Joeris, founded in 1967, is a Texas-based regional contractor whose diverse project portfolio includes work in numerous market sectors, including the K-12 and religious markets. Both of these markets are highly competitive and marked by growing competition and increasing timeline pressures. They are also markets with low adoption rates of the use of models during preconstruction, despite the advantages of doing so. Using models during preconstruction results in shorter timelines, better collaboration and fewer risks downstream in construction.
Joeris is a leader in overcoming this slow-to-adopt mentality. Through a bit of trial and error, the firm is successfully driving efficiency gains with Assemble. Using it as a tool for model data in preconstruction, they are driving increased collaboration and shortening the preconstruction timeline.
“This tool allows you to have an experience similar to one you would have with a company like Amazon, getting the information you want quickly,” said Andy Gajbhiye, Joeris’ Director of Construction Technologies, citing how Assemble enables quick communication and fast decision making.
How does it do this? The list is comprehensive, from enabling a proactive conversation between estimating and design, to early identification of construction gaps and challenges.
These benefits, however, were not gained at Joeris through a simple plug-and-play. Rather, through a strategic recognition that adding models in preconstruction workflows required a shift in staff mindset.
Developing an Implementation Strategy for Construction Data
Adopting new technology is a journey, one which Joeris admits wasn’t a success initially. “We have been doing model-based cost estimating since 2013. We had a different implementation strategy where we put the BIM department at the head of the implementation, which was a mistake. Just because it is a BIM model doesn’t mean the BIM department should lead the process. BIM is really a tool that makes the estimating process better,” states Senior Estimator Daniel Olivares.
The firm highlights two major lessons learned. First, is this realization that the estimators needed to be empowered to drive the implementation as it was their process that was being modified.
Second, in their initial attempt to train estimators on BIM model use, the training was a one-size-fits-all large class. Staff were trained - and then went right back to doing things the way they always had.
But Joeris did not give up. Rather, they learned from their mistakes and developed a new strategic approach to implementation with the rollout of Assemble. They piloted it on two projects.
Project 1: A Church Education Building - The initial design included a worship center, administration wing and education wing. When the first estimate was returned with a $20 million budget, the owner had to scale back. Assemble was used in the design phase to apply construction data to the model for transparent communication between construction management (CM), owner and design team.
Project 2: Elementary School Prototype - Here the architect shared the model on a weekly basis as part of a standard design process. Joeris used Assemble to monitor design progress and changes, proactively asking questions and delivering input from the estimating team. Olivares, who led the pilot process, explains the accuracy modeling can have on the final estimate, “From our schematic design estimate to our bid day, we were within 0.5% of our initial estimate when the numbers came in.”
Olivares notes, “Being able to update our estimate on a weekly basis helped the design team steer their design. Steering that design process is the goal of the Construction Manager.”
"The transparency that is created when you show where the quantities are coming from helps you speak the language of the design team. The Construction Manager is no longer reacting to the design process, rather the CM can proactively influence and inform the design process.”
Andy Gajbhiye, Director of Construction Technologies, Joeris
Sharing Success and Fostering a Changing Mindset
With a growing body of successfully piloted implementations at a project level, Joeris now has a tried-and-true method to help its team members adopt the use of construction data during preconstruction.
Their method is comprehensive:
- Noted earlier, Joeris assigned estimators the responsibility for leading collaboration between estimation and VDC - empowering the real users of the process change.
- They canned the blanket training and shifted to one-on-one coaching, acknowledging you can’t hand out a new tool and expect overnight adoption or success.
- They proactively spread success stories, like the two above, communicating to their staff that this was moving from an initiative to a standard.
- They also coached executive leadership through one-on-one personalized coaching, recognizing change is better driven from the top-down. Coaching focused on how the process would change and the resulting efficiency gained, rather than on the tool itself.
- They measured and communicated success not by ROI, but by meaningful value creation within their processes. A staff-centric way of showing success. To define value, Joeris measured both tangible and intangible benefits. An example from internal Joeris metrics:
As this strategy evolved, Joeris began to realize their real goal was not to implement a new tool, but to develop estimating staff to be ‘VDC - enabled.’ Gajbhiye concludes that this change is rooted in the mindset, “True change is 90% psychology. You have to show teams what the value of uptake would be in their daily lives, telling a story of how doing nothing is ultimately more painful than change.”
The Totality of Benefits to Preconstruction
In the end, Joeris had a robust story of practical benefits of using construction data in preconstruction. They note five process evolutions that have made adoption worth the effort for their teams:
- Better Project Understanding. By bringing in a superintendent or project manager during the design phase and showing them the 3D models, they can quickly point out where challenges in construction may occur.
- Monitoring the Design Progress and Changes. Accessing the model between milestones gives ease of tracking quantities and costs in Assemble’s color-coded 3D environment.
- Quantity Verification. Visualizing project quantities in the models for subcontractors makes for faster, easier, and more accurate information transfers in the BID phase.
- Smart Sheets with Linked Objects. Makes reviewing design sheets and drilling into design detail quick and user-friendly in the 3D environment.
- Mobile Access (iPad and iPhone). Enables greater access and thus, faster collaboration and decision making.
Gained through a dedicated trial and error process of driving change, Joeris is an example of how smart technology combined with strategic implementation can further the adoption of models and construction data to benefit collaboration during preconstruction.