Long-time Agile Frameworks’ customer, Olsson, has taken a thoughtful approach to leveraging and refining the use the technology solution they use for their construction materials testing portion of their business.
Olsson is a nationally recognized engineering and design firm made up people who craft expert solutions that improve communities. The firm offers consulting services in planning and design, engineering, field services, environmental, and technology. For more information, go to www.olsson.com.
Need for Efficiency and Centralized Project Data
Initially, Olsson purchased Agile Frameworks’ MetaField solution in 2013 with the objective of moving away from Excel spreadsheets and carbon-copy, handwritten reports. They wanted to increase their efficiency and centralize their project data, which they knew would increase the value of the end product that they give their clients. Over time, as Olsson expanded the firm’s reach beyond the Midwest, they were concerned about brand consistency. MetaField helped to meet that need.
“If you get a report from Denver for an inspection, and then you get a report from Oklahoma City for an inspection, you want them to be the same. You want that same quality to translate through regions,” said Braden Hirsch, P.E., team leader of field services. “[MetaField] has helped us centralize what our reports look like, what we are giving to clients. If you have a client that is throughout the Midwest or has a national presence, they know that if they go to Olsson they’re getting the same product.”
On the Right Track with Technology
At the end of 2018, Olsson created an internal due-diligence committee to review MetaField and similar competitive software to make sure they were on the right track with the technology they had chosen. They had been using MetaField for more than five years at this point and wanted to gain insight into the other options that were out there. The committee convened for about three to four months and reviewed five or six different options. Their findings were very valuable.
Olsson discovered that there was a spectrum of offerings. At one end of the spectrum you have fully configurable solutions and at the other end you have out-of-the-box, static solutions.
Fully configurable solutions are both good and bad in that they can be modified to fit your individual needs, but it also can be burdensome. According to Hirsch, “You are responsible for devoting the time and effort and ultimately the cost to develop the forms that you need—to review them, do quality control on them, and finally put them into production. It puts a lot of burden on the firm.”
For the out-of-the-box, static solutions, they are ready to go at the start and you don’t have to invest time and money into developing it, but you can’t modify it to fit your organization’s unique needs.
Finding the Sweet Spot
Armed with this competitive knowledge, Olsson went to Agile Frameworks to discuss the need for finding the right amount of configuration and the right amount of out-of-the-box, non-configuration. “We came to them and asked them to help us find that ‘sweet spot,’” said Hirsch. “Ever since we went to Agile and asked them to do that for us, I have to say they have done a great job! We feel like we’re being heard and we feel the effort is being put into helping us find that sweet spot between configuration and ready-to-go, out-of-the box.”
That sweet spot allows Olsson the freedom to configure what they need, but it saves them time and money for the items they don’t need configured. “That has been the big business benefit for us—the right amount of investment. I’m not producing all of these reports because I’m getting some help from Agile and then I’m able to configure what they produce. There’s a balance,” said Hirsch. “It’s been one of the most helpful things that we’ve had using MetaField—getting it to a place where we need it to be for our firm. The result was that we’re on the right path with Agile.”
The committee findings and support from Agile Frameworks’ customer success team has enabled Olsson to realize the full benefits of the software platform. For quality control and for their project managers, MetaField’s centralized database allows for a more efficient workflow. It is much easier and faster to take data logged in the field by a technician all the way through to report distribution to the client.
As Olsson’s field service team lead—one step removed from the project managers—Hirsch can easily respond to client and internal calls requesting project information. “It’s been great to get a nice, quick review and the way that it’s organized and centralized, makes it easy for me to speak to a project that maybe I haven’t looked at recently,” said Hirsch.
Staying Ahead of the Game
“Agile’s done a good job of staying on the leading edge of the technology and developing the modules and pieces that go with the industry,” said Hirsch. “So far, it’s been great, and I think it will be a good challenge for everybody to stay in front of the technology and make sure that Agile’s ahead of the game.”
To learn about how Agile Frameworks’ MetaField solution enables you to create the right balance between a configurable and out-of-the-box solution, download the MetaField brochure.