PlanGrid Construction Productivity Blog
PlanGrid Houston Roadshow

4 Takeaways from the PlanGrid Houston Roadshow

PlanGrid is hitting the road throughout the year to meet with customers and industry leaders face-to-face. Naturally, our first stop was in Texas–one of the fastest growing states in the country, adding thousands to its population every week and compounding massive infrastructure demands in the process. And what better city in Texas for our first PlanGrid Roadshow than Houston, which saw $28 billion in new construction starts in 2018 alone?

On April 11th at the PlanGrid Houston Roadshow, we gathered hundreds of builders at the city’s iconic Minute Maid Park stadium to discuss the construction industry’s radical digital transformation. From in-depth panel discussions and breakout sessions with industry experts to product sneak peeks, attendees had plenty of opportunities to learn from those driving change within the Texas construction sector.    

Here are our takeaways from our customers and industry partners in the Lone Star state.

PlanGrid gathers the Texas construction industry at Minute Maid Park in Houston

1. Partnerships are as Important as the Technology Itself

At the opening keynote, PlanGrid Co-Founder and Autodesk Construction Solutions Chief Software Architect Ralph Gootee noted we are in the construction industry’s “golden age of productivity.” The technology industry is now able to serve almost every corner of the construction industry’s needs–from design to construction and through to operations. Investment in the space has more than doubled in the last decade. As JLL recently found, VC firms invested over $1 billion in construction startups in the first half of 2018 alone. Clearly, the number of companies building dedicated solutions for the industry is booming.

Our discussions throughout the day reiterated that technology itself is not enough to deliver successful projects and make customers happy. Building trusting partnerships is just as important as it’s always been. In order to realize the promise of technology solutions and accelerate productivity, we need to maintain close collaboration. Owners, contractors and technology providers have to work together to ensure technology is properly adopted across the workforce and develop their competitive advantages for the digital era. On the other side of the success equation, technology providers have to deliver solutions that continuously meet and adapt to customers’ needs in a rapidly digitizing environment.

Customers discuss the construction industry’s digital transformation. From left to right: Kevin Halter, PlanGrid Vice President of Western US and Asia Pacific; Allen Cortez, Hanover Company Vice President of Safety and Administration; Randee Herrin, TDIndustries Senior Vice President of New Construction; Kim Arrant, APTIM Vice President of Business Transformation; and Jeff Spillane, Anslow Bryant Construction Chief Financial Officer.

2. Everyone Has to Get on Board

At the Roadshow’s customer panel, Randee Herrin, Senior Vice President of New Construction at TDIndustries, said “technology is not the future anymore, it’s now.” In other words: having a mobile strategy is no longer a nice-to-have–it’s a critical business priority field workers need to be on board with, too. And while most construction firms are now deploying technology, adoption is still a challenge.

Later, the “Embracing Construction Technology” breakout session with Marek Brothers Learning and Development Lead Shannon Davis, TDIndustries Process Manager Morgan Fountain and PlanGrid Customer Advocate Drew Moncada dug into the key considerations for successfully embracing technology, including:

  1.     Identify the problems to solve
  2.     Evaluate the best solutions suited to solve the problems
  3.     Work closely with end users in the evaluation process
  4.     Create a roadmap to success for the team to implement

Once again, partnerships are at the core of this guidance. Collaboration is crucial across every stage–from company leaders working with their field teams to identify issues technology can help solve, to technology providers working closely with construction teams to ensure roadmaps are implemented successfully.

Jessica Pollack, PlanGrid Consulting Services Director leading a PlanGrid training class

3. Technology Can Help Achieve a Competitive Advantage

With most of the industry now digitizing, simply adopting technology solutions is not enough to help organizations remain competitive in the market. PlanGrid Customer Advocate Lorrin Blair shared in the “Creating a Competitive Technology Advantage” breakout session, “general adoption is really just the first step in the process.” Once technology is introduced to an organization, focusing on standardization and integrations will help it step up to the next level. Standardization can establish uniformity in operations, and custom integrations can help a company create its own, unique technology ecosystem to optimize workflows.

Tellepsen’s Director of Professional Development Kendall Pouland, who co-hosted the session alongside Lorrin, reminded the audience that measurement and evaluation are also important for remaining ahead of the pack: “A big part of continuous improvement is making sure to stop and measure the impact of the processes we’re improving and changing.” Kendall also underlined the value of creating a culture of continuous improvement and encouraged audience members to “report improvements to managers, attend conferences, go to user group meetings” and more to bring new ideas in.

Kendall and Lorrin made it clear that partnerships are central to developing operational excellence and competitive advantages. Mapping out workflows and finding guidance on standardization requires close collaboration with experts, and building and maintaining a culture of continuous improvement relies on cooperation across teams.

From left to right: Marek Brothers Learning and Development Lead Shannon Davis; TDIndustries Senior Vice President of New Construction Randee Herrin; and TDIndustries Process Manager Morgan Fountain.

4. It’s Important to Find the Right Technology Partner

Strategies including standardization and integrations don’t work unless the technology in question evolves along with its users’ needs. Technology providers have to adopt a culture of continuous improvement, partnering with the construction industry to stay on the pulse of what’s next and asking, “how can workflows be further streamlined to drive more productivity and a more sustainable environment?

This is why we hit the road to Houston, and why we’re looking forward to visiting more regions soon. There’s a lot of construction work to be done across the globe, and we’re looking forward to advancing conversations with the industry to continually deliver the solutions it needs.

Where and when will we be on the road next? Stay tuned and subscribe to our blog for updates!

Further Reading:  A Better Way to Connect: 5 Powerful Technology Integrations in Construction

Niyati Desai

Niyati (Niya) is a public relations manager at PlanGrid, where she works with media and customers to tell PlanGrid's stories, as well as the industry's. Outside of the office, Niya practices yoga, tries to play violin and studies Bravo TV.

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