Clark/Sullivan Construction

August 7, 2015

Collaboration Enhancing Technologies

Everything changes and nothing stands still. –Heraclitus of Ephesus

You don’t have to be a Greek philosopher to know that technology is evolving at a rapid pace and at some point it will affect your business. Many technologies are now in the “cloud” and the illustration above depicts this evolution of storage technology in to the cloud perfectly. Here at Clark/Sullivan Construction we embrace technology in order to solve problems. We also like to make our work lives easier when possible, especially when it enhances working with a team. We are not trying to sell any one solution over another but we would like to tell our story using specific examples of some of the technologies we use daily.

Bluebeam

One of these technologies is Bluebeam (http://www.bluebeam.com/). We utilize Bluebeam Revu Extreme, which may sound more like a late night comedy sketch ripe for Saturday Night Live. Bluebeam is very similar to Adobe Acrobat. To quote their website: “Bluebeam Revu combines powerful PDF editing, markup and collaboration technology with reliable file creation.” More specifically we like the fact that Revu was designed specifically with the Architecture, Engineering, & Construction (AEC) industry in mind, which is an advantage over Adobe Acrobat. Bluebeam is also the primary tool we use for linking sets of drawings. We can link RFIs, specifications, and much more in one PDF file which can be shared amongst project stakeholders throughout the project life cycle. Now we use this technology on every single project we construct and when we show owners, stakeholders, inspectors, and subcontractors how Bluebeam really works they love it. This helps a general contractor like ourselves communicate faster and easier with outside organizations. This isn’t just an internal tool.

Bluebeam also has a feature called “Studio” which uses a cloud based “session” to record all markups, comments, and other edits to plans or any other documents. A Studio Session can also be shared with organizations outside of Clark/Sullivan to record every document change in fine detail without the hassle of email attachments, different versions, size limitations, or mismatched software. Bluebeam helps us keep a precise record for communicating our present thoughts to future collaborators, be they internal or external to Clark/Sullivan.

We still understand that face to face meetings are important to being successful in construction and this is why Bluebeam is just a tool used in our collaborative environments. Bluebeam is a powerful tool but it’s no panacea. Below is an example of a meeting between a superintendent, project manager, and project engineer using some of our various technologies at the same time. This is what collaboration looks like to us on any regular day:

Another technology that we have adopted here at Clark/Sullivan is BOX (www.box.com). We utilize BOX as a secure cloud storage solution. The leadership here at Clark/Sullivan quickly understood that moving our company’s entire file system to the cloud was the best move for staying efficient and being competitive. They held steadfast as we worked out the kinks of training and user adoption. They also recognized that converting to the cloud is a paradigm shift which takes time and would not happen overnight.

We have been using BOX for a while now and we have integrated it in to all departments, offices, and field operations.

Box allows our company to upload, share, and sync files. There is an iPhone/iPad application that we really like because it gives us freedom to access any file, from any device, at any time. That’s a huge advantage for working directly in the field! Imagine a project manager that is walking around an active construction project and receives a call which requires a set of plans to answer. The PM can either walk back to the trailer in order to access his plans, taking more time, or he can instantly look up the plans from his mobile phone and answer the question without even hanging up the phone. He doesn’t need to go back to his trailer since he has all of the information at his fingertips.

We believe in innovation here at Clark/Sullivan.

BOX is entirely in the public cloud and only requires an internet connection. While it is difficult to have everyone in the company trained to be an expert at BOX we have had success in adopting this platform for all departments. We know that we must train each other daily for little tips and tricks because BOX is changing itself on a regular basis. BOX is constantly coming out with new features, enhancements, and better ways to go about collaborating and we must share tips a tricks to stay efficient.

Another advantage to BOX is their automated background download service, referred to as BOX SYNC. BOX SYNC really keeps our team working with the latest version of files. It eliminates confusion and simply works which is why we are continuing to use it.

We’ve discussed some of our electronic tools here at Clark/Sullivan and we believe that these are a great set of Collaboration Enhancing Technologies. Leaders here at the company had to make tough decisions to change our technologies to stay competitive. These tools have certainly transformed our work environment for the better. If you would like to find out more about these technologies within Clark/Sullivan please email info@clarksullivan.com.