National electrical contractor Power Design Inc. has announced that it is transitioning approximately 2,100 users from PlanGrid to Fieldwire. PDI has performed the electrical work for such projects as an Atlanta Braves’ mixed-use project next to Suntrust Park in Atlanta; Brickell Heights condominium towers in Miami; and Northshore, a residential and mixed-use development in Austin, Texas.
The company has already moved 65% of its field supervisory staff to the new platform, according to Brad Moore, PDI's VDC technology manager, and the shift should be 100% complete by the end of the year.
PDI began contemplating a change from PlanGrid in the middle of 2018, Moore said, and learned about Fieldwire from its industry peers as well as through one of its customers and one of the country's biggest general contractors, Clark Construction Group.
Clark implemented a similar company-wide rollout of Fieldwire earlier this year. After an evaluation of other tools like PlanGrid, BIM 360 and Bluebeam Studio, the company finally settled on Fieldwire, Molly Raglani, Clark project executive, told Construction Dive in May. One of the features that sold Clark on the platform was the ability to use it on iPhones and other smartphones, relieving superintendents of the burden of carrying a larger iPad or tablet.
In response, PlanGrid said it has always offered its technology for all smartphones including iOS/iPhones and Android.
In addition, Raglani said, Fieldwire's interface was easy to navigate and users were able to complete tasks faster using the platform. Fieldwire's customer service, she said, was easy to reach and very responsive to Clark’s feedback. “If they could immediately integrate and push [changes] out, they would, and if it took a little more time, they would be very communicative about the whole process.”
Moore began digging into Fieldwire and learned it could also work for PDI. After piloting the platform on five or six of its projects, the company decided to make the leap.
One reason Fieldwire was so attractive, Moore said, was that it seemed like the app considers issues that are unique to subcontractors, particularly its task management feature, which he found to be a "robust" planning and productivity tool. "A lot of the technology out there seems to be geared toward a GC methodology," he said.
Tasks include everyday items that must be accomplished on most construction projects, and Fieldwire lets users track things like:
- Quality control issues
- Punchlist items
- Safety issues
- Requests for Information (RFIs)
- Change orders
- Work progress
- General communication between team members
"The task management feature is more day-to-day driven, less about plan management and more about the actual tasks at hand using plans as a backdrop for that," Moore said.
The team at Fieldwire also helped seal the deal. The tech company, Moore said, still has a small-company feel as far as working relationships go, and the people with which PDI needs to stay in touch are very accessible.
"We're a company that really thrives on relationships," he said.
And, despite the number of users, the transition hasn't been a difficult one, although the migration has seen about 30 to almost 60 projects shifted to the Fieldwire platform each weekend over a seven-week period.
The first groups to make the change and the pilot groups before it, he said, found Fieldwire to be user-friendly and a better fit for their day-to-day work flows.
Overall, Moore said, it's been a "super simple" transition, he said. The learning curve hasn't been very steep either. "[Fieldwire has] a very familiar look and feel for [users.]"
Perhaps most importantly, there has been no downtime during the transition, meaning that field personnel have been able to continue their jobs without interruption. "It wasn't a show-stopper at all," Moore said.
Ultimately, adopting a solution intended for the trades, he said, just made sense for PDI. "It's the subtleties that make the difference."