the Site Visit

Building the Future: Embracing Software Innovation in the Construction Industry with Tim O'Brien, CEO at The Net Effect

May 09, 2024 James Faulkner
Building the Future: Embracing Software Innovation in the Construction Industry with Tim O'Brien, CEO at The Net Effect
the Site Visit
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the Site Visit
Building the Future: Embracing Software Innovation in the Construction Industry with Tim O'Brien, CEO at The Net Effect
May 09, 2024
James Faulkner

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Together with Tim O'Brien, CEO of The Net Effect, we tip our hard hats to Canadian tech innovation and give an honest review of SiteMax, the construction management platform that's changing the game for contractors everywhere. 

Strap on your tool belt for a deep dive into the complex world of construction software adoption. It's a terrain fraught with challenges, but with the right consultant, akin to an architect of the digital landscape, companies can erect a sturdy framework for tech integration. We take lessons from the pandemic, discussing how touchless technology became the scaffolding for maintaining compliance. Plus, we break down the blueprint for appointing a tech champion within your ranks, someone with the vision and drive to ensure that new software tools are not just purchased, but are fully embraced and utilized to their maximum potential.

The grand finale of this episode hoists the flag on the revolution of Software as a Service (SaaS). We analyze how SaaS is reconstructing the IT landscape, particularly in the contracting sector, liberating businesses from the heavy costs and complexities of maintaining physical servers. From cloud-based efficiency to offline capabilities, we walk you through the tangible benefits that SaaS solutions can bring to your operation. And let's not forget Building Information Modeling (BIM)'s role in modernizing project management, from 2D drawings to full-scale 3D models, paving the way for a smarter, more connected industry. Tune in to hear how technology is not just a tool but a cornerstone for building the future of construction.

PODCAST INFO:
the Site Visit Website: https://www.sitemaxsystems.com/podcast
the Site Visit on Buzzsprout: https://thesitevisit.buzzsprout.com/269424
the Site Visit on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/the-site-visit/id1456494446
the Site Visit on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/5cp4qJE5ExZmO3EwldN1HH

FOLLOW ALONG:
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/thesitevisit
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thesitevisit

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Together with Tim O'Brien, CEO of The Net Effect, we tip our hard hats to Canadian tech innovation and give an honest review of SiteMax, the construction management platform that's changing the game for contractors everywhere. 

Strap on your tool belt for a deep dive into the complex world of construction software adoption. It's a terrain fraught with challenges, but with the right consultant, akin to an architect of the digital landscape, companies can erect a sturdy framework for tech integration. We take lessons from the pandemic, discussing how touchless technology became the scaffolding for maintaining compliance. Plus, we break down the blueprint for appointing a tech champion within your ranks, someone with the vision and drive to ensure that new software tools are not just purchased, but are fully embraced and utilized to their maximum potential.

The grand finale of this episode hoists the flag on the revolution of Software as a Service (SaaS). We analyze how SaaS is reconstructing the IT landscape, particularly in the contracting sector, liberating businesses from the heavy costs and complexities of maintaining physical servers. From cloud-based efficiency to offline capabilities, we walk you through the tangible benefits that SaaS solutions can bring to your operation. And let's not forget Building Information Modeling (BIM)'s role in modernizing project management, from 2D drawings to full-scale 3D models, paving the way for a smarter, more connected industry. Tune in to hear how technology is not just a tool but a cornerstone for building the future of construction.

PODCAST INFO:
the Site Visit Website: https://www.sitemaxsystems.com/podcast
the Site Visit on Buzzsprout: https://thesitevisit.buzzsprout.com/269424
the Site Visit on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/the-site-visit/id1456494446
the Site Visit on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/5cp4qJE5ExZmO3EwldN1HH

FOLLOW ALONG:
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/thesitevisit
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thesitevisit

Speaker 1:

All right Tim, hello, hello, captain, net Effect Sure how are you doing today Great, really good.

Speaker 2:

It's a beautiful, sunny day, can't complain.

Speaker 1:

Trying to charge that car.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I may or may not be charging, I don't know, I plugged it in. I did the app but it seemed to stall out. But it's locked and in position so it might be free parking. It might be a $6 charge one of the two.

Speaker 1:

I borrowed my friend's Ford F-150 Lightning the other day Because I had to do a dump run and I'm like I don't know if I'm going to make it out to Tawasin. So I'm like, okay, well, why don't I go to the like? It was like a BC Hydro charge port thing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I'm like it was broken oh oh no, I did one recently in in swasson as well, as I was on my way to the island, uh, for the vancouver island construction association conference, and so I stopped. I had some time, I went early because I didn't want to get through rush hour and I thought I'll top up but one of the bc hydro ones, because it got a fast charge and yeah, it was super efficient, cheap, like that's the beauty of electric cars, right?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, cheap, cheap, all right. So we're going to talk about technology, adoption of technology, how to get that going, because this is what you guys do, yep, yeah, so let's do it. Okay, let's get in. Welcome to the Site. Visit Podcast. Leadership and perspective from construction With your host, James Baldwin.

Speaker 2:

Business as usual, as it has been for so long now that it goes back to what we were talking about before and hitting the reset button. You know, you read all the books, you read the email, you read Scaling Up, you read Good to.

Speaker 1:

Great, you know I could go on. We've got to a place where we found the secret serum.

Speaker 2:

We found the secret potion. We can get the workers in. We know where to get them.

Speaker 1:

Once I was on a job it took a little while and actually we had a semester concrete and I ordered a green finished patio out front of the site show I was down in Dallas and a guy just hit me up on LinkedIn out of the blue and said he was driving from Oklahoma to Dallas to meet with me because he heard the Faber Connect platform on your guys' podcast and we celebrate these values every single day. Let's get down to it. Let's just chat a little bit about you and the net effect and your organization company. Why'd you start this? What was the? What was? What problem did you see and what are you trying to solve out there? Because I know with SiteMax and us we have a partnership in terms of like a referral partnership.

Speaker 1:

It's not like you know we're, but we have a platform, as everyone knows SiteMax. But yeah, just maybe just let's chat a little bit about technology and why you started the NetEffect.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and we recommend SiteMax on a regular basis to our contractors when it's the right fit for them, and that's pretty regularly. So we know it's a great solid platform and love recommending that for sure. Thank you.

Speaker 2:

We also are very committed to our Canadian partners and SiteMax being a great Canadian partner, it ties in. I have a background with Sightmax from back when I was in construction about six or eight years ago. I'm terrible with time and dates, but so that that leads into my background. I come from construction. I owned a paving stone installation business for 15 years in Whistler, and in the winters I was doing snow clearing, and in the winters I was doing snow clearing, and in those winters I was also involved in a snowboard event business. And so and I'm still involved in snowboard event business and it's kind of a passion of mine I volunteer with BC Snowboard and then I work on their events throughout the province as a lead technical official.

Speaker 2:

And so in, you know, those days in Whistler it was perfect marriage of timing.

Speaker 2:

So I, you know, in the summers laying pavers had a crew of up to 12 or 15 at times for bigger commercial projects, and then in the winters the snow clearing looked after itself and I could go away for weekend or week at a time and work on snowboard events. So, um, uh, moved from that down to Squamish I was there for five years and then into Vancouver, where I am now for the past 15 years, but um, my time with um when I was running that business that's, that's the source of you know, you know my experience when I'm talking to contractors and trying to help them solve their problems. But I was an early adopter. I had Excel and Word templates for everything. I had a laptop in my pickup truck in the early 2000s, so this, I was on the leading edge. I had a little portable printer, you know the charging port, so I could. I could go and create a um, uh, an estimate for a client right on site and then have it printed out or an email to them, because not everybody had email in those days.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, send me a fax, exactly, didn't? I didn't bother with that. But, um, not only that, I had a, um, a Qualcomm phone that I connected to a Palm pilot Ah, the Palm pilot. And I was I'm pretty sure I was the first in the province, because the guys from Qualcomm were telling me no, you can hook up to the network. Telus doesn't have a what we call a data plan. This was before any of that, so I could get my email on my phone, on my Palm Pilot, through a connection, a wired connection, in this nice little leather binder that they sent me. Yeah, super rad. So I was on the front end.

Speaker 1:

Rad. Oh, that is a snowboarding term right there. Yeah, it's an old ladies one.

Speaker 2:

I will pull up snowboarding terms occasionally and it's funny we're in your address. Here is on 1080.

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, I immediately think snowboarding, isn't it 15,? What's it? 1540? Now, no, what's it called? What's it? Oh, it goes up to 17, something, is it?

Speaker 2:

I don't even know oh yeah, these guys are spinning like tops the skiers and the snowboarders. So I was an early adopter. When I moved to Vancouver, in Squamish in Vancouver, I started working. I left my paving stone business because I was doing more and more snowboard stuff, but I started working with Corona Excavations out of Whistler and they're a civil excavation company and so at that time they were looking for a digital solution because they were unhappy with well, the amount of time they were spending with tracking time tracking tasks, 50 employees. They had carbon copy booklets that they had printed off with their you know, with their logo on them and all of the details they wanted.

Speaker 2:

So they had triplicate and each employee had that little book and they were. And it was a huge pain in, you know, because they the amount of time one person had to spend entering all those into an Excel spreadsheet. Yeah, and then I can remember one very uncomfortable meeting where we were talking about um cashflow and and uh, invoicing and and the delay, because that system took too long to get the invoices out and so you're creating a huge gap in cashflow and we all knew that we needed a solution. But back then the number of solutions were very limited. Most of the timekeeping was direct, was meant for people working in a desk, right, so didn't get down to tasks, didn't include, you know, these guys wanted to track equipment and materials as well, so ended up hired a developer, built their own app. That app they still use it. It's great they're transitioning out of it.

Speaker 2:

Those guys who built that app wanted to bootstrap a. That company and um got in touch with me, asked me if I was interested in in uh selling it. So that was 2000. That was, um, you know, at the right just before covid. And then when covid hit. I started looking at it really seriously because wasn't going back to uh, wasn't going back to the job site and it was winter. So, understanding the landscape at the time, realized that a bootstrap company with that piece of software, with no investment, was not something that I was going to be able to. It wouldn't have sustained me, it would have been too much of a uphill fight. So started to realize, based on my experience with that, with Corona, that there was a need, trying to find the right software for contractors specifically that that's what I was, you know, cause that's my background but trying to find the right software was going to work best for your construction company was impossible. It was a monumental task. So that was the impetus between um to start the business.

Speaker 1:

Cool. Um, so when you had this, this idea for a company, that is, it's on a consultative basis. What are the key themes that you're finding out? There is the main problem and, additionally, is it predominantly sub-trades you're doing work for, or GCs as well, or what's the sort of blend?

Speaker 2:

We're across the board sub-trades, gcs, aec, architects, engineering firms we're working with them as well and, of course, they're quite different. We have some experts who have a good understanding of BIM so they look after when we're working with them, but the majority of our clients are well over 50% are subcontractors. What was our number? 28 staff on average. This is over the last 18 months, um, when we did an analysis, um, and around six to ten million in in falling there, so that was kind of that's the majority but we have a bunch of GCs as well, and and whether that's larger GCs or custom home builders- that sort of thing.

Speaker 2:

So we work with a good cross-section. So what we've been seeing is that there's a lot of there is a percentage adoption in some ways, but typically it's a very disparate tech stack. They have silos and they're reentering things and there's no communication between the different apps programs.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, okay. So when it comes to the digital transformation of construction in general, like why, in your opinion, is this taking so long?

Speaker 2:

So we have a.

Speaker 2:

There's a saying that we've been kind of coining recently and that is plumbers need pipes or pipes need plumbers, wires need electricians. Digital transformation needs consultants. So you keep trying to uh tackle a digital transformation. Trying to adopt new software is not as straightforward as it seems. You think. Okay, no problem, just going to work with the company as they to help with the onboarding, just going to work with the company to help with the onboarding. Typically most SaaS construction products that we work with, they have support, they have good. You know the bigger ones will have a vast YouTube content.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, like help centers and all that Help centers, all universities, training, et cetera.

Speaker 2:

That helps someone to function with the software and understand the software environment. That doesn't help with training your staff. Who's going to you know how are they going to deploy it, what's the best use case scenario, what's the best setup, Standard operating procedures, utilizing that software across your organization. And then you know, and on the front end, the data mapping and trying to understand where the connections need to be, what software needs to talk with the you know, the accounting software, how that's all going to play out and understanding that. So there's this long, long road of trying to adopt software and the research that we've seen the number was that we've seen is only, at best, 30% stick the softwares.

Speaker 1:

Oh, okay.

Speaker 2:

So that's from either KPMG, I can't remember, I can't quote which survey it was but it's pretty typical that digital adoption doesn't stick and a lot of that we feel is that it's due to the fact that there's no plan in place. I see, so, contractors, you know that you're not going to build a house without a set of blueprints, without plans, yeah, and then you create a Gantt chart of the schedule of when it's going to happen and what trade is going to come in when and when that's going to be deployed. A house doesn't just get magically built in a week, so trying to adopt software, you need a plan. So that's what we provide. We're kind of the architects and the engineers and then we help as kind of the GC to help build, enact that plan.

Speaker 1:

That's cool. So you know, I've been privy to this over the years of how these companies deploy software and I found that COVID, the big C word, really complicated everything, mostly because it turned into a soccer match. No one could touch anything with their hands. So the fact that it was, it had to be touchless, and that meant a piece of paper could not be handed around, clipboard could not be touched because it had to be sanitized. We're talking at the real crazy point of, like construction companies, because they were essential service, had to be really, really careful on compliance of health rules, otherwise their site would be shut down. Yeah, so that meant can't touch a piece of paper, can't touch a clipboard, yeah, and now, who is the technologist or the person who said that the QR code is the something of technology? It's like the worst thing ever. It's like the worst abomination of everything.

Speaker 2:

And then as soon as COVID hit, it was like everywhere but it accelerated adoption. Our Zoom meetings, podcasts, all of this stuff is all because things were accelerated, because we wanted to connect and needed to connect and needed to find better solutions, and it has. I believe it's helped.

Speaker 1:

You know, in a roundabout way it did, but I think that it contributes to this 30% stick number. Yeah, mostly because people rushed into it, because they felt they had to, and then they're like. And then they signed a long contract and they're like this is now we're not using it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we're not using it like we were. Yeah, you know and there's times you know with SightMax, that I will sometimes see a customer come in really quick, real. I will sometimes see a customer come in really quick, real, fast, yeah. Yeah, we want to sign, we want to do this, we want to bring this on, and sometimes I think I wonder is this going to work? Not because are they ready for the software? I know the software is ready for them, but are they ready for it? So, and you know, maybe talk a little bit about, as you see things rolling out, like when you go in on a consultative basis with a company, do you set up champions who are like that person, that key point of contact? Okay, so take us through that 100%, and what sort of characteristics that champion needs to have?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, so champion is important, because somebody's got to be on it every day making sure that you're doing the rollout. Everything's working If somebody isn't championing it, whether that's the owner or the operations director or whoever.

Speaker 1:

Who is it typically?

Speaker 2:

It varies, it really does vary.

Speaker 1:

Is it?

Speaker 2:

top brass doing it A lot of the time. It's yeah.

Speaker 1:

Or middle.

Speaker 2:

It's going to be top brass. They're going to say we need this.

Speaker 1:

Right, but then they'll assign. But that's the mandate.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's the mandate, and then they'll assign it to yeah, like a, you know, an operations manager or controller, something to that effect. And this is where our partnership with SiteMax and the NetEffect how important that is is that you guys have a great product but then building those plans for the adoption, because you can have a small company and if one or two people aren't using it, it's pointless. You know, if they got 10 people, it's going to be. You know it's going to have holes. Yeah, it's going to be, you know it's going to have holes. And then, with a larger organization, you need, first you need the champion and then you need to pick your key people within different crews or parts of the organization and we promote that.

Speaker 2:

So you find often Like micro champions, yeah, Micro champions, someone, typically a younger guy or girl, that is. You know, they're on the phone anyway. Tech savvy, they're tech savvy, they get it and then they can be the ones that's close to the other people on the crew and say you know, I don't want to have to phone the boss or the you know the operations director and tell him I don't know how to use this because it's embarrassing them. I don't know how to use this because it's embarrassing. But if you're standing next to the guy at lunch and he says, oh, yeah, yeah, this is how I use it and get those people to go around and train everybody over and over, and when they hear they're not, you know, oh, you didn't get your time on your tasks.

Speaker 2:

You know, entered today, you know, go over and ask hey, can I help you with this? I'll show you the technique I use to get it in quick and easy. Yeah, Because they don't want to ask sometimes, and when a single excavation company I worked with there was you know whether it was a guy in an excavator or a trucker maybe had a flip phone, you know, and you were going to do it for them, and then it was like their impetus to oh, I'm going to get to an iPhone, and they're oh, I'm not doing that, I'm going to stick with the paper, and then somebody would just plug it in for them. But then eventually they're like you know what, Once they got the iPhone and once they started doing it, they're like this is way easier.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So now you get those epiphanies in there, the aha moments, and so yeah, across the board. Once it, once it's established amongst the entire organization, then you're in business, then you can increase the usability, increase the amount of data you're you're pulling in from the, from the field, you know, and so now you have all those data collection points. It's unbelievable. You can't have the accounting team plugging that in, because there's only two or three or five. There's only so many people in the office they don't actually know what's going on in the field. So, getting those people in the field and getting them on board, and then you have that huge data input coming in in real time. It's revolutionary.

Speaker 1:

This podcast is brought to you by SiteMax, the complete job site management platform built for construction. So, whether you're a GC or a sub trade, this platform will help you get control and give you visibility on your job site. If you have multiple apps in the field and want to consolidate down to one simple app so your people can just get back to building, sitemax is for you, and also if you've been in a large construction software platform and you're just finding you're not using it all and maybe it's costing you too much money and you need to be more agile in your business decisions, then SiteMax is also a choice for you.

Speaker 1:

So if you're looking for a change, book a demo at sitemaxcloud and let one of their fantastic people be there to help you through your software needs, again that is sitemaxcloud. Now let's get back to the episode. What complexity do you see with the bring your own device? I mean, how much harder does that for rollout in terms of how new the OS is on the device, how powerful that device is, how much data they have, and how are companies tackling how much data the employee, for instance, is utilizing on their phone? And then also, I've seen this sort of oh, I don't like the big brother thing Is this app doing this to me? You?

Speaker 2:

know on my spare time, is it?

Speaker 1:

you know? Because often there's geolocation on an app and most people I mean I know, because I'm a technologist I know that the phone's going to ask me hey, do you want to do this while using the app, or never, or whatever it is, but you have to say, while using the app right, but there are other companies that have the while using the app and other platforms, like Android sometimes, where it is actually doing that still yeah.

Speaker 1:

So there's a lot of myths out there that can cloud the perception of what that field worker might trust or not trust with a rollout.

Speaker 2:

Well, I'm not a technologist. I like to think of myself as like just came off the tools and more management, and I'm not the IT guy.

Speaker 1:

And that's my strength I understand a lot of it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you do, but I don't have a intricate. You know a really in-depth understanding and knowledge. But just want to make that clear because I'm not going to tell you that he needs an API or something. I barely even know what an API is. But, yeah, there is some resistance. I think the amount of resistance is nominal, you know, single digit percentage. Uh, and where we go with our um direction or advice to our clients about um, data usage and privacy, et cetera, is is always based on the comfort level of the of the organization, um and of the individuals on their team. If you have a, you know a bunch of guys that are are not super stoked on you doing that every day, well then, maybe someone else on their team is going to monitor them and use their phone and and and manage that for them. Uh, and then we know that data doesn't cost a lot anymore.

Speaker 2:

It's not like it was 10 years ago, you know 10 years ago there was a consideration and we had, you know, temporary foreign workers from Australia or somewhere else who, yeah, they'd had pay as you go, so they weren't doing it. So maybe you have a central location everybody returns to, maybe you have offline mode as soon as they get back on it's Wi-Fi. You have different levels of trust within your organization. The whole geofencing and geolocation. I think geofencing is one thing, so you can't log in until you're in within that radius on the job site. You know that's great data and that's important, but there, with um, a lot of companies I work with, there's a bunch of trust but as you get bigger and bigger and the and you lose contact with the layers you know the laborers and you don't really know them.

Speaker 2:

And then you don't. There's a lack of trust, like then you want to geolocate geofence or what have you. That's understandable, but it yeah, you've got to deal with it on a case-by-case basis and whatever the comfort level is based on, you know, for those employees in that organization, you know.

Speaker 1:

I was looking at this app that on the surface it seems great and it might be in the future, but it was constantly pinging the location of the field worker and that destroys the battery life. Yeah, Well, I mean it doesn't like wreck the sorry, I shouldn't say the battery life the days. How much battery is going to last for the day? Yeah, like your battery would be toast within three or four hours, if you've got a, two or three-year-old iPhone you're worried about it. You're not making it, yeah.

Speaker 2:

So you have to turn those things off a lot of the time.

Speaker 1:

So those services need to come with, like. It can't be a bring your own device situation because you're not going to have any. You're going to need, like, a device plan that you worker. So what tips do you have for companies to make the leap from, let's say, the carbon copy or the Excel sheet or the I don't know what else you see out there, but what tips do you have for them to how they can make the leap to cloud platforms and to mobile Like? What are the main selling points that you talk to companies about? Or do they come to you saying I want to do something, we need help. Or sometimes are you convincing people they need to change.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, there's a we all know in the business. We know there's a big revolution happening right now with software and SaaS and I was in a meeting I think it was probably four years ago with a senior marketing VP here in Vancouver who worked for SaaS companies and I said you know, I kept talking about SaaS.

Speaker 2:

He's like no, no, tim, it's SaaS, software as a service. So I tell you, I'm not a technician, so he brought me up to speed on that whole idea of SaaS. Now, software as a service is not something that's stored in the cloud. It's actually in the. It is the cloud, it's on a web browser. So this software is.

Speaker 2:

you're basically renting it monthly or yearly and it lives on a web browser and it isn't necessarily an app and the app usually is just a gateway to a web browser and sometimes it's an app. But software as a service is the revolution and it there's ways around. Obviously we have clients sometimes who are out of they're out of cell service, but they have offline mode and then you know as soon as they're back into cell service or Wi-Fi it's on. That is the revolution. So that when I talked about the data collection points, that was huge. But about the data collection points, that was huge. But then the software as a service and not having to update your software it's accounting software is the last ones to get on board.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, because everyone's got these legacy records and they don't want to do with them and their accountants are bean counters and, as a result, have very deep pockets but very short arms and they can't get their hands all the way to the bottom of their pockets because they're cheap and they they like. Oh no, I bought that software, I have the software to do it.

Speaker 2:

I know, I've heard, I've heard this, I bought, we bought, already bought this we bought the software it's like, okay, but that's not up to speed and it's not, you know, in real time and it doesn't have. You know the updates aren't constant and you have to get an update every whatever it's. That is the dinosaur. Your server in your office costs you more per year to maintain and to when you have to purchase a new one. Just if you get on the cloud, everything is. That's the revolution. Because on your phone that's a data collection point. You're all your employees are punching in the data. Because on your phone it's a data collection point. All your employees are punching in the data Visibility for everybody across the board, and it's always being updated and improved.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So I don't remember the original question, but the way I look at it is that it's like what tips do you have For us is helping contractors understand that, that old legacy software that lives on a server, the on-prem stuff, the on-premise stuff and you have your MSP, which I only just last year understood what that was the managed service provider. So that's your IT guy that comes in and like, physically sets up the server in the closet or wherever it is, and then has all your networked and blah, blah, blah. Now you just need access to a website and you need to get on the internet and that's it, and so that has frees you up from that, and that's the revolution. That software is constantly being improved and it's being improved at an exponential rate and it's leaving that old legacy software in the dust. It's, it's stuck in a server, in an office. It's not improving. But all the new software is and the UX, ui is another term that I learned not too long ago your user experience and your user interface and how easy it is to utilize that stuff and what the look and the feel is and how easy it is to navigate that old software from 10, 20, 30 years ago in the beginning you know the early 2000s it was expensive.

Speaker 2:

Only the big boys could afford it. They had to have a big IT department and a big IT infrastructure and accounting teams, and that is a lot of you know midsize organizations. Still the older guys think, oh, if I'm going to get technology, it's going to cost because of the infrastructure. I'm going to have to have an IT guy on board. That isn't the way anymore. Small contractors, you can access great software at a price that isn't going to break the bank, but it's going to pay for itself. The ROI, the return on that investment, is tenfold every time. Sitemax is one of those softwares that is accessible to small contractors, mid-sized contractors, and they're going to see benefits from it right away. And so I know I'm. That's a shameless plug for you guys but it's a fact.

Speaker 1:

I'm blushing.

Speaker 2:

These are facts, yeah, and that's so. That's the. You can see how excited I get about it. I can, because I know it's going to help contractors. Yeah, no matter what size.

Speaker 1:

You know? There I can relate to this. I bought this software because I originally bought the Adobe Suite yeah, okay, and it was like a thousand bucks, yeah, I remember buying it. So I had Illustrator, photoshop, dreamweaver, all that stuff. And then it went to Adobe Creative Cloud. So Adobe Creative Cloud now is a monthly subscription and it's like 84 bucks a month, yeah, per user, but you get all their new stuff.

Speaker 2:

I don't have yeah.

Speaker 1:

And it and because they have a little Mac widget, it like updates the all the software for you. You don't have to sit there and, you know, load a bunch of DVDs in and try and load these in. Remember that, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Or CDs. Cds and DVDs CD-ROM yeah. Cd-rom yeah. Or CDs.

Speaker 1:

CDs and DVDs CD-ROM. Yeah, cd-rom. But so I can totally relate to if somebody's bought, like a Sage, for instance, or Timberline Yep, they went and bought that and then they're like well, we spent thousands on this, we spent thousands in our server room yada yada, yada, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And then they're like, okay, well, are we going to ditch this now and go to like Sage Intact, is that what we're going to do? But it doesn't have. All the problem is is that what Adobe has done? Well, is that not only does it do what it did before, it does even more, because it's actually not the web version. So what has what has happened to that company, for example, is the Canva canvas of the world have come and just decimated this adobe illustrator experience.

Speaker 1:

Right because it's all web, yeah, all online, right yeah and then you know um, also sketch and figma, those are the, the companies that made the ui for, for software. Right, that's where you, that's where you generate the, the ui right, right so these are these programs.

Speaker 1:

You do layout and that kind of stuff. But you know this whole cloud experience, rather than having an installed program, that's on your hard drive, it is as you say. It is changing everything. But you know, like for instance, at SiteMax, like what we're continuously doing is we are updating that software all the time based on customers' feedback In the background, in the background, in the background, and our commitment to our customer is to make sure that that thing is evolving over time. Yeah, like you know, we you talked about time earlier.

Speaker 1:

Now, time is crazy, Like anybody. What we notice is we see websites of people that say that they do something similar to what Sitemax does and I'm not trying to plug us, but it's just an example is you could say you do that thing, but do you really do it Like time? I can take time. I can say okay, tim, you worked six hours here and then you worked another two hours overtime Okay, and it's this cost code Great here. And then you worked another two hours overtime Okay, and it's this cost code Great, done, all right. But on the backend I've got to now make a payroll report that now has a union rate on it and has over this amount of overtime within a whole week. It's now time and a half. I mean there's all these calculations. That transcends by miles, capturing time Capturing time is easy. Processing and outputting time is very, very difficult to do in multiple regions.

Speaker 2:

We see a lot of that where you go to a website, you check the software and it tells you it has a checklist of all the things it does yeah, modules, yeah. And so four years ago, when I started evaluating software, we realized that those checklists are just checklists and they don't necessarily do them well. And there's a lot of ERP softwares enterprise resource planning softwares which is all-encompassing Mainly it's typically an accounting software and they say, oh yeah, we do vehicle maintenance and we do time and we do all the things, we do safety, everything. Recently I purchased a new printer and I don't know if you've ever purchased a printer from Costco and it's $78 or whatever, and it's a scanner and the ink's $400.

Speaker 2:

Yeah it's a scanner, it's a printer and it's a copier. It doesn't do any of them really well, but if you get a printer, it prints, it prints and prints and prints, and it's still cheap. So you don't want to Swiss army knives that do absolutely everything most of the time. You know it's not a good knife. It's, it has a, it has a knife, it's sufficient, right, but the trying to find a software is is similar is and trying to find something that said you know it can tick a box, yeah, it's got a corkscrew, yeah, it does time tracking. But in the end, what are you looking to do? And that's where an evaluation of the company's needs is important.

Speaker 2:

Understanding, okay, what, what is your, what is your standard operating procedures, what are your workflows and what are the things that you really do? And I was talking to a custom home builder just yesterday and I said our next session, we're going to sit down, we're going to get a online tool and we're going to have all the little boxes and we're going to connect the boxes of your workflows. I want to know, from the time you meet with your first client, your client, how you produce the. You know the quotes for them and the pricing, and then how do you manage the job and how do you report to them every month and how, like?

Speaker 2:

Let's go through your workflows, because once you have that discovery and you understand what it is your needs are, then you can start to evaluate software and say, here's my software needs evaluation. Here are the things that I have to have, here are the things that are nice to have, but here's the workflow that we're going to undertake. And what software ticks all those boxes but doesn't tick all the other boxes? We don't need those other. So let's just look at the functionality that we actually need and how to get it from front end to back end and efficiently. So that's a big part of what we do is trying to find the right solution that fits with a contractor, that in whatever, whether they're GC or they're specialty trades, whether they're residential, whether they're commercial yeah, and I have a. We have a grid that I've done on Miro.

Speaker 1:

It's a nice little piece yeah, miro, yeah, I love Miro, love Miro yeah.

Speaker 2:

I get lost in Miro. Talk about rabbit hole, yeah.

Speaker 1:

The zoom out can be oh yeah, yeah, wow, I'm making this looks so small, zoomed out, yeah.

Speaker 2:

And then, well, we, I make a grid where it's like residential, commercial, yeah, and then, um, uh, sub, trade and gc and we slide the the different. I have a little, you know, you pull the logo from the website and I drop them in there, and so, for all of our team, they, when they start working with a new client board they got a mirror board and we go to it and you go.

Speaker 2:

These are the ones that work best. Doesn't mean that that doesn't work for you know another area, but it's best suited for this. You guys are kind of like right in the middle, yeah Right.

Speaker 1:

It's true, it's like a Venn diagram.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, in the Venn diagram you're in the middle.

Speaker 1:

So there and there's a bunch that are kind of crowded in the middle and some are better and others, but then that's just kind of like ballpark first, to where to start, and so that's that's a great tool for that process. Yeah, so I was just thinking, you know, on the pre-call that we had, you know, typically, you know we do this with a guest like yourself. You know, we talked about BIM a little bit and we were talking about why is everything taking so long? And I think you and I sort of came across haphazardly of an observation, which is when you have to retro an old project, you might not have a BIM model, all you have is old drawings. You go pull them from a city. You need to get those old plans right. You might have to contact the old architect. So would you say that Warhol is going to be one foot in the past, just based on the fact of what type of work it is, because of that inherently, yeah, based on the fact of what type of work it is.

Speaker 2:

Because of that inherently, yeah, on top of that, you know, the construction's been slow to change. They're not on the leading edge of adopting new technology. And we talk about BIM and it's so deep and it's so, you know, it looks like the future, but it's kind of here and it's going to, you know, trickle down into home building. Yeah, but at this point obviously it's a lot of paper plans out there and two dimensional and and um, you know, guys who build things with their hands can envision that and they can see it.

Speaker 2:

Um, homeowners, you give them a two-dimensional plan. No way, they have no idea. So there's some great tools that are starting to get down to the consumer level. They're working in, you know, in bigger projects. Of course. They're there now.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, they kind of have to.

Speaker 2:

And it's great. Yeah, the bigger projects, the big AEC stuff, the ICI stuff has got to be and, like I drove past on the way here, the um, the new, uh, vancouver General Hospital is out.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, is that it? Well, it's New St Paul's. Yeah, st Paul's, massive.

Speaker 2:

Eh, holy crap, it's big they got to have it, the amount, and behind the walls is you know, you got to have the, you know clash detection and have that modeling. Yeah, but you know, I'd like, I'm interested to know and see how they manage all of the subs of that, all the subs and all the different information, and how that information gets passed over and transferred. And what are the protocols for, you know, markups and changes and and all the submittal packages, oh Like for markups and changes and all the submittal packages.

Speaker 2:

I mean those have got to be 2D drawings. Yeah, those engineers and project managers got their work cut out for them. Those kinds of projects I find absolutely fascinating.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean so I think it was. You know we were. There's this statistic that I think is like is like high 90% of jobs and construction revenue is not that stuff, it's all the other stuff.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you know we did some digging into StatsCan and the number of contractors. In Canada there's about 150,000 contractors and 130,000 of them are SMEs. They're small and they're under. I think the majority over 100 are under 10 million a year. So they're doing a vast majority of the work, particularly all the small stuff and even into the big stuff where the sub-trades get dragged into the bigger projects. You got one big sub-trade will do all the small stuff and even into the big stuff where the sub-trades get dragged into the bigger projects.

Speaker 2:

right, you got a one big sub-trade will do all the you know whether it's the mechanical or the excavation or whatever it is, but they got to. They pull in other subs in the same industry. So there's a huge number, huge number of subs that are um and and small builders that are doing this and are not up to speed, and that's why there is so much opportunity for software to infiltrate across the board and really improve the construction industry in Canada, and that's one of our mandates is to help lift the construction industry into new technology and make our Canadian construction industry more efficient.

Speaker 1:

Well, it seems like you're doing a good job at it.

Speaker 2:

We're doing our best but, it's one contractor at a time, exactly, so it takes time. Well, that's cool, so I got the big question.

Speaker 1:

Sure, I got the big question. Sure, in terms of software and software adoption, what are we not talking about in construction that we should be talking?

Speaker 2:

about. I might turn that around, okay, and say what are we talking about? And that isn't necessarily it's. So, going back to the idea that we're talking about AI, you know, and that's a big part of what we're looking at in BIM, but those are and those are, you know, in the magazines, you know in the AUC magazines what are we going to do with AI and how's that going to affect? We've still got people on carbon copy, you know, and Excel spreadsheets. That's the big part is just getting the software and getting the contractors trained up and utilizing good software. Now, that's the first part. Let's get past that hurdle, because that's a big hurdle.

Speaker 1:

Like moving the floor of the lowest common denominator Exactly, move it up.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and then AI will start to.

Speaker 1:

Then we can do some stuff.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, ai is going to start filtering down. Bim is going to start filtering down. It's starting at the top because it's got to be deployed somewhere early, although I think BIM is going to move a whole ton faster than we can imagine.

Speaker 1:

Like the same way. Yeah, we're getting ready for it.

Speaker 2:

We're right on the front edge. Remember when the you know, in the early 2000s, when the internet was first oh my God, god, there's so much out there and you couldn't act. And it, and then it, just you know bell, you know you know, parabolic growth, yeah, and, and now it's so.

Speaker 2:

You know we look at how quickly we can access information. I think we're, you know, I'm looking, we're looking at ai right now and seeing that that is that's the new thing, and where is it going to go, how, how will it impact everything we do, and how quickly is it going to impact how we utilize our, the software? In the industry so that's, I don't know, that's not. That's not what everybody's talking about or not talking about. I think we are, but what we're not talking about.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, just goes back to the. I think that there's an understanding or a belief that you know successful companies that are 50 or 100 million and they got hundreds of employees are up to speed. There's a lot out there that are not up to speed and need help with software desperately.

Speaker 1:

Well, you guys are the ones to help them. So how do people get in touch with you?

Speaker 2:

Website is TheNetEffectca? Okay, and I'm Tim at TheNetEffectca. That's pretty straightforward.

Speaker 1:

And then on LinkedIn and.

Speaker 2:

LinkedIn. Yeah, find us on LinkedIn. All those places, the usual stuff.

Speaker 1:

Just ask your AI bot to get in touch with me and I'm sure they'll give you the location of my house Perfect, just what you need. Yeah, all right. Well, this has been awesome, tim, thank you very much. Super good, thank you for having me. I really enjoyed it. Yeah, well, that does it for another episode of the Site Visit. Thank you for listening. Be sure to stay connected with us by following our social accounts on Instagram and YouTube. You can also sign up for our monthly newsletter at sitemaxsystemscom slash the site visit, where you'll get industry insights, pro tips and everything you need to know about the Site Visit podcast and SiteMax, the job site and construction management tool of choice for thousands of contractors in North America and beyond. Sitemax is also the engine that powers this podcast. All right, let's get back to building.

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