Subcontractor Standardization: The Cummings Electrical Team
Posted: May 14, 2019 | Tradewinds
As the construction tech revolution continues to evolve, firms are constantly evaluating their tech stack to ensure they’re getting maximum value from the digital solutions they’ve chosen.
Some firms, like Cummings Electrical, an electrical subcontractor based out of Texas, understand that using technology to standardize processes increases efficiency.
After discovering that Bluebeam Revu, a project efficiency and collaboration solution, had helped the Cummings Electrical estimators to create an all-digital estimation workflow that completely eliminated the use of paper, some key players at the company began to explore other ways of using the software to create efficiencies and added value.
Jeremiah Ellis, human resources generalist for Cummings, created a dashboard within Revu that allowed a folder structure to hyperlink all onboarding documents for new employees, so that access to everything could be kept in a single location. After a week-long training, he began to see the value of the program within his role. “Everyone with a computer at Cummings uses Bluebeam,” explains Ellis.
With Cummings Electrical using Revu for takeoffs and a standardized dashboard, the company continued to explore other possibilities of using the software on the operations side. Business Solutions Manager Mahshid Rosario was added to the Cummings team and saw an even greater potential for Revu. Rosario began the journey of maximizing the use of Revu on the operations side of Cummings—no small task, considering the firm is comprised of over 600 employees across the state of Texas, and services projects ranging from multimillion-dollar high rises, data centers and hospitals.
For a full year, Rosario discussed crucial project needs across the enterprise, from project managers, project engineers, superintendents and even executives, in order to assess the needs of the operations side of the business. “When it came to the operations side, things like document control, document standardization, creating permissions on the back end where our guys could go to one place, grab everything they needed to run a project, but then be able to know that it's the most current version. To know that when they're saving that item, they're not saving over our master document. Those were our biggest kind of company needs at that time, and I thought Bluebeam provided a platform to solve these issues and satisfy these needs that they're looking for,” says Rosario, who also goes by the nickname “Mahsh.”
The initial folder structure used for onboarding served as a template for Rosario to build upon. “We built a folder structure and then we created a standard that wasn't able to be changed.
That's when IT came into play and said okay, ‘we've got to set permissions. When you guys create a project folder, it can't be changed at that main level.’” This meant that every single project manager would now have that standardized folder structure. “Then, I went into Revu and I was able to replicate,” elaborates Rosario. “I started creating dashboards, and each button replicated our project folder. If we had a ‘project planning’ folder, we had a ‘project planning’ button. When you clicked on that button, it went to the next level which had all your forms and documents related to that piece of the project. Then, once they clicked in there, it forced them to have a place to specifically store that information, and if another project manager came on that project, he would know exactly where to find it and there would be no question.”
Rosario also worked diligently to make sure the language used within the dashboards could make sense to the project teams. “It became ‘tool boxes’ and not ‘dashboards.’ We didn't want people to think metrics, or anything ‘dashboard-related,’ we wanted them to think ‘toolbox,’ ‘forms,’ ‘documents,’ and ‘resources that they could use.’ That language kind of evolved for us as well, and it makes sense for us now. It’s just everyday language at Cummings.”
Buy-in and Success
Getting buy-in for the new process meant reinforcing the Cummings continuous improvement initiative of standardization. “I stressed that it wasn’t ‘The Mahsh Way,’ it was ‘The Cummings Way.’ We were trying to grow, and for growth to be successful, you have to have standards, so it was about letting them understand that. And in the end saying ‘Look, if it doesn't work, we'll go back. We'll go back to what we were doing, but you need to give it a go.’
“We don't want to remove the human element. What we want to do is allow our teams to be more sufficient on their own, so they can focus on beating budgets and beating schedule—these little things that take up a lot of time.”
–Mahshid Rosario, Business Solutions Manager, Cummings Electrical
As the buy-in started to roll in, Rosario knew the process was working because she was getting fewer emails with general document search questions and also receiving direct feedback from even the biggest initial skeptics. “When we first started this dashboard, we didn't have any idea what it was going to become. It was very organic, which was important for us. As we learned what worked for us, we stopped and said, ‘Okay, this is a hub for everything now.’ Not just the construction side. It's for our entire company, so we had to brand it.” The team at Cummings brainstormed and dubbed it “Cummings Connect,” and it continued to prove the value of Revu within Cummings.
“After Mahsh created Cummings Connect, we noticed that people were in Revu every single day. And so that drove adoption, and it drove our training, it drove everything, because they had to go into Revu to get to the forms and documents that they needed. Our Cummings Connect has everything within Revu, so that anyone could go in there and figure out how to do something. And that way, you're not in limbo, or you're not waiting on one person,” adds Ellis.
A Connected Conclusion
The creation of Cummings Connect within Revu has also helped the subcontractor minimize their tech stack, since using Revu made other PDF-based solutions irrelevant to the business. “We removed all those other programs, which has now helped the adoption evolve,” adds Rosario.“I don't have to go, ‘Hey guys, I need five people to volunteer for this effort to improve upon QA/QC.’ They come to me and they're like, ‘Hey, we took a group. We worked on QA/QC. Here's our new structure process,’ and I just implement it into the Cummings Connect and to our toolbox and they're able to access it, and then everyone else is able to access it.”
The new workflows within the Revu folder structure were given a three-five year rollout for full adoption, and so far, the new intranet has been completely successful. Although Cummings initially used Revu for takeoffs, the company now entrusts the digital solution for document control, document management, and process standardization across the board, as well as to connect and provide access to all aspects of internal-facing and project-facing documentation. “I love Bluebeam. I love Revu,” says Rosario with a smile. “Without this I don't know what we'd be operating in at this point.”Ellis seconds her opinion on the added value of Bluebeam as well. “Cummings Connect is like our own intranet; we treat it as if it is a company intranet. And Revu was a tool that we used every single day already, so it made sense.”
About the Author:
Mike Landers is a content creator at Bluebeam, and brings a unique editorial perspective to his work thanks to eight years of writing for a variety of nationally-published lifestyle publications. Mike’s prior experience handling Safety Administration and Media Coordination duties for Kiewit provided significant insight into the AEC industry at the jobsite level, as well as a keen understanding of the value of project coordination and communication.