Construct.pm is finding customers valuing it for compliance management and for accelerating project management reporting processes.
By coincidence, the day after WeWork acquired FieldLens, I visited a WeWork location in London’s Devonshire Square to talk to a tenant, Construct.pm (which also competes in the UK equivalent of FieldLens’s mainly north American target market).
I first talked to this mobile-first business in December 2015, learning how the Construct.pm form-builder and workflow platform could expedite the creation of processes and then allow users to track their progress. It was then also working with SaaS collaboration vendor Conject (now part of Aconex) to integrate simple sharing of drawings from Conject to users of the Construct.pm platform (see also October 2016 ISG case study).
CEO Ant Erwin and head of sales Mark Coates updated me on Construct.pm’s core strengths, which they saw as mobile data capture and reporting.
The site-to-office mobile platform (currently iOS only, but the business is working on an Android version) is being developed to help project manager users accurately capture data while out on-site (“avoiding rubbish in, rubbish out”) and then re-use that data to manage workflows and to provide reports. One area they have particularly focused on is ensuring that any data collected is of high quality – for example, data is checked for completeness, and conditional fields and approval processes help ensure information is accurately captured in the right fields and formats.
Conventional capture of field data using paper-based systems and/or manual entry into Excel spreadsheets is still commonplace across many construction sites, but increased digitisation, including the adoption of BIM, is making professionals more conscious about the need to capture, record and reuse data consistently, both within projects and across a businesses’ projects.
Construct.pm is finding its platform used increasingly for various previously paper-dominated process including permit-to-work workflows (for example, for ‘hot works’ such as welding or brazing) or for delivery tickets – speeding up the automated flow of information from site to head office so that project valuations can be updated in minutes and payments expedited.
“Compliance is an increasingly strong point for us,” said Erwin. “Health and safety, environmental and quality issues have not always been dealt with properly by other apps out on the market, and we forget that some businesses are still getting their heads around Excel in the cloud.” (Other businesses in this sector that I have looked at in the past include HandS HQ and DarleyPCM).
“Many of our clients understand it’s not just about the forms,” Erwin continued. “Their efficiencies come from being able to manage the resulting workflows, being accountable, and avoiding hold-ups.” Construction and design programme improvements, avoidance of mistakes, higher individual productivity, faster approvals, and reduced admin costs are among the benefits reported by customers. Mark Coates also talked of one project which had been won because the contractor had demonstrated use of Construct.pm to the client, showing a commitment to visibility and to adoption of innovative technology that the client had been keen to see: “It’s good for reputation,” he said.
Construct.pm is also finding its customers are valuing its platform’s reporting tools, said Erwin.
“More and more, we are surfacing the data. We’ve got the data collection; now it’s about using what we call ‘trackers’ to monitor actions and resulting issues, particularly if there are cost issues. Effectively, we can start to do part of the project managers’ jobs by producing coordinated reports for them. And we are using the latest live data, straight from site, to build these reports. … This means project managers can start to work entirely differently – being able to react based on live data as opposed to the old way, based on information that might be two weeks old.”
He also described how Construct.pm also interfaced with Microsoft Project through an open API to help project managers assess the impacts of issues on project programmes.
Coates said Construct.pm now had 100s of customers, most of them paying a monthly subscription to use the toolset across multiple projects. In some cases, up to 70 subcontractors may be using the platform at the request of the main Tier 1 contractor, but the business was also finding some subcontractors proactively opting to set up their own Construct.pm systems so that they too could report across multiple projects.