As a startup AEC firm, Huntsville, AL-based GTEC has been thoughtful about growth and where they want to invest their funding. GTEC provides geotechnical engineering, environmental consulting, and construction and materials testing services to northern Alabama and south-central Tennessee—regionally known as the Tennessee Valley area. The markets they serve include multi-scale commercial, industrial, and municipal projects.
They were interested in finding a digital field data collection solution to eliminate the inefficiencies of collecting data using handwritten paper forms. Specifically, they were looking for a solution that would provide a uniform report across every project, every project manager, and every staff professional that would look the same for the client every time.
Based on experience with Agile Frameworks’ MetaField software solution at a previous employer, GTEC knew the platform would allow them to process information quicker and to provide more consistent reports to their clients.
“Ultimately, the efficiency of MetaField interested us because we knew we wouldn’t have to recreate the wheel as we started our business. We knew that it had systems set up to help us get things kick-started,” said Jeremy Jess, partner. “We knew we would better serve our customers with it.”
Investing in digital technology for field data collection was going to be one of the more expensive things they were going to have to do. They had not only the investment of the software subscription, but also the hardware. They wanted to provide their field techs with cellular-enabled tablets. And they are finding that investment is valuable for their firm.
“We’re trying to put systems and processes in place that are scalable,” said John Corbell, partner. “A software tool like MetaField already fits with that scalable model. In the future, as we add personnel and possibly open a branch office, all we need to do is add a MetaField seat. I don’t have to recreate the wheel at that branch office. All I do is put them on MetaField.”
With MetaField, their field staff can instantly upload the data while they are at their job site. If a field tech enters some data that doesn’t fit the specific test criteria, the software indicates the discrepancy so they can correct the error. They don’t have to rely on a project manager to catch errors while reviewing the report. The software catches the error as soon as the tech enters the data. And the project manager knows that the report data already has been compared to the correct project specifications.
With real-time access to field results GTEC’s project managers can talk to a client while the field tech is still on site. If additional work is needed, the field tech can stay and complete the work without making another trip.
MetaField also fits with their IT model of being able to work remotely on almost any device.
“You can access MetaField from a laptop, from a tablet, or from a phone. All of the data is there and you can look at it from anywhere you have an internet or cell phone data connection. You don’t have to be sitting in one specific location to be able to get your job done,” said Corbell.
Field techs have found the prompts for required information in MetaField’s forms very useful. They also appreciate that when they are traveling from job site to job site, they don’t need to stop back at the office to get a file or a form—everything they need for the job is in MetaField.
According to Jess, they knew that their upfront investment in a technology solution also was going to influence drawing talent to their firm.
“Our new hires know they’re not working for an employer who’s just trying to barely get by and do the least work. By implementing MetaField, we’re getting good employees that are excited about using this technology,” said Jess. “We want to grow and part of it was getting good talent and providing them with the tools to do their job well.”
Learn how to turn challenges into opportunities in the executive briefs "Staffing Shortages, Low Productivity, and Low Profitability" Part 1 & Part 2.