Back in late 2020, I was talking with Mark Patterson, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of S. M. Wilson, a construction management firm out of St. Louis, Missouri. The Autodesk team was working on bringing S. M. Wilson into PlanGrid Unlimited but also started explaining this new construction management software that we hadn’t released yet–Autodesk Build.
We were discussing the gaps they wanted to close in their project management process. The goal wasn’t to sell them Autodesk Build, rather partner with them to discover and develop key features that were absent in their workflows.
S. M. Wilson is a well-oiled machine generating over $200 million a year in revenue–referring to the way they do business as “The S. M. Wilson Way”. Process improvement at that scale could have a significant impact on their bottom line.
In early conversations, Mark was apprehensive to commit S. M. Wilson to being an early-adopter of an unproven solution. Especially because the product hadn’t been released in the market yet.
No one wants to replace one process for another unless it offers serious benefits in streamlining workflows.
No one wants to replace one process for another unless it offers serious benefits in streamlining workflows. So, we came up with a plan to get them on board.
Autodesk would support S. M. Wilson’s growth by opening up lines of communication between our team and theirs while we developed Autodesk Build. We enabled them to make new feature requests, interface with our product team, and field test pre-launch software with myself as their dedicated Customer Success team member helping them navigate the software and sort out the kinks in their workflows.
These are all things we still do with customers–and demonstrating our early commitment to Mark and S. M. Wilson’s long-term success was how we built a mutually beneficial relationship that thrives today.
That’s just one story I’ve seen replay many times over the years with our customers. So, I want to walk you through why we ended up building Autodesk Build and why project managers have come to appreciate it so much.
The process of developing easy-to-use software can take months to years of building, testing, and rebuilding to give you a powerful product you can safely rely on. To build useful software, you have to listen closely to feedback, unpack it, understand it, integrate it, and make patient progress.
After many months of feedback loops and field testing Autodesk Build with S. M. Wilson and several other customers, the tone of our meetings shifted.
The feedback from Project Managers slowed. We wondered if there was a reason for concern.
Instead, a new atmosphere of excitement for Autodesk Build emerged. In several cases, it was our customers’ Project Engineers that got Project Managers excited. They were explaining all the valuable things they could do with the data in Autodesk Build. They could manage their schedule, perform progress tracking, and track and monitor issues all in one common data environment. Much of this can be done on a mobile device as well.
Then, the BIM/VDC teams jumped in with their feedback. They loved that they could access their models in Autodesk Build. They could compare models and updates, diving into data quickly. Manage design issues in real-time from the field and vice versa. Collaboration between design teams and Project Managers was much more streamlined.
Now, several key players across our customers’ project teams are on board with Autodesk Build.
The release of our Scheduling Tool was another major leap forward. Project Managers, and all their specialty contractors, can now search the master schedule by activities and see charts and comments left by others.
Then owners and general contractors started reporting that they hadn’t had this level of transparency before. Plus, with schedules being more efficiently managed, everyone is on the same page.
As the benefits started stacking up, Project Managers understood that Autodesk Build would make decision-making in the field faster, smarter, safer, and reduce the risk of surprise costs and schedule slippage. Autodesk Build would help them get home faster.
Going back to that first conversation with Mark from S. M. Wilson, as a Customer Success Manager, his firm’s success is what mattered and still matters most to myself and the Autodesk team. And now, customers utilizing Autodesk Build regularly echo a similar appreciation for our commitment to their growth, both in short- and long-term.
Without the great relationships we have with our customers, who we consider to be partners, it would be difficult to create the project management software they need.
One of our partners had this to say about Autodesk Build as a Project Manager:
“The most challenging aspect of my job is keeping track of the details across multiple projects. As we look to shorten schedules and reduce costs without compromising quality, we needed a cloud-based solution that seamlessly connects our teams and increases the speed at which project data is shared. Partnering with Autodesk, and deploying Autodesk Build across our jobsites, solves this challenge by eliminating any disconnect between the office and the field.” –Jonathan Wheeler, Project Manager, Fullmer Construction
The real secret to building any good software solution is simply the unwavering commitment to help customers reach their own goals.
Simply put, we’re here for you. Listening to our customers’ aspirations and immediate needs are core tenants of a great partnership. Construction firms of every size choose Autodesk Build because we are heavily invested in their project outcomes beyond delivering a great software experience. And we layer all our industry knowledge into Autodesk Build.
As Sameer Merchant, VP & Head of Global Product Development for Autodesk Construction Solutions writes, “We do believe that prioritizing mobile design and creating a seamless experience is the key to building a great experience on Autodesk Build. When you have a great experience with this technology, you’re more likely to achieve project success.”
In my conversations with technology leaders at some of the largest construction firms in the world, Project Managers appreciate Autodesk Build today because it enables them to work more efficiently than ever. Models, contracts, drawings, issues, progress tracking, documents, and more are all stored in one place–and so many of the most important project workflows in construction are now connected.
I would encourage a demo for anyone curious or on the fence. We don’t leave our customers to sink or swim. Our Customer Success team is always here to help and we have a ton of great learning resources if you’re just getting started. You can even get 1-on-1 training sessions with Autodesk Build experts for more advanced project management or custom workflows. Please get in touch if you have any questions whatsoever.