The clanking sound of metal on metal rang through the air. A team from InEight was visiting a Fortune 500 customer’s job site. At less than 20 percent complete, the project’s forecast looked darker by the minute, causing the company to lose money with each passing day.
For the InEight team, this was nothing new. In fact, this type of situation is why the technology company officially started in 2013—to provide solutions for managing intricate projects with a full portfolio of responsive, near real-time tools that cover all aspects and phases of construction and engineering. After InEight’s initial site survey, the customer implemented InEight’s tools over a period of about eight weeks. Just four months later, the job was nearly 40 percent complete. Managers had erased out-of-pocket spending and were actually gaining margin for the first time. For Rick Deans, InEight’s executive vice president of professional services, that kind of story illustrates the company’s mission.
“Our customers’ successes are our biggest successes,” he says. “Over the past two years, we’ve worked with our customers to increase their operational efficiency in innovative ways, helping them retire ‘one-off,’ internally developed databases and spreadsheet programs.”
The early win with this Fortune 500 company was important feedback for InEight, because it helped the technology company track not just performance, but also the use of its tools. Customers were using InEight’s tools to make changes that moved the needle on key projects. This included using InEight’s benchmarking capabilities to find job activities with the highest productivity and best costs. Customers were then checking those figures against metrics on other projects—down to such specifics as which projects used concrete or drainage pipes, and which of those projects performed well or not. Armed with that information, InEight’s customers could then ask key questions and collaborate with partners, vendors, and others to find and realize gains.
InEight started with a vision to unite back-office and job-site activities in one easy-to-manage platform. Using InEight’s solutions, managers can access near real-time data about a company’s people, materials, projects, and performance to find efficiencies, reduce costs, avoid surprises, and drive profits across the portfolio. According to Deans, the process is always evolving.
“The biggest change is that we’re really able to respond to the market more readily by making better decisions, based on all of the data we receive,” he says.
The key to InEight lies in what the company refers to as “interoperability,” or the way these solutions work together without special effort from the user. InEight has solved that problem with a platform that combines various tools and enables data sharing, which gives everyone on a project a better view and a platform from which to make informed decisions. Deans says a product completed with InEight is also easier for the owner to operate and maintain since it eliminates the manual effort to gather and digitize data from countless sources. The main product of interoperability is consistency across the board.
When InEight started just three years ago, the company primarily focused on estimating and project cost management, using successful tools rolled out by a company named Hard Dollar, a niche estimating technology firm that opened its doors in 1989. Hard Dollar was one of the core companies acquired, and it ultimately combined with others to form InEight. Deans actually joined InEight after performing for several years in leadership roles with Hard Dollar.
In 2014 and 2015, InEight launched additional components. One such component, HD Field, lets foremen use tablets to access and alter plans and track equipment and hours, while superintendents assign workers, equipment, and tasks. The company also introduced advanced work-planning solutions that go downstream and upstream to take information from the architect and engineer to create a unified visual model for estimating, scheduling, and other functions. Key partners, such as B4 Consulting, Inc., a global solution and services provider for the construction industry, provide unique help to InEight when implementing the technology. Deans says the partnership enables InEight to leverage B4 Consulting’s domain expertise in meeting customer demands and advancing marketplace innovations.
InEight believes it’s growing at just the right time. Worldwide construction stands around $6 trillion GDP and is increasing. Historically, companies spend about 1 percent of revenue on technology solutions. Although many might not know that a suite of solutions that address the entire project life cycle exists, most clients know that regulatory and capital constraints are forcing them to align project outcomes closer to bids. The industry is moving to a project-by-project model. Companies need more project certainty as more risks are taken—and that’s exactly what InEight aims to provide.
“We were recently working with a customer in the oil and gas industry,” Deans says. “They were managing their plant turnaround budget with our tools and were looking at making changes to the duration and scope of some work they were considering. We instantly saw the net impact of this change on the budget, resource requirements, and scheduled outage for the plant. Crucial information that would normally have taken days to chase down was available within seconds.”
That’s just one example of success, according to Deans. Recently, InEight leaders also met with a customer who had experienced zero growth in productivity for more than 25 years. A year after implementing InEight tools, that company has seen a 10 percent improvement.
As leaders of the company say, “If you do that over millions or billions of dollars, you’re changing the game.” By supplying the confidence that everyone in the construction industry wants, InEight supplies results in weeks instead of months or years.