Based out of the San Diego office of Turner, the Otay-Tijuana Cross Border Facility project team was looking for one innovative construction management solution to streamline engineering processes, eliminate large email transactions, easily share information with field staff, and increase the collaboration between internal and external project team members.
Procore's cloud-based project management software allows all team members—including owners, the lending group, architects, engineers, and subcontractors—to access and immediately share project data and documentation, eliminating the need for time-consuming document-transfer tasks. What's more, Procore's mobile apps ensure information sharing can take place anywhere.
"We no longer have to spend time pushing documents around, so we can focus more on our work. We're more efficient, our clients are happier, and our morale has improved in ways it couldn't before."
Viry Martino, Project Engineer
There is no longer a need for rows of filing cabinets in the job site office, and employees couldn't be happier. "Everything is stored online. We don't need to keep hard copies of anything—and that's a good thing," says Cicero Rodriguez, project engineer.
"In the past, our time was gobbled up by the process of getting everything into 'the system'," says Rodriguez. Engineers felt that they were spending too much time at the office processing documents and not enough time in the field. Being an engineer on a complex project can make it difficult to catch up on all the paperwork required to meet contract requirements.
Through a simple switch in project management software, the small team of construction professionals has gone from paper-pushing to paperless. The team is now more productive than ever, saving an exponential amount of money in printing costs and spending more time in the field resolving issues.
On previous projects, one software program was used for project management, including requests for information (RFIs) and submittals, and another software program to store documents and drawings. More often than not, external partners could not access those programs, so Turner staff used yet another software solution to share documentation with project owners, architects, and subcontractors. Using separate software platforms meant team members had to spend significant amounts of time downloading large files from one system and then uploading them into another. Touching the same information several times led to inefficiencies and, at times, incorrect information being sent to the field.
"Our previous project management software worked well as a glorified file cabinet, but it was not so good at sharing data," explains Jason Falco, project manager with Turner. "The collaboration component of the software was very difficult to set up."
Because the previous project management software charged licensing fees for each user, it was too expensive to grant access to project owners, architects, subcontractors, and even some internal team members. "When the number of users is limited, the project team is not able to share information efficiently and truly collaborate," says Falco.
Two years ago, the Turner team at the Otay-Tijuana Cross Border Facility project began visiting other projects to learn which project management systems were being used, searching for a better solution. "We needed a software platform that would allow us to complete all of our project management activities in one tool, and also fix our collaboration issues," says Falco. After several visits and a couple weeks of research, the project team was introduced to Procore and a demonstration session was arranged.
The cloud-based project management software and mobile apps act as a one stop shop for storing, sharing, and accessing the most current documents and drawings—from anywhere, at any time. Plus, the software's open application program interface (API) allows it to connect to other software programs, like Sage accounting software, to share data.
Procore also met all of Turner's collaboration needs by:
The team's RFIs, submittals, and drawings are now located in one software program, where users can label documents, link them together, and collaborate with others. Every window in the software program has email capability to send links.
"Turner superintendents and trade contractor staff can open the mobile tool from the field, and create and send RFIs within minutes," says Rodriguez. "It has streamlined our processes and made us more efficient."
It took less than three weeks to deploy the Procore software and train staff. Viry Martino, project engineer, credits the software provider's training program for getting everybody on board so quickly.
"Our account manager created a 'sandbox' project in Procore so we could play around with the program and get to know the system without affecting our real projects," says Martino. "We tested the workflow by sending emails through the software and receiving notifications. We also were able to see how our external project partners, with different permission levels, would see project data."
"It was very helpful, and we've used that sandbox project to show off Procore to other Turner projects interested in using the software," she says. As a result, a number of Turner projects have taken the lessons learned from the Otay-Tijuana Cross Border Facility team, and implemented Procore on their projects with great success.
Getting field staff and external partners to use Procore was also surprisingly simple. And, after becoming users, many became champions of the platform.
"Our senior superintendent had a bad experience in the past trying to use mobile project management applications in the field. After we showed him how easy it was to use the tool for his Daily Reports, he liked it so much that he began convincing all the other field tradesmen to use it," says Falco.
When Martino adds a user to the system—which she says takes about 30 seconds—the superintendent performs a quick demo on a smart device. By the time team members have user accounts in the software, they already know how to use the Daily Log function, which includes photo and voice-to-text features so they can record issues in real time while walking a job site.
"It's our first step in getting them to understand just how easy it is to use, especially the mobile app, which is a lot simpler since it is targeted more for viewing than editing," says Martino. "The mobile app makes it easy for them to navigate through everything they need to access while in the field."
Many subcontractors and field staff already own the tools necessary—smartphones and tablets––to access Procore on project sites. The Turner project team began requiring the use of iPads for subcontractor field staff in subcontracts to ensure all team members would use the software.
"We spent a lot of time meeting with our subcontractors upfront to explain why they needed to use this system to streamline our project processes, and how important it was for them to upload project data directly into the system," says Falco. "We walked through some of the major workflows with them to show how easy it was to use. In the end, it saved the engineers an enormous amount of time because they weren't getting emails with large files attached and then uploading them. Our engineers were able to spend more time reviewing submittals, instead of processing them, which is priceless to a project team."
Rodriguez adds that the time-saving benefits also apply to subcontractors, who have their own paperwork needs. "By providing access to the subcontractor foreman, we've made them feel more like a part of the team. Previously, engineers printed out documentation and handed it off to them."
So far, the project has more than 300 users in the Procore system, including owner teams, design teams, and subcontractors. All project data is stored in the software for approved users to access.
"It's a very open system in which our clients can have access to the information, and the architects are part of the collaborative environment," says Martino. "Having a one stop shop where everything is in the same place is something our clients and architects enjoy, and that I believe future clients want to see. Now we can use our team and Procore as a model for future proposals when chasing work."
Falco also likes that he can easily share documents with project owners. "It's a nice way to close out a project because everything is already in the system, in real time. In the past, we gave binders with closeout documents to owners, but they tended to lose them. Now there are no papers to lose."
Now, since staff members no longer have to spend time pushing documents around, they can focus more on their work. "Overall, we're more efficient, our clients are happier, and our morale has improved in ways it couldn't before because we were never able to catch up with the paperwork," says Martino.
By solving the project team's initial challenges, Procore has proven to be the "way to go" and has become the foundation of the team's strong culture of collaboration. It wouldn't be far-fetched to say that their only paper-related challenge now is what to do with all those empty filing cabinets!