Data, organization, and technology are not only for desk workers and tech companies. At McCownGordon Construction, workers may be using their smartphones or tablets on a job site just as much as they use forklifts or cement mixers.
Paul Cook—a McCownGordon superintendent who oversees all the activity on a job site, from schedules to materials to budgets—understands the value of using the latest in analytics and productivity tools.
Q: What does a project estimator do, and how do you work with them?
A: An estimator puts dollars to everything that we do. He tells the owner of the project how much it costs for the services we’re going to render. I’m the field person that has experience that helps him with his conceptual number. I help him make sure it’s feasible to do those tasks for that amount of money. There may be something that he overlooked when he was pricing the job and I can bring oversight to that.
Q: How do spreadsheets play a role in you working together?
A: Jesse and I can sit down with all the information that he’s compiled in an organized document to compare everything line by line and make sure that it’s all accounted for.
Q: How important is it for you and Jesse to be able to have all of that information organized before going into a project?
A: In construction, if you go into a task without a plan, you’re setting yourself up for failure. And that’s where Jesse and I start in the preliminary parts of the job, creating that plan and giving ourselves the best benefit for success. The essence of businesses is time and money. If we’re not organized, we’re just wasting both.
Q: When you’re making decisions out in the field, how do spreadsheets help you keep track of the decisions that you made?
A: Spreadsheets show us how our decisions have impacted our time or our money and we can make corrective actions from what we see in that information.
Q: There’s a lot going on at a construction site. How do spreadsheets help you manage time and tasks for yourself and your team?
A: They help us organize the tasks that need to happen on a job site, so that we can communicate them clearly and concisely. Anybody can understand what they need to be doing at any given time.
Q: How do you use technology to manage budgets for your projects?
A: We use spreadsheets to help us stay on budget for a project, helping us organize and identify any outliers in our information that we’re accumulating.
Q: Does technology help you build trusting relationships with your client?
A: Yes, the more transparent we are with the information that we have, the more trust that we can build. And be it with our upper management, our clients, or whomever, when we can show the health of our job, clear and concisely, it helps everybody understand where we’re at. Technology does nothing but aid that communication.
Q: Can you give an example of how technology helps when it comes to building your relationships with trade partners?
A: I think technology allows us to share information with our trade partners more expeditiously. They can understand the project’s needs and what we need from them. The construction industry is split up into divisions and that’s how we keep everything straight so that trade partners know their scope of work and what to look for. We use spreadsheets to quantify the dollars that are in each category and then when you add all of the divisions together, that’s the price of your project.
Q: How does the organization of those divisions and that data help you to understand where money is going on the project?
A: Using the divisions of construction helps us to understand where the money’s going in a project. Just by simplifying or breaking it out into specific categories, we can look at that single category and understand what’s going on and where are all the dollars are going.