“Don’t just stay in your office and work on a computer. See what it’s like to have someone in the field with an iPad on a construction site.”
Constant improvements and innovation are essential to getting—and staying—ahead in the construction industry. Consistently optimizing workflows and finding ways to be more productive allows you and your teams to deliver better work to your clients, in turn leading to stronger results and outcomes.
Jon Klieman, Global Business Development Manager at Convergint, is highly adept at removing complexity from workflows so teams can operate efficiently. With the help of technology, Jon succeeds in delivering a seamless experience for the firm’s internal teams as well as their clients.
In our latest addition to the Behind the Build series, we catch up with Jon and chat about about his career journey. We also discuss how he helped Convergint improve productivity through process optimization and technology.
Tell me a little bit about Convergint and what you specialize in.
Convergint is a global system integrator that’s focused on delivering results for our customers through unparalleled service excellence. There are hundreds of locations across the globe and we have local leaders who are empowered to make decisions close to the customer. This was purpose-built for some of our mission-critical verticals. Overall, the company has grown quite large in the last 11 years since I’ve been with Convergint.
My specialty has almost always been helping others optimize their productivity and process efficiency. Whether that was setting up sales teams for success or elevating our customers’ experiences–and really the specific value they get out of working with us–those are the things I’d say I’m pretty good at.
Walk us through your career and what led you to becoming Global Business Development Manager.
I started my career in sales, and I did that right out of the gate. I was brand new to the business, but I decided to make it a profession.
Then I moved and saw a big opportunity within the company to develop our business tools, drawing tools, as well as our sales and design tools. We needed someone to focus on productivity enablement across the company, which was going to provide tremendous value.
I ran that for about five years, and then I realized I needed to take it up a notch by taking all those skills that I learned to drive new business. Now, I’m in the role of a Global Business Development Manager, and I help us get new business through operational excellence.
I’ve also developed my knowledge and skills in PlanGrid. I have about 10,000 plus hours in another drawing application. Then training in other applications, I found a huge aptitude for finding ways to have software empower our customer experience. I knew of PlanGrid, but then when I got reintroduced to it and saw the power of it, the wheels just started spinning and I started to figure out, “What could we do with this application?” That question opened up the floodgates to what we’ve built today.
What is your proudest accomplishment in your career at Convergint?
One of the biggest accomplishments was being able to help Convergint improve productivity by applying the passion I have for work optimization, and leading from wherever I’m at within the company.
Take PlanGrid, for instance. A couple of years ago, it wasn’t heavily used throughout Convergint. But I took PlanGrid from a local approach, dove into it, gave it an intense amount of focus and attention, and actually used it in the field for about two months.
From all that work, I found a huge value-add and customer experience-add to Convergint. I was able to bring it back up to corporate leadership and then have PlanGrid be applied—not only with the customers I’m working with, but throughout other customers too.
Now, we’re working a lot with PlanGrid. We’re starting to work with them universally, and also with Autodesk. So I would say some of my proudest moments are being able to lead from the bottom and drive change through showing and proving value.
As construction evolves, how do you see the role of Global Business Development Manager changing?
One of my visions for the future is to further drive the customer experience. What I look at from the perspective of sales and business development is, “What are the solutions that we’re providing? Not just the technology solutions that we’re providing as an integrator, but how are we delivering in those technologies? What does that end-user experience look like? How are we using technology to create innovation?”
I want to create more simplicity, more collaboration, and create an opportunity that exists to go above and beyond the call of duty.
–Jon Klieman, Global Business Development Manager, Convergint
I don’t want to create more complexity in a process. I want to create more simplicity, more collaboration, and create an opportunity that exists to go above and beyond the call of duty. That, in turn, leads us to having a differentiating advantage in the marketplace.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your role? How does technology help you overcome those challenges?
Some of the biggest challenges that we experience are having very complex work environments. We have many different customers with their own different requirements. We have regional requirements depending on where you are geographically. Then there’s all the different technologies that we deal with as an integrator.
So, creating a reporting and project installation tracking tool can be challenging, especially when bringing it all into a collaborative workspace. Utilizing an application like PlanGrid enables us to have multiple teams communicating in central locations, managing questions, RFIs, photos, videos, and also extracting other workflows and integrations into the platform where we can help get better access to that data.
Essentially, the challenges that we face are, “How do we create visibility into a project? How do we create a better collaboration model?”
Technology helps overcome these challenges when it’s simple, applicable to all devices, and easily adoptable. When all the complexity is hidden and everyone can interface with the technology, that’s what really helps us overcome the communication gaps when connecting field teams to the back office.
Why are you excited about implementing Autodesk Build over the next few months?
Autodesk Build is new for Convergint, but I would say there’s a couple areas where I see some good collaboration. One is being able to connect our actual drawings and link them with the updates that come into PlanGrid. PlanGrid has been used by a lot of our offices and colleagues throughout the last couple of years so we’re already comfortable with that. Right now, it’s a manual process where the drawings come in, and we have to upload them and make the changes. So having that new level of collaboration with document management in Autodesk Build is big.
Then, Autodesk is obviously a huge name in the business. We looked at technology partners that have developed a very strong position in the workspace, and we trust Autodesk as valued providers. They have great back-end security protocols, and other large customers already trust them.
We looked at technology partners that have developed a very strong position in the workspace, and we trust Autodesk as valued providers. They have great back-end security protocols, and other large customers already trust them.
–Jon Klieman, Global Business Development Manager, Convergint
So as a trusted technology partner, we know that we can always count on the PlanGrid website to work. We can always count on the team hearing our feedback. We know that Autodesk is on the leading edge when looking towards the future. They’re constantly developing and bringing new feature sets to the table, which is in line with where we’re going as a company.
When you think about the future, what are your plans to advance innovation and productivity at Convergint?
I’m always looking for ways to increase what I call “accuracy and precision”. Accuracy is getting it right. Precision is getting it right over and over again, and that’s key to delivering consistency. We strive to deliver on that, as well as a customer experience that our competitors aren’t doing.
That being said, it’s not really about focusing on being better than our competition. It’s also asking ourselves, “How do we improve internally? How do we operate more efficiently? How do we stay in constant communication with the build teams? Where can we collaborate in one central workspace to create a better workday?” Questions that give direction like that are extremely helpful in how we make progress.
We work in such a complex environment that our mental RAM can be taken up very quickly by working on new things. The more we let machines, computers, and software help with some of that work, the more we can focus on the things that really matter—versus some of the mundane tasks.
So, my plans are really to help drive some of those questions moving forward, and open up possibilities within the applications that we use so we can do things for Convergint that even Autodesk hasn’t thought of.
What advice would you give to the next generation of men and women preparing for the future of the industry?
Don’t just stay in your office and work on a computer.
Go out there and try to experience as much of the trades as possible. This will teach some foundational knowledge of the business you’re in.
That way, you’re able to really see what it’s like to have someone in the field with an iPad on a construction site. What does that actually look like? Are you connected to what you’re building or what the end-user is experiencing? Taking the opportunity to gather a depth of knowledge like this is incredibly valuable.
Interested in more interviews like this?
Myself and team regularly sit down with construction leaders to promote knowledge sharing among our community. We cover what works, what doesn’t, and what the future holds. Check out previous Behind the Build interviews, featuring some of the best in construction.