't find out the hard way about the lack of strength in oral testimony and simply prevent any excuses or exclusions by having anytime, anyplace access to your project data, reports and legal documents.

Friday, March 7, 2008

We're Contractors not IT Guys

If I had a dime for every time this crossed the mind of PEs, PMs, and CMs in our market. And yet software companies for years have continued to push the adoption of technology in the construction industry - with mixed results.

As a small to medium GC, I likely opted to avoid the early adoption of systems, but today is different. Technology has matured; notably web-based technologies - to what is called version 2.0. The name alone means nothing. But, look under the hood and get hands on and you will see that web 2.o does have meaning and includes everyone!

Web 2.0 is different because it is focused on you - the customer. The technology should be flexible enough to adapt to your business process, not force you to mold to its methods. Web 2.0 technology should allow you - construction professional - to focus on construction and not think about (or invest in) technology or technologists. As a GC, I don't want to be forced to hire IT staff. I want to focus on my core strengths in my business of building actual structures!

It is refreshing to see that Construction Executive Magazine and Fred Ode (p. 47, January 2008) speak directly to this issue and provides valuable guidelines for those choosing a software provider.
  1. Know the Company behind the product you're considering.
  2. Gauge the Company's commitment to clients.
  3. Consider the technology sophistication of your organization.
  4. Evaluate your organization's 'readiness' (just because you buy it, doesn't ensure they will use it!)

A good software provider should be a resource to you in answering the above. The concept is familiar and applicable to our industry...Design-Build anyone? Bring your software provider to the table early - at the design stage - to avoid costly errors during the build phase. If you are a BIM enthusiast, consider it clash detection for running your construction business. Be smart about applying your construction intelligence to building your business and consider evaluation of software as foundational to that process.

ConstructHub gets it. We were born from a GC and refined by PMs and Sups in the trenches. Say it in either vernacular, but let ConstructHub provide your business a competitive advantage -- increasing your efficiency and focusing on your core competency of building. When do you want to get started?