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Sub-Specialty Dawn Peer Group: Automate Me

Christian Burger of Burger Consulting Group presented the Sub-Specialty Dawn Peer Group on Monday, June 27. His presentation “Automate Me” addressed the myriad software solutions that contractors can utilize. Christian listed about a dozen technologies that contractors commonly use, including software intended to support procurement, BIM, prefabrication, labor productivity, estimating, tool tracking, equipment maintenance, and HR.

In the first polling question, he asked the group to identify the five technologies that were most important to their businesses. The group unanimously rated Field Data Capture in the top five. This clearly illustrated that many sub-specialty contractors struggle with efficient means to track employee time, enter equipment time and production, and provide labor productivity back to superintendents.

Somewhat surprisingly, the second-highest rated technology was Document Management. But given new contracting strategies that may require backup for all cost transactions (e.g., cost plus with a fee) and the way current document control is parsed into different digital and analog storage areas, it’s maybe not that surprising. Certainly nearly everyone is struggling with how to control their digital content.

Christian then discussed some common hurdles to adopting new technology based on his experience helping companies deploy these various solutions. These included limited budgets, limited resources available for software selection, implementation, lack of executive backing, and corporate culture that “does things the way we always have done it.”

Christian suggested, “You won’t win everyone over on day one, so start modestly. Get a small team together to run a pilot or implement a solution on one job, work out the kinks, and get the processes and protocols defined. Then deploy to the next team or next job. Gradually, everyone will be converted over and you will have implemented smoothly and with less risk.”

From there, attendees broke into small groups to discuss critical technologies within their companies. Our table talked mostly about which types of technologies we were using and where we got the most return on investment. The takeaway from our small group was that Field Data Capture could potentially have the most impact on efficiency; however, many of the products that were available did not integrate easily to accounting software and were cumbersome for the end user.

In the end, our group felt we could easily spend more time swapping our personal experiences regarding technology. With so many applications, and with each having many software products and methods for tracking, discovering what’s working and what’s not was fascinating.

CFMA's Connection Café is a great way to continue the roundtable discussions, post issues or questions, and get opinions and advice from other CFMA members. It’s a great place to post best practices, ideas, and lessons learned as well as network with your peers from across the nation.

About the Author

Matt Van Fossen

Matt Van Fossen is the Vice President of Finance for Rosendin Electric and has been with the company since 2003. He graduated from California State University Chico with a degree in finance and started in construction finance with the Kiewit Pacific Company in 1994. A member of CFMA since 2009, he belongs to the Silicon Valley Chapter.

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