R&D to change communication in an industry — Construction

Research and Development is an area that requires attention and funding so that companies can maintain current business and find new ways to operate that separate them from competition. One of the most exciting ways that R&D can come into play is in changing the overall communication of an organization. Construction is an industry that’s generally late to technology. In terms of communication technologies this makes sense when looking at the fact that most new buildings have no WiFi available. With improvements in routing technologies and WiFi hotspot capabilities, as well as, improvements in smart mobile devices and cellular internet access, there are much more mobile business opportunities.

Procore Technologies is a company that is taking advantage of these opportunities and specifically the opportunities in the construction industry. There are many project management platforms out there that organizations use for task management within their business operations such as: Workfront, ServiceNow, and JIRA. Within a business these systems help move tasks from one area to another as needed, like in software development tasks can be moved from project manager to developer to quality assurance. Construction is no different in the sense that there is a general contractor on site then a lot of different sub-contractors doing things like painting, drywall, and plumbing. Communication in construction is key with all of these different entities, and unlike software development in some cases, everything has to be done within a certain order. Drywall can’t be hung before electricians get in to do the wiring within walls.

Procore has looked at the situation in construction and developed a solution that takes this project management/task management approach to the industry. They’re solution comes to help in a lot of ways with: project management, quality and safety, and construction financials. With all of the paperwork moving between trades and between the site and offices, this software helps make the process more efficient and fast. Check out a video at this link that shows how users can upload blueprint drawings:  https://www.procore.com/solutions/drawings-and-specs.php. From the drawing a user could draw something marking, for example, a hole in drywall in a specific room and sending the repair as a task to a specific person. You can also read more about Procore as a startup in this Forbes article covering the business and its financial success:   https://www.forbes.com/sites/amyfeldman/2016/10/19/procore-founder-builds-construction-management-software-firm-to-55m-revenues-by-refusing-to-fold/#2e1bf1e21934 .

Read more about this company that used research and development in an innovative approach to change the way an industry operates.

Microsoft Project as a Planning and Scheduling tool

Microsoft Project is a tool that can be very helpful in a rolling out a project. I have interned with a software company where I ended up teaching my boss, a project manager for the business, how to use Project. Before that she was just using an excel spreadsheet to lay out all of the different tasks associated with our software deliveries and their current standing. Project can be tedious on the front end getting a project started, but in the long run it can automate a lot of the work you do and make changes for you. I also think there is value in learning Project because it is a similar system to many project management types of softwares you may run into in work such as JIRA or ServiceNow. Once you’ve learned one of these systems you can pick up others more quickly. While at Western Michigan I took some things from class that helped me very much in getting a project started on MS Project. I am going to lay out these few steps that put you at a great starting point before inputting any tasks into your project.

MS Project Startup (2016 version):

  1. On the bottom of your screen is a green toolbar. On the left side of the toolbar it says New Tasks: MANUALLY SCHHEDULED. Click that and select AUTO SCHEDULED. This will make it so that when you input tasks and their duration or mark tasks complete the overall schedule will automatically make adjustments accordingly.
  2. Then, go to Project > Project Information and set the start date of your project.
  3. Select the first task line so that it’s highlighted, then Format > (in the Show/Hide section of the toolbar) check the Project Summary Task box. This will create a Project Summary Task where you can name your project and the entirety of the project Start to Finish will be calculated.

Again, these three steps could just help to organize your project schedule a lot on the front end. Hope this is helpful to some!

ICS 698: My Introduction

Hello all,

My name is Quinn Sheridan. I grew up in Chicago, and will be returning to Chicago to work following graduation. I completed my undergraduate degree in Telecommunications and Information Management at Western Michigan University. I came to the Center for Information and Communications Sciences to expand on my leadership, technical, and communication competencies, and to put more of what I was learning into context through experiential learning. Through ICS 698 I hope to build on my competencies even further and gain more experience working in teams. I also feel this course will give me more valuable experience to be creative. I’m looking forward to working with you all again!