We’re excited to share an interview our CEO and co-founder, Yves Frinault, had with the JBKnowledge team this past summer. A lot of interesting insights came from that conversation around efficiency in the field, adopting technology on-site, and the benefits of leveraging mobile tools to manage tasks.
“We tend to say a good project is a good design, then a good plan, and then a good execution.”
Yves makes the case that even with great design and a perfect plan, you can still fail all major goals on a project if you have poor execution, and that’s the aspect that Fieldwire focuses on.
During the interview, Yves points to two main problems facing the industry today. The first is the efficiency and knowledge gaps between the average contractor and the best-in-class contractors. The former usually struggles to even profit from a project, while the latter enjoys healthy margins. How can we bring more consistency to the industry and help contractors get closer to best-in-class?
The second problem is efficiency on-site. Yves mentions that, of the time spent on-site, “70% is coordination and 30% is pure construction.” How can we reduce that coordination time and start to use field workers’ time more efficiently on-site? That’s where technology comes in - most of the tasks involved in that 70% are repetitive and fairly easy to automate or streamline with mobile.
Another interesting observation pertains to software adoption. Traditionally, software decisions came from the top and most of the tools implemented were meant to give leadership visibility into the field, but little thought was given to the actual value that this would provide the guys actually inputting the information. Because of that, we’ve seen resiliency from field crews towards new software.
There are two main aspects to think about in regards of adoption, Yves says. The first one is adding value to the user. The level of sophistication between individuals using a given tool can significantly vary - You have engineers in the back-office with college degrees that are very tech savvy, and you have several foremen on-site that have much different backgrounds. The interesting part for software providers like Fieldwire is making sure that everyone can derive value. Even if the foreman only uses 10% of the software’s functionality, it should still add considerable value to his or her work, or adoption will fail.
The second aspect stems from the complexity of commercial construction. You typically have 30-50 companies coming together for one project, and the challenge is to become the common technological denominator between all of them. How do you solve the problem of multi-company adoption at the timeline of a project? The key to making that happen is reducing your adoption cycle. You want the team to be able to demo the software, then test and deploy it all within a week.
The most important metric mentioned during the interview is the increased margin to the bottom line. Yves says, “There’s a 5-10% [margin increase] to get in the next 10 years just because mobile increases the quality of the collaboration and fundamentally reduces the cost of those interactions on-site.”
VP of Construction