Posts Tagged ‘MultiVista’

Boosting Profitability for General Contractors

January 19, 2012

As profit margins drop past the 2% mark, general contractors are compelled to look for more innovative ways to drive profitability. Recently, I learned of a GC that hired a third party services firm to photo-document its work on a large school project and passed the cost onto the owner with a slight markup. While I see the rationale behind adding value-added services as a way to improve revenue, I find this particular choice questionable.

Construction Photo-documentation firms offer a valuable combination of construction knowledge and photography services to owner/developers who lack the experience and resources to scrutinize the construction of their buildings. Most also offer a deliverable that includes construction photos delivered via the web.

However, does this make sense for a GC? Can these firms offer expertise that the GC doesn’t already have on staff? Do they hold the secrets to construction photography that a GC can’t match with a $500 camera purchase and a basic photography course at a local community college (or even online)? The answers are obviously no and no.

So, therefore, the missing piece of the puzzle must be the ability to deliver construction photos with a web interface offers more than a link to a Sharepoint folder. If a GC could deliver a comprehensive package of photos to an owner that offered a complete record of as-built construction and critical installation details, now that would be valuable.

And now, the GC can offer just such a deliverable. In my next post I will describe how Geedra enables GC’s to self perform the photo documentation of their projects, and in doing so transforms an overhead cost, into a value-add service that boosts profitability.

Bigger Haystacks

August 23, 2010

Digital photos are free. Which means that if you have gone through the expense to put a camera on a jobsite, it makes sense for that camera to take as many pictures as possible. Usually more than is necessary (after all, they’re free right???)

Then let’s consider all of the stakeholders who take pictures on a jobsite; There’s the General Contractor of course, then the owner and owner’s reps; the architect and the cajillion consultants retained by the architect; inspectors, municipal, regulatory and otherwise; subcontractors, and oh yeah, anybody else with a hardhat and a camera phone. Did I forget to mention aerial photos and fixed site cameras?

Do all of these photos add up to better coverage of jobsite activity? More coverage definitely, but better? That’s debatable, because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how many photos you have if you can’t find that critical piece of information that you’re looking for.

Found it! Er, wait. Wrong floor...

What’s the Problem?

July 21, 2010

Dude, what's your problem?

Ask a project manager or construction manager about their chosen strategy for jobsite photos and you’ll get strange conglomeration of solutions. The three most popular of which are:

  • Sitecams (aka webcams)
  • Photo Documentation Services
  • Shared Document Management Systems

That’s quite an eclectic list of solutions, which leads me to ask the following; If those are the solutions, what’s the problem? After all, each solution offers its own distinct benefits.

  • Sitecams – Constant monitoring of jobsite. Remote Access. Provides transparency for the public.
  • Photo Documentation Services – A trained set of eyes behind the camera for improved compliance.
  • Document Management Systems – A secure system for archiving photos taken by the project team.

Those are all very desirable benefits that any team would embrace. It seems that each solution attempts to deliver ground level information from the project site. However, they don’t deliver that information in a format that can be immediately evaluated, like data on a spreadsheet. Instead, each solution presents visual media (in the form of digital photos or video), which serve to both store and communicate ground level project information.

There is a cost associated with extracting information from visual media so that it can be converted into a usable format.  The information extraction cost* is low  during construction when the context and subtle details (aka “tribal knowledge”) are fresh in the minds of project team members-see chart below.  However, as construction ends, the project team disperses and memories fade, the extraction cost continues to rise until the project’s tribal knowledge evaporates for good.

In my next post I will propose an alternative solution for preserving ground level project information indefinitely.

(c) 2010 Geedra, LLC

*Examples of Information Extraction Costs – time spent searching for media, reviewing media images for relevant information, interviewing project team members for background information, corroborating design data or consulting reports with visual evidence, etc.