Powerdesign headshot 1 Brad Moore • 

Field iPad Brad Moore is the Construction Technology Program Manager for Power Design, a subcontractor firm ranked #42 on ENR’s list of top specialty contractors and #16 for electrical contractors. Brad recently spearheaded Power Design’s migration off PlanGrid and onto Fieldwire, citing Fieldwire’s superior ease-of-use and scalability as reasons he championed the switch.

Brad and the Power Design team navigated the switchover for Power Design with support from Fieldwire. Here’s how they moved $1.4 billion in projects to Fieldwire without incurring any downtime for the company.

Learn more about Power Design’s switch from PlanGrid to Fieldwire! Download the Case Study

Looking for a solution: Clark’s using what?

The process of switching from PlanGrid to Fieldwire started halfway through 2018. At that time, we were looking to move from PlanGrid to BIM 360, an Autodesk product. I did a lot of research comparing BIM 360 with PlanGrid — and then found out that Autodesk was purchasing PlanGrid. That muddied the water in terms of what we’d get with either of these products — they were going to be owned by the same company. What does it mean when tech giant Autodesk buys the other big player in this arena? We had no idea, but neither did they.

So we went back to the drawing board.

It just so happens that we’re partners with Clark Construction, who were adopters of Fieldwire. We’d also heard of Fieldwire from other people in the industry. When Fieldwire came across my desk again, we were like, OK, there’s this thing now.

We started the vetting process all over again. Ultimately, we were looking for a company that we could depend on as a business and tech partner. And, of course, a solid platform that works right now.

Digging into Fieldwire, I found it checked a ton of boxes for us. The feeling in the beginning was, This isn’t exactly what we’re used to, but it could work nicely. Fieldwire seemed to be made for businesses like ours, designed specifically for teams in the field. We decided to make the switch.

Then we got real and took the next step. For us, that was setting up about six pilot projects, manually transitioning plans from PlanGrid to Fieldwire.

We hooked up with a few of Fieldwire’s customers who had switched from other platforms, and they told us what their process for conversion was like. Some companies transition more slowly — they’ll do new projects in Fieldwire and phase out PlanGrid when projects end. But Power Design doesn’t do anything halfway, so we were just like, Go for it — we’re all in. Our goal was ambitious, to be 100% off from PlanGrid by the end of the year. So for 2020, we’re 100% Fieldwire.

Stop, align, and train

Then I had an uh-oh moment. We needed to figure out how to do it, where to draw the line, and how to make it work with the timeline we set. We also needed to consider the timelines of all the projects that we were working on — including the phases that they were in and the tools being used on them.

We looked into the backend APIs for Fieldwire and PlanGrid and what we had access to. We needed PlanGrid’s API to extract our data, as well as resources who were available to help us.

When we were ready to deploy Fieldwire in the field, we asked: Who’s going to get it? When are they going to get it? How are we going to roll this out across eight different regions of the country? What’s the timeline, and how does it line up with our other initiatives?

We were just like, Go for it — we’re all in. Our goal was ambitious, to be 100% off from PlanGrid by the end of the year. So for 2020, we’re 100% Fieldwire.

I went to our internal training department, who coordinates our regional meetings, and told them, “We decided we need to facilitate Fieldwire training through group gatherings.” It was all about timing. We have 2,100 users in our company — about 600 on our company’s campus and the rest in the field. We also had 2,000 iPads loaded with Fieldwire to deploy to.

When it came time for implementation, we had answers to a few questions:
Who? Literally everyone in the company because that’s who we wanted to expand it to.
When? We had to do training, but still needed to figure out, How do we keep the training fresh in their minds? How do we give everyone the information they need and very quickly after that put them in the application?

We aligned everything so that several regional training sessions could take place over seven weeks. We scheduled a series of communications and trainings for the office staff, field staff, and our support departments.

Empowering our team in 2 hours

Two weeks before the first regional training, we sent an email to everybody that explained that we were moving to Fieldwire. The email included an invite to log in and a note that said we’ll explain more in a little bit: “Explore if you want, Fieldwire is coming. It’s coming, it’s coming, it’s coming.” We sent a couple more teaser emails in the weeks leading up to the roll-out with instructions about setting up accounts, user management, managing documents, and more.

The week before each training session, we emailed attendees that we’d show them how to access their Fieldwire accounts and plans and how the application works. Our Fieldwire training sessions were for two hours. Training

Moving 222 projects and half a million sheets to Fieldwire

Ahead of the actual switchover, we emailed everyone that the migration was coming that weekend, how it would go down, and that we were swapping out old iPads for new ones in the field.

Then, on the Friday before the weekend of the switch, we emailed that projects were going dark over the weekend while we were migrating.

I worked with our developer to automate the migration. That first weekend we did 58 projects right out of the gate. We hit pretty much all of them with only a single glitch — trouble extracting a file from PlanGrid — that we were able to solve for quickly.

Even that we had a communication plan in place for: “Listen, we’re experiencing a glitch, just hang tight.” It was a lot of rolling with everything as we went along.

That Monday morning after the first migration, we sent out an email saying, “We’re live, so let us know if you have any problems.” Meanwhile, my coworker and I QC’ed the whole thing and made sure everything was good to go.

The cycle of trainings, communications, roll-outs, and QCing lasted eight weeks — seven weekends. We’re up to 222 projects, half a million sheets, another 100,000 documents, photos, and other files. It wound up being about 2 TB of raw data that we transferred over. We did trainings in 15 different cities though all our projects stretch across 71 cities.

My advice: Find champions in the field and from leadership

My advice to anyone considering a switch is if you’re going to do it, do it. You definitely can’t do it halfway. The other way of switching — the slow, new projects-only approach — waters down the effect of switching. Do it all at once and make a bigger impact.

The other advice I have is to enlist a pilot group. We did at least one pilot group in each region we serve. Having guys from these groups who are strong players and known amongst the other team members helped us out when it came to the shock factor. Having someone say, “Hey, it’s a good product,” calms a lot of nerves that result from, “You’re doing what with all my plans and documentation?”

It also helped to let everyone know that we’d thought about everything that they’re required to do, what their day-to-day life will be like, and how the platform does all the work.

Getting leadership buy-in was about helping everybody understand the why of the switch. We want to be a company that is built to last, and we want to expand our user base. We explained that Fieldwire has strong features for task management which are more field-forward. And Fieldwire opens up a lot of room for future initiatives that we’ll be diving into next year.

Once we got people into the application and past the shock factor, they found that Fieldwire makes sense. The field has been digging it. We’re over the hurdle of the transitional period. There’s how we had been doing things before, and here’s how it is now.

Learn more about Power Design’s switch from PlanGrid to Fieldwire!

JavedJaved Singha • 

#18208 Sensor tower (1)

Have you ever wondered why you enjoy video games so much? Maybe it’s the story, visual effects, or sounds. Whatever the reason may be, the most enjoyable video games have two things in common: they’re easy to use and engage with.

Like every great game, Fieldwire has a story

Myself and Yves Frinault, Fieldwire’s Founder and CEO, both did a stint in the video game industry. Following that, we started Fieldwire and brought with us our knowledge of the gaming industry to change the lives of construction workers in the field. How? By building construction management software that’s easy to use at work.

As a result, we steadily increased volume and now drive more than double the number of downloads as every other major construction technology provider, including PlanGrid, Procore, Autodesk BIM 360, and Oracle Aconex Field — beating them all with the highest app store rating as well!

Sensor tower resized

Any gamer will know that user experience is everything. People don’t want to read instructions. They want to jump in and learn on the fly, seamlessly. This is true regardless of whether they’re playing a game on a laptop, smartphone, or tablet — a truth we stand by at Fieldwire.

“The most successful video games are easy to pick up but reveal tremendous depth as you keep playing them. We have modeled Fieldwire after that principle and it allows us to integrate user feedback without making the product heavy.”

Yves Frinault, Founder and CEO, Fieldwire

Transforming construction with great UX

There is a reason why Fieldwire is the highest-rated and top-ranked field management platform for the construction industry!

Instead of exhausting resources on large annual events, we put 100 percent of our energy into building a product we know our end-users need to do work. With user experience and engagement a top priority, our customers can quickly deploy our construction management platform. Just last month, Power Design Inc., one of the country’s largest electrical contractors, announced it had moved 65 percent of its field staff to Fieldwire from PlanGrid in less than two months with zero downtime.

Breaking the rules to drive engagement

There is also a reason why 75 percent of ENR’s Top 400 General Contractors have signed up to use Fieldwire.

Unlike traditional construction software, we believe in the importance of having a freemium model and product roadmap designed for the people doing the real work on construction projects.

Tyler Sosin, a Fieldwire investor, and Partner at Menlo Ventures, says our bottom-up distribution strategy has resulted in the rapid acquisition of individual users, small teams, and, ultimately, entire companies. He said, “Fieldwire combines an efficient bottom-up distribution engine with a unique capacity to expand customers from small crews into large enterprise deals. The result is a cash flow positive company with a really strong growth rate; something we rarely find in the wild but are delighted when we do.”

Already, at just six years old, we host 750,000 projects on Fieldwire and have more than 2,000 unique paying customers, including company-wide agreements with some of the largest construction companies in the world, including Built (Australia), EllisDon (Canada), and Clark Construction Group (USA).

“Fieldwire enables our supervisors to stay out in the field, and they don’t need a computer for their work. It’s quick, easy to use, and it’s doing what it’s supposed to do.”

KK Clark, Project Manager, Clark Construction

Focused on the field first

Our platform brings a unique focus on labor coordination to help drive productivity on-site. As Yves puts it: “Fieldwire is focused on delighting and delivering value at every level of the organization. It’s a simple proposition but it’s key to the success of a bottom-up distribution strategy.”

Everything we do is for the craftworker onsite. Fieldwire, as the name implies, exists to connect people in the trenches, or in our case, the field. We want to connect them to the data they would have in the office to do their jobs well, as well as the tools they need to communicate efficiently and document work.

Due to our field-first and user-friendly nature, I believe we have the potential to truly transform the way field crews operate around the world. With more than 20,000 downloads per month and an app store rating of a 4.8, the sky is the limit!

To date, we’ve raised $40.4 million to scale product development and headcount, with a target of 150 employees by summer 2020. Until then, we’ll stay focused on building a best-of-breed construction management platform that makes it easy for crews to track, record, and share project updates, ensuring proactive responses to all things related to quality, safety, and scheduling.

If you enjoyed this blog post and want to know more about our story, check out Fieldwire’s coverage in Crunchbase, TechCrunch, and ConstructionDive. If you’d like to hear more from me in general, let’s connect on LinkedIn.

Jonny finity levelset circleJonny Finity • 

#18268 Preliminary notice

Jonny Finity is the Content Marketing Manager at Levelset, where over 500,000 contractors and suppliers connect on a cloud-based platform to make payment processes stress-free. Levelset helps contractors and suppliers get payment under control, and sees a world where no one loses a night’s sleep over payment.

Have you ever been on a construction jobsite where other contractors don’t know who you are, or what work you’re actually doing there? The complicated hierarchy on a construction project makes it really difficult for people to know who is on the job, and who is doing what. If anyone on the job needs this info, it’s the project manager. They are responsible for ensuring that everyone has what they need to complete tasks and deliver a successful construction project. Fortunately, there’s one thing that project managers can do that will improve nearly every single part of a project manager’s job: send preliminary notice on every job.

Preliminary notice basics

A preliminary notice is a critical piece of the construction payment process. Construction companies send out preliminary notice in the early days of a project to notify other parties of their involvement at the jobsite. Contractors and suppliers send preliminary notice to let the GC and project owner know who they are and what they are providing to the project.

There can be a lot of confusion around what a preliminary notice actually is. Some people call it a pre-lien notice, or Notice to Owner (NTO). Some states, like Texas and Tennessee, require a “monthly notice.”

To simplify things, we use preliminary notice to refer to a document sent at the beginning of a project. This document notifies parties that you’re on the job, and gives an overview of the work that you’ll be doing there.

State-by-state requirements

Most states require construction companies to send preliminary notice in order to maintain their right to file a mechanics lien. These notice laws are complicated and differ significantly from state-to-state and project-to-project. For example, sending a “notice to owner” in Florida is different from the “20-day preliminary notice” requirement in California, and the “monthly notice” in Texas. In other states, like New York, there are no preliminary notice requirements at all.

Why project managers should send preliminary notice

Build stronger relationships

If you’re a supplier that was hired by a sub-subcontractor, it’s likely that the GC doesn’t know you exist. Sending preliminary notice to the property owner, GC, and your hiring party helps you create and strengthen your relationship with all of the parties above you on a project. It gives them a clear point of contact on the project to speak with if there’s a problem. Over time, GCs and other subcontractors will recognize you and know what to expect.

Be more professional

Sending preliminary notice consistently on every job is simply a professional way of doing business. When they receive notice from you, the GC and property owner know that you take your work — and your payment — seriously. Who do you think the GC is going to recommend for the next project: the contractor who communicates clearly and openly from the start of a project… Or the one they only hear from when it’s time to get paid?

Communicate more easily

If you’re a drywall subcontractor, and the electrical contracting work has been delayed by a week, that’s something that is critical for you to know. But if the GC doesn’t know you’re on the job, how do you expect to find out? If you sent a preliminary notice, they’re more likely to notify you of the new dates, because they know what work you’re doing.

A project manager has to juggle multiple tasks with different deadlines. They also need to know what work others are doing around them, and how their work will affect their job. The truth is that property owners and prime contractors actually like to receive notices on their projects! It helps them do their job better, too. Sending preliminary notice ensures that the GC and others know you’re there — and that you’re someone they can talk to.

Get paid first

A project manager’s goal is a successful, completed project. Ultimately, the job’s not really over until your company gets paid for the work you’ve done. Preliminary notice helps ensure that the GC or property owner knows that you’re on the job — and that you need to be paid. I can almost guarantee you that the GC’s accounts payable manager has a stack of pay applications on their desk at least a foot high. Which applications are they going to pay first — those from the companies whose names they don’t recognize? Or the companies who reached out at the beginning of the project?

Construction accounts payable departments are more likely to pay invoices to contractors that send notices because they already know what work they’re doing, and they know where to send payment. In some cases, they’ll even prioritize these invoices before paying contractors that didn’t send a notice. By not sending a notice, contractors could actually make it harder for themselves to get paid on time.

Send preliminary notice on every project

Every project manager knows the maxim “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” The success or failure of a construction project is often determined before the project begins at all. Sending preliminary notice is a simple step that maximizes visibility and communication, and minimizes financial and operational risk.

Given the outsized benefits of the document, sending preliminary notice shouldn’t just be an exercise used on problem jobs. Project managers realize the biggest advantage when they send it on every job - not just jobs where they anticipate payment problems.

Webp.net resizeimage.jpgMatt Schneiderman • 

casinoroyale06 With all the contributions of architecture and construction to film, there’s a disproportionate lack of film about construction. For every hundred movies about writers (here’s a list of 80), there might be one movie that features someone in construction — probably fewer. The automobile industry has entire film franchises built around their creations — the Furious series, Pixar’s Cars, Herbie Doing Things. The biggest construction-related blockbuster is… The Lego Movie? Yes, Emmet’s a construction worker, but he’s also plastic — not quite the heroic depiction construction deserves. Drugs, government, Wall Street — just about every industry gets the movie treatment, and pretty regularly — except construction.

Still, many of our favorite films do showcase amazing constructions, construction professionals, and even construction sites. We’ve ranked the best below. Notable omissions: 1) bad movies, even if they feature construction prominently (Baby’s Day Out, Evan Almighty); and, 2) The Notebook, just because.

What else did we leave off this list? (Has anyone seen Atlantics on Netflix?) You tell us.

1. Casino Royale

Casino Royale reinvented British Secret Service agent James Bond as a lean, mean, killing… person. The movie also introduced us to Daniel Craig as 007 — and to parkour as one of the world’s weirdest action sports. The opening chase scene takes place up and over a building site 200 feet above the ground. Remarkably, Craig took part in the stunt himself.

2. The Dark Knight

darkknight Can we all agree that the second installment of director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is the best comic book movie of all-time? Gotham (and Hong Kong) and its buildings are more than backdrops to Batman v. Joker — they have roles more significant than most of the named characters. Case in point: unoccupied for The Dark Knight’s filming, Chicago’s Old Post Office stately lobby serves as the mob bank Joker’s crew robs in the opening scene. And Trump Tower — at the time of filming, under construction in real-life Chicago just as it appeared in fictional Gotham — provides the perfect frame for the film’s final fight.

3. Locke

locke Locke is a movie chronicling a drive from Birmingham to London and featuring a single character on-screen: Ivan Locke, a successful construction foreman. During his drive, Locke carries on 36 phone calls, many about the management of a huge concrete pour set to take place the following morning. This is the movie for all the project managers who can relate to the complications of, say, the coordination of road closures to make sure more than 200 trucks can pass through — via a call with an assistant.

4. Die Hard

diehard-tower Generally regarded as the best Christmas movie of all-time, Die Hard is set in real LA’s fictional Nakatomi tower. In reality, the half-built tower is Fox Plaza, a very real Century City landmark. The movie’s director took full advantage of the building’s under-construction status, shooting scenes on unfinished floors and showing off the tower’s guts. The tower itself was so popular in early screenings that movie posters were altered to give it as much real estate as the movie’s other star, Moonlighting actor Bruce Willis.

5. Mr. Mom

mrmom Construction is more than half-finished buildings and iconic structures, of course. Mr. Mom makes our list for its classic line, when chainsaw-wielding Jack (Michael Keaton) explains what kind of wiring he’ll use during renovation, saying, “220, 221, whatever it takes.” Fun fact to tell the next electrician or crew member who quotes it: Keaton and Martin Mull ad-libbed the line.

Honorable mention: Multiplicity, also starring Keaton, is the story of a construction worker who clones himself to improve productivity. It is from this movie that we learned that a copy of a copy is not as sharp as the original.

Img 5023.jpgNathan Howat • 

IMG 5012 Washington State-based Blue Mountain Electric (BME) is a veteran-owned industrial and commercial electric company specializing in US military facility installations and design-build projects. BME makes extensive use of Fieldwire to ensure their projects — like the $50 million-dollar expansion of the Naval Air Station at Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island — are on schedule. But the successful electrical contractor also uses Fieldwire as part of its strategy to win jobs.

President Nathan Howat explains how showing up to a job walk with Fieldwire gives him an edge over his competition.

Bidding process

When I’m bidding on a job, I create a project in Fieldwire named something like “bidding-jobname.” I upload all the documents, so if there’s a 1000-page request for proposal (RFP), I upload the whole thing. Then I take the relevant pages — say, the three pages with the statement of work (SOW) — and load that as a Fieldwire plan, naming it “RFP-SOW.” I’ll also load and link the drawings and details.

On the job walk, I carry an iPad instead of a three-ring binder with all these sheets. The other guys bidding on the job are taking pictures with their phones, but all of those pics will look the same — they’re all pictures of panels and walls. Since I’ve loaded the floorplans into Fieldwire beforehand, I can take and drop photos exactly where I am on the plans.

What makes Fieldwire such a valuable tool is the ability to take photos and link to projects with the date and location data. I was looking for something like this for ten-to-15 years.

On a job walk, I can take photos and jot notes in Fieldwire. I can go to the scheduling of an electrical panel and drop a picture of the breakers onto it.

Text-based files as plans for linking

sow-as-plan Even if there aren’t drawings available before the job walk, I can use the SOW as a plan in Fieldwire. If there’s something about installing a receptacle in Room 142 in the SOW, I can take a photo when I’m in Room 142 and drop a linked pin to the text pertaining to it in the plan. I did a job walk at a Naval station where the SOW was 17 pages, reading, “Replace this light, replace this light, add a control switch in this room, etc.” In Fieldwire, I could describe a room, take pics, and associate all that to one sentence in the SOW.

Then I export the plan (the marked-up SOW doc) with all of its photos and links — and add and assign tasks for my coordinators and estimators. They can go straight to the pages in the SOW that are pertinent to them, so they don’t have to go through thousands of pages. They can add their bids and close it out.

Even for a job site without drawings, like the roof of a 1,000-square-foot hospital, I can grab a Google Earth image, add it to Fieldwire as a plan, and drop photos from the job walk into the right spots.

Before Fieldwire, I would go out with a digital camera to take pictures on-site, then go back to my office and load all the images to a computer. There would be 10,000 folders with all kinds of names for the same project. It was just a mess. I bid on about four-to-five jobs a month, sometimes more, and bidding meant working after-hours from home trying to get them done.

More wins, less busywork

The time I save with Fieldwire gives me the confidence to take on more jobs. In the past, new job opportunities meant more administrative work for me. Now we have a system and a process. I can bid on more work and be more efficient on the jobs we win.

Learn how Fieldwire can save you time and help you win more business. Request a demo today!

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