Transforming the Construction Industry. The Project Pipeline Story

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1 Transforming the Construction Industry The Project Pipeline Story

2 Executive Summary: This paper discusses how The Blue Book Building and Construction Network used its hundred years of domain expertise and desire to continue to lead the transformation of the construction industry to develop Project Pipeline. Project Pipeline was built specifically for the business to business construction industry. It is a cloud based project- centric CRM system that understands the relationship between a project and the multiple potential clients that contractors pursue on any given project. Project Pipeline is designed to help construction companies to keep up with the ever increasing pace of business by providing a single pane of glass to manage all critical business functions. We went with Project Pipeline because it could help us streamline and improve our process Tim Eckman, Senior Estimator, Paramount Contracting. The Blue Book Building and Construction Network faced a number of challenges to make this revolutionary idea a reality. They had to find a technology partner that was capable of developing a scalable cloud based application that integrated seamlessly into a number of legacy systems. OSSCube, a global solutions provider based in Austin, TX was chosen for the project. Time to market and development costs were also significant hurdles. In order to meet these goals an open source CRM from SugarCRM was chosen as the application platform. The SugarCRM platform provided the enterprise level scalability, base functionality and flexibility to meet the Project Pipeline requirements. We choose OSSCube because of their broad experience and successful track record of building custom enterprise level applications said Mark Griswold, The Blue Book Building and Construction Network CIO, The use of open source technologies was also very important to give us the flexibility to meet our unique requirements and help keep the costs to our customers as low as possible added Griswold. The project team was able to overcome some significant technology challenges and learned valuable lessons along the way. Today, contractors around the nation are using Project Pipeline to: Streamline internal processes Improve customer experience and responsiveness Win more business by better understanding costs and delivery objectives Better manage their internal business Reduce internal overhead by using a cloud based solution

3 Transforming the Construction Industry The Project Pipeline Story: Imagine where we d be today without the construction industry. Modern marvels like the Hoover Dam, Golden Gate Bridge and our interstate highway system have enabled the meteoric growth America has enjoyed. Even today, we continue to be amazed by state of the art sports stadiums, commercial buildings and transportation projects. Have you ever wondered how the owner organizations find the contractors for these projects? Since 1913, the construction industry has turned to The Blue Book Building and Construction Network for the most complete, accurate and up- to- date information. The Blue Book Building and Construction Network continues to grow and is now the largest and most active network in the commercial construction industry including General Contractors, Subcontractors, Suppliers, Architects, Engineers, Building Owners, Transportation and Utilities Professionals, Real Estate Developers and Property Managers and Government Agencies. Despite all the advances in construction technology, many contractors are still running their business the old fashion way. Bid boards, hand written documents, basic spreadsheets and even post- it notes are still commonly used. Forecasting, supply chain and subcontractor management can be very challenging and time consuming. Since its inception, The Blue Book Building and Construction Network has been a thought leader in providing technology to help the construction industry and contractors become more effective in building relationships and operate more efficiently. According to ConstrucTech Magazine, April 2013, Trends related to data, mobility, and the cloud, anyone in the know realizes these remain vital disrupters in the world of construction technology. With that in mind, there isn t a homebuilder, contractor, or owner organization that isn t concerning itself with at least one, if not all three, trends. As such, the technology providers that need to deliver on such demands are being placed under an even greater microscope these days to ensure promises live up to expectations. Today, The Blue Book Building and Construction Network continues its innovation leadership and has expanded its product and service offerings to include free tools that are helping the entire industry improve its workflow - from design through post- construction. Throughout the nation, The Blue Book Building and Construction Network has over 250 construction professionals in the field working to support their local construction community through targeted Business Builder Programs and hands- on support to help companies fully leverage the Network s workflow solutions. These new digital solutions enable construction professionals to find and spec products, share plans and specs, streamline bid communications and view, markup and takeoff project documents. One of the latest advances is a new and innovative cloud business system called Project Pipeline. Project Pipeline helps companies in the construction industry easily organize the critical information & documentation on the projects they want to win and the clients they are tracking on those projects. Project Pipeline was built specifically for the business to business construction industry. It is a project- centric CRM system that understands the relationship between a project and the multiple potential clients that contractors pursue on any given project. Developed by The Blue Book Building and Construction Network, Project Pipeline encompasses over 100 years of experience connecting buyers and sellers within this industry. Only Project Pipeline includes Blue Book Network Business Intelligence, offering the construction industry s most complete and accurate database of companies.

4 So how did The Blue Book Building and Construction Network transform, what was an intriguing concept several years ago, into what has quickly becoming a game changing industry solution? After searching for the right technology partner, The Blue Book Building and Construction Network turned to OSSCube, a global solutions provider. OSSCube has a long history of delivering integrated mission- critical business solutions using open source technologies. OSSCube has helped organizations around the world, ranging from Fortune 100 Corporations to high tech startups increase revenue and customer satisfaction while reducing costs and time to market. OSSCube offered the broad array of services ranging from Consulting, Elastic Virtual Development Resources, Mobile, Web and Custom Application Development and Product Support needed to complete this project. We choose OSSCube because of their broad experience and successful track record of building custom enterprise level applications said Mark Griswold, The Blue Book Building and Construction Network CIO, The use of open source technologies was also very important to give us the flexibility to meet our unique requirements and help keep the costs to our customers as low as possible added Griswold. OSSCube used its innovative Phase 0 approach to work closely with The Blue Book team to develop the project requirements, specifications and development schedules. Requirements were provided by prospective users, Blue Book Building and Construction Network business consultants that work with contractors in the field and by leveraging over a century of experience as a thought leader in the construction industry. Some of the key requirements included: Must be cloud based and accessible through any device Combine the functionality of several disparate applications into a single, user friendly application The user interface had to be intuitive and easy to use by non- technical users The application had to be scalable to be able to accommodate tens of thousands of users with very fast response times We were very excited to be chosen to develop such an innovative application. The Blue Book Building and Construction Network presented us with a significant challenge. said Lavanya Rastogi, OSSCube CEO. Our team really stepped up and worked closely with The Blue Book team to deliver Project Pipeline on time and budget added Rastogi.

5 Once the requirements and specifications were complete, OSSCube presented solution architecture options to The Blue Book team. One alternative was to build the application from the ground up. Another was to use an existing open source platform. The final decision was to use an existing open source platform for a number of reasons. The driving factors were cost, schedule and flexibility. The team determined that it would take longer, and likely be more expensive, to develop the application from the ground up. SugarCRM was selected as the platform of choice. As an open- platform web- based CRM solution, SugarCRM can be easily customized to meet an organization s changing needs. It is also affordable, easy- to- use and offers a competitive advantage by providing organizations with a 360- degree view of their customers. SugarCRM is the fastest growing CRM in the industry. SugarCRM offered the basic CRM functionality required for the project, plus the platform was extremely flexible and easy to build upon to meet Project Pipeline s unique requirements. EasyLink, an OpenText Company, was also selected to provide support for and fax integration. The teams then embarked on the Project Pipeline development phase. They worked closely and continually refined the requirements. The Agile development methodology was used to allow the teams to keep pace with rapidly growing and changing requirements. OSSCube provided a combination of on- site and virtual resources during the development process. This virtual capability allowed OSSCube to scale the team size up or down quickly to meet schedule and budget requirements. The team included Solution Architects, CRM Consultants and highly skilled developers versed in SugarCRM, PHP, JavaScript and JQuery. Along the way, they were faced with some interesting challenges while building a product that seamlessly integrated into a mature industry with many legacy applications. Some of the more interesting challenges included: Overcoming architectural challenges to build a scalable application to support 50,000+ users based on a cloud implementation of SugarCRM Integration with multiple legacy and third party applications Building the support of multiple formats for different lead sources Building a very complex search module that is pulling data from multiple sources Queue management of proposals for Faxes, etc. Creating new instances of SugarCRM on the fly We have had a wonderful experience working with the entire OSSCube team, from technical leadership through project management, programming and QA. Their technical leadership helped ensure that Project Pipeline delivered a user experience tailored to the building and construction industry, integrated with Blue Book Network business intelligence, that best utilized the strengths of SugarCRM, said Matthew Moyers, Project Pipeline Product Manager for The Blue Book Building and Construction Network. The members of the development team have consistently delivered their requirements on time and on budget with excellent customer service. The OSSCube team is a valued and trusted partner, added Moyers.

6 The Friends & Family (a.k.a. beta) release cycle helped to validate the functionality and spawned meaningful change requests that helped improve Project Pipeline s effectiveness. Though Project Pipeline is now in production, the product will continue to evolve to meet ever changing customer needs. Have you ever woken up in the morning and questioned, what was I thinking the night before? Every project lends itself to Monday morning quarterbacking. But there are often valuable lessons that can be learned to help increase the pace of innovation and improve customer satisfaction. Some of the key lessons learned: Investing time in understanding how to bring real value to customers is critical in defining an innovative product Choose a technology partner with the experience, knowledge and scalability to take on unprecedented challenges The mix of on- site and virtual resources provided the flexibility to quickly scale the team up or down as necessary Building on an existing platform was more cost effective and facilitated faster time to market Adoption of Project Pipeline is growing rapidly providing significant value to its users. Today, contractors around the nation are using Project Pipeline to: Streamline internal processes Improve customer experience and responsiveness Win more business by better understanding costs and delivery objectives Better manage their internal business Reduce internal overhead by using a cloud based solution Paramount Contracting, an experienced, successful commercial contractor, serving customers throughout the North East is a good example of a satisfied Project Pipeline user. Paramount Contracting built their reputation by providing outstanding customer service and performing under the most demanding schedules. Even though the nuts and bolts of what we do are drywall, metal studs and acoustic ceilings, the real goal of Paramount Contracting is to take care of the General Contractor. We are a business- to- business company and our emphasis is on meeting the needs of our clients. For our experienced staff, reading blueprints and putting up the materials is routine, but we recognize that it often takes more than execution of the specifics; we listen, we hear and we do what it takes to make the General Contractors' jobs worry free and their clients more than satisfied, said Jeff Mylin, President of Paramount Contracting. The success of Paramount contracting has been due to meticulous attention to detail, from estimating to project completion, the customer s needs and project s specifications are recorded and organized to ensure that expectations are exceeded.

7 Tim Eckman, Senior Estimator says, I am very proud of the fact our team goes to great lengths to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks and we are able to consistently provide accurate proposals on time. Tim s team was managing bid requests with shared spreadsheets & project folders through their network. The key to a successful estimating department is communication, it s critical that everyone is aware of what their individual responsibilities are and to see the big picture so the customer benefits from the combined knowledge of the group. Tim continues, It s not that we had a problem, because we did what we had to, to take care of the customer. We went with Project Pipeline because it could help us streamline and improve our process. Project Pipeline makes it much easier to have visibility into the projects we are pursuing, who is responsible for what and our follow up process. The Blue Book team has been helpful and the transition into using Project Pipeline was easier than I thought. Today, Project Pipeline is a key part of The Blue Book Building and Construction Network s transformation of the construction industry. Teaming with OSSCube and using the SugarCRM platform gave them the technical expertise and open source platform needed to make this innovative concept a reality.

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