CMiC Pentalon Construction deploys CMiC platform to drive digital transformation and looks to the future with robust analytics.
The Challenge: In Search of a Digital Transformation Partner
Multi-family construction has long been a delicate balance of time, cost and quality. It’s a market segment defined by contractors who find ways to continually improve means and methods, both in the field and in the office, to deliver excellence in a profitable way.
Salt Lake City, Utah-based Pentalon Construction is one such firm. Since its founding in 1993, this industry leading construction management firm has specialized in multi-family and commercial construction. The firm performs over $100 million in multi-family projects annually, building over 6,000 units during the past decade. That annual revenue is expected to rise considerably as the company begins to take on much larger projects, increasing from 300 units to upwards of 500 units per project, all with the same level of delivery quality. Shay Johansen, Chief Operations Officer, who started as a project manager with Pentalon in 2001, noted, “To maintain our industry leadership, we’re always looking for ways to streamline and automate our approach to project delivery.”
Pentalon Construction’s workflows have taken a familiar and common path over the last 20 years, with investments in standalone accounting and project administration/project management applications, along with heavy reliance on spreadsheets and Word documents. However, as the company grew and project scope and scale increased while timelines and margins decreased, conventional methods hindered communication and collaboration.
Johansen explained, “Specifically, we needed to align our project management and accounting activities. For instance, we really wanted a system where our trade partners could log in and submit payment applications, for example. We needed a better communication between systems and assured reliability of data movement to make this possible.
The Solution: Advantages of a Single Unified Platform
“We started on this road back in 2017, with a goal to improve communication between systems and assure data reliability. We’ve done that. With that foundation, we are well-positioned to take advantage of the added insights derived from embedded analytics, allowing us to expand our services and enhance the effectiveness of project delivery.” — Shay Johansen, Chief Operations Officer, Pentalon Construction.
As a first step, the Pentalon team looked to connect its accounting and project management solutions through APIs but were never confident that all of the data was transferred. Johansen added, “How would we ever know if something was lost? Further, we would still need to invest in other applications, such as document imaging, to facilitate our automation efforts.”
With an eye on a unified project management and accounting platform, Pentalon selected CMiC – with embedded OCR technology – as its construction management solution of choice, going live in 2017. Johansen added, “We really liked that CMiC is fully integrated, so everything works off of one database, with very little chance of errors or lost information and a substantial overall cost advantage.” He noted that the yearly cost for CMiC versus the legacy systems Pentalon had been using was 40% less.
“We quickly deployed CMiC’s project management features to manage and automate notifications of our RFIs and submittals,” he said. “The accounting took a little longer as it required considerable focus on setup, standards, etc. Once it was up and running, though, we were able to process change orders much more efficiently.”
The Result: A Focus on Superior Project Delivery through Enhanced Data Visibility
“We really liked that CMiC is fully integrated, so everything works off of one database, with very little chance of errors or lost information and a substantial overall cost advantage.” — Shay Johansen, Chief Operations Officer, Pentalon Construction.
Since implementing CMiC, Pentalon project managers have also been using CMiC FIELD, a platform that ensures visibility of all project management operations by key decision makers throughout the enterprise. Designed to manage all aspects of Pentalon’s project delivery, CMiC allows users to seamlessly collaborate with all project stakeholders, control changes, manage the supply chain of subcontractors and material suppliers, simplify the bid process and manage documents.
“Our project managers use it regularly for daily reports, logs, RFIs and ASIs. As well, all the drawings are accessible in it for reference,” Johansen stated. “Drawing access is particularly valuable on big projects. With FIELD, we know that the project manager, superintendent and trade partners are all working based on the latest version of all the drawings and documents.” In addition, project managers in the company’s Multifamily Group are using the CMiC forecasting capabilities. “Our project managers can all forecast their project completions. It’s great. Next step is benchmarking.
For Johansen, the value of CMiC is data accessibility. “Every week I go through the RFI and issue logs. Through CMiC, I’m automatically notified of every RFI and issue that is created. I can go through those logs as needed,” he added. “It’s really nice to be able to move from job to job within the solution and have consistent, easy to read summary reports about activities.”
He also believes that resolution of issues and RFIs has improved. “The connection between issues and an RFI is not always clear. However, with the streamlined workflow and documentation of CMiC, we’re able to track where issues began (e.g., during design or construction) and track the path of potential delays to an RFI. I never reviewed RFIs with our old project management system because it was too cumbersome.” Further, he noted that all owner payment applications are available in the system for review and analysis.
A Bright Future with Robust Analytics
“Every week I go through the RFI and issue logs. Through CMiC, I’m automatically notified of every RFI and issue that is created. I can go through those logs as needed. It’s really nice to be able to move from job to job within the solution and have consistent, easy to read summary reports about activities.” — Shay Johansen, Chief Operations Officer, Pentalon Construction.
Currently, there are about 50 Pentalon employees using CMiC, ranging from project managers and superintendents to accounting and estimating specialists. Johansen expects marketing and management team members to get onboarded next.
When asked about ROI, Johansen said he doesn’t have exact numbers. “How do you quantify what it could have saved you. The cost savings are certainly an easy calculation.” He continued, “I think the most value that we see is what we’re able to do with a single platform – with a lower overall cost – than with the legacy systems and methods that we retired. But the quantifiable savings are a small part of the bigger value.”
He points to the value of a unified system with documents that are accessible by trade partners. “If we don’t have that ability and one of our subcontractors has the wrong information, we have a problem. A single issue can cost us $50,000,” confirmed Johansen.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of the CMiC investment, according to Johansen, will be the ability to take actions on their greatly expanded business intelligence (BI) capabilities. “We started on this road back in 2017, with a goal to improve communication between systems and assure data reliability. We’ve done that. With that foundation, we are well-positioned to take advantage of the added insights derived from embedded analytics, allowing us to expand our services and enhance the effectiveness of project delivery.”