Consider this: your engineering and testing firm is dedicated to delivering high-quality work on-time and on-budget to your clients. Successfully completing the current phase of a client project will generate more business for your firm. Yet, the technical professionals you need are in high demand and short supply. This dilemma presents few choices: overextend internal resources to meet customer requests, turn down projects (and revenue), or find a way to do more with existing resources. This was the dilemma Braun Intertec faced in the early 2000’s. According to Braun Intertec CEO, Jon Carlson, “We were inefficient. We had processes that were costly to our firm and did not provide high value back to our clients. But we were fully committed to delivering high-quality work to our clients.” As is the case with most firms in this industry, many field based projects have very tight margins. Notes Jon, “You can make money on various types of field data collection and quality control testing, but you have be very efficient.
Fast forward to 2017, and the struggle Braun Intertec faced in 2004 is still relevant to many engineering and construction firms (E&C). According to McKinsey research, the construction industry is ranked second to last in adopting technology. For example, most E&C firms still have field and administrative functions using manual, paper-based processes. This creates many costly issues that slow down a firm’s ability to complete projects, such as inconsistent processes across technicians, teams or offices; inaccuracies in data collection; communication issues and lost or incomplete paperwork that result in rework by technicians. Braun Intertec sought technology that would help facilitate its growth. Thanks in large part to MetaField®, an Agile Frameworks solution, the firm has spent the past decade growing at a comfortable pace.
The firm’s operations leaders have embraced the mobile technology offered by MetaField® in multiple ways. At Braun Intertec, the solution is used to:
- Accurately and consistently collect field data – reducing rework and eliminating the need for transcription: Technicians at Braun Intertec use MetaField® on their mobile devices in the field to collect data on job sites every day. Matt Balster, operations manager at Braun Intertec notes, “We were working on a windfarm down in the panhandle of Texas. The client received the MetaField® daily report forms, but they wanted data collected in a certain way. They gave us a paper form to use. We built that form in MetaField® and showed it to the client. They loved it and we were able to deliver the data daily, but in a way that fit that client and project.”
- Quickly generate daily reports – improving client communications. Technicians collect data on-site and the information is saved in MetaField® in real-time, making it easy to generate and send daily reports to the client. In cases where a signature or professional credentials are required, the AgileStamp® solution from Agile Frameworks allows this to be instantly added to individual or multiple reports with the push of a button. Jon recalled a client once called a project leader saying, “Hey, I just received a daily report and I think you sent me data for the wrong project because your guy is still here.” The project manager reassured the client that it was the right information – she had just reviewed it. Jon noted, “For all of our clients, seeing our technicians on site, collecting and reporting data in near real time is a huge confidence builder.”
- Simplify training and reinforce standardization to support a growing business. In the past decade, Braun Intertec has grown to 30 offices spread across seven states, largely in part to clients requesting Braun Intertec provide these market-leading services across a larger geographic area. The firm’s footprint now ranges from far northwestern North Dakota to the gulf coast in Texas and Louisiana. With this geographic expansion, the operations team has sought ways to maintain service quality, reinforce standardized processes and increase operational scalability. MetaField® has greatly helped facilitate this growth. The operations managers needed to be able to easily redeploy resources from one office to another when large projects demanded it. The use of MetaField® for data collection, as well as the ability to easily access work papers through the solution, meant technicians could easily get up to speed on any project, in any location. As Matt explained, “We needed the ability to move our technicians around to work projects in different locations, but still follow the ‘Braun Intertec Way’ that makes our services exceptional. That means our technicians from Fargo need to use the same process as the ones in San Antonio, for example. When we work on a project, we need to assemble a team that is ready to go and MetaField® makes that easier for us. It has good training materials and it is user friendly.” Leveraging the Scheduling and Dispatch features, MetaField® gives Braun Intertec the ability to direct the right resources to the right work at the right time, easing the challenges in meeting client needs across a growing company.
- Integrate field and laboratory testing operations. As many of Braun Intertec’s field technicians also collect samples for laboratory testing, using MetaField and MetaField LIMS provides an end-to-end process, ensuring a clear chain of custody on samples and simplifying work planning and scheduling across multiple laboratory locations.
At Braun Intertec, the firm’s leaders have relied on the Agile Frameworks MetaField® Solution to support their rapidly growing business. As CEO, Jon notes that the benefits of using this solution are particularly meaningful at Braun Intertec, a rapidly growing employee-owned organization. “I strongly believe that happy employees lead to happy clients. At Braun Intertec, that means giving our employees the mobile tools they need to do their jobs well and efficiently. This is especially important in today’s hiring climate, as there is tremendous competition when hiring technical professionals. In this atmosphere, providing field technicians with the best tools available to meet clients’ needs creates a clear competitive advantage.”
The bottom line: Braun Intertec has leveraged technology to drive growth, empower employees, and most importantly- create highly satisfied customers. And they’re enjoying the dividends of this every day.