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!

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!

Webp.net resizeimage.jpgMatt Schneiderman • 

#17932 Women in construction blog Just 9% of America’s construction workers are women. And as employment of construction workers is projected to grow by double-digits through the next decade, it’s crucial that construction companies recruit and retain more skilled female construction professionals. That’s why Fieldwire is profiling amazing women working in the industry — women like Jessica Rondash of Holt Construction.

Jessica is Holt’s Technology and Business Systems Manager, coordinating any and all technology-related initiatives at Holt with a focus on software, user interface, and training.

Did you join Holt with a construction background?

I came with no construction. I studied film in college and worked in audio studios while I was studying for my MBA.

At one point, I wanted to do something different for work. My father works at Holt and Holt is a family business, so it was a good fit. I started as an associate PM — technically, I was a project coordinator — and then was pulled into IT.

How did you adjust to working in construction?

For my MBA, I took some PM classes, but they were not geared to construction. For my job, I took a few project management and accounting classes online and at NYU to learn more. Fortunately, my dad helped me with construction knowledge.

For me, the biggest hurdle in construction is that it’s so behind the times technology-wise. In a lot of ways, it made the transition harder. We didn’t have a solution before Fieldwire. At this point in time, supers walking around jobsites with paper drawings is kind of crazy. Being behind the times in technology is problematic.

What’s a typical day at Holt look like for you?

No two days are identical. I rotate through our local New York metro offices — I try to hit each of our offices once a week — Newark, NYC, Pearl River, and Rosedale. Sometimes I’ll go to Boston, Philly, and our offices in Texas.

A large proportion of my day is spent on calls, emailing, and answering questions in person. I have two primary responsibilities, software training and troubleshooting. That could be fixing a mistake or manipulating a plan in Fieldwire, for instance.

I also work on FAQs about our software and develop training materials and videos. Fieldwire did a training we recorded which I cleaned up and added to our learning platform.

And I’m in charge of tech onboarding for new hires, so I train supers on Fieldwire, entering their daily reports, filling out safety forms, and in general how to use iPhones and iPads.

What challenges have you faced as a woman in construction?

The general vibe can be a challenge. Not within Holt, but when talking to subs and others in the field, I sometimes get the feeling that people don’t think I understand what they’re talking about. I have to go the extra mile to prove that I know the details. Subs may take something a man says slightly more seriously than what I say.

Within Holt, I’ve never run into problems. At Holt, women get the same opportunities as the guys do.

But in general, when I’m talking to outside people, I have to put in 110% to prove I’m at the base level of someone else. 2020 01 08T11 27 34 edit

What’s a piece of helpful advice you’ve received?

The best advice I’ve received was from Chris Asaro, the president of the company. After I’d been here a bit and was deciding what I wanted to do long-term, he told me, “Be indispensable to as many people as possible.” He wants me to help as many people in different departments I can, so I don’t get boxed into one thing. That’s how I got into IT.

Have you had mentors at Holt?

Everyone at Holt is open to mentoring and helping each other out. My mentors have been Alex Perotti, Director of Operations, and Jason Spector, Director of Field Operations. These people are very knowledgeable — they’ve answered all the questions I’ve ever had.

Every construction company could use more women — that’s always a sticking point. Alex is a member of Women in Construction. And another coworker who helps me a lot, Antonina Caruso, is in a lot of women’s organizations. In general, this company has always been very welcoming and open. We’re starting an internal women’s organization with monthly speakers.

And of course I’m really lucky to have my father here. Before Holt, I was never in construction per se, but my father always has been. He re-did our house and my sister and I helped. He never excluded my sister or me from anything. It never seemed weird to me that a woman would be in the construction industry because I never heard anything else.

I have better access to the supers because of my father — he opened doors for me and made sure the supers were comfortable with me. I’ve learned so much from him. He’s retiring in June and I’m his legacy here. He’s always pushed supers on tech, encouraging them to learn how to construct emails, to learn Fieldwire, to use technology better in general. I’ll continue that after he retires.

Are you mentoring anyone yourself?

Not formally, but we recently hired someone named Marlene Lawla who has a tech support background but nothing to do with construction. She has expertise working in IT at big organizations, and I have construction experience. So it’s a dual mentorship thing. I’ve been able to mentor her on construction overall and how to work with our business processes. It’s an interesting dynamic.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is helping all of these people — especially our supers and PMs. Some are scared of technology and don’t want to learn to use new things. When I started five years ago, they would come into the office and ask me to print documents and fill forms out. Seeing them learn to use their iPhone or iPad and use Fieldwire — it’s exciting to watch them get into technology. Before we would have been hard-pressed to get pictures from the jobsite. Now they all take and send pics.

It’s especially great to have supers more invested in technology. We’re integrating with Fieldwire more and more and they’re clamoring for more training. It’s opened up a lot of potential for us.

Fieldwire is user-friendly and extremely related to what we’re doing. It makes the supers more efficient in construction and in technology. It’s eye-opening to see how much they grow.

Webp.net resizeimage.jpgMatt Schneiderman • 

tsi-russell This week’s Customer Spotlight: TSI Corporations, a Washington DC-area builder specializing in envelope glass systems, ornamental metals, and aluminum metal panels. TSI is #14 on ENR’s list of top firms in glazing and curtain walls and has completed more than 600 projects in the greater DC and Baltimore areas. Senior Project Manager Russell Frazier (pictured above) uses Fieldwire to track progress, document defects, and log noncompliance issues in real-time.

Current project

Designed by Antunovich Associates, 1900 Half Street is a redevelopment of an office building into a 480,000-plus square-feet mixed-use space in the Southwest DC’s Buzzard Point neighborhood. Due for completion in 2020, the former office building will have more than 15,600 square-feet of retail space, 419 luxury apartments, two elevated courtyards, a green penthouse roof, and a rooftop infinity pool and deck.

And TSI is wrapping the whole thing up in glass. tsi-pic1

Why they chose Fieldwire

“Before Fieldwire, we were pretty analog,” Russell says. “In 2015, we were looking for a basic means of using electronic documents for reference in the field. We did a trial run of Fieldwire on a previous project, and the users were just the super, general foremen, and me. We uploaded just a few drawings.

“For me, a big driver for moving forward with Fieldwire was its project management solution — Fieldwire has a niche. It’s easy to use and has a good amenity list, even under the free license. It also has an edge over PlanGrid in terms of functionality and pricing.”

“What’s great about Fieldwire is the task stuff, the markup tools, and synchronization with Box and OneDrive. As a general plan reader it works well — that alone gives it an edge over PlanGrid.”

Russell Frazier, Senior Project Manager, TSI

“I purchased additional Fieldwire licenses for the 1900 Half Street project. On the first day, we did the site walkthrough with Fieldwire — we were doing a punch window installation. After I went back to the office and documented everything in tasks, I realized that I’d saved hours of work already. Because an hour of someone’s time covered the cost of a one-month subscription, I’d found savings immediately.

“We’re also a materials fabricator, so I envision using Fieldwire to further communicate in the future between field and the plant and between the office and the plant, and continue the communication between the field and the office. Project management is necessary for all of that. Fieldwire allows us to streamline this process to get materials to the site in a timely fashion.” tsi-pic2

How they use Fieldwire

“Right now we use it for a combination of tracking task progress in the field, documenting material defects with suppliers, and, more notably, for logging real-time noncompliance issues,” Russell says. “In addition to manufacturing our own materials, we work with suppliers. Our suppliers don’t use Fieldwire but I can still generate and send reports to them.

“What’s great about Fieldwire is the task stuff, the markup tools, and synchronization with Box and OneDrive. As a general plan reader it works well — that alone gives it an edge over PlanGrid.”

Interested in learning how Fieldwire can help you? Contact us today!

HeadshotTara Callinan • 

#17526 Clark

When asked to think of a male-dominated industry, construction often comes to mind. Because of all the people who work in the field, only 9 percent are female!

There are several reasons why — including unequal pay and lack of female leadership. However, according to a study by Balfour Beatty, that’s all about to change. The study states that by 2020, the total number of women in construction will almost triple to about 25 percent of the total workforce.

Are you ready to make a change?

To understand how women can transition to a career in construction and overcome working in a male-dominated industry, we spoke to Stacy Saenz, a Project Engineer at Clark Construction. She had the following tips for women who are passionate about construction and want to succeed in their roles.

1. Be prepared for anything, always

In construction, no two days are ever the same. For Stacy, there is no such thing as a typical day on the job. She said: “If there isn’t a meeting, a site walk, or an inspection (or all of the above) there’s another puzzle to solve to keep the job moving along.”

2. View challenges as opportunities

Stacy said one of the biggest challenges she faces is the fact that there are not enough women, especially Latino women, in construction management positions. With men holding 92 percent of all leadership roles, it can be difficult to break down barriers and find someone to look up to. As the next female hire at a construction company, however, you have the opportunity to pave the way for future women in construction. Volunteer to lead workshops, ask for additional training, and apply for internal promotions to cement yourself as a force to be reckoned with.

3. Never be afraid to ask questions

The best piece of advice Stacy ever received was to ask questions ALL of the time. She said: “There is no such thing as a dumb question. The best way to learn is to ask the right questions at the right time in order to execute your goals.”

4. Find a mentor (or be one)

Throughout her time in construction, Stacy has had multiple mentors, both personal and professional. She said: “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the guidance of my mentors. Since graduating, I have participated in professional development workshops where I have had the opportunity to mentor students in the Bay Area pursuing degrees in Engineering. Through these events, I am able to share more about my experiences, advice on pursuing a career in construction, and interviewing tips for women.”

For more tips on how to recruit and retain women in constuction, read this blog post. It’s time to level the playing field!

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