Managing documents with ease

Project planning errors can ruin even the most talented construction team’s momentum. But Buildertrend has tools to attack this phase so jobs begin primed for success.

Welcome to “The Better Way: A podcast by Buildertrend.” Here you’ll learn to simplify and organize the way you run your construction business and make meaningful changes to achieve your goals. Because there’s a better way. The Buildertrend way. Tune in this season as hosts Zach Wojtowicz, a corporate development strategist at Buildertrend, and Brett Jones, a Buildertrend onsite consultant, teach strategies to start projects the right way.

Brett and Zach kick off this season with insight into ways Buildertrend can enhance project communication and tee-up time savings through document management.

HOW CAN THE DOCUMENTS FEATURE BENEFIT YOUR COMPANY CULTURE?

Brett: If anybody can refer to any document at any point in time no matter where they’re at, it’s a huge win as far as communication amongst your whole team.

HOW CAN BUILDERTREND’S TEMPLATES SIMPLIFY DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT?

Brett: Not only is it a consistent file structure, it’s a consistent file structure across all jobs. That way people can easily and effectively find what they’re looking for at any point in time. There’s no really gray area at that point. It’s a lot easier to delete out in Buildertrend rather than having to critically think of, “Well, what am I missing for this particular job.”

LINKS AND MORE

Related content:

Take your Buildertrend skills to the next level with free online training in Buildertrend Learning Academy.

Read more about keeping projects on track in this free e-book.

Follow us on social:

Instagram:
@buildertrend

Facebook:
@buildertrend

We want to hear from you! Reach out to us at podcast@buildertrend.com.

Brett Jones and Zach Wojtowicz | Buildertrend

Zach Wojtowicz:

Nothing derails a productive team like bad planning. So how can you ensure your next building project starts off ready for success? Welcome to “The Better Way, a podcast by Buildertrend.” I’m your co-host Zach Wojtowicz, here you’ll learn to simplify and organize the way that you run your construction business and make meaningful changes to achieve your goals. There’s a better way to plan your projects, the Buildertrend Way. Tune in as my co-host Brett Jones and I dive deep into strategies to start projects the right way.

Zach Wojtowicz:

On today’s episode, we’ll explore how to gain better control over all the documents needed for a given job. Welcome to “The Better Way” season five kickoff episode, I’m back, Zach Wojtowicz here as always for my fifth season of “The Better Way.” Thank you so much for joining. Today I have a very special guest and in fact, he’s going to be my guest on all episodes on season five. So get comfortable with him. Brett Jones, onsite consultant, is joining us here on “The Better Way.” Brett, how are you today?

Brett Jones:

I’m doing great. Thanks for having me, Zach.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Thanks for being on. It’s great to see you. Fun fact for the people out there. Brett and I used to travel together when I was an onsite consultant. So hopefully our editor doesn’t have to do too much work of us sharing stories on the road. We’ve got some good ones for sure. We’ve been into Canada together. We’ve been to multiple cities across the United States. We’re going to keep it PG though this is a family program. And this season of “The Better Way,” we’re really going to be focusing in, on planning projects in the most proactive and effective way possible. And we thought, why not get our most experienced member of the onsite consultant team? He’s actually our team lead of the onsite consultants. He’s been doing it longer than anybody else. How long have you been an onsite consultant Brett?

Brett Jones:

I’m a little over two and a half years now.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Two and a half years. Do you know how many trips you’ve been on?

Brett Jones:

Oh man. Upwards of 120, 130, lost track at this point.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Just absolutely insane that the amount of places you’ve been. What’s been your favorite place to visit? Do you have one? Do you probably get that question? I get it all the time. So I know you do.

Brett Jones:

All the time. My favorite question is, “Where are you going this week or next week? And where’s your favorite spot?” But yeah, my favorite was probably Malibu, California, just because we stayed in Airbnb out there, and we basically woke up to the water crashing against the rocks next to our Airbnb every morning. So it was fantastic.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Not a bad way to start your morning compared to Omaha, Nebraska, where we’re located where the fields of wheat flowing away.

Brett Jones:

Yeah, absolutely.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah, absolutely. So this first episode, we’re going to dive into managing documents with ease. It’s a really easy place to start with Buildertrend when people sign up. Oftentimes this is one of the first things that they’re looking to do, which is to kind of get their handle on their paperwork, their documents, the things that make construction companies. Brett you’ve probably been to a few offices where you walk in and it looks like an office max. They’ve got drawers of projects from 30 years ago just stacked up in the back and you’re like, “We’re going to change this.”

Brett Jones:

Absolutely. I see it all the time. It’s always a third-party software of some degree, or there is physical documents in a self-storage somewhere. But yeah, we always try to get away from that.

Zach Wojtowicz:

So the thing I think we want to start with is obviously when it comes to project planning, having the correct documents and having them readily available for all your collaborators is going to be a really important piece. What are your recommendations of using documents in Buildertrend, Brett?

Brett Jones:

Yeah. So my biggest recommendation is obviously to first and foremost use them. I think it’s fair to say that everybody has their own third-party program or some sort of operating system for how they house documents, but the biggest thing with Buildertrend, if you don’t get anything else from it is make it a cohesive and collaborative environment for your whole team, right? That’s not just the sales process. That’s not just project management. It’s not just financials. Also put your documents in there. If anybody can refer to any document at any point in time, no matter where they’re at, it’s a huge win as far as communication amongst your whole team.

Zach Wojtowicz:

And it, usually we start talking to people about documents. They don’t initially pull together all the pieces that go into the project. I think what we want to emphasize here is we’re talking about all the documents for the different collaborators and groups. So, if you’re looking at your permits, that’s for a different audience. Your selections that’s for a different set of people, or maybe there’s a lot of crossover, but engineering docs, sub agreements, plans, all of these things that are available to use are going to help make it easy for everyone and ultimately eliminate pain points that could come up during a project without proper organization. That’s one of the problems with physical documents, right Brett?

Zach Wojtowicz:

If someone comes to you and you are filing all these things in a file cabinet, and they’re like, “I need to see the plans, well, let me pull out the sheet and take a look at it.” There’s no way to actually get information unless you’re physically with that person. It’s a problem. So, the other thing that I think that you miss out on with Buildertrend is the features themselves that the document side in Buildertrend has. So Brett, can you speak to a little bit of functionality of things you can do in Buildertrend when it comes to using documents?

Brett Jones:

Yeah, absolutely. You kind of touched on this a little bit, as far as organization permits, plans, selections, sub agreements, engineering docs, all that can be organized appropriately within each job, within Buildertrend. Really easy to find. But past that additional functionality that you can find within those sort of document tools or file structure is the ability to annotate PDFs, right? Signature, so if you want to assign a signature, whether that’s to a sub or vendor, an internal user or to a homeowner, you can do so. Any sort of approval along with that, you can make notes on it, right? And then you can also do any sort of other additional document versions past that point.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. There’s some really good use cases where I’ve seen people who want to track the evolvement of the document history that as you are adding layers and you’re putting in notes, you may have to create a process around this and you’re going to hear Brett and I talk about that word a lot this season in terms of process. But ways to create a breadcrumb trail of what were the versions of it. So within the program, when you put an annotation on it effectively, you’re making a new version of it, saving a layer.

Zach Wojtowicz:

And then the next person could come in and they can add a layer to it. And then the next person comes in and they added a layer to it. Before you know it, you kind of have this evolving piece and I’m always shocked about how many people don’t really fully understand that these options are even available within the software. They think you need to use a Bluebeam or a software that does measurements, but you can do a lot of that same work within Buildertrend that’s built into the subscription.

Brett Jones:

Absolutely. I think it’s a lot of times too, those little minute details within Buildertrend goes such a long ways. You don’t need the next big thing to really improve your company. It’s little things like that that can really pay dividends right away because it is a quick win for you and your team. You mentioned, people using other third party software, such as Bluebeam.

Brett Jones:

The most common one I see is Dropbox, and Dropbox, great tool for whatever you’re trying to use it for. But I think it’s a very easily manipulable tool, and Buildertrend does it just as well as in the sense of being able to house it in there, you’re already paying for Buildertrend. So why don’t you eliminate that as an additional cost, make sure that your team’s always on the same page at the same time.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Absolutely. So let’s get into a little bit of the setup piece. Brett has spent hours and hours advising companies on how to get these processes in place on file management. What is the best way in Buildertrend, Brett, to implement an effective system for managing documents? What would you recommend?

Brett Jones:

Templates.

Zach Wojtowicz:

No hesitation, templates.

Brett Jones:

Yep. People probably get tired of me always preaching templates, but really the thing with me is, I focus a lot on consistency throughout the whole program. And the best way to achieve that is templates. Whether that’s templating your sales process or that’s templating schedules, templating purchase orders, template your file structure. That’s probably the easiest one right then and there.

Brett Jones:

So that, when you have project managers or superintendents in the field, looking to just basically easily reconcile documents any point from the field, they can pull up the mobile app they can hop into that particular job and see the file structure right from there. And not only is it a consistent file structure, it’s a consistent file structure across all jobs. That way people can easily and effectively find what they’re looking for at any point in time. There’s no really gray area at that point.

Zach Wojtowicz:

The great point, Brett, the template piece of the document structure is something that a lot of people would say, well, my custom homes are always different or it doesn’t work this way for me. What do you tell to people who say, I can’t really use templates because of the type of construction that I’m currently involved in.

Brett Jones:

Yeah. Plain as simple you can, you need to.

Zach Wojtowicz:

No punches are held back by Brett today. What should you use? Templates. Don’t pull the punches?

Brett Jones:

Right. Well, my favorite excuse from a lot of builders that I work with is, we’re different or we do things differently here.

Zach Wojtowicz:

We’re just built different.

Brett Jones:

Right. Well, to a certain degree, that’s true. But I think you need to zoom out from the micro level a little bit and look at it more from a 10,000-foot-view, macro level. And we’re not trying to template that particular job so much. We need to zoom out and understand what do all of our jobs have in common. And how do we create a consistent process around that.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Is there a method… When I was consulting, I would always build a specific folder structure template to say, this is our North Star guiding light that we can always go back and look at, okay, what are the pieces? Or do you go more the full route, not micro template for folders, but a big picture, like project template. Is there a place that you kind of like to direct customers to?

Brett Jones:

Yeah. You’re talking about from, if you were going to set up multiple file structures with four different templates.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. So you might maybe do different segment work. You might do some custom home builders, but you might also do some remodeling on the side to… Do they need the same boulder structure or what’s your recommendation to kind of fit those differences that we know people will say exist.

Brett Jones:

Yeah, definitely. You can absolutely have a different folder file structure template depending on what type of scope of work or job you’re doing. So if you’re doing a remodel, create a template for remodel, or if you’re doing new homes or custom homes create a folder template for each one, respectively.

Brett Jones:

But my biggest thing to really start that conversation is, again, zoom out macro level, create a quote unquote master file structure template, and then you can always whittle it down to there. It just gives you a complete picture and say, “Hey, here’s the pieces we’re working with now? How do we construct smaller minute details and scopes of work from it?”

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. That’s a great tip on templating that I’m glad you brought up. It’s always easier in Buildertrend to delete things than it is to create things. It’s a software, so the more data you put into it, the more it’s going to ultimately give you something to work with. So I think what Brett’s touching on is really important from a planning standpoint in this situation where every job might not be the exact same, overshoot your planning to an extent.

Zach Wojtowicz:

And then once you set it up in that project, you can always pull it back and remove things that maybe aren’t relevant to that project, but it’s just a few clicks to then delete and there’s checked actions to remove things. Whereas there’s not really a bulk creation tool on any new project. So templating is your opportunity, especially in documents and other things we’ll talk about later this season to say, what can I do to save myself time, both in the administration of Buildertrend, but also in the project itself that I can then pull it back if I need to.

Brett Jones:

Exactly, have everything broken up, because it’s a lot easier not only to account for everything first and foremost, but like you said, it’s a lot easier to delete out in Buildertrend rather than having to critically think of, well, what am I missing for this particular job.

Zach Wojtowicz:

In the moment.

Brett Jones:

Right. We’re trying to make it as reactive as possible for you as a business owner operator and your team.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. Just sound principles that transfer to a lot of different places in business is systematizing, whatever it is that you’re doing to be more efficient in the things you’re trying to accomplish. Right?

Brett Jones:

Correct.

Zach Wojtowicz:

And people, they notice the things that are in front of them, they’re not always the best at thinking of the things that are missing. And so you put it in the template to say, hey, we need a folder for plans, which means when they go into the job. Oh yeah, I need to upload my plans. Right?

Brett Jones:

Absolutely.

Zach Wojtowicz:

It starts to kind of coach them to what they need to be doing by putting in those skeleton and outlines of systems.

Brett Jones:

Yep. It’s all about contextualizing your process within Buildertrend and eliminating that proactive thought process. So you can sleep a little bit better at night. The more reactive we can make something like Buildertrend in your process, the more consistency and integrity you’re going to have out of it.

Zach Wojtowicz:

So another piece that I think I don’t see a lot of people do is other types of documents that still need these systems that we’re kind of talking about, like photos, videos, have you ever worked with customers to create a structured folder for the actual visualization of the construction progress on a template?

Brett Jones:

Sorry, can you repeat that question again?

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. Just one of the things I would do when I was working with customers is I’d say, “We organize all your plans and your selections, but if you’re just capturing updates on the project by daily logs, it’s not that that’s a bad thing, but what happens if a year from now they come back to you, and they say, ‘Hey, this drywall is cracking or this foundation was done wrong or the concrete slab was poorly laid?’”

Zach Wojtowicz:

Well, I always would be like, “You’re going to have to go find the photo through the daily logs about scrolling and searching. Whereas if you take a little bit of extra time to template the actual photo structure at the different phases of construction to match. So if you have a folder called Site Work, a folder called The Foundation, a folder called Framing in photos, and you’re moving the data in there, you’re really saving yourself time later, because you’re like, “Oh, I’m going to investigate something that happened for framing. And now it’s already in a folder for you, and you can template all this ahead of time too. Right?”

Brett Jones:

Yeah, absolutely. I think to your point too, it kind of acts as insurance. You may never need it. You pay for it, right. You may never need it, but you’re sure as hell glad that you have it when push comes a shove or face litigation. So taking the time to set those up on the front end and making sure you establish that process with your team of, hey, this folder’s for foundation, this one’s for framing, et cetera, and make sure you’re dropping the appropriate photos into each one respectively pays dividends in the future.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah, absolutely. Another thing that I want to kind of move into, which is an important piece of Buildertrend, obviously it’s not just your employees that are using the system ideally. Hopefully you’re getting other people involved. Brett, what are some of the more collaborative elements to managing documents in Buildertrend? If you were doing your elevator pitch about why you should dive deep into this feature, what would you say to someone?

Brett Jones:

Yeah. Straightforward and simple. It’s up to date, real-time versions of document history, access anywhere without having to be in the office as a sub or a PM, right. It’s cloud-based software, you can access it wherever, whenever you really want to. As long as you have a mobile device that it’s hooked up to their Wi-Fi or LTE.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. Absolutely. I think that’s a really great point is, “Hey, you’re doing this for other people, not just for yourself.” I’ve met a lot of subs in my time on the road that once they kind of understand the value of Buildertrend being there for them to get information that is for them to get their job done, they really start to open up to the concept of why using technology is the future of the building process.

Brett Jones:

Absolutely. I think it’s simple too. It just circles all around communication at the end of the day, getting real time updates. It’s fantastic.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Well, that’s going to do it today on this episode of “The Better Way,” please come check us out with Brett and I next time we’re going to be talking about one of the most important pieces of Buildertrend, which is using selections. Join us next time. Thanks for listening to “The Better Way,” if you’re a Buildertrend customer, schedule training to learn more. All listeners be sure to rate, review and subscribe to “The Better Way” wherever you get your podcast. Also, visit buildertrend.com/podcast to sign up for email alerts when the next season drops and explore our other podcasts, “The Building Code.” Don’t miss our next episode focused on jumpstarting selections.


Places you can find us

Get updates for The Better Way

Be the first to know when new episodes are released.

By clicking ‘Submit’ you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions Agreement and Privacy Policy.
Return to top