“The Champions program is great... I'm on first name basis with the person on the other end. They already have a deep knowledge of our environment.”
- Mark Jones, Construction Technology Manager, E&B Paving, Inc.
From its base in Anderson, Indiana, E&B Paving, LLC provides world-class solutions to customers throughout the state of Indiana and northern Kentucky.
The company offers a range of services including heavy highway road construction, municipal resurfacing, residential and commercial development, parking lots, airport runways, taxiways, asphalt milling, concrete flatwork and curbs, bridge, and grade and drain operations.
A long-time user of HCSS products, including HeavyBid and HeavyJob, the company some years ago named Mark Jones to be its Construction Technology Manager.
As E&B Paving has grown over the years through organic growth and acquisitions, Jones has focused on ensuring that the company's estimators, superintendents, and foremen, maximize the value to be found in its HCSS products.
E&B Paving is an early participant in the HCSS Champions program, which provides direct and personalized product support for individuals tasked with driving the use of HCSS products. Jones is a knowledgeable power user of HeavyBid estimating and bidding software, HeavyJob project management software that provides digital timecards, Equipment360 shop management software, and HCSS Telematics real-time fleet tracking. As a participant in the HCSS Champions program, he has direct access to elevated-tier product support whenever he has a question.
"They already know exactly what products we have and how we are using them, so no preliminary questions are required," Jones says. "We can dive right in."
Jones values the HCSS Champions program because it mirrors his own ongoing efforts to create internal champions for specific HCSS products across all of E&B Paving's operational sites.
Champions Program Overview
The HCSS Champions program adds increased value to a company by channeling multiple resources to their designated product champion. The program suggests new uses of HCSS software that highly impact operating efficiency.
Program benefits include:
- An HCSS support team that is acclimated to a company's environment during onboarding, which leads to a better understanding of the organization's infrastructure and unique business practices.
- Training agenda tailored specifically to the company based on case analytics and business needs.
- Additional resources provided include custom scripts, macros, and spreadsheets to help drive company efficiency.
- Custom how-to documentation is created to teach the use of features within the software in a way that is unique to the business.
- Learning plans and existing content can be tailored to custom playlists that only contain the features relevant to the business practices.
One of the goals of the Champions Program is to aid participants in creating their own internal champions to ensure maximum benefits are enjoyed from their HCSS product suite.
Best Practices for Developing Internal Champions
Drawing from his own experience of introducing HCSS products to E&B Paving and ensuring users draw the full benefits from the products to maximize productivity profitability, Jones has developed a set of best practices, including:
- Prepare Before Deployment. E&B Paving had previously tried other estimating software products, but with poos success. Estimators continued to use their own spreadsheets and other products they were accustomed to. Jones, who was given responsibility for rolling out HCSS HeavyBid, was so impressed with what the product could do, he wanted to ensure that it was successfully adopted throughout the company. "We didn't want this to be like the other estimating programs that we bought and then nobody took the time to learn and embrace," Jones says. "So we took six months of testing and setup before we did our training, we rolled it out live and told everybody at that point this was the one solution we would all be using."
- Create Internal Champions for Each Office. With multiple locations, E&B Paving created an internal product champion for each location. "We chose one person in every office to make them the product champion for that office," Jones says. "For HeavyBid, we try to pick a person that's an experienced estimator, somebody that's kind of seen everything, and could appreciate what we could accomplish using HeavyBid."
- Continuing Support of Internal Champions. The internal champions program worked so well that E&B Paving continues to use it on each HCSS product it introduces. Part of their champions effort is continual communication, as well as sending internal champions to the annual HCSS Users Group Meeting (UGM), a three-day event of multi-track tranings in Texas. " I choose the classes that they attend during the event to help make sure we maximize the value of attending," Jones says. "I'm there too and when we get back, we all write a summary of what we've learned, and how our operations can benefit from that, which we then share with senior management. There's a vast amount of knowledge to gather at the HCSS User Group events."
- Create Your Codebook Before Deployment. E&B Paving knows the value of having a precise codebook to support the bidding process. As part of its pre-deployment planning for rolling out HCSS HeavyBid, Jones gathered all of the company's activity code and item code pricing information into a consolidated codebook that seamlessly integrates with HeavyBid.
- Treat Your Codebook as a Living Document. "Your codebook needs to be a living, breathing, document," Jones says. "The states are always changing specs on how you get paid. We have new technology, the materials that we use change. The way that we go about looking at jobs change." Additionally, Jones is always listening to the company's estimators across locations. "Sometimes our estimators will say, 'Hey, I've got a better idea on how we could put this bid together.' I'm in the middle of doing a major bid item codebook revision right now, because you have to stay up on this because when you are bidding, you're only as good as the data you have."
- Take Advantage of HeavyBid & HeavyJob Automations. Creating automations within HeavyBid or HeavyJob reduces time filling in data. For example, E&B Paving uses master estimates to provide a template for creating a new project, import and export DoT data, and has created automations to populate a bid with known activities and resources from its codebook. "Automations built into HCSS products save time and also ensure continuity across bidding activities," Jones says.
- Create Short Videos for Training. Jones has created about three dozen short training videos- just a couple of minutes each-for new employees to reference when learning. For example, exactly how E&B Paving wants them to fill out timecards using HeavyJob. "The videos are especially helpful when we hire a foreman in the middle of the season, meaning he hasn't gone through the formal training we do in the winter," Jones says. "We can give them HeavyJob on a tablet, and if he has any questions, he can immediately go to the step-by-step videos."
- Encourage Greater Use of the Products. Something E&B prides itself in is maximizing the value it pulls from its HCSS products- including the tight integration between its products. Jones makes a point of pushing for greater utilization of the products during training. "Last winter, during one of our trainings, I drew a diagram of our accounting system, HeavyBid, HeavyJob, Equipment360, and Telematics, and I had arrows going back and forth," Jones says. "And I asked the question: 'What's the most touched program we have?' People looked at the diagram and they said, 'Well, it's HeavyJob.' I said 'Yep! HeavyJob interacts with all of these programs.' But some people look at it as just a method of getting timecards in from the field and exported to payroll, It's so much more than that. You can use HeavyJob to look at your costs, look at your production history, and then take that 30 days' worth of work and export it into our pay system and crank out a bill in five minutes. HeavyJob provides so much time savings. We also bring HeavyJob data into HeavyBid to true up our costs." Jones provides another example of product integration: "With Equipment360, when one of our mechanics pulls up a piece of equipment that has HCSS Telematics he can see the location of where that piece of equipment is. Also, the data coming in from HeavyJob will show the job that it was last used on as well as the foreman that had that piece of equipment."
- Encourage Use of HCSS Support. HCSS is famed for the quality of its product support, so Jones encourages employees to make good use of it. "Sometimes people think that the helpline is my cell number, so when they call with a question, I'll say: 'What did HCSS recommend?' They'll say" 'Well, didn't call them.' I'll say: 'Give HCSS a call and let me know what you learn.' HCSS has very strong product support," Jones says. "Once people get used to making that connection you don't hear from them again unless it is an extraordinary circumstance. So it is important to make that hand-off from you is the one they call to HCSS Product Support."
Old habits can die hard. When integrating new acquisitions, Jones has found excellent estimators who were still using spreadsheets, calculators, and paper to assemble bids. Bringing everyone on board using the same set of tools brings enormous benefits in both efficiency and the ability to win bids without leaving too much on the table. Creating a set of internal champions helps ensure everyone is maximizing the benefits available from the powerful family of HCSS applications.
E&B Paving has found a number of benefits through participation in the HCSS Champions program, including a direct line to top-tier support, great products, boost to productivity and profitability, champions in the field, and precision bidding.
Direct Line to Top-Tier Support
While HCSS is famous throughout the industry for its exceptional product support, Jones values the direct line he has to top-tier support, where he has dedicated resources where everyone is on a first-name basis. HCSS provides a Champions program for HeavyBid, HeavyJob, Equipment360, and Telematics.
"I've been using HeavyBid for more than eight years, and know HCSS products so well that when I have a question it tends to be very specific and often technical," Jones says. "The Champions program is great because I have a dedicated number to call. I'm on first name basis with the person on the other end. They already have a deep knowledge of our environment and operations so we can go directly to whatever question I might have."
Products Worth Championing
Jones has long found that HCSS products are worth championing. He recalls the time back in 2012, when an area manager for E&B Pavings' Noblesville office, that the company's president visited him and asked: "If there was one thing I could do to help you with your job, what would it be?" Jones replied, "We need an estimating system." "At the time we were using an Excel program that I helped develop, and every time Excel changed, we lost functionality," Jones says. "There was no way of getting data in a database, and there were too many opportunities for errors."
The president asked him to research the market and come back with three quotes.
"We evaluated HCSS HeavyBid and products from two others," Jones says. "We did a return on investment, and decided HeavyBid was the software that we should use. Someone noted that it was the highest bid. I replied: 'You get what you pay for.' Since then, I've seen other companies that first went with a low bid, later switch to HCSS. HeavyBid, plus the integration with HeavyJob is a powerful combination."
Some years later, E&B Paving wanted to ensure standardization on HCSS products across their operations. Jones was named the company's Construction Technology Manager to lead that effort.
"A lot of people hear my title and assume I'm involved with IT," Jones says. "But my focus is completely on helping the company maximize the benefits of using HeavyBid, HeavyJob, Equipment360, and HCSS Telematics, as well as some of the other technology we use in the field such as UTS controls."
Jones enjoys seeing how others embrace HCSS products and become champions in their own areas. "Our Equipment Manager has really taken an interest in Equipment360 and has worked with his mechanics to get them up to speed," Jones says. "He says his field mechanics are using Equipment360 in more ways than he ever anticipated."
The company has similarly embraced HCSS Telematics, finding new ways to derive benefits from it.
"We started using Telematics to track equipment that might be stolen-such as backhoes and skid-steers-and saw return on that," Jones says. "We also use Telematics to ensure all hours of use are pulled into the correct timecards. We then expanded our usage into trucks, and we've got Telematics units on all of our mechanic's trucks and our lowboys."
Tracking trucks and equipment not only helps equipment dispatchers know where everything is, E&B Paving also uses tracking information as part of a safety program for workers who are sent out on their own. "We have a buddy system, where a person out in the field checks in," Jones says. "If we lose contact, we can see their exact location."
Champions Boost Productivity and Profitability
Having a Champion--or Construction Technology Manager, or a person with any other title who is dedicated to ensuring maximizing use of construction software across an organization -can be one of the most productive and profitable moves an organization can make.
Empowering one energized and knowledgeable person can lead an ongoing effort to make sure organization is gaining maximum value from its software investment. Creating precise codebooks, which are regularly updated as living documents, is just one way of getting the most value from a HeavyBid deployment.
E&B Paving has found additional ways to pull value from HeavyJob, as well. Each month the company uses HeavyJob to run an equipment rental report, and a GPS exceptions report.
"We rent a fair amount of equipment, so we've got an equipment rental report that we run that shows our rental equipment utilization for the month," Jones says. "If we see a job that is not utilizing their rental equipment, they come up on the radar so we pay more attention to how efficiently they are using the equipment."
The GPS exceptions report from HeavyJob allows them to see how efficiently their own equipment is being used.
"Running the GPS exception report out of HeavyJob shows discrepancies between how many hours a machine was used in a month, versus how many hours were turned into HeavyJob," Jones says. "This helps us make sure that a foreman is accurately reporting all their equipment hours."
Champions in the Field
E&B Paving, through its robust internal training programs, has created internal champions with its foremen maximizing the data available to them from HeavyBid, HEavyJob, and their other HCSS applications. For example, the integration of HeavyBid and HeavyJob provides a valuable two-way flow of information. "Our foremen in the field can see the estimators; notes in HeavyJob, so they can see exactly what the estimator was thinking in structuring the bid for any part of the job," Jones says. "And the estimator can search HeavyJob data to see actual time and material costs for similar tasks that have already been completed."
Precision Bidding: Winning a $143 Million Contract by Half a Percent
HCSS HeavyBid has given E&B Paving a powerful platform for uniting the efforts of its estimators, providing all with consistent cost codes and a wealth of historical information on actual job costs captured with HCSS HeavyJob. The company has also found HeavyBid to be a powerful collaboration tool when working on large projects involving multiple estimators.
"We have our bridge group, our grade and drain operations, our concrete paving division, and asphalt paving divisions," Jones says. "And a lot of times, if it's a complicated phasing project, we may have a couple of estimators solely focused on maintenance of traffic, barrier walls, and things like that. So, having one file that everybody can work in is essential. Then the chief estimator responsible for the whole bid has the visibility to make sure everybody gets their scopes covered, and brings it all together for submittal."
The precision with which E&B Paving estimators can collaborate on large projects, and the accuracy of their codebooks because of frequent truing up by importing actual costs from HeavyJob to compare against the estimated costs, give the company a valuable edge in bidding.
"We won a $143 million interstate reconstruction job, and we were the low bidder by half a percent," JOnes says. "I don't think we could have gotten that job without our use of HeavyBid. And since then, we've done a handful of jobs that are bigger that that $143 million job."