No matter what business you are in, there’s nothing more valuable than customer feedback. It’s no secret that great products get made when there’s an even greater understanding of the end user: their day-to-day activities, the problems they are trying to solve, and the pain points they experience along the way. Sure, you can get this from an email thread, a Twitter post, or a Skype call, but nothing beats a face-to-face interaction.
Fortunately for us here at BIM 360, that means we get to roll up our sleeves, throw on a hardhat and visit one of our many customer’s construction project sites. For a team used to spending the day tethered to a workstation, this is a refreshing change of pace.
Recently, we visited with BOND -- a full-service construction management firm here in Boston, MA – at their Boston College site, where they are building a world class dormitory for Boston College. Being a new construction project in it’s final stages gave us a rare look into a variety of use cases, specific challenges and impactful victories. Here’s 6 of biggest lessons we learned:
#1 - Everyone Loves a Good Process Flow Chart
A well-thought out map of how issues should route through the project gives everyone visibility into the correct process. This important communication step helps ensure the right issues get routed to the right sub in a timely manner. A project admin can quickly and easily generate reports for any process stage, providing insight into which subs are performing best, and which need to pick up the slack.
#2 - Teams Want to Collaborate on Inspection Checklists
Teams want to collaborate on inspections. One team member may be responsible for filling out one part of the inspection, hand off to another team member to continue, and in the end a 3rd party inspectors may be required to finalize. The more flexible the the tool handling this collaboration, the better.
#3 - The Equipment Room Can Make or Break a Project
Logically, this makes sense. Bringing the equipment room online is one of the first phases in any construction project, so issues there can easily determine whether a completion date is met or not. Without the mechanical equipment the project cannot do testing, balancing, or commissioning of the MEP systems. Also, in most cases, permanent building systems are needed to provide essential environmental control so building finishes can be completed. Failure to get MEP systems up and running early in the project can lead to substantial delays and additional costs to the project, as work arounds and temporary measures have to be deployed. To improve logistics and planning, BOND tags all MEP units with a QR code, so specs and issue tracking are only a scan away.
#4 - Not All Subs are Created Equal
This seems obvious, but we’re aren’t talking about skills or abilities here. In this case, it is about what information and capabilities they have access to. Many subs have responsibilities that require them to have higher level access, others need access to only certain features, and some don’t need any access at all.
"We rely on subs to get out there and get the work done." – John O'Brien, BOND Superintendent
#5 - Droids Do Exist
Affectionately dubbed “The BIM Box”, we discovered this heavy-duty model viewer on wheels, is actually common sight on the construction site of today.
#6 - Equipment Checklists Linked to Reports Saves Major Time & Money
"They scan it, check it, and the update the status…When I’ve used this method on our building projects, it saved us a tremendous amount of time. It allows everybody to quickly locate the information, check and update status, plus document any corrective action needed" - Josh Lannen, QA/QC Manager for BOND.
The list could easily go on, as the lessons were many. To provide more insight on how this visit impacted our team, here's what the team who works on the BIM 360 software platform everyday had to say...
BIM 360 Team Reactions
"When it comes to designing and creating software there’s no better way to learn from your customers then spending time with them. The team at BOND was awesome! We spent a lot of time out in field seeing first hand how they were using using our software, saw all the amazing thing’s they are doing with it, and left knowing how we can make it even better for them. I always feel reenergized after having the chance to spend time with our customers" - Chris Chiusano, UX Designer.
"While we may have user stories to build features, and consistent feedback via email from our users, nothing beats actually visiting a site and witnessing firsthand how our products have impacted their routine and day-to-day activities. We, as developers, rely on a suite of products to ensure an agile, productive workflow, and the construction industry is no different. The tools they use may differ from ours but we all share the same end-goal — to make the best products possible, as fast as possible, without sacrificing any quality" - Alex Fox, Software Engineer.
From all of us at BIM 360, THANK YOU to Josh, Al, John and the entire BOND team for taking the time out of their busy day to show us around and ultimately giving us the invaluable in-the-field perspective.
Do you have any construction site lessons to share?
Post them in the comments below!