Nothing to do with computer gaming, GamePlan is a US start-up exploring both lean construction and BIM-based collaboration.
In devising its product, US-based startup GamePlan (headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware) has consciously tried not to copy existing SaaS construction software providers’ approach to collaboration. While its core platform offers many of the same features, its philosophy has been strongly guided by a commitment to ‘lean construction’ and learning from Last Planner and related approaches. I spoke to GamePlan founder Vishal Porwal earlier this week.
As a marketer, I queried the company name. In a sector where vendors often create names that associate themselves directly with building, construction, projects and sites, why did Vishal choose GamePlan? “It dates back to when I was working at Turner Construction,” he said. “Often, superintendents would start a meeting by asking ‘What’s the game plan?‘ and as we were also working on lean construction workflows using tools like Last Planner, the name kind of stuck.”
Lean and social
Vishal recalls the difficulties of managing Last Planner outputs capture on paper, in Visio, then Excel spreadsheets or MS Project: “We wasted a lot of time on transferring information and confirmation and verification processes – not doing project work or solving problems.” GamePlan was therefore devised to deliver a combination of information exchange, project and contract management, scheduling, communication and collaboration.
Its user interface is also influenced by tools such as Slack and Facebook, providing – like one or two other products – a discussion timeline feed for collaboration as well as more conventional email notifications. And GamePlan have been heavily involved with several US AEC Hackathons, finding them useful in stimulating new thinking and innovation (incidentally, after the inaugural London AEC Hackathon in July 2015 – post – another London event is planned for 8-10 July).
Vishal says he has been reading ExtranetEvolution since 2009/10 and credits it with helping him formulate the concept of GamePlan, which launched in 2013.
“I wanted to create a robust cloud-based construction project management solution that could become an affordable, enterprise-ready alternative to the likes of Procore, NewForma and Aconex. Our mission as a company is to make the construction industry safer, more productive, environmentally friendly and more profitable.”
GamePlan Team is the core project-wide collaboration platform, enabling people from different organizations, working on the same project, to quickly discuss ideas, get feedback, share updates, ask questions and organise work – core features cover groups, tasks, photos, contacts, members, and reports and analytics. As well as browser-based access, users can use GamePlan on iOS mobile devices, and there is also a Chrome extension. GamePlan Team is included for free as part of all other company products: Field, Documents, Contract Management, Time, and Resources, each typically priced from US$50 per month (for 10 users, 10 GB storage and unlimited projects), and with data and workflows shared across the different products.
From 2D to BIM and beyond
Close to US$500m worth of projects have been hosted on GamePlan so far (projects range in size from US$100,000 to over US$60m, with customers across the US, plus others in Mexico, Australia and Qatar). Some small builders have adopted GamePlan for traditional 2D document control and issue management, while others have started to use it for BIM coordination, Vishal said. “Often firms are coordinating model files by sharing Navisworks .NWCs and .DWGs to places like ShareFile and Dropbox, so we offer integration tools that synchronise with these.”
In the longer term, Vishal (who writes a blog about green and lean BIM) expects GamePlan to offer a more sophisticated approach to BIM: “We have been doing some experiments with model visualisation, VR and AI and look forward to extending our product offering to solve AEC problems using the latest and greatest technologies available in the market.” And GamePlan is also planning to start marketing its platform in Europe in the near future, to both widen its customer base and pick up on European countries’ adoption of BIM and development of associated standards.
Efforts to promote lean construction have a long history and a close association with efforts, including BIM, to promote collaborative working (I recall attending Constructing Excellence events on the subject in 2007 and 2008, and I returned to the topic in 2010 when I wrote about Advance2000). Of the companies I regularly monitor, only Newforma offers something specific relating to lean construction – in October 2015, it launched Newforma LeanPlanner, powered by LeanKit, to help teams improve production schedule reliability and deliver more predictable project outcomes, but the solution was not (yet) integrated with its core platform.
Vishal is forward-looking in his approach, keen to embrace new ideas and the latest thinking on BIM, as well as more established, yet still relatively progressive, approaches such as lean construction. We talked quite a bit about the UK BIM programme and UK vendor common data environments (CDEs), and with some of his customers already working 80% to 100% in BIM, it is clear that he sees BIM as key to GamePlan’s future, er, game plan.