When you’re working on jobs that have as many as 27,000 activities and 134 schedule revisions, as Built On Vision has, you understand why having the only cloud-based calculation engine in the industry is so valuable.
Consider that nearly all big construction projects either miss deadline or go over budget, or both. Then consider that the dominant project management software came out well before cloud computing or even the internet was a part of daily life, and that there are limitations on how much that software can be expanded. Given that, it’s easy to understand why Built On Vision co-founder and CEO Michael Saddik sees an industry ripe for disruption. When you’re working on jobs that have as many as 27,000 activities and 134 schedule revisions, as Built On Vision has, you understand why having the only cloud-based calculation engine in the industry is so valuable. Saddik sat with BOSS and detailed how far Built On Vision’s software has come and where it’s going.
Project Management for the Cloud Era
Years ago, Saddik and some business partners got together to work on a scheduling application that expanded on the capabilities of Primavera, the dominant software in construction that came out in 1983 and was acquired by Oracle in 2008. The partners all had strong construction backgrounds, and Saddik had a technology platform they could build code on top of. They raised some capital, got to work, and in nine months had a state-of-the-art web-based scheduling application.
Then multinational software giant Autodesk came calling and ended up acquiring the application. For investors realizing a fast and good-sized return on their investment, the sale was a no-brainer. But for Saddik and a couple of others, the goal didn’t stop there. There was more work to be done, and room to build an even better project management platform. As soon as their non-competes expired, they set about doing just that.
“What we did this time was build something that you add onto Primavera, and it did everything Primavera couldn’t do,” Saddik said.
The “secret sauce” is that they built the only cloud-based calculation engine in the industry. Also unique to BOV One is a language translation feature, added out of necessity when a client is Sweden sent over a project schedule in Swedish. These two aspects make the app and the valuable information therein available in real time all over the world, a groundbreaking development.
Just as important as those enhancements is the fact that the people building the app and writing the code are also exemplary of the people using it.
“Our architects actually run the schedule, so they know exactly what they need,” Saddik said. “This is the other part of our secret sauce. They’re building the product that they want.”
Because the people developing the code know the kinds of features end users in the field want, they focused on things that save time and money. Activities on a construction project have to happen in the right order, and when somebody doesn’t complete their task, it holds up others. Those holdups start to cost money, and somebody has to pay.
“How do you document that to figure out who to charge? Because a large job has an owner, which is the person putting the job out for work, then it has the prime contractor, and then it could have 100 (subcontractors). They’re all vying for their piece,” Saddik said.
So Built On Vision tracks things that are out of sequence. It track dangling activities. It tracks churn. It tracks all the things that could lead to a financial dispute after the job is finished. Because they started BOV One from the back end, those forensics are a game-changer.
“If there’s an area where we are second to none, hands down, it’s on the forensic side,” he said. “We will dominate anyone because of how we look at things.”
On large products that take years to complete, the schedule is constantly being updated. Built On Vision’s software incorporates those updates and the calculation engine forecasts completion dates. It’s “a crystal ball for construction,” as Constructech Magazine put it.
The product, really, is the data. Weather patterns are obviously different in different parts of the country. Incorporating weather forecasts to minimize the amount of time expensive equipment is sitting idle makes a big difference to the bottom line. So does buying steel at the right time and the right price.
Better data leads to better decisions. Better decisions lead to projects finished on time and on budget, which means more profit.
Not Just A Construction Play
In order to take on the dominant players in the space, “we realized we couldn’t be as good,” Saddik said. “We had to better, or else why would anybody use it?”
With that in mind, BOV One does more calculation, faster and more accurately, than any other project management software, he said.
“We created the first ever cloud-based half-step calculation which is an expert level project analysis tool that allows the management team to identify if a delay was caused by a logic changes or productivity rates.”
That led to a zero-step calculation, custom reporting, and innovations in importing and exporting schedules and entire schedule databases. Built On Vision built in financial reports that marry the finance and time aspects of a job. This helps contractors accurately predict the project’s cash flow and when it’s expected to be profitable.
“The hard part in doing this is you have to have a deep industry knowledge to know what to build,” he said. “And the calculation engine is hard to build, super hard to build.”
In subsequent phases of development, Built On Vision aims to build an entire scheduling app without Primavera, with BOV at the center. There will be advanced resource management and advanced scheduling, including a process for managing requests for information (RFIs), a major pain point for builders. The next phase will include document management and lookahead schedules.
“Instead of a contractor needing five applications to run their schedule, we’re looking for them to do it all out of one,” he said. “We’re building the product that we wish existed.”
All that data will be valuable to builders. It will be valuable to insurance companies pricing bonds on construction jobs. It will be valuable in ESG terms because more efficient construction is more environmentally friendly.
“Although this may look like it’s just a construction play, it is far from a construction play,” Saddik said.
But it’s pretty good at that, too.