At Pinnacle/CSG, innovative use of information technology is not just an aspirational goal; it’s a core part of the company’s fiber. Visit this Florida-based construction management firm and you won’t see a lot of paper. Every area of the company, whether in the office or the field, is automated and connected by a well-oiled, integrated computer system.
True to the company’s focus on innovation and learning, advancement of its IT system is never at a standstill. “We’re constantly re-examining our processes and keeping a watch out for the latest technology developments that will help us do things even faster and better,” says chief visionary and president Cory McFarlane.
Case in point: Pinnacle/CSG was among the first contractors to use mobile tablets to improve communication on the job site. It also was an early adopter of building information modeling (BIM) as a way to identify potential construction issues. And the company recognized early on the importance of having a best-in-class accounting and job costing system to keep costs in check and serve as the core of its IT technology set.
That kind of IT commitment takes a team that is open to getting the most out of technology. McFarlane admits that finding the right people is one of his biggest challenges. “There are a lot of great construction people out there, but not many who also know how to use IT,” he says.
Contrary to what some might believe, it’s not necessarily the oldest workers who are slow to adopt technology. “I have some 60 plus year olds who can run circles around some younger workers when it comes to IT because they choose to embrace it,” he explains. “People who’ve been around awhile understand that technology can help them.”
Pinnacle/CSG also gains technology knowledge by recruiting at several colleges. Students fresh from school know a lot about IT, however, they usually know little about construction. The company helps these students bridge the gap by investing in the right amount of construction training. “We want them to be successful and the training helps us uncover what they do and don’t know, so we can help shore things up,” says McFarlane.
Young or old. Experienced or not. One thing is clear when talking with McFarlane: Anyone who wants to be part of the Pinnacle/CSG team has to want to learn and use technology.
The company also wants its clients to be open to new advancements. “We are IT heavy,” explains McFarlane. “We want clients that are going to take advantage of that and be part of the process.”
Today there are many project owners who expect and want a GC who uses technology. And for Pinnacle/CSG that’s where its IT infrastructure becomes a key part of their value as well as its bid strategy. Take, for example, how the company creates its estimates. The first pass is based on what a typical GC would need in terms of project engineers, superintendents, and support staff to complete a project. That provides a good understanding of what other GCs would bid. Then Pinnacle/CSG “sharpens its pencils” using its IT competitive edge. “We go through the estimate and cut what we don’t need because of the efficiencies we get from our IT,” explains McFarlane. “Then we submit the bid.” It’s just one of the reasons the company wins about one-third of the projects it bids on.
So will Pinnacle/CSG consider working with a client that isn’t open to technology? McFarlane’s answer is underscored by the wasteful steps and mistakes he knows a client’s manual processes can bring to a project: “Sometimes the best jobs are the ones you don’t take.”
About the Author
Deb Carpenter-Beck is a writer and marketer with more than 25 years of experience in the construction and real estate industries. She often writes about technology and best practices and is passionate about helping contractors and real estate professionals achieve their business goals. You can follow her on Twitter @DebCBConstruct.