Advancing Building Estimation Workshop Summary: Why Do We Need Change?

Change is a constant in the construction industry. The ability to recognize changes, and pinpoint solutions to adapt to them, allows forward-thinking companies to stand out from their competitors. Talking about the subject of change, without taking action, doesn’t help construction companies or the industry actually advance.

During the opening workshop of the “Advancing Building Estimation” conference in Houston on May 22, Beck Technology posed the question, “Why do we need change?” A panel of speakers who have real-world case studies of tough, actionable change shared their stories, and small group discussions provided attendees valuable peer-to-peer time to discuss this important topic.

Real-World Change Management

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Ray Miller, Balfour Beatty, presents on the topic of why the construction industry needs change

Ray Miller, Vice President of Preconstruction Services at Balfour Beatty Construction Services US, opened the workshop with the story of how his company saw the need for change and created a systematic approach to finding a solution.

Across the enterprise, his company was using four estimating tools and seven takeoff platforms. While sharing preconstruction data across divisions was a hassle, the information was valuable and key to winning work and becoming more efficient. Miller shared how Balfour Beatty created a project charter to streamline Balfour Beatty’s preconstruction change initiative and gain company buy-in.

Andy Leek, Director of Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) at PARIC Corporation, and Brent Pilgrim, DESTINI Applications Manager at The Beck Group, also shared how their respective companies adapted to and implemented change. Leek noted that while he led the implementation effort, he worked closely with senior estimators for PARIC’s new estimating platform, and for good reason. He didn’t have the years of experience to make sure the software was implemented correctly. A key takeaway from his presentation was to start with the end in mind. Having well-developed goals of what the change will allow the company to do is the driving force that keeps the implementation on schedule.

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Andy Leek with Paric Corp and Brent Pilgrim with The Beck Group continue the discussion

Pilgrim is also part of the implementation effort at The Beck Group. He noted managing expectations is a major aspect of recognizing that something needs to change, and then acting on it. Being able to communicate internally, both up and down a company’s hierarchy structure, sets the tone for expectations. Each company should expect speed bumps through an implementation process. Having a plan in place for how to handle those bumps along the implementation path sets the company up for long-term success.

Changing Roles

The workshop attendees then discussed among themselves in small group breakouts what kind of changes they are noticing in their companies and in the industry. In these round table chats, many noted that the role of estimator has evolved during the past 10 years: What was once a position tethered to a desk has grown into a client-facing role. More pressures are put on estimators to deliver complex estimates faster and more precisely.

Round table discussions included trends in the marketplace that are driving change, as well as what skill set is best-suited to serve in the role of implementation leader. Peer-to-peer conversations grew from the topic of change as a constant factor and how we, as an industry, can better prepare to handle the evolution.

The workshop drove discussion on the realities of change and got the audience asking, “Why are we doing the things the way we do them?” Attendees left the workshop prepared to drive positive change at their own firms by asking necessary questions:

  • Are our actions in the best interest of our firm?
  • Could our approach or process be done better?
  • And if we are hesitant to change, are we missing out on a building a better industry?

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