Filling out paperwork and chasing it up. It’s the bane of most construction and engineering projects, especially when it comes to inspection management around health, safety, permits, hazard identification, and defects.
That’s why we built new ‘Forms’ functionality into Aconex Field – our cloud and mobile app for onsite inspection management.
The new capability allows companies to digitize any PDF form, making inspection data immediately available for reporting and analysis. To make it as user-friendly as possible, we worked with our existing customers to design a more efficient, simple and seamless solution.
One such customer is Burns & McDonnell – an international engineering, architecture, construction, environmental and consulting solutions firm based in Kansas City, Missouri. The firm employs around 5700 people in the US, and internationally.
We recently spent some time with Patricia (Patty) Sullivan, Project Manager and member of the ‘Strategic Initiatives’ team at Burns & McDonnell, to reflect on our partnership together.
|Aconex:||What advice would you give a company looking for a technology partner in the construction and engineering space?|
|Patty:||Flexible and easy-to-use system
Well for starters, if it doesn’t work for the end user, it doesn’t work. That’s why you need an interface that’s super intuitive for the end user. One of the challenges for us here at Burns & McDonnell is that no two projects are ever the same. So you need to find tools that are flexible, easy-to-use, and configurable – but can also scale across your enterprise.
|Aconex:||What do you think makes Aconex unique?|
I think the easy configurability of the system is great, far better than anything else on the market. It’s one system to do a task, but each project can be configured differently.
|Aconex:||Before you used our Field solution, how did you manage the onsite inspection process?|
|Patty:||Paper and duplicate data entry
It was all paperwork. More than half of our business units have some sort of need to stand out in the middle of nowhere and collect data into a paper form. We had cases where people were filling out paper, taking a photo of it and texting it to somebody in the office for entry into the database! Clearly there was a need to get the data from that form into a database in a simpler way.
|Aconex:||What value have you seen in automating your field processes using Aconex Field Forms?|
|Patty:||Insights / Accountability
When a form is electronic, I can do something with that data. I think companies are starting to realize that data is an asset, it’s not a by-product of doing business. I can then search for it, track it, workflow it or even keep somebody accountable. Did that task get done? Did they go back and do the re-inspection? That’s really hard to tell from a piece of paper.
Easy change management
Better client service
|Aconex:||What’s been the feedback so far from the Field Forms pilot?|
|Patty:||They want it
“When can we have it?” is the number one thing they say. They’re so ready for it.
|Aconex:||Do you have some examples of how you could use that form data for reporting?|
|Patty:||Take safety for example. If we have a Task Safety Observation form and we have incident reports, I can get answers to questions like: “Of the tasks in which a TSO was completed, how many had incidents? Are incident rates dropping because we’re collecting this data? Are we now sure that we are collecting this data?”
If you’re responsible or required to fill out a TSO, you are 100% accountable. Being able to take data from something like an incident report or a daily report and mix it with data from a TSO is just super smart.
|Aconex:||What will success look like when moving from the pilot to rolling out Aconex Field at Burns & McDonnell?|
We were desperate to have this functionality, so we had multiple practices trying to do in-house development on mobile tools. Now we’ll simply be measuring adoption and expect resounding success.
Data capture = Learning
|Aconex:||Why is standardization important and how has Aconex helped you in that area?|
|Patty:||For me, it’s about efficiency and risk mitigation. If I have people move from my energy practice to my transmission practice, I’m not having to retrain them on different ways of doing things. It’s all the same with Aconex.|
|Aconex:||Can you talk more about the service Aconex provides to Burns & McDonnell?|
|Patty:||Traditionally, you talk about some of the larger software companies in the industry, you write a multimillion dollar check and then you never hear from them again or the system they sold you doesn’t really do what it’s supposed to do. That hasn’t happened with Aconex. It’s quite unheard of when you’re doing corporate-wide implementations with software vendors.
I put it down to the team Aconex has built. When you talk to people from Aconex, there’s a pride that they have in their company and their purpose of transforming the industry. It’s the same pride that you hear at Burns & McDonnell, and it’s why this partnership is so successful.
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