While some SaaS vendors focus on the needs of main/general contractors and owners, eSub aims to provide an easy-to-use mobile project management solution specifically for subcontractors, while TidyBuild supports SME business needs.
For some years, the construction collaboration technology sector largely focused on web-based platforms to support whole project delivery, creating a single central repository for the principal participants to share documents, drawings, photos and workflows. The introduction of smartphone and tablet technologies during the late 2000s began to change the picture as software developers began to create mobile apps to manage discrete processes (eg: ‘snagging’) out in the field. We have also seen mobile-first applications developed to support smaller scale projects (eg: Denmark’s GenieBelt, in the US Corecon from California and Jobsite Unite from Iowa, and Australia’s SmallBuilders). With the vast majority of construction projects still undertaken by SMEs, it is not surprising that start-ups are looking at the business needs of subcontractors and smaller market players.
In the US, San Diego, California’s eSub.com recognised competitors were focused on the needs of general contractors and owners, and set out to provide an easy-to-use mobile project management solution tailored specifically for subcontractors (or as Benny Baltrotsky, eSub’s strategy director, termed them to me: self-performing contractors). Reminding me a little of Rapport3 (see previous post) and its multi-faceted support for business processes and integration with third party tools (especially accounting packages), eSub provides a familiar set of capabilities:
- Centralised project management, including document management
- Time card managementmult
- Corporate management
- Resource management
- A field works mobile app (eSub also has a partnership with Plangrid – read October 2016 news release)
- Accounting integration (eg: with Sage and Viewpoint ERP, among others; the company is involved with the Construction Open Standards Association, COSA, an organisation dedicated to making construction software more interoperable – helping its integration capabilities.)
The SaaS application was apparently launched just before the global financial crisis, but its timely focus on mobile devices ultimately proved attractive to customers looking to switch from a reliance on email and paper-based communications, particularly in a subcontractor sector in which many employees are not office-based. Unfortunately, no details on pricing are given on the website
Also targeting this sector is New Zealand’s Tidy International. Founded in 2009 by CEO Kevin Mann, its TidyBuild.com offering is a cloud-based building and construction management solution for job and project control from quote-to-invoice, and (like Corecon – April 2015 post) provides integration with the cloud-based accounting platform Xero.
Tidy’s TidyWork project and job management system “for service providers, architects, engineers, workshops and creatives,” was launched in 2011, followed by TidyStock, a stock and inventory management system that enables efficient use and tracking of resources (the integration with Xero ensures all materials are invoiced effectively – Tidy says the application is used by food manufacturers, sporting and warehousing business, among others), and TidyBuild.
There is a 14 day free trial offer and each of the systems is available at different levels of implementation from ‘Essentials’, through ‘Turbo’, ‘Jet’ and ‘Rocket’ plus an ‘Enterprise’ offering. TidyBuild, for example, starts at US$49/month for 1 manager user and two additional users, with a neat slider quote interface showing a 200 user system would be US$2029/month on the ‘Essentials’ configuration. The ‘Enterprise’ offering of the same product, with four manager users, starts from US$551/month.
As well as Xero and depending upon which configuration level is selected, integration options include Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Project, Capsule for CRM, and DropBox for file storage (in my view, not a perfect solution compared to the sophisticated document control alternatives available in the market for project-based construction collaboration, but probably more than adequate for most AEC SME’s internal needs).
TidyBuild case studies include a New Zealand-based contractor, Adan Larsen, and a Manchester, UK-based surveying practice, BPM Group (as well as its New Zealand base, TidyBuild has an Australia-based reseller, and a London, UK office):