Construction Analytics: Balancing Long-Term Portfolio Risk

Construction can be risky business. Fortunately, with the right information, contractors have the ability to understand their overall exposure to risk. Increasingly, contractors are turning to technology to speed up the process. Typically, people assume this process works much like understanding a stock portfolio. Contractors need insights into their projects across their portfolio to see which are profitable, which are breaking even and which are in the red. But technology today goes beyond data collection and delivers predictive insights that rely on trends to show risk ahead of time, so contractors can make adjustments as needed.

According to Viewpoint’s Matt Harris, mobile applications and live field data can be compared against aggregate data from the industry at large. This provides accurate and predictable insights into any bid or job a contractor is looking at. Thanks to this technology, contractors can gain confidence in their assessments of risk like never before.

 

Key Takeaways:

  1. Daily data collection is no longer enough. Automatic data collection allows for very refined control over how resources like labor, equipment and materials are being consumed and deployed on projects – all of which are critical to risk management. And while many companies have morning win-loss reports that show how a project did the day prior, it’s not longer enough. With margins so tight, contractors need to drill down even further. That’s why more and more contractors are segmenting their data by shifts, so they can better understand how projects are progressing morning, afternoon and night. 
  2. Passive data collection is on the rise. Data collected by employees shines light on areas like job progress, labor usage and safety. But there’s so much more data that can be collected through the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is technology that uses sensors like GPS and motion detectors on equipment to allow data to be shared without anyone having to collect or report it. As more contractors leverage data collected directly (from human input) and passively (through IoT sources), the better they can assess their risk in the future. To take advantage of passive data collection, look for IoT options on construction equipment, and then ensure the data is included in your risk management strategy.
  3. Data aggregation and predictive modeling software is changing the bidding process. More and more data is collected and analyzed from across the industry through data aggregators. This improves predictive models that can help contractors understand their risk for future projects.

 

Subscribe to the Mobile Workforce podcast to receive alerts as the new episodes post on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

Click Play to Listen to the Podcast Now:

Episode Transcript:

Mike Merrill:

Hello and welcome to the Mobile Workforce Podcast, I am your host, Mike Merrill. Today we are sitting down with Matt Harris, the Chief Product and Strategy Officer at Viewpoint. We’re going to discuss your business portfolio and projects and how you can use data to balance your risk and insure that you are taking the right projects to accomplish your overall business goals. Hello Matt, I’m glad you’re here joining us.

 

Matt Harris:

Hey Mike. Yeah, hey great to see you and thanks for inviting me here. You and I have known each other for many years now. I’m excited about your podcast frontier here and thanks for having me on.

 

Mike Merrill:

Awesome, yeah it’s great. And you’re hailing from sunny Portland, is that right?

 

Matt Harris:

I’m hailing from sunny Portland, yeah. One of these days we might see the sun. This time of year we don’t see it very often but yeah, here in Portland, Oregon.

 

Mike Merrill:

And I’m from sunny Salt Lake. Or snowy Salt Lake, I should say.

 

Matt Harris:

Snow Salt Lake for sure. Yeah.

 

Mike Merrill:

All right well before we jump into the conversation today, can you give our listeners just a quick introduction about your background and your experience?

 

Matt Harris:

Yeah, for sure. As you mentioned I’m the head of product and strategy and business development here at Viewpoint, and am responsible in general for the businesses of our products, our growth, our investments and insuring that we’re having expansion, not just financial expansion of the business, but making sure we have usage and adoption of our products to the fullest extent possible as well. And a lot of this includes the innovation, what are we doing next and what are we trying to improve upon. I’ve been at Viewpoint coming into my 10th year so it’s been a long and very interesting and really compelling journey for me, and has been extraordinarily fun as we’ve evolved as a business. About two years ago we’re now part of the Trimble portfolio of businesses and that’s been a very interesting evolution of our business as well. We’re doing a lot within the Trimble ecosystem of products and businesses and it’s been very exciting. We are coming through a major impact to the economy in our industry and COVID and I’m happy to say many of our customers and their employees and their businesses have been doing well and we’ve been focused on making sure we’re helping them to whatever extent we can.

Our business is doing well as well and we’re looking forward to getting out of this as quickly as possible here and continuing on the journey we’re all on.

 

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, that’s a great background and as you mentioned business really does seem to be booming in most places. Construction’s doing very well generally, despite the challenges of our time. With that thought in mind it’s almost an interesting challenge to have. It’s a good problem to have, but I think a lot of businesses are having a challenge deciding which projects to actually take on because they’ve got so much backlog they’re actually being able to be a lot more picky. So what would you advise companies to be looking at when they’re deciding which particular projects to pursue in this economy?

 

Matt Harris:

I think the first step and even before you can get to that question is businesses should be finding ways to really collect a lot of information. As much information as they accurately can about their projects and about the work that they’re doing. Clearly businesses are always, contractors are always looking at, they estimate jobs, they bid jobs, and they obviously make progress on jobs. The ability though, to accurately aggregate and pull in information about jobs on a regular basis, on a daily basis, on a four hour basis around how much labor is being consumed on a job. How productive the equipment is for those projects, how the material is being consumed. The ability to do that and collect that information in real time and near real time and compare that to your original bids to your budgets, to your forecasts is really the step one in being able to predict the future and use data to your advantage to understand the risk in your overall project portfolio.

This is where, and things that you know very well and things that we know very well, very straightforward mobile applications that the fore-people are using on the job site, that the superintendents and project managers are doing on the job site that are looking at how much time crews are spending on various aspects of the job, how productive the equipment is, how much material is being delivered to the job site and is being used in the project that day, comparing that back to your budget and really having a good understanding of how your actual costs are changing relative to your budgeted plans. That is extraordinarily powerful information. Not only to tell people, are you ahead of plan, are you at plan, are you behind plan today, but it turns out you can use a lot of that information to start to predict the future as well, and I’ll get into a little bit more of that prediction a little bit later on. But I think really step one is use some of the mobile applications that are available in the market today and make sure that not one your people are using them to collect the information but then you’re connecting that information back to your bids, back to your estimates and budgets. So you can really compare what you’re actually doing compared to what you thought you would be doing.

 

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, very sound advice. There’s a lot there to unpack, which is great. That’s what we want to talk about today. Something you mentioned caught my ear, so to speak. You mentioned the four hour mark or half day. Where did that come from and is that something new? Are companies aware of that? What are your thoughts on tracking by the half day at least, it sounds like?

 

Matt Harris:

Nowadays because the data collection can really be very automated, you can really get very refined inputs on how resources are being consumed and deployed on projects. Resources meaning labor, equipment, materials. Many companies we speak with, they have morning win-loss reports, for example. They want to see how the project did yesterday and so where they have to catch up, where they’re ahead. Some companies call these scorecards, and how they did in the week to date and yesterday’s progress or the overall project to date. Now that data can start to be aggregated really regularly you can start to really partition that into day parts. Into the morning day part or the afternoon day part or overtime and evening as well. You can really literally see how different crews or different components on the job are progressing more regularly. So it’s mobile applications tied into your cost model, you can really get more refined reporting on what’s happening. Is the morning more productive than the afternoon, than the evenings, you can start to see that information. That’s the information that’s available to us today.

 

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, I think your points are well understood by me. I guess from a statistical perspective, just grabbing a number in your mind, what percentage of your customers would you say are actively leveraging these types of tools and what percentage are still a little bit behind or way behind?

 

Matt Harris:

I would say that within our customer base right now it’s about 50% of our overall customer base have some form of mobile application on the job site where they’re aggregating data in real time. We do have a lot of great usage data on this. We know we had 75000 active users in our field productivity tools every month. That’s been really taking off in the past year, year and half or so. In fact, the fastest growing component of our portfolio right now is in mobile field productivity. It’s in strong demand and the ability to really capture data in near real time and then compare it back to the cost model and do this all paper free and automatically is a very appealing need or very strong need from our customer base right now. We, and I know you guys do have some really compelling products to help make that happen. As you know mobility right now and field data capture is on the minds of everybody in the industry and it’s a really strong growth platform.

 

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, I love that, and for those that aren’t yet there, it should be. Your competitors and the rest of the industry is utilizing those things currently.

 

Matt Harris:

Oh for sure. I mean right now the applications are so good and reasonably inexpensive that the productivity gain far outweighs the costs of manual data collection that is otherwise being done through clipboards or sometimes writing on 2X4s or whatever. To collect information and have to manually enter that in and that being once a week and inaccuracies. If you’re able to collect this in a real time basis and not only inform executives about how they’re doing against their project objectives but also you can feed the information back to the superintendents, right? So some of the things that we do is as soon as a superintendent collects crew time, for example, we tell them right away are they ahead of plan overall in the project budget or are they behind plan in the project budget. They can say to themselves, “Tomorrow I better be careful around how much overtime I use or I better have a plan to get this phase finished out.” So we can actually inform the people who are really making decisions on how to use crews and people to make better decisions and make decisions that’ll help them hit their budget targets.

 

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, I love the idea of that feedback loop that it sounds like you’re talking about.

 

Matt Harris:

Yeah, it’s really very powerful.

 

Mike Merrill:

So obviously paper and spreadsheets are out, if this is the kind of data you want to have in the timely manner that we’re talking about.

 

Matt Harris:

Yeah, paper or spreadsheets are definitely out. Paper in particular. What we saw last year and I would assume many people saw, yourselves included is that paper as a communication means is really going away and there’s more and more demand that we’re seeing in our customer base in the industry to fully digitize. Get out of paper means and really stop paper hand offs and really start and enable the digital hand off. That’s not only at productivity at the job site, that’s in employee communications, that is in a subcontractor communications, vendor and supplier coordination, everything is really moving towards a digital framework and digital communications and one of the things obviously with more and more people working remotely the ability to hand off paper and do that is harder, but also there’s just the common sense of let’s get out of paper and start to use digital means. It just makes it easier and safer for everybody too.

 

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, I love that. Migrating off of those more rudimentary or basic tools of the past allows us to collect more what I would call passive data. There’s active data, passive data, what are the differences between those two and how do they come into play together?

 

Matt Harris:

That’s really interesting and then we can start to think about how we collect data and what we do with it. Right now as a superintendent is using our products, a mobile application to collect crew time or equipment time or material deliveries, there’s actually a person who’s doing something there and they’re using a mobile app for example and they’re providing information to that mobile app, which is way better than doing it through paper or other means. That is more of an active process. Somebody is actually entering data into that application which is then feeding the model. When you think about it we can start to do things in a job site that will instrument the job site and that will actually passively collect information on the job site without anybody having to do anything.

For example, we can capture using IOT, internet of things. We can capture information on equipment that tells us where the equipment is and if it’s in the job site we know that it’s being consumed by that job without anybody having to do anything and we can also capture information to see if the equipment is running or not, if it’s being operated or not. From that information we aggregate that and create and get an understanding of the equipment, it’s use on the job and how productive it’s being on that job. And in this case, an equipment manager or superintendent didn’t do anything. It’s just automatically happening throughout the job.

There are other things that we can do just to see in terms of people and labor, when they’re on the job site through automatic clock in and clock out methods and where they’re working on a job site. We can start to look at things like that. We can understand through imaging or through other job site cameras or even drones, we can start to see where the material is on the job sites, is the material stockpiles growing or shrinking and all that data is captured automatically and then fed into the model without anybody having to do interfaces on a mobile application at all. That is, in it’s very beginnings right now, certainly equipment is further along than some of the other things and we’re doing it in some ways with material as well. Particularly with civil materials like aggregates and other types of things where we’re using drones and imagery to look at the stock piles and the inventory levels on sites for some of the more civil materials. But that’s very early on but it’s a very interesting opportunity for us all.

 

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, you mentioned the term “aggregators”, for the listeners what does that mean and also what value does that provide to have an aggregator?

 

Matt Harris:

Yeah. The aggregation of the data, what you can start to do and what we’re working on now is as more and more of this data becomes available and we look at how jobs are performing and their costs relative to original bids and their budgets, then we can start to really understand how a contractor is performing historically against all of their jobs, and actually not just the contractor but the industry at large, and we can now build some models that tell us how we think the contractor will do when they bid future jobs. This is where things get really interesting. So as we understand across thousands, hundreds of thousands and millions of projects how much was spent on labor, how much was spent on materials, on equipment. We compare that with the original bids on the jobs and the estimates. We compare that with the type of job, when it was done, where it was done. We actually build models then that can predict, that look at the overall industry and how does the industry perform? We build models that look at how does this one particular contractor perform relative to the industry.

And we can also build models that tell a contractor if you bid a job and it has the following elements to it, you intend to spend so much in labor, so much in equipment charges, so much in material, your original contract value is this. We can tell that contractor with an 80% probability of likelihood we can tell that contractor how likely it will be to achieve their targeted profit outcome. So this is where we get into some of the things you started with, Mike, around how can we help contractors better manage their portfolio and backlog? So we can inform them of bidding on this job under these circumstances will either result in a high margin likelihood of probability or a low margin of probability. Probably no surprise to us all, the endstage profit margins on a project are very, very different from the original bid. So we’re able to actually predict that difference.

 

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, 80% that’s a big number. I wouldn’t challenge that. I would imagine that’s probably the case? One question that comes up in my mind is how is one contractor able to leverage data from the industry or from others of their peers?

 

Matt Harris:

So in two ways. First in the model I described and what we’re doing is we’re working on this with a select group of our customers now. With this model that we’ve created, it compares a single company’s performance on project profit margins to the industry at large, so they as a company can see in general how did they do. Are they better than the industry are they worse than the industry. Then we also can use that data to help inform them on a project that they might be bidding on, how they’ll perform against that project and how that project is likely to perform. So that is an example, and our customers now are using this. Estimators are using it to really get kind of a help quantitatively validate some of their bids. Help them get more than a gut feel around the project. Owners are using it to start to look at is this a job, how likely could I be to lose money on this job? Should I take it on right now? If you have a backlog or the opportunities for bids are pretty substantial, let’s choose the right bids and marry some low risk jobs with some high risk jobs. So that’s happening right now. That’s an example of the things that we’re doing.

The other example of things that we’re doing is that we’re providing information back to our customers in just an overall industry benchmarking. We can look at what’s the average profitability of jobs like that for the industry at large and as I mentioned, how does that compare to a single firm? We are actually providing information on just hiring trends in the industry, is the industry and in regions and states, are they hiring more people than they’re letting go? Or are they letting go of more people than they’re hiring and get an index of labor trends and that certainly affects how quickly it would be to bring new people on board, what labor rates might be doing. We’re providing indices on just overall backlog trends. So are backlogs increasing are they decreasing, by type of project, we’re providing some indications there. So we’re really providing some now macroeconomic indices that our customers are using to help inform them around what’s directionally happening in the industry right now.

In the era that we’re in, there’s a lot of volatility right now, the pandemic, things shut down then they came back and you’re like what’s next? Having these indices is what we’re hearing from our customers is the indices are really super helpful.

 

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, I’m envisioning as you’re talking a lot of great information there and it’s actually astonishing to me, I mean I come from the industry and spent a decade or more in general construction before we started our mobile data collection company 17 years ago. It’s amazing to see the transition of the industry and that we could even be having conversations like this. I’m picturing a stock portfolio or dashboards with ticker symbol and seeing the ups and down trends. Is that a realistic comparison that companies could enjoy today with the technologies available?

 

Matt Harris:

It’s a very realistic comparison. That ultimately what we’d like to be able to do is provide an owner or a C-suite a risk profile on their projects. Just like an investor would have, at least a good investor, would have a good understanding of a risk profile of their investments and marry some high risk investments with some low risk investments so you have a balanced portfolio. What we’re able to do, and we’re in the very early phases of this now, is really provide risk profiles of a project portfolio. High risk jobs versus low risk jobs and ideally a good contractor would want to have a balanced approach of that. Obviously not have an entirely high risk portfolio, because then maybe putting more of the company at risk, but you also don’t want too of a low risk portfolio in possibilities of growth. So and that also is dependent on the phase of the company and things like that. So we’re enabling with some of this data which is very easy to get and we built the models, we’ve done the data science ourselves with a very clever group of data scientists that we have both at Viewpoint and at Trimble. We’re providing some very simple tools for our customer base to use.

 

Mike Merrill:

Wow. Truly incredible and you mentioned this is a newer evolution of where things are at. So it sounds like moving forward into the next three, five, 10 years, decade plus, companies are going to be able to compare this historical data in trending and really make more predictive long term decisions, not just which job do I take next but where do we point the direction of the company as we continue to grow.

 

Matt Harris:

Oh yeah. The application of data science in our industry right now is only just beginning. I mentioned being able to predict profit margins for future jobs, looking at the industry overall and macro industry trends, we’re also looking at individual projects the change in costs on those projects, the change in costs in last month and the month before really tell us how costs are going to change next month. So we’re building models that really help project managers look at based upon how much I spent this month and the month before, how’s that going to influence what I can expect to spend next month. So they give them warnings of a profit fade event before it happens. There’s other really simple applications as well. We can use artificial intelligence now to just automatically scan invoices, pick up all the relevant information in those invoices and then populate invoice records inside of our software for payment and approval processes. Now a lot of that is done manually through keying and so we can not only provide systems that are much more accurate than keyed entry but also three, four, five times faster as well, just through the application of some of the new AI techniques and methodologies.

 

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, I often site the statistic that 7% of everything typed is a typo of one sort or another and there’s no spell check on calculators, so when somebody fat finger’s a number or adds an extra zero there’s a lot larger consequences than just a small typo.

 

Matt Harris:

Yeah, it turns out you’re exactly right. It’s actually more than that. What we see is about 1/3 of manually entered data is inaccurate, so we’re measuring it and some of the machine AI techniques that we are using now has 93% accuracy. That’s getting better. Now 93%, some people will say that doesn’t sound that awesome, but when you compare it to people or manual entry right now is only accurate 2/3 of the time, 63% of the time. That’s a big jump. That’s kind of what we’re trying to enable.

 

Mike Merrill:

Yeah and that’s probably if someone’s having a good day. If they’re having a bad day it might be 1/3 as accurate, right?

 

Matt Harris:

Right. Yeah. I’d imagine it mixes out.

 

Mike Merrill:

Data doesn’t have any emotion.

 

Matt Harris:

Yeah. Yeah. And doing things like this not only makes it more productive that we can now enable our customers to instead of entering data, look at it. Understand it. Do things with it. We’re trying to really help them get better use out of the data. Acquiring the data should be very straightforward and that’s what we’re trying to do and enable tools like that. Then helping them use and consume the data is kind of the next wave.

 

Mike Merrill:

I always say with proper mobile tools in place you can now manage data, not drama. So to speak.

 

Matt Harris:

Yeah, well said.

 

Mike Merrill:

I mean I can tell, obviously, that mobility is probably the newest key innovation in this whole recipe. How critical is having a solid sound mobile strategy for constructions businesses today?

 

Matt Harris:

I think mobility is a foundational step in just getting job site understanding of what’s happening. In otherwise said, I don’t see how you do this without a strong mobility platform and environment. In enabling your field leadership, superintendents, fore-people, project managers, whomever, equipment managers, operators, even field service technicians as well, with a platform that’s not only going to inform them what needs to be done today, but also help them collect information on what’s happened and relay back to them how they preformed that day or that half day, relative to the budget model or relative to the forecast is absolutely critical. The difference makers are the companies who are doing that and giving their people on the ground making it happen the ability to be informed, no only acquire the data but be informed about how they’re doing on a regular basis is instrumental.

It’s almost like if you’re not doing that you’re almost doing the project with a blindfold on. Then we’ve seen it, they get the monthly reports, and it’s like, “Who, whoa, whoa, what happened? We’re way off! What went wrong?” Then they scramble and try to get into the reports and see what happened, but they’re already a month behind and on a 10 month job it’s hard to catch up. The difference between getting information with the right people at the right time for the right decisions and not doing that is really… I can’t imagine how to run a project if you’re not doing it that way.

 

Mike Merrill:

Yeah and I know you mentioned earlier it sounds like you’ve been at Viewpoint, now Trimble, for about 10 years now? Is that right, a decade?

 

Matt Harris:

Coming into my decade, yeah.

 

Mike Merrill:

Well congratulations for that, that’s awesome. What I recall from your background, this industry was new to you at that time, is that right?

 

Matt Harris:

It definitely is right. I came out of another world whereas with the technology company I’ve been in software for a good part of my career, but I came out of the world doing something very, very different in the life scientific industry, but working in construction and construction technology has just been awesome. Making an impact has really been fun.

 

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, I can imagine. I think the industry has moved more your direction from where you came from or met you in the middle at least as you’ve embarked on this journey, from the sounds of it.

 

Matt Harris:

Oh yeah. You know it’s just fun. I think we’re in a unique role, you and I, I think we have a unique opportunity to really make an impact. What we do matters and when we do it well we hear it, we understand it, when we don’t do it well we also hear it and understand it. That’s the nature of our industry. I’m very proud to be part of such an industry and we’re earnest in our wanting to make an impact. Not obviously help our business but more importantly do things important for an industry that we think could use our help and we pay a lot of attention to making a difference. When we do our job well hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people get paid and put food on the table for their families. We take that responsibility extremely seriously. The role that we play, just foundationally, is very, very important to us and I think we’re lucky to have that responsibility and we know we have to earn it every day.

 

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, we feel very much the same way here. It’s very impactful and blesses lives when we do a good job. That’s neat to be part of something that changes peoples lives for the better.

 

Matt Harris:

Yeah.

 

Mike Merrill:

So in that tenure for nearly a decade, what has been the most surprising thing to you and maybe what’s the thing you’ve enjoyed most about this journey so far?

 

Matt Harris:

I think that there’s a lot of talk in the ecosystem at large that, I’m going to say this the right way, that construction’s behind, they don’t really get technology and it’s backwards from a technical adoption perspective. What’s been surprising and interesting to me is it’s not behind, per se, it’s an industry that’s really based upon very tangible needs. To the extent that we as technology providers or anybody can solve real problems for our industry, for our customers today. There’s a demand, there’s a need for that. People just don’t want to be working in a blue sky environment so much and making bets on stuff that may or may not happen. I like the practicality of the industry and just the need to solve real problems. If we solve real problems people will use our products and our software.

So that’s been one really interesting component of it all. I think this whole, what is perhaps an overused term around digital transformation, that’s live. That’s happening, we’ve been talking about it to some extent. The adoption of cloud browser and mobile technology is to connect job sites in the field with back office and costs and the overall project environment, that’s really happening in a big wave right now. It’s exciting to see that. We call this next wave of the data transformation, it’s kind of the next thing that’s happening. So I appreciate working within the industry and really getting very clear on the value we can create, solving real problems with our products now and then the potential to solve a whole new set of real problems with our products with data in the future. And I think it’s just been a fun industry to work with.

 

Mike Merrill:

Very exciting. So in this journey is there one business process you feel like you’ve really worked on or focused on to master that’s had a larger impact than other things?

 

Matt Harris:

There’s been a variety I’d say. One of the things that we’re very, very focused on now is a new sense of… it’s kind of coming up in the software industry, it’s called product lead growth and it’s really making it very easy not only for customers or buyers to acquire the software, which we try to do in some techniques that we have here at viewpoint. But now we’re looking at it more so with the individual user mode. How can we make users come into our software as simple as possible, so that customers are getting value out of our software with their users right away. How can we make sure that not only is the software easy to use but training is very easy and simple to follow from within the software itself that the software becomes almost self implementing, if you will, and that we can point people, if they’re trying to solve problems, we can point people to different parts of our software that will help them solve that problem and it would actually give them a roadmap of different parts of our software to use.

What we’re trying to do here is create a simple user experience. So think of it more than just a customer, Joe’s Civil Contracting. Now think about it as the project managers at Joe’s Civil Contracting, the superintendent, the HR director, the payroll clerks. How do we make it very simple and easy for them to adopt more of our software? What we see is that the more people, and the way our software is used for the most part, as people adopt it, it doesn’t cost our customers more, but we just want our customers to get full value out of all the things that they could be using within our suite, and that’s a big part of what we focused on.

 

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, it sounds like individual ownership by role, regardless of what position they’re in.

 

Matt Harris:

Yeah. Making sure that individual users needs are being met and really understanding if we’re doing that or not. Some of the things that we’re doing in our products right now, tell us where are things being adopted very quickly, where are they not, how can we make it better for users.

 

Mike Merrill:

Love it. So what is Matt Harris’s super power, if you have one? What are you really good at personally?

 

Matt Harris:

I’m just… I’m a super curious person. I call myself a knowledge junky. The reason why I think I’ve been at Viewpoint for 10 years is that I think there’s always new frontiers to learn and I’m really interested in learning new things. The construction industry, how we can digitize the industry, how the data applications in the industry, how we can really be lead in a product lead growth framework where users are adopting our software as much as possible. There’s so many opportunities to learn, the evolution of the industry overall, I think that is my strength. I get super excited when I’m learning and our industry has lots of learning opportunity for me. To be honest I think that’s one of my greatest strengths.

 

Mike Merrill:

Yeah. I love that. So is there one thing you wish you would have known when you started at Viewpoint that you now know very well and what has served you? Maybe someone else can learn from your experience.

 

Matt Harris:

That’s a great question. I would say now when people come into our business and we bring people in from the software industry at large, obviously a lot of people with domain expertise in construction and other people who are just great software experience in general and great business experience. One of the things that I’ve learned over time is, and I referred to this previously, is that in our industry for contractors, what we do we have to make it immediately relevant for what a contractor needs today. We need to define things in a highly literal way, make it clear. If you use this your invoices will be entered into your system five times faster with far fewer errors. This is a problem because you’re spending so much on doing it today. If you use this your superintendents will know if they’re ahead of plan or behind plan at 4 o’clock every day. So we need to be very literal in defining and showing and proving that we can solve real problems that our customers and our users are having today and that’s what I tell our team. It needs to really have clarity on the problems that we’re solving. Literal problems that we’re solving.

When we do that well, we can see. Our products, not only our sales but our usage of the products goes through the roof. When we miss the mark on that people kind of scratch their head and go, “I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do with this.”

 

Mike Merrill:

I love that. I think it’s applicable even for our contractor companies that are listening to learn from that same advice with their field personnel, their office personnel, that clarity and simplicity of the messaging regardless of the task is critical for clear communication and execution.

 

Matt Harris:

Yeah.

 

Mike Merrill:

Love it. Just one last thing, if there is one takeaway from today’s discussion for the listeners, what would you say to them?

 

Matt Harris:

If you’re not using mobile applications for your projects right now I would absolutely, positively, take advantage of them. There are great like your company’s making, great products like our company’s making, other products. They are cost effective right now and easy to use. In most cases they are also connected to the back office. Not only can your job site people, your superintendents and fore-people be capturing information really easily but it can be connected into the back office as well. That will just absolutely, positively save time and also enable a company to begin and start to collect information as they think about the next step, which would be the data journey. How do you use that information to help you make better decisions in the future.

 

Mike Merrill:

Fantastic. Great takeaway. Well, thank you Matt. I’ve very much enjoyed our conversation today. It’s fun to catch up and see you again even if virtually, for now. I appreciate you joining us.

 

Matt Harris:

Likewise, Mike. Great to see you again, thank you so much for inviting me to this and yeah, best of luck to you, the business and the family and I hope to see you again soon.

 

Mike Merrill:

Thanks. Take care.

 

Matt Harris:

Bye.

 

Mike Merrill:

And thank you to listeners for joining us today on the Mobile Workforce Podcast, sponsored by About Time Technologies and WorkMax. If you enjoyed the conversation Matt and I had today or learned anything new and helpful please give us a follow on Instagram at WorkMax_ or on liked in at WorkMax and please also subscribe to the podcast. We love our five star ratings and reviews, when you are able to chime in and give your feedback there it helps us to bring this valuable information and insights to other businesses like yourself. Our goal is to help you improve your life and your business.