Managing Your Preconstruction Technology

Who has time to update processes, analyze cost history data, standardize across offices and markets, become more efficient, and lead the team to essentially become precon powerhouses who win more work? Preconstruction Technology professionals do!

“Construction is interesting because we have a reputation for being behind technology and it’s no wonder because it’s a very deadline-driven, schedule-driven industry and who has time?” Chris Reeder is the Preconstruction Technology Manager at Brasfield & Gorrie, one of the largest privately held construction companies in the U.S., ENR Southeast’s Contractor of the Year (2021), and an ENR Top 400 Contractor.

He describes his position as “unique,” but because of the changes in technology in the construction industry in recent time, tech roles in preconstruction are becoming more common.

Brasfield & Gorrie have been users of the best preconstruction estimating software DESTINI Estimator since 2020. After using Sage Timberline for 20 years, they knew that to grow and make their self-perform goals a reality they would need technology that would support this growth.

But because estimators are always focused on getting the deliverable out the door with their eyes on the next project, there is no time to research, implement, and maintain construction technology.

That’s why these preconstruction technology roles are becoming more crucial.

Why Are Preconstruction Tech Roles Being Developed?Technology Defines Quote FB

General Contractors are developing these roles to help increase efficiency, consistency, and alignment.

Jose Gudiño, Senior Solutions Manger at Swinerton, ranked number 25 on the ENR Top 400 contractors (2024), number 8 on the ENR Top 100 Green Building Contractors (2023), and the 17th largest general contractor in the country, says, “My role developed because of the need to align multiple divisions and business units that use a variety of preconstruction tools, many of which provide the same features in a different way and therefore create inefficiencies and risk.”

Swinerton made the switch to the integrated preconstruction DESTINI platform to improve their workflows.

For Ale Macias, a Preconstruction Specialist at Ryan Companies, the need came when they switched to a data-based driven estimating system. She says her role emerged during this transition to help “…improve precon generated data intelligence.”

What Does a Preconstruction Technology Manager Do?

Preconstruction technology roles make it easier for estimators to do their jobs and help eliminate roadblocks when it comes to the programs precon teams use.

Chris calls himself “an advocate, mechanic, and a therapist.” He is the project manager for tech integration, admin of all the apps they use, and the liaison between precon teams, IT, and the tech vendors. When something breaks, he’s the one who reaches out to the vendor to get it fixed, he oversees the training of the team on new software and makes sure all the tools preconstruction uses are working better together.

Precon tech roles, as Chris puts it, “Help us advance without taking people away from their day jobs. We don’t hire the best people so they can troubleshoot how to launch some app.” The goal is to let the estimators focus on what they are good at, and Chris supports them by making sure they have the best tools to do their jobs.

Jose says, “My role is to be the advocate for our precon teams within our Swinerton IT team and to elevate the use of technology for our preconstruction teams. My main objective in this position is to use technology to improve the efficiency of our preconstruction teams by providing them the right workflow, tools, and support. This includes deploying solutions, addressing problems, implementing change, enabling collaboration, standardizing processes, researching new tech, managing vendor relationship, etc.”

However, there isn’t just the IT support side of these preconstruction technology roles. Data management and getting buy-in from all stakeholders are also a large part of managing preconstruction technology…. the ‘therapist’ aspect of being a preconstruction technology manager.

Developing New Mindsets

Your current system Analog Instagram One of the challenges Ale faces is getting everyone onboard using the technology. Much of her role is developing training and best practices in using preconstruction technology. Her goal is for Ryan Companies to “work better as a precon department.” It’s not just the use of the software either. For Ale, the data that goes into the program is just as important.

What’s worked for Ryan Companies is to train their precon teams on why the data is so valuable. Ale and her team train the preconstruction departments on what makes good data and why it’s important to make sure the right data is input.

The people portion of a preconstruction tech role is vitally important to the success of the position and the overall success of the precon department.

Jose says the biggest lesson he’s learned in his tech role is “to prioritize the people, then the process, and ultimately the product.”

Ale says, “Expecting Precon members with full-time jobs to take on these responsibilities is unrealistic. When these tasks are added to their current workload, they are usually not prioritized, as they can only focus on them as time allows.” So, for Ale it is important to develop a trusting relationship with the precon team so they “feel comfortable asking for help or suggesting new ideas and solutions.”

Technology is changing the way we do construction. It is making us more productive, more efficient, more collaborative, and much safer. This emerging tech supporting the preconstruction phase of construction is eliminating risk and allowing us to become a more profitable industry. When estimators are given the resources that allow them the time to do what they do best—build a better building—we are making the world a better place. And we’re here for it.

 

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