Reposted with permission from Stuart Frederich-Smith on Medium.
PlanGrid was founded on the belief that the construction industry has been poorly served by technology in key areas. While design and modelling software was evolving quickly, too much of the jobsite work relied on inefficient processes and physical documents. PlanGrid defined a new way to facilitate and improve field collaboration, by thoughtfully presenting the most essential data at the right time. This increases efficiency, saves money, and prevents rework. I joined PlanGrid because I believe in this mission, and care deeply about contributing to the construction industry.
The role of product management
Product management’s role in software development is similar to that of the architect in the AEC world. Our responsibility is to understand the problems of our customers and create software that solves them. We work closely with engineers, data scientists, designers, and quality assurance testers, each contributing an important perspective and skill set. We spend a lot of time talking to customers about using PlanGrid and collecting feedback on potential changes.
Feedback is essential to our success, and we’re fortunate to have so many customers that are willing to talk to us about their PlanGrid experiences.
The path forward
As we think about improving and expanding PlanGrid, we have two key objectives: centralizing relevant project data and improving team communication. Centralizing project data means sharing sheets, specifications, submittals, and other information with the right members of your team in real-time. But piles of data is not enough; it needs to be easy to navigate through powerful searches, smart links, and annotation tools — ultimately getting your team exactly the information they need when they need it, which saves time and leads to better decisions.
Productive teams need to communicate, make decisions, and coordinate quickly. By combining efficient communication and tracking with up-to-date project data, PlanGrid builds a comprehensive and auditable history of your projects. This helps you track decisions and stay close, and allows us to build new ways of aggregating and returning insights to your team. Dashboards that highlight what works and what doesn’t work will help teams identify and fix key workflow bottlenecks.
In the pipeline: field reports
We’re currently working on field reports, which reflects our dedication to both expanding project data and improving team communication. Field reports offer a way to bring any type of regular report into PlanGrid (daily report, checklists, etc.). Once you upload a template, you can configure who can submit and who can view submissions. You’ll be able to add links to photos, issues, and sheets. Best of all, we store everything — forever. This means you can search the archive at any time and quickly find the report you’re looking for. We’ll be rolling out field reports to a small number of customers over the summer, and making it more widely available later in the year.
I can’t wait to share more of what we’re planning later in 2016. In the meantime, I encourage you to get in touch with questions, feature requests, or general feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Every email gets read by me or another member of our product team, and we take every suggestion seriously.
P.S. If you’re on Windows (desktop or tablet), try out our new native Windows app, which we’ll be continuing to expand in the coming months. PlanGrid for Windows offers a fantastic experience for viewing sheets, creating annotations, and submitting issues.
About the author: Stuart joined PlanGrid in early 2015 as Director of Product after ten years of building great things in mobile, gaming and media. He studied film at the University of Notre Dame.