Garver

Garver Leverages SmartPM Schedule Analytics to Increase Efficiency Across Projects

Garver

THE CHALLENGE

 

Chris Taylor spent much of his career working in the transportation sector for the Arkansas Department of Transportation as an engineer.  He joined Garver in May 2020 as part of Garver’s Construction Scheduling Team for their transportation division. In less than two years, Chris has seen Garver add five more offices, with plans to add at least two more in 2022. 

DOT construction has its own unique set of challenges that can vary by state. But one of the biggest challenges, across the board, is time. In the DOT world, the number one cause of project delays is change orders. Many of these projects span four or five years, and determining if a change order from a year ago caused the delay is a manual, time-consuming process.

According to Chris, “Contractors go back and change actual dates in the schedule calendars from five or six updates prior just to make an impact look worse than it was.”  This is a common occurrence in construction: weeks and weeks of pouring over spreadsheets, running macros, printing calendars, and comparing them at each update cycle – just to make sense of the information. 

Despite this painstaking, time-consuming effort, there was always data that couldn’t be accessed at all. And unfortunately, delays in providing concrete evidence to contractors to prove causation – often lead to arguments and claims. 

With more and more projects on the horizon, Chris began looking for alternatives to Garver’s mostly manual process of analyzing schedules and changes.

 

THE SMART SOLUTION

 

Chris first heard about SmartPM when he joined Garver. A couple of schedulers were using it to analyze time impacts (TIA), so Chris decided to check it out himself. Although he missed the initial onboarding, he could navigate the software relatively easily– impressed that all the data he was missing was right there. The analyses that normally take months to calculate populated instantly and were calculated for every schedule update– all from an unbiased source, the data itself. 

Based on these initial results, Chris realized that SmartPM was being underutilized and reached out to SmartPM’s client success team. He began meeting with them regularly to ask questions and learn more and more about the product, as well as gain more insight into the very foundation of the Critical Path Method (CPM), from which all scheduling software programs are derived. 

 

THE OUTCOME

 

SmartPM inspired Chris to start changing Garver’s schedule management process. The efficiency gains were immediate: where previously a scheduler could manage only 3-4 projects, they could now adeptly handle 7-8, thanks to the time savings facilitated by SmartPM.

A significant hurdle in project management is the negotiation and management of change orders, a notorious cause of delays. Before SmartPM, establishing a change order as the root cause of a delay was a formidable challenge. However, SmartPM equipped Garver with the tools to convincingly demonstrate to their clients the substantial impact of the change management process on project timelines, which previously extended over months. SmartPM’s delay analysis was able to show the impacts to their projects through visual data and graphs. From that point on, there were no more arguments: Garver’s change order process became faster and more efficient. 

Since bringing SmartPM onboard, Chris has been promoted into Co-Lead for the Scheduling Team and oversees all of the work they do for Kansas DOT and Texas DOT, as well as assisting with the work they do for Arkansas DOT.

Garver understands that the metrics and analyses generated through SmartPM provide value to all parties involved in their projects. According to Chris, most stakeholders don’t have access to Microsoft Project or P6, and SmartPM allows everyone to see the data in one place. Being able to see important project metrics on the Dashboard generates meaningful conversations between stakeholders they couldn’t have before because they didn’t understand enough about schedules to know what they were seeing. SmartPM translates schedule data so it makes sense to everyone, not just the schedulers.

SmartPM has made such an impact at Garver it’s now to be their competitive advantage. Chris recalls a phone call from his boss, Mark (last name) title, after a presentation to a potential client. Mark was asked what set Garver apart from their competitors. His answer was “SmartPM.” According to Chris, SmartPM usually comes up in every presentation because Garver includes metrics generated by SmartPM. Being able to provide more data has proved to be a big advantage for Garver.

When Chris first logged into SmartPM, his goal was to save time in the schedule management process. What he actually found was that SmartPM provides more than just a time savings–it has changed Garver’s entire process and has more than doubled their productivity. SmartPM has also helped their partners become more efficient, creating a culture of transparency and collaboration between all parties involved on the project(s). Garver is continuing to add SmartPM to more of their projects, with plans to leverage SmartPM on their projects in other sectors.

"I’m spending less than half my time on schedules and reviews.”

About Garver

Since 1919, Garver has been on the ground floor of the highways, bridges, airport runways, and water treatment plants that our communities need to grow and prosper. What started as a one-person engineering firm with a short list of projects has evolved into a leading multi-disciplined engineering and consulting firm impacting communities across the country

Today, Garver is an employee-owned, multi-disciplined engineering, planning, architectural, and environmental services firm with 36 offices and over 900 employees across the United States. Garver offers a wide range of services focused on aviation, construction, facilities design, federal, survey, transportation, water, and wastewater.

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