The Subcontractor Relationship
Doing business in construction today is often a matter of coordinating with subcontractors. These specialists bring invaluable expertise to a construction site- their unique skills and knowledge enable them to come in and do a specific job efficiently because, literally, that's their entire business. Hiring out parts of a job to subcontractors is frequently more cost-effective (no need to expand your own employee base), efficient (no need to buy specialized equipment) and gives you the freedom to choose new subcontractors should your current selections not be performing up to par. However, often times working with subcontractors can be a massive headache of tracking hours, accounting for work, and navigating individual processes. John Albert, the founder of the Unified Building Group, uses Raken to cut through the mess.
A Useless Ferrari...
That is what John Albert calls expensive software that's hard to use. He saw that Unified Building Group had a problem communicating with all of their subcontractors (sometimes over 300 across all of their sites in 24 states), observing that "our system was pretty barbaric" and consisted of documents with fill-in fields, spreadsheets, or customer-dictated procedures that were different at every site. Albert wanted to invest in technology to solve the problem but had some concerns. "Whenever you adopt a new technology you have reservations because you spend a lot of money and then the problem is no one can use it," says Albert, "it could be the Ferrari of software but it's useless if no one can drive it." The main questions he asked himself before trying a new solution were "Are the guys in the field going to use it? Should I really get training for them and educate them on another piece of software when they didn't use the last one?"
Albert chose Raken after a particularly powerful test. "We did a project and one of the subs didn't communicate well at all," says Albert, "and he easily adopted Raken. If he can use it, I'm hooked." Albert discovered that Raken was so easy for his subcontractors to use that he didn't need to put them through extensive training- he was getting compliant reports immediately. "Raken has allowed even our unsophisticated subcontractors to add photos to their daily reports," says Albert, "Raken is real information. It's simple but at the same time so adaptable that all of our subcontractors can use it." That adaptability has prompted UBG to build Raken into their dealings with subcontractors. "Our subcontractors now have a commitment that if they want to get paid they have to log in to Raken and use it 100%" he says, adding "even with the high level of work we do we've gotten great reactions to Raken. It's now a big part of every preconstruction kickoff we do."
Putting the Reports to Use
Using Raken to gather information from subcontractors has given UBG more than daily reports, Raken's time card app for construction also provided a competitive edge to the company. "Getting unpredictable job reporting for man hours from subcontractors can eat a company alive," Albert says, "Raken helps get our costs dialed in. We want to use real data, so the worklog hours that the subcontractors plug in helps us find discrepancies." Finding those discrepancies and correcting them has saved UBG time and money. "With Raken we get actual costs and hours so we can go in and see the actual lessons learned, checking the budget to the actuals," Albert says, "I look at man-hours in Raken and then decide what I need to do at the end of the job to be more competitive."