What goes through your head when someone says "We need a new tech solution for X,Y,Z"?
We hear that it's often thoughts of conflicting priorities, too many options and change exhaustion.
If you're facing any of the above or simply looking to refine your selection processes, Heather Baker has the answer. As Senior Business Analyst at James P Davis Construction (ENRX at $1Bn revenue) she has led dozens of tech projects and joins us to talk through the most crucial details for choosing tech to solve your business needs.
During this webinar, Heather shares her intel to help you:
- Gather Your A Team and Must-Have Requirements
- Put your B.S. Meter to Work
- Define Usage Metrics That Get You Outcomes
Kendra Bilo (00:09):
All right! In the interest of time, I'm going to go ahead and get started. For those of you who've been able to join us, I want to thank you for registering for and attending the "No B.S. Process For Choosing Tech Webinar" today sponsored by HammerTech. My name is Kendra Bilo and I'm with AGC of California and I wanted to go over just a few quick housekeeping items before we get started. First of all, today's session is being recorded and the recording will be shared with all participants and anybody that has the link can see the recording. So please feel free to share that link out if you would like following today's session. We do welcome questions at any time today. So in zoom there's a Q&A feature and there's also the chat box available in zoom.
Kendra Bilo (01:02):
So if you have a question at any time, please feel free to go ahead and submit your question through either of those. We'll be monitoring that throughout the hour today and we do anticipate there will be some time for discussion at the end. So feel free to unmute toward the end if you do have questions or would like to participate in the discussion. I also wanted to mention that I sent some documents out this morning via email to those who registered for the event. In case you did not receive those resources via email, I will also drop a link in the zoom chat box and you'll be able to access those resources and download them from there. And with that, I will turn it over to Georgia Bergers from HammerTech to get us started, Georgia.
Georgia Bergers (01:47):
Thank you, Kendra. Good morning. And good afternoon, everyone, wherever you are dialing in from. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Georgia Bergers, the partnerships and field marketing lead at HammerTech. For those of you who don't know us, we were founded in 2013 and we're a cloud-based all-in-one field operations platform. Could you pop over to the next slide for me? Thank you. And next one. Awesome. So through consultation with industry, we hear two major issues with field safety: difficulty obtaining leading and also performance-based data. We believe that people drive processes and so disconnection between worker and data that comes out of digital processes is part of the underlying issue. We solve this by keeping the workers at the heart of our software platform and wrapping processes around their HammerTech profile. When you do this, you have a 360 degree view of how your workers are engaging with your processes and the process status. And this is what provides comprehensive leading midstream and leading data to improve performance. Next slide.
Georgia Bergers (03:09):
So, as I mentioned, we're an all-in-one platform from pre-start through to close-out. We're configurable to your unique processes, we believe that field safety must start with virtual orientations, and then we cover the full spectrum of processes to give you extensive and reliable business insights.
Georgia Bergers (03:34):
"Build Safer, Smarter, Better Together" is a shared vision for the construction industry at large. We help your teams do this by increasing connectivity, saving you time, driving prevention with safety data, and helping you set up to scale your trusted reputations when working.
Georgia Bergers (03:57):
So now for today. Field safety is really just one component of a construction technology stack and finding the right solution is becoming increasingly difficult. There's a lot out there in the marketplace and so today I'm happy to present a collaboration with Heather Baker, who is a Senior Business Analyst at James P. Davis construction. And she's going to help us do just that. Heather has been with Davis for almost 14 years and I believe the anniversary is the 30th of April. So happy anniversary in advance of that!
Kendra Bilo (04:34):
Heather has implemented many, many solutions, HammerTech being just one of them. And this has played a huge part in the growth of James P. Davis and the building of the solid reputation that they have. So as Kendra mentioned, we'll be taking questions throughout. Please don't hesitate to send them through and we'll get to them as soon as I see them. So with that, Heather, over to you.
Heather Baker (05:01):
Thank you, Georgia. I do appreciate it. A little bit of background about Davis. We are the largest local construction firm in the DC Metro area. We tapped a billion dollars in revenue in 2019 all from local work which is just absolutely amazing. We have a diverse portfolio of projects that includes the market sectors of our residential, some base building and renovation groups as well as corporate and even interiors. All of those really do help round out our portfolio. So if there is a single like the burst in 2008- 2009 in the residential market, we had found that we actually were too heavy in residential and our portfolio kind of took a huge hit with the downturn. So we wanted to make sure that based on that, that we've diversified and ensure that not any one market sector is too heavy.
Heather Baker (06:07):
So it does take a hit. The others can actually help continue with our business. So yeah, again, one of the things I absolutely love about Davis is that we are local. It is kinda nice. I worked for an international firm before and the travel can get kind of crazy. So working locally was definitely one of my key objectives when I decided to come to Davis. And, as Georgia says, I've been here for almost 14 years now. Davis is the first department that I've worked for and probably my last as well. I'm a civil engineer by schooling but a geek by nature; I fell into the IT role by a happy little accident. I was about two and a half years into my career from college. And I got placed so we were a small GC in the Philadelphia area and we used Excel and word and that sort of thing for all of our record documentation.
Heather Baker (07:12):
So the company was starting to grow and decided that they needed a project management tool. And I happened to be starting up one of their largest projects to date. It happened to be a $16 million job, fairly small in this day and age, but way back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, that was a pretty big job. And we started utilizing a prolog manager and we had a trainer come out and teach us how to use Prolog. And like I said, I was in charge of, you know, running one of our largest projects to date through this software, you know, first project going in and I'm calling our trainer every other day, every other week, Hey, I need help. Hey, I need to do this and I'm doing this. There's gotta be an easier way.
Heather Baker (08:05):
And we had, you know, just through me pushing the buttons of the software, we developed a relationship. So six months later, he came out to give a refresher and update, you know, see how things were going. And he took me out to lunch and offered me a position as a trainer at Meridian. And I'm like, "Oh, well, that's kinda cool. I never really thought of that." And so we were going down the process of me potentially going out to California and working in with Meridian and he left the company and I'm like, "Oh, but the folks at Meridian called me and said, 'Hey, do you still want to come?' And I'm like, I don't know." I was willing to go work with him, but I think I'm going to stay in the area. And there you're like, "Okay, no worries."
Heather Baker (08:57):
So, a few months later, I decided I'm leaving my first company going to a second interviewing with another firm, again, local GC to the Philadelphia area. And I was meeting with the VP of operations and he says to me, "So do you know prolog manager?" And I laughed and he puffed up his chest and said "You find that funny?" and I'm like, "Easy, easy. Let me explain." So I explained that I was, you know, going down the path of being interviewed by Meridian as a trainer and his eyes lit up and he's like "I got the perfect job for you. Six months. That's all. It would be R D needs help upgrading from prologue four to prolog five. And he doesn't have enough time to do it. And wait a minute, I can't offer you this job." And he runs out the room and he comes back with a DBA, which is a database administrator comes back and we conduct the interview.
Heather Baker (09:55):
And a few months later, I was hired and I started working on upgrading the system. Now I knew prologue, but I didn't know prologue five. I definitely didn't know this new firm and their business processes. So in the first basically three months of my existence there, I got sent off to San Francisco for a Meridian conference. I get back then I leave for two weeks cause I got married. I get back. And now I'm starting to read through all of their existing process manuals, looking at the software to see how the software will fit in with their existing processes, modify anything that's required. And then going ahead and educating everyone. Shortly thereafter, it was successful. People were using the software, calling me up asking questions and a year and a half later, I still found myself asking, answering questions that people were asking.
Heather Baker (10:59):
And, again, it was just a happy little accident that I found myself in the software support. I never would have thought, you know, becoming a civil engineer. I was gonna manage projects and, you know, become the big VP and, you know, have multiple teams under me. And now I'm kind of a one gal band so to speak and, you know, I couldn't be happier. It was a great decision. But through that happy little accident that I had in this interview I've evolved from working with operations folks on the softwares that they utilize to implementing, supporting, and maintaining pretty much all the enterprise level softwares that are geared for the construction industry. So not only do I know the operation side, but I learned the accounting side, the HR, everything that kind of goes into our business practices, rolled up my sleeves, ready to dive in and learn more.
Heather Baker (12:05):
So that's about me. That's about Davis. And let's go ahead and move on to the presentation. Maybe there we go. So the tough reality of implementing tech, you know, they say that you can learn from your mistakes. Well today, I hope to maybe give you guys some key takeaways that you may be able to learn from a few of my mistakes that I've made over the years. So proper planning and communication can go a long way to assure that you're it, your tech project will be successful. We're going to discuss these in greater detail throughout the presentation, but here's some of the lessons learned that I can share with you having the right players at the table is super important in all honesty, no one really likes to have technology just forced upon them by not including a specific group, that is a key stakeholder in the process you are, you know, attempting to fix with technology can actually be detrimental to your project when you go to implement it.
Heather Baker (13:14):
Not having those right people buy in on the processes or the softwares. I mean, it could just kill your project. Once you do get those right stakeholders there at the table, you got to keep them on task. Okay. Especially when they have that bright little shiny object in front of them called software, right. It starts really with defining the scope of the project and gathering their requirements. When you even, you know, before you start looking at the solutions, okay, don't be afraid to tell your stakeholders "Look that wasn't included in our original scope. We may need to do this as a post go live initiative. Let's roll out the software and then let's look at this after we roll it out. Now, if the scope really is extremely, extremely important, you may need to revisit your schedule."
Heather Baker (14:10):
Okay. So there's a little bit of give and take there being oversold on the solution. I really do love this point, especially with HammerTech, being at the table and us just partnering with them at the end of last year. But did you know that software is sold by, well, salesmen? And did you know that their software can do everything? I mean, Oh yeah, sure. It'll do it in a year, right. Be sure not to fall into that trap. Oh, that feature is coming. Compare solutions based on what they have today. Not what they're going to have tomorrow, because one of the things you're going to find is just like your goals change maybe year to year, maybe day to day. Well, so do software vendors and their roadmaps. They change based on what their customer needs. So if you're banking on them, coming out with something in Q2 of next year, Q2 of this year, and then all of a sudden it does it.
Heather Baker (15:19):
Now you're left with a solution that really didn't fit your bill fully. Okay. So now that you've got a great solution in place, you think maybe, well not if it's not being utilized, right. Post go live metrics are really important to consider and have in place during the implementation, not after you can mitigate potential failures early, if you gain an understanding of how the software will be utilized and begin looking at the metrics, either during a pilot or immediately after a post go live by not considering these KPIs or key performance indicators early on, you really won't know if all of the effort that you spent on this technical solution was successful. Okay.
Heather Baker (16:17):
Okay. So we discussed some of the things that will cause missteps in your tech project. Now let's talk about how we're going to get your tech project going on the right foot. Okay. So first your must haves. Whoa, what's that? Well, let's first look then. Who, who are your 18 players? These are the folks that are instrumental in your project. They can include a project sponsor, which is someone in the organization that has some skin in the game when it comes to this tech solution, but also has enough caliper behind them to really push this software. Okay. you have a PM, which is the one that is going to manage your project. They're going to look at your schedule. They're going to make sure that the meetings are there. They're going to look at your cost, all that good stuff.
Heather Baker (17:12):
And you have a core group. Your core group are your decision makers. They are the ones they, they could be your sponsor. Your PM could be involved, but also some SMEEs which are subject matter experts. Okay. Might even be some IT folks. Okay. All of these core groups, these are the ones that your core group members are, the ones that are really going to make the decisions for this project. Is it going to move forward? Which softwares are you going to select? That sort of thing. Okay. So once you know who all of these important folks are to you, you need to know what they know. What is important to all of them? I'd like you to take a look at that handout, which is the IT requirements. Okay. So you will be able to and we're going to talk more about this, but you're going to be able to list out all of their requirements and then also rate how well that software did against the requirements.
Heather Baker (18:14):
Okay. you also put in your BS meter to work. I just, I love that. You know, you need someone that can really see through the demos and truly understand if the software can fix the business problem. Okay. What you see and what you can do could be two potentially different things. So we are going to talk a little bit more about this. And then your usage metrics. The analytics space has evolved greatly over the past few years. Power BI being one, Tableau being another and there's quite a few other reporting visualization or metric softwares out there. You want to be sure that the softwares you're reviewing have some sort of BI capabilities, whether it be internal to the software itself or via APIs that you can consume in an external BI tool. Okay. And BI is business intelligence. This allows you to take the raw data in and be able to transform it into meaning, hopefully meaningful visualizations to basically prove through if your software was successful. And I'm going to show you an example of that.
Heather Baker (19:42):
So in the handouts, you're going to see Davis business solutions' project charter. So in our organization, our it department information technology is actually been renamed to business solutions because that's what we do. We solve business problems. Okay. So this project charter is your roadmap. It's not set in stone and you should update this as you navigate through your project, you need to understand the problem and what you're trying to solve. It's going to be really, really important to, to define those, to keep your stakeholders in line and keep the scope of the project, evolving into something that and, and keep the project from evolving into something that never ends or never gets started. Okay. Requirements can be classified into must haves and nice to haves, consider everything from end user requirements, as well as your it requirements. When you're looking at it requirements, is the software going to be in-house or is it a SAS, a software as a solution?
Heather Baker (20:54):
You need to look at its reporting capabilities. Okay. and when you, if you don't have someone like me that understands the business processes, that's a natural geek. How do you find that person it's really difficult and I'm raising my hand because when we need a business analyst at Davis and we put out, you know, a ad on indeed, right. Or a job listing on indeed it's very difficult to find that right person, it really is. You've got someone that's either business savvy that is more on the operation side, or maybe even accounting, where you get someone that's tech savvy that is more about the straight up PIM Bach which is, you know, the project management kind of gospel book that it is step by step, by step, by step, by step. But someone that, that can go through those steps, but doesn't necessarily really understand your business.
Heather Baker (21:59):
What I'd like you to do is look internally for someone like me, someone that already understands your business. And that's just a natural geek. So how do you find this person internally to someone like to try things on their project? Are they innovative? Do they like to, you know, do these trials or sign up through their company credit card? A, a specific account for, for their project. Okay. does someone take on the task of technically helping someone else sell? These are the people that you want to bring in as kind of an in-between IT and operations. Okay. It's bringing them internally. We'll go a long way and hopefully you guys all have someone like that.
Heather Baker (22:52):
So when we're bringing eh, sorry, when you're looking at tech projects that crosses multiple departments in your org or organization, say like a CRM, a customer relationship management program or database, okay. Your data owners are going to be in this case, your data owners are going to be your operations folks. They have the information about the projects that your business development team needs to consume, right? So they consume the project fact information so that they can propose more work on similar projects. Now, if you're doing a CRM project and you don't include your operations folks, okay, you're leaving out a huge group of stakeholders in your project. You want to bring them in early on so that the here, why the information, the processes and the products that are going to be consumed by your business development group is really important to that group. Let them gain an understanding of why the information that they have here needs to be put into the software so that they have the ability they being business development has the ability to consume it, add, create your project fact sheets and your proposal information, resumes, that sort of thing.
Speaker 3 (24:25):
Heather Baker (24:25):
So once you have the requirements done from everybody, you want to do research, research, research, and maybe some more research. Okay. Find all of the potential products that seem like they can do the job and do a demo with that vendor. Okay. Narrow down the 20 products that are out there to maybe three, four, five vendors and bring them to the table with your stakeholders, with your core group. Okay. the requirements should be looked at in two ways. Okay. When you're going through these demos, does it do it? It's, that's easy. It's a yes or a no. Okay. Here's my requirement. Does the software do it? Yes. Great. Now how well does it do it? Okay. Do you have to go through 16 million clicks to make it, do it, or do you have to go through two okay. How kludgy is it? Right.
Heather Baker (25:27):
So if you just count whether it does it or not, you may have two softwares that actually fit the bill, but one is a lot of pop-ups and one's streamlined. It's real simple. Okay. Maybe that simple is better. Okay. So not only does that requirement's a spreadsheet that you guys have as a handout. Not only does that list out, you know, allow you to list out your requirements and whether or not the software is a yes or a no, but then you also have an opportunity of rating that so each individual person can do the ratings and then you can come back and compile all of that information. You may see from an operation standpoint that the entering of the information in a CRM tool is stupid simple. It's awesome. I love it. It's great. But to produce a product, a project fact sheet might take, you know, three hours, well, that's way too long.
Heather Baker (26:34):
So you've got to find something in the middle that works with everybody. So again, you know, you've got that great at scale. Also when you're going through these softwares, right, you also may find an unattended benefit that you hadn't considered. This software does this. So I'll give you a HammerTech's option here. So we wanted something for our orientation videos to be able to be presented in a socially distanced kind of way. And HammerTech does that very, very well. One of the things that Davis did not do before was we never really gave an assessment of the comprehension of that safety video. Well, HammerTech now allows us to do that. So we have a a two part, we broke our video out in two parts, and we have two assessments of 10 questions each now, not only do they have to they have two attempts to pass it.
Heather Baker (27:42):
So now not only are we allowing socially distancing for our safety video to be viewed now we're gaining an understanding or, or we're gaining insight that the workers are actually understanding what we're telling them in the video. Now, once we learn this piece from HammerTech, well, now that was a new benchmark. And now we added that to the other vendors that we were looking at and to see whether or not one again, did it do it, does it do an assessment and how well does it do the assessment? So we have some options there. So you, you, your requirements may change throughout depending on what the software's actually have capability to. So again, they'll either softwares will either fit into your existing processes or your existing processes will need to change the fit, the software, which is right. Your stakeholders will actually tell you after they've seen the demo, some may say, Nope, this is our process, and we need to stick to it. And we just want the software to support these processes, period. Okay. At the other hand, though, well, we see that we can do better with our processes and this software will help us adapt to the new processes. So you have a couple of options there, and again, it's super important to make sure that you select a software that meets your needs today. Not what's potential for tomorrow.
Speaker 3 (29:29):
Cool. Okay. I love that
Heather Baker (29:31):
This show not snow. This kind of fits the weather here in the DC area today. It's not snowing, but it's it's cold for it. So your stakeholders actually may narrow down the initial selection to one or two potential softwares, get a trial account set up that you can actually put your fingers on the keyboard to truly understand if it's going to meet your needs. They're going to be able to show you, but until you actually get in there and you put your fingers on the keyboard and you stew in data entry, you really won't know that software and whether or not it fits your needs until you actually do the hands-on trial demo, that sort of thing. I highly recommend anyone that is implementing a tech solution to pilot on a handful of projects, if you can, before you go live.
Heather Baker (30:29):
Now I understand if it's a major implementation, like an ER P that likely won't be required because you're going to have to rip out your project management software. You're going to rip out your accounting software and to have them into two separate is very, very difficult. But if this is a standalone product for a standalone process, go ahead and pilot it, make sure that it's successful. We did, with HammerTech, a five pilot project and it was about a four or five month pilot just to make sure that it was the right software. And sure enough, it was basically first of the year all of our projects are now live on HammerTech. So all of our orientations are being done through that software, but at the same time we did that pilot first, we wanted to make sure that our pilots were picked appropriately as well. So this is important to understand about your pilots. You don't want just your 18, your superstar, techie superintendents, or your techie project teams using the pilot. You want to get some of what I love to refer to as dinosaurs, you know, the guys that would still prefer the stone and chisel method of documentation. Okay. You want to get them involved in your pilots because if you can win them over, you have a successful or a potentially successful implementation.
Speaker 3 (32:11):
Heather Baker (32:12):
Okay. So KPIs, KPIs are key performance indicators. Okay. So these KPIs that you are going to develop during the duration of your project are going to let the stakeholders know if the software is being utilized, as it was designed. Now they may be council records or they may be based on process flows. It really depends on the solution, but each project that you have will produce its own set of KPIs. Once you define the KPIs, you need to then create the reports and share the finding on a regular basis, whether it be weekly or monthly, it really depends on the project. So if I can show you an example of some of the key KPIs that we've done. So this was on a project management software we've implemented at Davis and this metric, or these KPIs are given to the VPs monthly. We are looking at just a small component of what the actual software does, and we're looking at the drawings and we're looking at the daily logs.
Heather Baker (33:26):
So I, knowing enough about our business, looked at it and said, okay, if a job has no drawings at all, that's bad. So I'm going to make it red. Now, if based on our size of projects, I'm going to say, if a project has somewhere between one and 99 drawings, I'm going to make it yellow and anything over a hundred drawings is green. Now I am not going to say that the the red or the yellow is bad. What I'm trying to do is invoke a conversation. Okay. I'm trying to invoke a conversation between the project team the VP and the project teams. So for example, if I look at this yellow guy, this is a job that may be an interior job. So having 73 drawings on the job may totally be applicable. Okay. It's a smaller job. Totally. Okay. I don't know this going in.
Heather Baker (34:32):
And so I present the information. They may have no markups on their drawings, which is red, and that's because this draw, or this project just kind of got kicked up towards the end of last year. And it may have actually even been delayed. Okay. Especially with how 2020, when that job may have been delayed. Yes. We got the set of drawings, but we actually haven't really been using them. Okay. And also looking here at the manpower logs, we've got, you know, again, metrics, none are bad, but it may be that they haven't started out in the field. Okay. One to 99 log entries in a month. What I kind of figured is if we look at we've got 20 work days in a given month, and on average, I'm going to have five sub-contracts per project. So that's where I gave my green or, or five subcontractors per day.
Heather Baker (35:30):
And that's where I gave my green up anyone over a hundred. But again, these jobs might be kicking up. They might be small. They might be closing depending on where the job is. I'm just going to give that visual indicator to the VP that they can look into it further. Oh, this is okay. Because, you know, we're, we're at a downtime or, or, you know, we're in between phases on the job and we're waiting for the next phase to kick up something like that. Again, I'm not saying it's bad, I'm just saying, "Hey, take a look at this." Okay. And again, understanding those metrics upfront and what you want to look at while you're developing the processes. Why are you before you implement your solution is really critical so that you can start capturing that information right away. Okay.
Heather Baker (36:24):
So some key takeaways planning: Set your project up on the right foot from the beginning, create a charter or a business document to outline the who's, the what's and the when's and house. Okay. Go through that process. It may seem like busy work, but it is really at least from my position it really goes a long way to understanding your project and to be able to communicate that understanding to the other shareholders, do a deep dive hands-on trial or a test to make sure that the solution is in fact, the right choice. Okay. You also then want to look at the softwares to determine the efficacy of the solution. So you want to look how it's being utilized to make sure that you know, you've got the right level of engagement with that software. So hopefully that software will offer you some, either internal reporting or some APIs that you can connect to your own reporting tool that allows you to look at that.
Heather Baker (37:40):
Again, it might be process flows. If you're expecting, you know something to travel from this person to this person, you can look at ball in court. Okay. so where are these things that you can look at the status on the open statuses? You can look at the ball in court. How long did it take for something to change hands after the fact? Okay. So you can say, Oh, well, this taking way too long was that maybe there's some tweaks that you need to do in your process. And you'll be able to look at that during your pilot phase and then get it right for your go live phase. Okay. So that's actually the presentation that I had for you guys today. So I like to thank you guys. And I'm going to take a pause here and I'll find out if you guys have any questions.
Kendra Bilo (38:36):
Thank you, Heather. That was incredibly thorough. You've made quite a complex, I guess, process that you've honed over time feel really accessible, which is, I think it's about, huh?
Heather Baker (38:51):
Yeah, definitely. I mean, you know, we, we want to you know, to reinvent the wheel for everyone individually is super, super difficult. So if I was able to provide a little bit of insight a little bit of helpful tools to make your tech projects go easier, I'm happy to have helped.
Georgia Bergers (39:15):
Yeah, absolutely. So for everyone in the audience, if you want to either send through your questions on chat, or you can unmute yourself and ask questions, we're here to listen. I'll pause there for a moment.
Georgia Bergers (39:36):
I have one that just came through Heather. So with all of the different solutions that are out there and all the possible problems that that could be solved with, with technology, what's the sweet spot for balancing the need for new solutions and, you know, like do, how many do you tackle in say a, say a year so that you're, you know, or whether it's over a period of time so that it's not too much change for a business.
Heather Baker (40:02):
Oh, wow. That's a great question. I love it. So at Davis, what we typically do, so our year end which is our fiscal year is also the calendar year. So we line up and so we start planning for the next fiscal year, starting in about August. So what we do is we typically start looking at problems June, July, and August, right? So we, we, we look at it and we see, okay, what's out there, what's available. And we start going through some of these processes upfront. We develop the charter, we go through the requirements analysis and we try to narrow it down to one or two vendors. And then we look at the how can I say this? We look at how important this problem is to people and we make a go, no go decision in August for our projects moving forward in the following year.
Heather Baker (41:10):
So once we, we make that determination of, yes, this project is going to go and we look at the group said it's associated with, and then we try to I, if there, let's say we're working with our business development group and we've got six solutions or six problems that we need to solve. And each one are individually hope not, but each one are individual and we need six different technical solutions to be able to solve those problems. We know that that is way too much to bite off for any one group. So we say, okay guys you know, we're, again, this is now in August, we've gone through these requirements. We see here are your six projects or six problems that we need to solve. Realistically, this one's huge and well upon your rating of those problems. If this one is your biggest one, this one is also going to be the most time-consuming.
Heather Baker (42:10):
So we're either going to be able to do this one to no others, or we might be able to do this one and one other. So which ones do you want to do? So we have the conversation with the group leads, our department leads and make sure that we're not overwhelming them. So I'll give you another example that we are a CMIC customer. And that is an ERP that is geared specifically for the construction industry. And so we are upgrading our CMIC from V10X to R12 as a pretty major upgrade. It's being self hosted. So we have it in-house, but it requires a brand new Oracle database, brand new set of servers. Everything basically is a new build that then convert our database in to the new schema. Okay, great. Well, on top of that we have a pilot that we're going to do on an invoicing solution or a, a job billing solution for our project teams and we're going to utilize Textura.
Heather Baker (43:19):
And so our VPs were really, really disappointed when we were talking through the potential of piloting texture that we're not actually going to start until July. And that's because we're doing an upgrade to our CMIC in June. And then, because the connectors are different that push and pull the data. We would have to relearn our pilot folks just after a month or two, we would have to relearn them the new way. It's like, okay, we're not doing this to them. So we're going to wait till we do the upgrade to CMIC, we're going to let the dust settle and then we'll start our pilots and, and the VPs that were ready to go. We're like, Oh, that's we understand, but that's really sad. Like we want it now. Like we see the need and we want it now. And we're like, well, we got to push back a little bit.
Heather Baker (44:13):
So even though the end users were truly pushing on this solution we, as our business solutions group kind of put the brakes on and says, "Okay, we can only help, but so much. So we're going to do this and then this." So it really depends on the organization. It depends on the people. But it's really good that you're considering already what's too much for the end user. You know, as some people as well, that also goes a long way. Hey, if we give you this and this at the same time, is that too much? Maybe let's do it one at a time.
Georgia Bergers (44:50):
Yeah, absolutely. And I'm sure vendors, or, you know, other peers in the industry as well would be happy to tell you what their experience was with that particular solution as well. Yeah. we've got another couple that have come through. So who is involved in your tech choosing process? So, you know, superintendents, VP's, pace you know, your tech team. So and I guess, how do you make sure that there's not too many cooks in the kitchen as well to sort of round that question out as well? I'd be curious to hear that as well.
Heather Baker (45:25):
Yeah. So it's always a delicate little dance that you have to do around those key stakeholders. You know, you, you need to look at the problem that's being presented in front of you to determine who are the right players. If you're talking about eh, job billing, for example, you're not going to bring your superintendents to the table, but if you're talking daily field reports, you will bring your superintendents to the table. You may or may not bring project managers to the table for daily reports because that's really a solution for your field-based guys or gals. And so looking at, and that's where that project charter is going to really come into play to understand who, who are those right people that touch that business process that you are looking to enhance or solve a problem that's instrumental to it. And again, I had mentioned it earlier about the dinosaurs.
Heather Baker (46:31):
You know, you don't necessarily want to exclude the dinosaurs because you're afraid they're going to slow down the project. You want to have one of your superstars. And then one of your not-so techie guys included in that you want a well-rounded I guess, demographics of that particular group, because if you just get the superstars that understand tech and just live it and breathe it and just love it. Well, then they may not be able to see that this is too difficult of a solution for the non-technical people. One of the other things that wasn't quite mentioned in here I do a lot of education for Davis, you know, I teach a lot of people, the softwares that we use and that sort of thing, which is great, but one of the things that we found in the couple of years that has been really, truly successful in the project space is after we have implemented a software after we worked with everyone and we got the software implemented and it's live handed off to the right group.
Heather Baker (47:47):
So if you're doing an, a takeoff tool okay, where you're bringing drawings in and you're able to do the takeoff and count quantities and areas and that sort of thing hand-off that software to estimate it don't keep it in. I T don't allow your IT folks to be the owner of that software, pass it off Hamer tech. We are live, our EHS group now owns HammerTech. They're the ones that set up the project. They're the ones that, that get the end-users added to each of the individual projects until we do the pro core integration. But which will happen automatically, which will be beautiful. But until then they own that right after we've, after we did the implementation, we went through the pilot, I manage the pilot, right. I got the project set up. I met with the project teams and the safety dorks out there, and I walked them through the software.
Heather Baker (48:44):
And then once we says, yes, this is a go, we are moving forward. I turned around and said, okay, guys, this is yours. And I pushed myself back from it. And now they own it. One of the hardest things that I've found that we had done outside of our operations group, because our business solutions group was actually named a section of our it group. We had infrastructure and business solutions and business solutions originally came to help our operations folks. And we still own those operational based softwares, but any of the other softwares that we implement, if it's estimating pre-con business development if it is HR, we hand off that ownership as soon as we go live. Now, I'm not saying that I'm not involved with those softwares, but we handed off to make them be the champions of the software. It's their solution. We just helped implement it.
Georgia Bergers (49:47):
Yeah. I think that's a really great point because that, that ownership empowers and also supports usage and better engagement with, with, with the solution, which can lead to process improvements over time.
Heather Baker (50:03):
And yeah. And if anything fails during that you know implementation, it's not its fault.
Georgia Bergers (50:12):
You're not saying that there's finger pointing that happens in your office?
Heather Baker (50:15):
Well, it's one of the reasons that we now pass off the software after we implement it, because we've been blamed for so many things. And it's like, wait a minute, this isn't our software. We, we don't own this. You guys do well. No, we don't. So now we actually have an official handoff. It says, okay, you are now supporting, I will support you in supporting the software.
Georgia Bergers (50:39):
Yeah, absolutely. Pilots. So we've got a couple of questions around pilots. So how do you determine if a pilot goes well, and have you tried a pilot? That didn't go so well. And how long did it take fear for you to abort? So yeah, let's start there. Yeah.
Heather Baker (50:59):
So you know, it's all based on feedback back and you know, when we're doing a pilot, if we have metrics set up ahead of time, I can report on those metrics and I can physically see that the software is being utilized. It doesn't mean that it's going well, I can get counts. I can see the handoff. But I'm not sure that it's, it's, it's good. Right. I could just see it's being utilized. And the, the feedback from the pilot users are really the ones that are the go no-go decision makers. So I'll give you a HammerTech as an example we turned around and I went out and so I learned the software myself. I set up the jobs, I got her orientation set up. And I went out to the existing projects and, or one was a brand new project.
Heather Baker (51:57):
I went out there, I met with the team, I walked them through the software. I showed them how to use it. And I said, call me with any questions. So I went out there on a Friday and Monday, I actually went back out because any new workers were being orientated in HammerTech that day. So I went back out Monday morning was just there for moral support and says, okay, call me with any questions. So in the meantime, I'd been running some of the metrics and I could see that we had pending orientations that had not been approved. And that pending number was growing, growing, growing, but the approved number was not call up the project team and say, Hey, are you guys approving the orientation? You still have to hand out your hard hat sticker number, record that number in, in HammerTech and then approve the orientation.
Heather Baker (52:51):
Oh, I was just recording the number and hitting save. Okay. So redefine that process. Good. Awesome. And then I could see him that the superintendents starting to tick through those approvals. Great. Awesome. Okay. so, you know, I worked with the six pilots that way after about two, about a month. I think it was, yeah, it was about a month. So we we've gone through about, eh, it might've been six weeks, about six weeks of orientations through the system. We get the core group back together as well as the pilot superintendents, safety dorks, whoever was involved in the orientation. And then we turned around and says, okay guys, how's it going? And we have a series of questions that we asked. Do you have feedback from the subcontractors? Is it easy for them to use how are you doing with the orientation approval process?
Heather Baker (53:52):
Is it a kludgy to put the hard hat sticker number in and approve the orientation? And we just walked them through that, you know, those sorts of questions overall, what do you think? And, and not to tout HammerTech's horn here. But unanimously, it was all a yes. They were, everybody was, was all the superintendents that were involved in the project. All basically said the same thing. Look, this is great. I'm able to send out a, a link via text or email to the foreman. They're the ones that are responsible to make sure that all of their workers are orientated once they are, they come to us, we check it off, give them their hardhat sticker number, tell them about our project specific safety requirements housekeeping items, that sort of thing, send them on their way. Guess what, instead of having to do this for three, four hours a day, because of COVID and social gathering requirements and all of that, he goes, all of our workers are, are starting to work within an hour of arriving on the job site.
Heather Baker (55:01):
I mean, that quick somewhere sooner, but at most it was an hour versus four hours that some of our larger jobs we're having to do. Plus we have a requirement that everyone's got to go through their safety orientation before they come on site. So we're, it's not even like the work was going on and we pull them out to do their orientation, send them back. Nope. They are sitting on the sides, just waiting to get into the trailer to watch the video. So across the board, it was very clear that it was a yes. One of the things I can, I can tell you that is a bit of a hitch in the giddy-up when it comes to piloting is try not to expect a single project to pilot this two different softwares for the same thing. So for example, we went through a pilot of daily logs and this was before we subscribed to pro core.
Heather Baker (55:59):
And so we had two different field apps for doing daily logs. And as soon as we put one into someone's hands, they went switched to try the other one to see which one was better. So we made that mistake. It was a slight pitfall that you need to pilot one software. Now, if you need to do a second pilot, because that pilot was not successful based on the feedback. Fine, but don't try to do two in one shot. Try one, you guys pick one, which one do you want to use? You like it? Okay. You don't like it. Let's try the second one now. And let's see if that one's better. And you're going to get some people that disagree or you know, with, with the findings of the group. So the group says "Yes, it's successful." And one guy is like, "Fishing's horrible at socks. Or you might get all of them gone, Oh my gosh, this is horrible." And one guy goes, "Are you kidding me? This is great." Well, you've got to, you got to do that balance. It it's, it's all weighted. And it is a a group effort. It's not anyone that's making that decision. Hope that answers the question.
Georgia Bergers (57:15):
It was an excellent answer. I learned, I learned a lot listening to listening to that as well. Awesome. Well, I think that's that's top for the hour. Okay.
Heather Baker (57:25):
Georgia Bergers (57:30):
So thank you so much, Heather, for partnering with us on this piece. I haven't seen a session like this that really goes into the detail and what walks people through a process like this. It's very new for a lot of businesses, so I hope everyone learned a bunch. And thank you. And how can people drop your line or keep in touch? Well, go through the questions.
Heather Baker (57:55):
Let's see. So you could definitely reach out to HammerTech and they're on their social media is @HammerTech_US you can, you can find me on LinkedIn, Heather Baker, oh, I guess I'm just Heather Baker. You'll find me up there. It looks just like me, you know, hair down. And but you can also email me I'd be happy to, to answer any of your questions that you may have. I love having conversations with folks and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Georgia Bergers (58:39):
Awesome. Thank you very much.
Heather Baker (58:42):
No problem. Thank you guys. I really do appreciate being up here today and hope you guys got something out of it. I'll keep my Paul's cross that you have. And I look forward to maybe having further conversations with you.
Kendra Bilo (58:59):
Thanks so much, Heather. And we'll send out a recording following today's session probably out this afternoon. So look for that shortly in your email. Okay.
Heather Baker (59:08):
Thank you, Kendra. Do appreciate it, Georgia. Thank you.
Kendra Bilo (59:10):
Thank you. Bye.