Compiling a Cost History Initiative for Estimating

This article was written by Greg O’Bryan, Senior Project Engineer of The Beck Group, and published in the July/August 2018 edition of DCD Magazine.

Construction estimating is a balance of art and science. When construction firms engage in the very beginning of a project, the scale seems to tip more toward the art component than the science. However, since project schedules and design fees have less room than ever for course corrections, the necessity of well-informed cost certainty at these early stages requires a scientific approach. These early efforts depend upon project cost history or robust cost models (or even both).

From my own experience and from others I’ve spoken to, curating reliable project cost history to use for conceptual estimating is a big task. As a company moves to start or improve upon a cost history initiative, there are five recommended steps to follow. Read more

Honesty Pays

This article was written by Michael Boren, CTO of Beck Technology, and published April 2018 on Construction Today.

Time and time again, companies start their relationships with new clients by lying, or at least that is how it can feel. Once that first meeting is over and a company is selected for the job, the real work starts and the wizard behind the curtain is revealed. Too often, project owners realize that all of that sexy tech talk and those amazing videos that won them over were a flashy diversion from reality.

Companies don’t do this to be malicious. They don’t intend to portray themselves as fake, or attempt to deceive a potential client. They need to win that job and are doing everything they can to get it. As far as they are concerned, they are simply putting their best foot forward in an effort to meet the expectations set by the project owner.

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Come Together

This article was written by Michael Boren, CTO of Beck Technology, and published February 2018 on Construction Today.

Problem solving is one of my favorite activities. Recently, I’ve gotten into creating custom cabinetry as a weekend hobby. Sketching designs, calculating the amount of material needed, and making sure all the tools are nearby is a regular occurrence around my house. However, I’m a hobbyist at this art form. Often, I ask other people on how to best approach a specific nook or cranny detail.

When I first started out, my projects were pretty basic but as I learned from others and shared ideas about designs and tactics, my weekend hobby has turned out some great work. I’ve come to realize when people are really passionate about something they are willing to help others regardless of whose name is on the final product. Why do we collaborate on hobbies but not in our professions? Competition is fierce within the AEC industry, so it’s easy to make the people who work for your competitor into the bad guys. Maybe you think their approach isn’t as good as yours, or they’d steal your clients or trade secrets in a heartbeat. But if we spend our entire careers keeping ideas bottled up and kept for ourselves then who are we benefiting? We would both be missing out on a chance to make our industry better for each of us, both of our companies, and the communities we serve. Read more

Implementing Estimating Software? Don’t Do These Five Things

This article was written by Brian Marks, Senior Estimator of The Korte Company, and published in the January/February 2018 edition of DCD Magazine.

Last year, The Korte Company undertook a major software implementation: We upgraded to a new estimating platform across all of our nationwide offices. The transition was kicked off in April 2017, and by November, all 20 of our estimators across the country were trained and ready to use our new software, DESTINI Estimator by Beck Technology, on every project. During the eight months of hands-on work in between, we learned just how much a solid implementation plan matters.

We knew before we started that a nationwide software transition would require extraordinary effort, and it did. We even mapped out ahead of time a list of top things to avoid as we built our implementation approach. At the end of a seamless roll out, it was clear that we apparently had done a lot of things right. To help you learn from our experience, I’ll share how we carefully avoided five major pitfalls along the way.

1. Don’t start implementing new software without a plan, ideally a phased plan
There’s no sense in investing in technology if you’re not 100 percent committed to maximizing every penny of your investment, and it’s important to be realistic about exactly what is needed to achieve that. At Korte, we locked down every step of our phased implementation approach before we even bought the software. We decided to move forward only when we were confident that we would be able to follow through on the next phase of our plan. Note here as well that I say “phased implementation” as our approach; we were very methodical on how, when, who was involved, and at what stage. Read more

The Right Match

This article was written by Michael Boren, CTO of Beck Technology, and published November 2017 on Construction Today.

In a lot of ways, business relationships are like your personal relationships. Whether you’re evaluating business partners, hiring new team members or trying to win work, both parties are looking for that special spark. When the chemistry is right, great things can happen. But without it, you eventually find that the passion and caring just aren’t there, and a breakup is inevitable.

It’s easy to overlook a potential business partner’s negative qualities when that person has something that you need, whether it’s a supply of steel beams, skilled labor or your next big project. But think about it: How many times have you had a bad feeling about someone, then later wish you’d listened to that quiet voice that was telling you something was off all along?

During the “getting to know you” phase of the relationship, these kinds of perceptions matter. You can’t control whether a potential business partner lives up to their own marketing hype, but you can control the way your own company and people are perceived. Although there’s no AEC matchmaking website to help you find honest, dependable people to work with, when you define your own core values and then truly live up to them, you’ll earn a reputation that will help good business partners find you.

Matchmaking Rule #1: Know Yourself

Your construction business’s success depends on finding and choosing to work with people who share your core values and are committed to helping you succeed. In dating and in business, fruitful relationships start with knowing who you really are and living authentically.

Some companies never take the time to define their core values, and that’s like going into the dating world with no idea of who you are and what you really want. People who don’t understand their own values end up in a lot of dead-end relationships, and tend to be taken advantage of along the way. Read more

Flying High

This article was written by Stewart Carroll, COO of Beck Technology, and published August 2017 on Construction Today.

As many parents have learned in the last couple of years, the fastest way to a tween’s heart is to give him the freedom of flight, packaged in a cardboard box from Amazon. Cheap, mass-produced drones are always a welcome kid gift, but the higher-tech versions of this burgeoning technology are much more than just a “hot toy.” Advanced drones have given countless industries – from gaming to moviemaking to real estate – a fresh perspective on the world. And for the construction industry, the possibilities are as limitless as a clear blue sky.

Construction firms are using drones to capture aerial footage of existing building conditions, and to accurately document the contours of undeveloped land. They’re feeding three-dimensional data maps into software to form a basis for 3-D construction models, quickly catching errors and translating construction drawings into constructed buildings. They’re sending robotic cameras into dangerous areas, instead of human beings.

These construction pioneers are making known the previously unknown by using drones for mapping and modeling, documentation and inspections, and engaging clients.

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How Beck Technology’s CTO is Powering Software Into a Reluctant Industry

This article ran in the August 15, 2017 edition of the Dallas Business Journal and is authored by Shawn Shinneman, DBJ staff writer.

Michael Boren, Tech Titans FinalistWhen it comes to adopting the latest technologies, construction companies haven’t exactly been ahead of the curve.

But persistence has paid off for Dallas-based Beck Technology, a spin-off of the long-running construction and architecture company The Beck Group. Current Chief Technology Officer Michael Boren has seen the company through its various stages – from a secret Beck division built to give the company a competitive advantage to its own company, with a suite of construction software products and boasting 100-percent growth over the last three years. Beck Technology started selling products commercially in 2006.

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Understanding Changing Skills & Requirements for Construction Estimators

Construction Estimator Skills Evolving to Keep Up with TechnologyEstimating in construction once meant receiving a set of plans and sending back a dollar figure. However, today’s owners want to know, in detail, exactly what’s behind that number. Thus, construction estimator skills have evolved as more demands have been placed upon them.

If an estimate isn’t based on accurate assumptions, then costly change orders and delays are inevitable. Getting the assumptions right requires deeper collaboration not just with owners, but with all key players of a project – including estimators.

“Client expectations are driving estimators to wear new hats,” says Craig Mulliniks, director of virtual construction for The Korte Company, an integrated design-build construction company. Read more

Why You Should Standardize to One “Best-In-Class” Estimating Platform

Summary: For Balfour Beatty’s construction estimating software, VP of Preconstruction Ray Miller, chose what he described as “Best-in-Class” – Beck Technology’s DESTINI Estimator.

This article was written by Ray Miller, Vice President of Preconstruction at Balfour Beatty US, and published in the July-August 2017 issue of Design Cost Data Magazine.

Construction Estimating Software "Best-in-Class"As part of an international infrastructure group providing general contracting, at-risk construction management, and design-build services, our team at Balfour Beatty US has a significant amount of internal estimating brainpower. We recently identified the estimating technology that we believe will best leverage our collective brainpower across the country to all our offices, and help facilitate our continued growth.

Having expanded our presence in the United States through organic growth and strategic acquisitions over the course of the last decade, our estimating teams traditionally used legacy estimating systems already in place in our various markets. Last year, when my own team in Georgia was piloting an estimating platform, the folks in California were conducting their own estimating software evaluation, while teams in other geographies continued using their own legacy software and workflows they had been using for several years. Everyone was using their own systems and methods to achieve their estimating goals.

Then, in one meeting, we collectively recognized an opportunity to significantly improve the way we approached estimating on an enterprise-wide scale that could enable our team to work even faster and smarter than ever before.

The Turning Point
In 2016, we brought together our preconstruction leaders to collaborate on how we could work better together and support our company’s long-term growth strategy. It was the first time since I joined the company in 2014 that all our leaders were together, and it didn’t take long to realize that we had an enormous wealth of estimating expertise and data on which we could capitalize.

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2017 Q2 Recap & Updates

The second quarter of 2017 has all but flown by as our team and clients continue to pursue innovation in the A/E/C industry and our “Best-in-Class” construction cost estimating software, DESTINI Estimator as well as the DESTINI Profiler platform. Below is our quick quarterly update with the latest on the preconstruction and estimating technology front.

Best-in-Class Construction Cost Estimating Software, DESTINI Quarterly Review & Update

What’s Driving Change & Why Care

A Recap on the Need for Change in the A/E/C Industry

The Advancing Building Estimation 2017 conference took place on May 22-24 in Houston, TX. Beck Technology hosted a half-day pre-conference workshop, “Why Do We Need Change?,” where attendees listened as speakers shared their companies’ change story as well as engaged in dialogue focused on the future of the A/E/C industry. We were pleased to hear the insights of client speakers including:

Ray Miller, Vice President of Preconstruction Services, Balfour Beatty Construction Services US

Andy Leek, Director of Virtual Design and Construction, PARIC Corporation

Brent Pilgrim, DESTINI Applications Director, The Beck Group

For those of you unable to join us in person, the following video recording  of the main speeches and Q&A with the audience is below. Or, you may read a written summary here.

 

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