Barton Malow Builders
Barton Malow Builders focuses on commercial and institutional construction, specializing in building projects using innovative practices. With market specialties that include healthcare, higher education, K12, sports + entertainment, and commercial, the team strives to partner with clients each step of the way.
The subcontractor default insurance carrier for Barton Malow Builders LLC, one of three operating entities under the Barton Malow Family of Companies, has a vested interest in the planning and scheduling of construction projects, because well-managed project schedules often reduce related claims. Consequently, they reviewed Barton Malow’s scheduling practices and procedures near the end of 2020 to see how their projects stacked up.
The auditor analyzed a sample of Barton Malow Builders’ current and completed schedules, uncovering a few challenged items. “None of the metrics surprised anyone in the scheduling group,” noted Tom Carolan, Barton Malow Builders’ Director of Scheduling. “We knew our schedules had areas that needed improvement.”
Neal Morton, Barton Malow Builders’ Vice President, Safety + Risk Management, had recognized the need for an effective schedule analysis platform years ago. Unfortunately, the solution they settled on was not scalable in the long run. The most significant deficiency was the timing of the update process. Schedules were supposed to be pulled every Friday, but because many updates hadn’t been completed, the information being analyzed was incomplete, leading to less-than-useful metrics and analysis.
THE SMART SOLUTION
Barton Malow Builders’ insurance carrier’s auditor used a platform called SmartPM, the premier schedule-data analytics tool, to analyze Barton Malow Builders’ schedule. SmartPM leverages CPM scheduling software and data, giving construction executives and project teams insights to enhance schedule quality, assess risk, review past performance, forecast project completion, and control project outcomes.
Morton had participated in the audit and was impressed with SmartPM, as it produced project metrics in a clear, easy-to-understand dashboard that eliminated Excel reports, complex analytics programs, and digging through the CPM scheduling database.
“We also noted how quickly the platform identified opportunities for improvement and potential delays,” said Carolan, “After some technical discussions to understand the logistics of SmartPM, we started to believe it was something that could help us.”
Consequently, Barton Malow Builders engaged in an aggressive one-year roll out of SmartPM across all Barton Malow Builders’ projects.
“Quickly the platform identified opportunities for improvement and potential delays.”
With the addition of SmartPM, project teams now inform scheduling when they have completed their updates and provide the appropriate files. As a result, the project teams can take an extra day or two to finish the update, as needed. As Carolan notes, “Nothing goes into SmartPM that isn’t fully updated for that month.”
The real-time project overview provided by the dashboard allows executives and project teams to explore the dashboard at their convenience; because it displays all schedules for the entire company in an easy-to-read format, they can quickly analyze all ongoing activity.
According to Carolan SmartPM can also recognize when a schedule is overly optimistic, much earlier than manual reviews. When that happens, he can communicate to his teams the need to reexamine the scheduled path to completion and adjust accordingly.
Carolan added that creating operational scheduling transparency can identify risks sooner, which is a benefit to owners, subcontractors, and project teams. Based on the platform’s performance, Carolan and Morton agreed to a multi-year contract extension on SmartPM. What’s more, Barton Malow Builders’ other operating entity (Barton Malow Company) and Barton Malow’s Education Team both rolled out SmartPM across their projects as well.
“Some metrics we looked at in the past were lagging indicators. SmartPM provides leading indicators that give us time to adjust early and with more confidence.”