Getting Technology to Work For You

This article was written by Stewart Carroll, President of Beck Technology, and published in the January/February 2019 edition of DCD Magazine.

In the last few decades, all industries have benefited from and been altered by the adoption of technology. Despite the A/E/C industry historically being slow to onboard new technology, the impact of technological developments have still been experienced across the industry, as well as in our daily lives. Sketches have turned into 3D models, drones have started taking over site surveys, and GPS sensors are increasing safety in the field. Everywhere you look, technology is completely transforming the way construction is being done.

It’s no surprise, then, that one of the biggest challenges for construction companies across the country is integrating technology into their workflows and learning how to adapt technology to fit their specific needs. You only need to glance at the nearest pre-construction department to see how difficult this kind of integration can be. Currently, most construction companies rely on Excel for their estimating needs. But with the advent of technology, Excel is not quite as dependable as it once was.

In Excel, cost predictions are made by people, who can often be exhausted or distracted, and may input incorrect data. Estimating tools largely eliminate such errors, saving companies millions of dollars and winning customers. These tools also save time – work that may have taken upwards of hours or even days can be reduced significantly by introducing an estimating tool to a department’s workflow.

Although more and more pre-construction departments have begun utilizing these proper estimating platforms in their day-to-day work, many still struggle with implementation and figuring out how to make estimating technology work for them.

This is a situation in which general contractors all across the country find themselves every year. Often, it looks something like this: they have been using several different tools to streamline their processes, but after many years of use, the tools are no longer where the company needs them to be. Additionally, they often need a more consolidated approach to their workflows. This is the point where a lot of companies meet a technology, such as DESTINI Estimator, that could improve their current processes.

Before finalizing the change, however, it is critical for teams to sit down and discuss how they could fully maximize the potential of a new tool, and the ways in which they could bring the technology onboard without completely throwing away decades’ worth of work. As they worked through various issues and how to approach them, they ultimately ended up with four important takeaways.

1). Technology is more than just software – it’s also about the people behind it.
Companies change for a lot of reasons – sometimes because of a software need, sometimes because of workflow. Other times, they change because they want to be prepared for the future, and feel like the tools or processes they currently employ are too rooted in the past, making it difficult to embrace newer ideas and ways of doing things.

Construction companies need a partner who will grow and innovate alongside them rather than fall behind and stagnate. It does not matter if software has the latest features or the most impressive design – if the team behind it is not bringing in feedback from clients and adjusting their software according to the shifting needs of the industry, then that software is essentially useless.

2). Make sure the technology can adapt itself to your company’s unique needs.
Buying a one-size-fits-all technology doesn’t work in commercial construction because every company approaches processes differently, especially pre-construction. For example, adapting estimating software that will allow
estimating professionals to get granular with the data, review cost trends between projects and over time, and respond quickly to project changes. If a company is using technology that is status quo, then that tool may not be the right fit for a company looking to expand its offerings or better serve their clients.

Additionally, it is vital for companies to have people on their team who are willing to experiment with technology and be coached by the vendor’s team so that the company can fully understand how to maximize the tool. Even the best technology in the world will not be of any use to a company if they don’t first understand how to use it to its full potential.

Construction companies should be implementing technology that will help their teams to be better than they are today. This requires firms to look ahead as well as dive deep into what it is going to take for them to accomplish those goals.

3). Change requires effort and alignment from the top down and the bottom up.
Change has to start somewhere, and whether it begins with the CEO or one of many estimators, it’s critical that there are members from both the reconstruction department and the company’s leadership involved in the process. Change that will truly last requires buy-in from both parties, and you need champions who understand the day-to-day challenges as well as leadership who will support the change and hold everyone accountable.

Additionally, alignment between the team and the team’s leadership is absolutely vital. Acknowledging the need for change is a great first step, but if the company can’t agree on exactly what that change will look like, the results can be poor. A software may be implemented that the team does not think will be an improvement, delaying the implementation process; alternatively, leadership that will not listen to the team’s desires can cause frustration and dissatisfaction. No software will be perfect, of course, but being able to agree on what is essential and what is not will maximize a company’s success with new technology.

4). Have a strong support system in place.
Support is absolutely crucial to successfully implementing any kind of technology. Not only is there a general learning curve for everyone involved, but there can oftentimes be an even steeper learning curve for team members who may not be technologically savvy and need extra time and training to get the most out of the new tool. Obviously, it is important for the company’s leadership to work with their team on overcoming any obstacles brought by implementing a new technology. It’s also critical for them to show support for the tech itself, to display unity, and to inspire confidence in the rest of the team.

But it’s just as important for the vendor to provide the company with the support that it needs. Technology is truly only as good as its support team, because they are the ones who will help develop a plan of attack with the purchasing company, guide them through the ins and outs of the technology, and provide them with ongoing updates and assistance. A great support team is particularly critical when it comes to implementation. No two companies are going to face the exact same problems, so it’s essential for the support team to get to know their clients’ challenges intimately, in order to create the most effective implementation plan for them.

The technological advancements moving into the construction industry are definitely exciting; many are already making massive changes to the way construction is done, and many others have the potential to cause even bigger transformations. Before purchasing new technology make sure the four takeaways have been vetted and there is a cohesive plan to move forward.

Estimating Life with PARIC

You definitely don’t want to miss this month’s webinar, so if you couldn’t attend, click the link below to watch the full interview. Mike Boren, CTO of Beck Technology, sat down with Andy Leek, VP of Technology & Innovation at PARIC, to talk about some of the highlights of the session they taught at Autodesk University. Specifically, they dive deep into 3D quantity takeoff, and why technological developments in this area are so crucial to the future of the construction industry. As an established thought leader on emerging  construction technology both at PARIC and in the A/E/C industry in general, Andy also shared his company’s approach to innovating with new software, and some of the successes and challenges they have encountered along the way.

Watch the full discussion BELOW!

Beck Technology Lands 4th Place in Dallas’ Best Places to Work!

For the past sixteen years, the Dallas Business Journal has held a “Best Places to Work” competition, in which companies across the metroplex are evaluated and ranked according to metrics like employee satisfaction and overall company health. This year, Beck Technology ranked 4th place in the Micro Business category!

“Being recognized as a ‘Best Place to Work’ has been an incredible honor,” said Stewart Carroll, President of Beck Technology. “For us, it’s really a big indicator that culture truly does make a difference in the success of a company. We’ve always prided ourselves on fostering three core values in our company culture – passion, innovation, and caring – and this is evidence that maintaining these values has been the basis of our achievements as a business.”

Based on employee feedback in the Best Places to Work questionnaire, Beck Technology employees used “caring” to describe their work environment, senior leaders of the company valued people as the most important resource, and believed Beck Technology will be highly successful in the future.

As hard-earned a victory this is, the work isn’t finished for Beck Technology. Carroll says, “We don’t want to be just a best place to work, but an amazing place to work. We’re continuously looking for ways to keep improving, and we’ve already started filling in some of the gaps based on employee feedback. I look forward to next year, and all the opportunities it will bring to continue showing everyone why we are such a great company to be a part of.”

Estimating Life with The Beck Group

This month’s webinar kicked off with a great conversation between Stewart Carroll, President of Beck Technology, and Brent Pilgrim who previously worked for Beck Technology before transitioning into his role as DESTINI Applications Director for The Beck Group. Brent talked about how new technology is something contractors should try to embrace and invest in as much as possible, but always with a good plan in place. Brent explained that onboarding DESTINI Estimator to The Beck Group was such a success because they had a solid implementation plan and kept teams accountable by holding weekly meetings for those using or training in Estimator.

Watch the full interview HERE!

Gilbane Building Company Selects the DESTINI Estimator Preconstruction Solution

Beck Technology, leading software and service firm for the commercial design and construction industry, announced that Gilbane Building Company selected DESTINI® Estimator as its new enterprise wide preconstruction platform.

Founded in 1873 and headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, with 46 office locations around the world, Gilbane is a privately held, family-owned 5th generation company.  Gilbane is currently ranked No. 12 among the 2018 ENR Top 400 Contractors.

The multi-year enterprise agreement will streamline Gilbane’s preconstruction technology stack and will enable Gilbane to utilize the DESTINI Suite in all of its preconstruction efforts throughout all of its offices.

“As Gilbane pursues more and more negotiated work across the firm and is involved earlier in the life of our customer’s projects, we were seeking ways of streamlining the preconstruction process, creating consistency across our offices and most importantly bringing more value to our customers. We believe DESTINI Estimator will enable us to address these issues and we are very excited to implement it across all of our offices”, said Joe McCoy, Chief Estimator at Gilbane Building Company.

“We have worked very closely with the entire Gilbane team over the last year as they evaluated DESTINI Estimator as a replacement for their current preconstruction solutions“, said Tyler Barron, Vice President of Sales at Beck Technology. “Gilbane’s culture of continuous improvement is very obvious and we are very excited to help them implement DESTINI Estimator as there new Preconstruction Platform”.

Jason Pelkey, CIO, Gilbane, added, “Moving to DESTINI Estimator is an exciting transition for Gilbane and we believe it will streamline our preconstruction processes which will  provide us significant leverage of all our companies’ cost history.  All of our global and national customers value the vast experience that we have at Gilbane. Being able to rapidly leverage all the data we have created throughout our preconstruction services across our entire organization will enhance the value we deliver to our customers.”

“We have developed an enormous level of respect for Gilbane as we have spent time with their entire team during their evaluation of DESTINI Estimator and it is clear that they are a company who always seeks ways of adding more value to their customers. Through feedback from Gilbane during the evaluation process we have already enhanced our products and I believe that working with Gilbane as a customer will enable us to add even more value to our products that will benefit not only Gilbane but all of our customers”, said Stewart Carroll, President of Beck Technology.

DESTINI Estimator 2018.2.0 Extends Integrated Takeoff and Estimating Functionality

Beck Technology releases a feature packed pre-construction software version that was guided by input from general contractors and focuses on more efficient estimating processes.

Beck Technology, leading software and service firm for the commercial design and construction industry, has released a new version of its integrated estimating software: DESTINI® Estimator 2018.2.0. The release is another significant advancement for the integrated pre-construction solution. With over 50 major feature enhancements in 2018.2.0, many of which were driven by customer feedback, this release extends existing functionality in a number of key areas.

  • Parametric conceptual estimating
  • Assembly creation and use
  • Self-perform estimating
  • 2D and 3D takeoff

“The Beck Technology team continues to be an amazing partner who consistently listens to our needs and works with us on extending their product in areas that really add value to our business,” said Ray Miller, Vice President of Pre-construction for Balfour Beatty. “The parametric estimating functionality in this upcoming release is awesome and will allow us to integrate our existing cost models directly into DESTINI Estimator to drive our conceptual estimates bringing the flexibility our users love with the structure and consistency I need as a pre-construction leader at Balfour Beatty.”

“Creating world class technology to allow our customers to make better, more informed decisions through the life of their projects is why we do what we do,” said Michael Boren, Chief Technology Officer of Beck Technology. “Integrating our customers throughout our development process is vital to delivering on this goal. We take a lot of pride in listening to our customers’ needs and finding innovative solutions to solve their problems. DESTINI Estimator 2018.2.0 is a feature packed release and it’s been great working with input from more than 20 of our enterprise customers on this release.”

The estimating software’s highlights are demonstrated in Beck Technology’s ‘Sneak Peek of Latest Developments: Estimator 2018 2.0’ on-demand webinar.

Level 10 Construction Selects the DESTINI Estimator Preconstruction Solution

Beck Technology, leading software and service firm for the commercial design and construction industry, announced that Level 10 Construction selected DESTINI® Estimator as its new enterprise-wide preconstruction platform.

Headquartered in Sunnyvale (Silicon Valley), California, with additional offices in San Francisco and San Diego, Level 10 Construction is one of the fastest growing construction companies in the US. Founded in 2011, Level 10 is currently ranked No. 60 among the 2018 ENR Top 400 Contractors.

Level 10 Construction made the switch to DESTINI Estimator from a legacy estimating solution after a rigorous 12-month evaluation of the solutions in the market. Level 10 does a lot of work for leading high-tech companies who expect rapid response time with high degrees of predictability and transparency. Selection of DESTINI Estimator will allow Level 10 to streamline their preconstruction processes and to provide more clarity and transparency in their preconstruction deliverables.

The multi-year enterprise agreement will enable the company to utilize DESTINI Estimator in all of its preconstruction efforts across the Level 10 organization.

“We have grown significantly year over year since our inception, and this success has led to preconstruction bandwidth challenges that are directly related to our current preconstruction processes and technologies,” said Level 10’s Chief Estimator Andrew Gaylor. We are very excited that DESTINI Estimator integrates many of the aspects of what we do today into a single, simple-to-use application. We believe DESTINI Estimator will allow us to continue to deliver best-in-class preconstruction services in less time and with a higher level of predictability.”

“We have worked closely with Andrew and his team at Level 10 as they evaluated DESTINI Estimator, and we anticipate a smooth and successful transition of their processes to DESTINI Estimator”, said Stewart Carroll, president of Beck Technology. “The Level 10 team is an extremely talented group and does amazing things with the resources available to them. The firm has estimated an built an impressive number of projects of varying types. Our goal is to make Level 10 even more successful through the use of DESTINI Estimator.”

Big-D Construction Selects DESTINI Estimator to Support the Construction Firm’s Rapid Growth

Beck Technology, leading software and service firm for the commercial design and construction industry, announced that Big-D Construction has chosen DESTINI® Estimator as its new enterprise-wide preconstruction platform.

Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, Big-D Construction is a 51-year-old construction company ranked No. 61 among the 2018 ENR Top 400 Contractors in the nation. The construction firm was seeking a new preconstruction platform for over a year to align with its mission of being the most sought-after construction company in the business. After researching and testing several solutions, Big-D’s team did an exploration of Estimator and determined that the estimating software was the ideal solution for the company’s current and future needs.

Big-D Construction made the switch to Estimator from its legacy estimating solution in July to support the company’s rapid growth, a desire to have a unified platform across all offices, and a way for the company to capture and utilize company cost history.  The multi-year enterprise agreement will enable the company and all its subsidiaries to utilize DESTINI Estimator in all of its preconstruction efforts.

“Very early in our engagement with Michael Sant, Vice President at Big-D, and the Big-D team we felt like our company cultures aligned and hoped that we would ultimately have the opportunity to implement DESTINI Estimator at Big-D,” said Tyler Barron, Vice President of Sales for Beck Technology. “We know that Big-D’s switch to Estimator is a significant one, and one that we are excited to help implement.”

Estimating Life with Balfour Beatty

Missed this week’s webinar? Catch up at the link below! Doug Maiden, Manager of Professional Services at Beck Technology, sat down with Balfour Beatty’s Senior Estimator, Landon McQuestion, to talk about his role in teaching the other offices at his company about the ins and outs of DESTINI Estimator. Landon shares how he would walk through Estimator tutorials by utilizing conference software as well as in-person visits. He also talks about the challenges of balancing his full-time job as a senior estimator with the responsibilities of onboarding other offices onto Estimator.

Watch the full interview HERE!

Sneak Peek of Latest Developments: Estimator 2018 2.0

The R&D team at Beck Technology is constantly improving the performance of DESTINI Estimator, and the latest version about to be released is no exception. Michael Boren, Chief Technology Officer at Beck Technology, gives a sneak peek of the most recent developments for Estimator 2018.2.0 in this webinar.

Michael kicks off the webinar by noting that there are so many features and updates to Estimator 2018.2.0 it is impossible to cover them all in the short amount of time given. Additionally, he focuses on the fact that some of the more critical features were pushed out early in order to better understand what clients wanted to see the most in this update. Developing features with the customer’s feedback at the forefront has always been at the center of Beck Technology’s software creation.

Though there are a multitude of changes and updates to Estimator, some of the key areas highlighted include modifying line items, moving costs from one estimate to another, and simplified logic in assembly takeoff.

Watch the full webinar HERE for more about these exciting new features!