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Ryan Companies

Ryan Companies' leadership pursues productivity-boosting tech for the jobsite—but only those digital tools that provide genuine ease-of-use will make the cut.

Embedding the Experience

Restlessly inventive, the Ryan Companies leadership has a reputation for embracing emergent construction technologies, and then making those technologies their own. Ryan’s Mike Ernst, for instance, has the title “Insights and Innovation.” You heard right. Mike’s job is to make sure Ryan Companies’ workers have the most advanced construction management innovations available, and in a platform that makes the innovations easy to grasp—figuratively and literally.

“We’re trying to consolidate our user experience so that it has an all-in-one quality,” says Mike of Procore’s new offering. “That way, everyone’s focused on the information, rather than the tool. Whether it’s Lisa, me, or somebody else training, this consolidation makes it easier to grasp.” The “Lisa” he’s referring to is Ryan Companies’ Construction Analyst Lisa Leighton, who brokers new innovations in the field and acts as the company’s de facto Implementation Manager. As for “consolidation,” Mike is talking about Procore’s new Embedded Experience; a new interface that brings Procore’s celebrated Partner Integrations into the user experience. This means the project worker can leverage a partner point solution without ever leaving the Procore app, lowering the barrier for users. Mike cites a couple of partner app examples to make his point.

“There is no context-switching, no jumping in and out of the platform to run the partner tool. It feels consistent.”
Mike Ernst, Insights and Innovation
Ryan Companies

Consolidation = King

“Even if the tool is powered by StructionSite, for instance, or by Thinking Engines,” Mike says, “that tool just appears to the user as another element of the familiar Procore platform. There is no context-switching, no jumping in and out of the platform to run the partner tool. It feels consistent. We’re giving the field one world in which to successfully run their projects.”

The construction industry has begun rapidly adopting construction management tech as the New Normal, leveraging digital efficiencies and data transparency to move projects along with more collaborative confidence. As construction’s new digital era unfolds, site workers and their project office counterparts are depending on even greater ease of use going forward. That’s the true sign of progress; digital construction management as embraceable and indispensable as your weathered old toolbox. All tools are in one place, and the one you want is within reach the instant you need it. Consolidation is King. And the new Embedded Experience is surely King of Consolidation. Ryan Companies’ VP of “Insights and Innovation” spells it out.

“We’ve been on track for the past few years—and this includes Ryan Companies’ initial purchase of Procore —to start consolidating toolsets to meet our objectives. Embedded apps are just the next phase of this consolidation. We know Procore can’t build everything, but they can become the platform that embeds and runs all these other tools. Embedded Experience gets us that much closer to an all-in-one construction management solution.”

construction crane

Merging the Practical with the Tactical

The Embedded Experience is exactly that, and more. Ryan Companies’ Lisa Leighton—who administers new digital tools for the Ryan workers—explains what an Embedded interface adds to the mix. “So I’m integrating the Embedded Experience as an Admin on Procore,” Lisa says. “That means I can see when the Embedded app is being used and on what projects.” Embedded Experience allows the platform’s admin to view embedded app activity, indicating which users have activated apps on which projects. This visibility allows for a broad prescriptive use-case oversight that can help inform strategic use of the app on other, similar projects.

Lisa explains how this bird’s-eye view of an app’s in-project use can be leveraged. “Now when I know a project is successfully using Thinking Engines, for instance, Mike and I can say, ‘Hey, we’re utilizing this. This might be a good fit for what you’re looking for. Let’s apply it to your project.’” Lisa continues. “An Embedded app is seamlessly woven into the platform and is as visible to an admin as a native Procore tool.”

exterior building under construction

Thinking Engines and StructionSite – The pilot

Ryan Companies’ pilot of the Embedded Experience involved two apps; Thinking Engines and StructionSite. “We have small teams actively participating,” Mike says. Ryan Companies Superintendent Darin Henson is on one of the teams, and explains his pilot of the Thinking Engines app—an Artificial Intelligence-driven jobsite monitor that tracks critical site metrics 24/7. These metrics include project progress, staffing, jobsite security and environmental monitoring— temperature, humidity, and air quality.

“You’re able to track workers coming to and from the site. It really helps the superintendent know exactly who’s on site and what true manpower is out there.” Speaking of manpower, Darin explains how Thinking Engines comes to the rescue of the Superintendent who might otherwise have to drive to the site on a weekend to check out key environmental readings. “We have the CO2 monitors and temp sensors on this project,“ Darin says, “which gives us confidence and saves us time on the weekends! I pull up the Thinking Engines app and I can see what the temperatures are on the site. I don’t have to drive down there to make sure the heaters are running.” Embedded Experience has made the Thinking Engines app an organic part of the digital Platform. “It’s easy because it’s right there,” Darin says. “You just click on it.”

The StructionSite app masterfully organizes and stitches together jobsite photos into a database that makes them searchable by date and link locations in the drawings themselves. “Before StructionSite,” Mike Ernst explains, “people were just taking tons of photos on the site. There may have been some 360 views that people were doing—points in time—but they didn’t necessarily relate to the progress of the project. With StructionSite, rather than thousands of photos, we’re going to have a Digital Twin that people can use and leverage now, and in the future. StructionSite is a natural extension of the documentation process.”

Ryan Companies crane

Safety, Integrity, Respect, Stewardship, Family, Excellence… and Fun

Ryan Companies takes the building business personally. Yes, the commercial real estate giant’s ownership of each project, from conception to completion, is a point of pride. Yes, the range and depth of Ryan’s portfolio—eight decades in the making—is unquestioned. And yes—Ryan’s buildings touch every facet of the human experience, from Healthcare to Industrial to Multifamily to Senior Living.

Ryan Companies’ record of achievement is vast. The individual building projects, though, never lose sight of the fact that they are backdrop to an ongoing human narrative. At least that’s how Ryan Companies sees it. What does it mean? The structures, after all, are built of the usual stuff—brick, mortar, glass, steel. But a place where people can thrive means so much more than the sum of its parts. Ryan Companies’ portfolio spans the U.S., and the firm sees in each of its completed buildings a beautiful edifice whose addition to its community will long be felt.

This people-centric approach also applies to Ryan’s rank and file—before they’ve even picked up a hammer. The Embedded Experience is designed to make the job easier. Mike Ernst explains. “The reason that we’re doing Embedded Experience is that we are frequently onboarding a lot of people, as are other companies. So that means training and adoption. The faster and easier we can do that with a common toolset, the better prepared new teammates are to succeed at Ryan. Will the other companies believe that philosophy? I can’t answer that. But that’s what I believe. That’s what the Embedded Experience gives Ryan Companies.”

In 1938 family patriarch and Minnesotan James Henry Ryan founded Ryan Lumber and Coal to keep his neighbors sheltered and warm. In 1949, sons Francis and Russell Ryan took a long look at their lumber-and-coal-related real estate holdings and came up with an idea they called Ryan Realty Company. So began the Ryan family’s love affair with buildings, which to this day they principally regard as places where people can gather. Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies today spans the U.S. through 14 offices that stretch from Seattle to Tampa.

Location

Minneapolis, MN

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