Robbins|Reed knew that Construction Project Management could be more efficient. They needed to discover how to do things differently, how to do things their way.
Procore's flexible configuration options allowed Robbins|Reed to improve their existing business processes without having to re-invent their business.
"Once we saw the Procore demonstration, the software sold itself. Procore is the construction software we need to run our business."
Grant Robbins, Principal
Founded by Grant Robbins and Shawn Reed, who both attended California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly), Robbins|Reed set out to do things better, do things their way.
"I'm passionate about what we do, and I'm passionate about bringing technology into our industry," says Robbins. Starting their own firm, he says, "allowed us to finally break out of all the corporate molds of force-fed software and shop the market to figure out what we wanted to use."
At first, they managed their construction projects using just Microsoft Word and Excel, but, Robbins says, "we quickly realized that we outgrew that process."
Having worked with other companies prior to starting their own firm, the partners had used Primavera Systems' Expedition and other construction project management software applications. "Both of those systems have lots of features. We just did not find them to be user-friendly. Based on older technologies, they seemed cumbersome," Robbins observes. Ease of use was their top priority. "We wanted something that didn't take mountains of manuals and training to implement. One of our mantras when we were looking for software was: 'It's only as useful as it is easy to use.' If software is too cumbersome or too complicated to use your team will work around it and the implementation will fail."
So Robbins|Reed began a search for better construction project management management software. "We spent a great deal of time really shopping the industry to see what opportunities were out there," Robbins recalls. Even so, it was almost by accident that they discovered Procore.
"One of our project managers was looking for an app for his iPhone to manage punch lists in the field, and he came upon Procore for iPhone. I viewed the videos on the website and quickly made some phone calls," Robbins remembers. "Once we saw the Procore demonstration, quite honestly, the software sold itself."
Procore came out to demonstrate the software in person. "I brought in a lot of our project managers to sit around and watch the Procore demo," Robbins explains. "When the Procore rep left, I thought 'Sign us up—we're done.'"
"I mean, we already knew what the other programs could do, and they wanted more money and were harder to use. Plus, you've got to pay for all the support," says Robbins. "We didn't want to deal with that."
Procore offered exactly what they were looking for—a cloud-based construction project management solution that was cost-effective for Robbins|Reed. "Until we found Procore, there wasn't really anything in the market for the midsize construction companies," Robbins says. What's more amazing, "Procore appeared to have been built by feedback from people within the industry," which made learning how to use Procore even smoother. "Procore supported the same process that we normally would use, and that was really nice. And it was clean and simple to use."
Just to be sure, Robbins put in a few calls to friends in the industry that were already using Procore. He spoke with one of the founders, as well as with project managers and superintendents, and their feedback was positive. "Procore just seemed like, quite honestly, a no-brainer."
The company's biggest concern was making sure Procore would be used. "The one thing that we hate more than anything we do in business is spending money on new technology, only to see it just sit and not get used," says Robbins. But he adds that it was actually a small concern after seeing Procore. "Having watched the demo, and seeing how Procore would be used, knowing the support was free and endless, we were pretty confident we would have a successful implementation."
Training sessions were held online, as interactive computer screen-share meetings.
"We were all in front of our computers, listening and actually controlling the software on our machines during the training, with coaching from Procore's support team. Really Procore was quite easy," Robbins remembers. "Just walking through it, if you have a basic understanding of construction project management, computers, and using the Web," you will quickly understand how to use Procore.
"Compared to the training for our construction accounting software," says Robbins, "Procore is painless!"
Even so, he adds, "I would say what surprised me the most, was how quickly everyone fell in love with Procore and actually used construction software as part of their everyday work routines."
"Procore's scheduling and the ability to send out schedules automatically are huge features for us," Robbins says. He also describes the punch list tracking feature as "gigantic." In addition, Procore's cost tracking and the tracking of subcontractor and owner change orders are among the features that are highly appreciated by the staff at Robbins|Reed.
During one of the very first projects they handled through Procore, Robbins recalls, "the project manager was just blown away at how Procore streamlined and shortened the punch list completion time. Procore really allowed the project manager to stay on top of the subs to get their work done without all the typical phone calls and emails. Often, the subs got tired of getting the automatic reminder emails from Procore and just got their work done to stop the automatic emails!"
Robbin's praise for Procore's features doesn't end there, however. "We really loved the RFI process and the Submittals Tool—and adding subs doesn't cost us any additional money. I don't have to pay for more users, making Procore true collaboration software." Procore's RFI feature is probably the function Robbins|Reed uses most.
Robbins also appreciates how Procore allows all the project team members and stakeholders to be involved. "We really liked how you could invite the subs and the consultants and the owners and give them security permissions so that they could be part of the program," he says. "When we're talking with architects and showing them how we manage our jobs in Procore, it sets us apart. Using cloud-based construction software like Procore is something that we bring to the table that a lot of our competitors don't."
"I think Procore has definitely helped us separate ourselves from the competition when we're being evaluated for project award," Robbins notes. He says that developers, owners, and architects definitely review the Robbins|Reed construction project management process. It's important and impressive to be able to say that project information, including documents, RFIs, Submittals, and even Daily Logs, are all easily accessible from any Internet connected device, thanks to Procore's cloud-based construction software.
"We're a mobile workforce," says Robbins. "Everyone's traveling or works remotely nowadays. You've got owners traveling or living far away, architects are somewhere else, I'm on the road, and we can—at any point in time—stay connected to the project with Procore. That's been a big benefit."
"We all have iPhones in our company" he points out. "The handiest feature on Procore for iPhone, I would have to say, is the Punch List feature. But we do provide our project managers and superintendents with iPads as well so that they can go out there and stay connected, and Procore for iPad has been great. It's been very, very helpful, and it makes the process smoother and quicker."
The Photo tool—Procore's ability to add albums that can be shared with the client, the architect, and others—is something the staff also uses quite extensively. "I know the Photo tool is not the selling feature of Procore," Robbins acknowledges, but he says the photos did help a lender in Chicago feel more like they're part of the project in Santa Barbara.
Of course, Procore enables easy sharing of all kinds of information—not just photos. Robbins|Reed uses Procore to make sure the client, the subcontractors, the consulting team, and others are all on the same page, working together.
The fact that architects reply to RFIs and other e-mails sooner, or go online and approve submittals instantly speaks volumes about the value of Procore, Robbins says. "Because the architect doesn't care about our project management process, and if we didn't have a system that's easy to use, they'd never take the time to learn how to help us out."
The firm holds project owner meetings on a weekly basis. "Everyone's online, looking at the Meeting Minutes Tool in Procore. No one has printed a piece of paper—everyone's looking at Procore on his or her computer screen as they're talking on the phone. Those kinds of things are amazing," he explains.
"We're making our whole company paperless, so we really don't keep file cabinets or reams of paper. Procore is great because it provides all the document storage you need at no additional charge."
Procore's unparalleled customer support is something Robbins|Reed "thanks every Procore employee for," Robbins says enthusiastically. "The fact that customer support is unlimited and doesn't cost per second or tenth of a second, like some of the other companies do, is absolutely monumental. And I would have to say that Procore's providing free support and training to all of our users was probably one of the largest sales features."
He liked the fact that Procore not only offered unlimited support, but also unlimited training of any new hires. "Procore's training and support is second to none," Robbins declares. "When we send in an email, the replies are thorough. If it can't be answered in an email, we get a phone call immediately."
"We don't get that with any other software vendor—or if we do, we're getting charged by the minute for talking to them about how we can't figure out how to use their product."
The Procore team's ability to listen, too, surprised the staff of Robbins|Reed. "When we first implemented Procore, we had some feedback on the Punch List tool in Procore for iPhone," Robbins recalls. "A project manager sent in an email request, and not long after, there was an update to Procore for iPhone based directly on our input!
Robbins appreciates the fact that Procore doesn't save up all its improvements for a new version or new release that is only made available after an up-sell or additional fee. In that sense, he believes that Procore's corporate culture matches his own firm's: "We're trying to always better ourselves. It's nice to know that the software we're using is also trying to better itself along with us."
Would Robbins recommend Procore to others?
"I do and I have."
"The customer experience is huge," he explains. "Functionality is set up well. It's visually easy to use and appealing to look at. It's not like you're looking at a text-based screen as you're trying to work—the graphical user interface is nice and sharp and clean."
"Procore is responsive, and provides us with the construction project management software features and functionality we need to run our business."