McCownGordon Construction and Procore go back a long way. Headquartered in Kansas City, MO, the company started using Procore in 2012 and even worked with the construction management software firm to build its financial integration with Sage 300. One deciding factor in McCownGordon’s adoption of Procore was the way the technology could improve customer experience.
Dustin Burns, vice president of Information Technology, said the project management solution McCownGordon was using before Procore was not reaching deep enough.
“Our architect partners did not want to use it. Our trade partners did not want to use it, and our clients never accessed it. The field staff wouldn’t use the platform either,” recalled Burns.
McCownGordon had a financially integrated system but abandoned it to use Procore. The benefits of using the new project management tools were worth the wait for Sage’s integration to Procore.
“Everybody told me I was crazy, but the efficiencies we gained by getting our field staff on the platform made up for the inefficiencies that we picked up on the financial side. We worked with Procore directly to build the financial integration with Sage 300. Within a short period of time, we were back to a financially integrated system that gave us all of those other benefits too,” said Burns.
It wasn’t uncommon in the days before adopting Procore to have partners working from rolled-up drawings, oblivious to frequent updates. Since most weren’t using mobile digital, McCownGordon began allowing them to borrow iPads with the Procore app installed so they could use Procore in the field.
Burns related how partners would question the need for using a web-based platform since they’d been constructing buildings without it forever. So there was an uphill climb at the beginning, but McCownGordon never forced anyone to start using the platform. Instead, they demonstrated its usefulness.
The Secret Sauce
“I think that is our secret sauce,” Burns said. “We didn’t drag the trades into it; we encouraged them into it. And so that leads to a different level of adoption because we showed them the value as opposed to imposing it on their processes.”
Samantha Hughes, McCownGordon’s customer experience specialist, said that in her time at the company, she’d seen many technology rollouts. The process, if done right, makes people want to use the technology.
“We figure out the right test size or the right group size or whether to use a start date,” Hughes said. “And we prove it, and then we let others see how great it is, and then they want to use it on their projects. It’s a very integrated adoption process, and it’s allowed us to find great new tech and then roll it out more easily.”
Hughes said the company has “huge participation from the design team,” and having both architects and the trades working in Procore has created greater collaboration which is a two-way street; trade partners not only point out issues and problems but also come up with viable solutions. Since partners now have a complete and current view of design documents, they feel more empowered to be proactive on issues.
McCownGordon tracks how partners use the Procore platform to understand the value different users get. The information also helps the company guide partners to platform features that can help their businesses and projects. As McCownGordon explores and adopts new technology, it has noticed a direct connection to an improving customer experience.
The Tech Factor in Customer Experience
The McCownGordon customer experience story started by recognizing the breadth of customers the company serves, including clients, their trade partners, and associates. Burns said the goal is for McCownGordon to be their partners’ preferred partner.
The company’s customer experience promise is a three-prong approach: straightforward and smooth processes, people who are accessible and helpful, and relationships that are genuine and longstanding.
That lofty promise isn’t just a talking point, either. The points above are actually the key performance indicators for their customer experience program. For years, the company has also tracked its net promoter score.
“A bunch of the components of our customer experience promise tie into connectivity and excellent use of technology,” Hughes said. “Then we actually track those specific pieces of our customer experience promise with our client survey where we ask customers how well are we doing in these different areas.”
Tools That Elevate Customer Experience
Procore’s Marketplace figures prominently in McCownGordon’s customer experience efforts.
The company has received excellent value from using drones and DroneDeploy and has been getting positive feedback from clients. They use 360 photography inside the building. They’re also doing topographic evaluations and calculations on completion status. Once the building is stood up and closed in, the company leverages 360 photography to capture progress throughout the building. Once finished, they turn all these materials over to the client at the end so they have a photographic record of both what’s on the surface of the interior walls and ceilings and what’s inside them.
“We’re giving them tools to be able to take care of it on their own if they have the resources to do so,” Burns said. “So we want to leave behind a package and a close-out deliverable that gives them a good quality set of information for the life of the building.”
CX Future is Data Centered
Delivering a building faster, cheaper, and with higher quality definitely improves the customer experience. But, other factors like the total cost of ownership also figure into that experience. Their next customer experience initiatives are data centered. That includes using AI and data analytics to show clients the long-term rewards of building systems they use, while justifying the costs today.
Burns stressed that data confirms what works and what doesn’t, giving customers insights into aspects like the schedule. A better understanding of what will work and what won’t work means clients can make better decisions before committing to a contract. Although the build itself might take three months longer than they thought it would, knowing that upfront provides a better customer experience throughout construction.
Tech’s Impact On Safety
There are few places where the customer experience is more important than safety, and McCownGordon relies on the Procore platform for that as well.
When it comes to safety the company is “doing everything we can to leverage the Procore platform and the data that we generate to drive safety training and metrics to make our sites as safe as they possibly can be,” explained Burns.
Technology also has an indirect impact on safety. It’s useful in a range of potentially risky situations: From the worker who doesn’t have to climb up and down scaffolding because all the necessary information is available right where they are, to using drones to reduce the need for people to go onto roofs. The net effect is safer worksites.
Mining Key Data
Specifications are one huge challenge for any large project. McCownGordon is using artificial intelligence to mine data related to them. The company uses AI to extract all the testing and certification requirements. That data rolls directly into a site-specific quality control plan.
Now, the team doesn’t have to waste their time and type out all of those items from spec books that run into the thousands of pages. The use of AI equals better compliance and improved accuracy. It goes beyond simple search to extract relevant information even when keywords are misspelled.
On the RFI side, Burns said the company has “immense participation from our design partners.”
“Everybody’s in the loop,” he said. “We do multistage RFI approvals, and we’ve even actually built leveraged integrations between Procore and Newforma for our design partners. That way we’re saving them time too.”
McCownGordon likes to have the packages broken out so they can assign individual parts and pieces from submittal logs. However, design teams wanted those packages all rolled into one. The solution was to build integrations between the systems so that McCownGordon could give them not just what they wanted, but also could get what they needed. That sped up the approvals process.
On the backside of the platform, Burns leverages that data to get a better picture of what the project looks like going into it. This allows the team to evaluate trade partners and architects. By seeing how partners respond to RFIs and how long they take, McCownGordon gets insights into how quickly partners are getting up to speed on a project.
When a partner asks questions about project phases, the timing of those questions gives McCownGordon insights into how deeply the partners are getting into the drawings. If someone isn’t getting into the plans quickly enough, the company can take steps to help them.
Burns said he’d seen procurement improvements from using the Procore platform, and QR codes are the one area he highlighted. The company uses QR codes to identify and track materials. On their recent Kemper Arena project, the codes figured prominently in managing fixtures that had to be removed, saved, and then reinstalled.
“We had like 400 doors and like several hundred plumbing fixtures,” he said. “We had to track them to make sure that when they were removed and then put back that they went in the right spots, and they didn’t get demoed out. So we leveraged the QR code process inside the platform to tag each one of these locations. Our field team could just scan the code and know what to do with the asset.”
In the end, the McCownGordon journey with Procore is showing that it’s no longer a matter of how technology will affect the customer experience but more about how the customer experience is enhanced by technology.