KBE Building Corporation: The ROI of Construction Software and Creating a “WOW” Experience | Innovation
When it comes to construction, the customer experience is often filled with difficulties. First, there’s getting a design that fulfills their vision without exceeding budget. Then there’s all the many things that can go wrong between an accepted contractor bid and an actual complete building that meets specifications. Cost overruns and scheduling delays are commonplace, as are frustrations with quality and execution on vision.
The leadership of KBE Building Corporation thinks clients deserve better, and use an effective mix of best practices and construction software to make that happen. They work tirelessly to give their clients a “wow” experience from end to end, which they like to call the “Disney experience in construction.”
Who is KBE Building Corporation?
KBE Building Corporation is a preconstruction, construction management, design-build, and general contracting firm.
KBE Building Corporation, founded in 1959, is a preconstruction, construction management, design-build, and general contracting firm located in the Northeastern United States, and serving the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern U.S. They employ more than 120 professionals, perform about $300 million in annual construction volume, and are ranked by the Engineering News-Record as one of the nation’s 400 top commercial construction companies.
Their tag line, “Building Excellence Together,” reflects their commitment to creating projects, and construction experiences, that not only meet and exceed client expectations, but also are collaborative and satisfying throughout the process.
“Our mission when we work with our clients,” says Jonelle Lawhorn, Director of Marketing at KBE, “is to make them want to come back. We talk about creating a Disney experience, where it’s so much fun you want to do it again.”
What It’s Like to Work with KBE Building Corporation
The team at KBE employs an attitude of continuous improvement and customer satisfaction, combined with a wide variety of best practices and technologies that create a unique experience for customers, starting with visually stunning planning models displayed on big-screen televisions, to interactive and immersive virtual tours, and complete transparency into the construction process as it unfolds.
“Owners are often impressed during initial meetings,” says Mark Livolsi, Manager of Quality Control and Compliance at KBE. “We have monitors and TVs set up with interactive models and diagrams, where everyone can see at once. If they ask a question, the answer can be shown immediately, blown up, discussed, and a solution arrived at in real time.”
That impressive experience continues throughout the process, providing complete transparency and real-time collaboration among the owners as well as all project team members. The seamless coordination of business processes, customer service, and technologies developed at KBE allow them to deliver projects that are high in quality, on time, on budget, and actually a fun and exciting experience for the client.
Here’s their secret.
KBE’s Secret Sauce: Construction Software and Best Practices
Before and after. KBE ensures that all construction data is managed through a single source of truth.
The KBE “wow” experience begins with something significantly less sexy than big-screen TVs and virtual tours, but far more important. It begins with streamlined document and field management.
“Every piece of construction related documentation is loaded into BIM 360 Docs,” says Livolsi. “Plans, drawings, details, RFIs, sketches, the floor plan, everything is there and automatically hyperlinked.”
KBE’s teams use both Autodesk BIM 360 Field and BIM 360 Docs to ensure that all construction-related information is managed through a single source of truth. Rather than sending one off emails, scanning and sharing handwritten drawing markups, or texting jobsite photos, everything is shared through a centralized cloud platform that allows teams to streamline folders structures and easily share project information to the entire project team. This enables faster communication and ensures greater accuracy, as everyone is working from the most up to date information.
Using BIM 360 across all their projects has yielded enormous benefits to KBE, including:
- Greater consistency and standardization
- Remote management of multiple projects
- Improved punch list and information flow to all members of the project team
- Benefits ability to to market their success and innovative approach to attract new clients
- Benefits to the customer
Greater Consistency and Standardization
“BIM 360 Docs allows us to create project templates,” explains Livolsi, “so when I start a new project, the folder structure is set up the same way, as every other project. It makes it easy to find information, no matter what project you’re working on.”
This is especially helpful in a large company where a Super or other team members may be working across multiple projects . It reduces the learning curve and makes it easy to get up and running on new projects.
Remote Management of Multiple Projects
KBE manages projects all over the United States. Autodesk BIM 360 allows them to do so collaboratively in coordination with their home offices in Connecticut and Maryland.
“Whether we have staff on a project in Denver or Pennsylvania,” says Livolsi, “we can support them remotely from our main office or a satellite. The management team gets the same consistent reports across the country, the same look-ahead schedules, the same project reports. It makes it possible for everyone to get a handle on everything that’s happening across the country.”
Better Punch List and Information Flow
BIM 360 improves the punch list process and information flow between the office and field, making it easy for design teams and inspectors to create custom checklists, which are then accessed in the field on mobile devices. Field workers update punch lists as they go, eliminating unnecessary administrative time at the end of the day, and giving the folks in the office access to the information in real time.
Likewise, RFIs and Issues can also be exchanged remotely between teams in real time, making the flow of information faster and more reliable.
Benefits to Marketing and Communications
Visual field data–photos and videos–are valuable both to clients and prospective customers. Without the ease of file management and project management workflows embedded in BIM 360, accessing project photos was a complicated process of one off emails or texts..
“I used to have to bother Project Managers for photos. With BIM 360, I can look at the weekly reports and pull what I need immediately.”
Jonelle Lawhorn, Director of Marketing, KBE Building Corporation
Benefits to the Customer
Added up, the benefits of BIM 360 allow KBE to provide the ultimate in customer experience, including:
- Virtual tours and intuitive interaction with models throughout the design build process to allow for ease of planning or finish selections.
- Real-time answers and problem resolution throughout the build process
- Visibility into every aspect of the project at every stage, so the right people have the right information at the right time
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Transitioning to BIM 360 Docs
While the benefits have been enormous, KBE’s transition to BIM 360 Docs was not without one noticeable challenge: Getting everyone to adopt it.
“Some of our Supers have been in the field for 30 or 40 years,” says Lawhorn. “Computers were anathema to them to begin with, let alone mobile technology.”
“They get used to something and it’s hard to change workflows,” says Livolsi. “When they’re set in one way of doing it, it’s hard to convince them. So there was a longer transition time to getting everyone up and running on BIM 360 Docs.”
However, once everyone was trained, it was easy for them to see the value and adoption took off from there. are both quick to add, once people in the field are taught to use the technology, they quickly see its benefits and become attached to it.
“What BIM 360 does,” says Livolsi, “is it streamlines what we need.”
“Those same Supers,” says Lawhorn, “now won’t leave the trailers without their ipads. They love them. They use them to document everything. They’re really embracing the technology, and how much it improves information flow.”
KBE says that getting Supers to adopt construction software has changed the game for delivering a WOW experience to customers.
Into the Future
KBE intends to continue pushing the envelope in terms of what can be done to improve customer experience and deliver high quality projects. They’re focused on creating a custom experience for every customer, involving them early in the process, and giving them tools to be an integral part of the design-build process.
They intend to continue to work with BIM 360 as it unfolds new capabilities, and to integrate it with their forward-looking approach to construction.
Ready to Put Construction Software to Work the Right Way?