With only a short time to spare to walk round the exhibitors at the Digital Construction Week show (post) in October, it made sense to arrange follow-up calls with some of those businesses whose products and services interested me. One was Construct.pm.
The core Construct product is a mobile App that uses real-time cloud technology to let construction managers and consultants manage their whole project on site without needing to go back to the office to handle admin and paperwork. It has been deployed on City of London office projects and on Crossrail, and while some rival applications are point solutions aimed at relatively discrete areas of work (defects, for example), Construct.pm – like ViewPoint for Projects Field View (post) – provides its customers with a growing range of tools tailored to their users’ needs. But it additionally provides Critical Path programme milestone management, digital forms and automated process workflows on top of drawing management, snagging and other workflow support.
Construct.pm, 10-strong and based in London, grew out of INTRO Labs, a mobile applications developer focused on making professionals “hyper-connected”, after founder Ant Erwin identified that enterprise use of cloud technologies and location-based services for project management was being repeatedly requested by corporate customers. Initial development of Construct.pm started in 2013, providing iPad users of with bespoke apps providing various site-based functions including daily checklists and site diaries. By putting these processes at users’ fingertips, Ant says Construct.pm was saving up to two hours a day per user.
Creating bespoke forms was inefficient, so Construct.pm developed a form-builder and workflow platform to expedite the creation of processes, so that client businesses could customise the application to their specific needs; the platform can also be ‘white-labelled’ to provide corporate branding. Reflecting the company’s legacy focus on hyper-connectivity, the forms allow users to ‘follow’ particular processes and track progress, and there is a real-time bulletin board tool that provides instant commenting or messaging (assuming users have connectivity, of course; this is not unique: among others, GenieBelt’s “Beats” offers something similar, post).
The application was piloted with a small number of customers in late 2014. One of these was ISG, which was also using the Conject SaaS construction collaboration platform to manage documents and drawings (Conject announced it had acquired a mobile business, Wapp6, in January 2014 and launched its ConjectMI mobile inspection application in May 2014).
Construct.pm is not seeking to compete with SaaS providers – Ant sees Construct.pm as complementary – and the business worked with Conject to integrate simple sharing of drawings from Conject to ISG users of the Construct.pm platform. Before going out on site, users autosync their iPads, and can then, if necessary, work offline with the latest versions of information up to that point, then resync once they regain connectivity. Construct.pm also developed some pre-rendering technology that speeds up the loading of drawings on the iPad. The application offers redlining tools and the ability to associate drawings to tasks and forms.
As a project management platform it also allows to import and export schedules and milestones from MS Project. And Construct.pm is also now looking to include building maintenance into the app so it can be used by owner/operators and their FM providers throughout the life-span of a building.
Having quietly launched the iOS application in April 2015, Construct.pm plans versions for Android and for Windows, reflecting what Ant sees as growing popularity of the Windows Surface tablets among some of its corporate customers. The angel-invested business is currently focused on the UK market, but its work with international customers has inevitably attracted some enquiries from overseas.