“What we try to do is educate the market; the integration is something that we do with our partners, but between our own elements we are unified.”
Business Infocus — November 27, 2014 – Receiving multiple awards over the years for its highly innovative, intuitive, and state-of-the-art products, B2W Software, Inc. continues to work with clients in the construction sector to create smart software solutions to meet the needs of all customers.
“When the company was initially formed, it was created essentially around a DOS-based estimating program, which at the time was geared towards paving and road construction,” explains Paul J. McKeon, Jr., founder and Chief Executive Officer of the company. Mr. McKeon brought considerable personal experience in the construction industry to the New England-based company when it was created in 1994. A graduate of the University of New Hampshire, he formed his own construction company to put himself through school, and later worked in the estimating departments at a number of prominent Massachusetts construction firms. It was around this time that he realized just how essential software would be to the construction industry.
In 1995, a Windows-based product called PowerBid was released. Sold only in the United States at the time, as it did not support metric capabilities, it was the first estimating program created and designed solely for paving companies. Soon, this led to the creation of a more diverse, full-featured civil estimating program – this became Bid2Win, the first generation released around 1997. In 1998, the company debuted BID2WIN Estimating & Bidding. Revolutionary at the time, it was the first construction estimating program of its kind, created entirely from the ground up for the Windows operating environment.
Over the years, the company now known as B2W Software, Inc. has spearheaded numerous innovations in the construction software industry. Enhanced versions have been released to meet ongoing customer needs and to keep pace with the ever-rapid changes in technology and platforms. In 2001, a massive development effort was conducted employing Microsoft .NET and the database engine, SQL Server. In 2004, BID2WIN 2005 – the result of many millions of dollars and three years of effort – was released, utilizing the latest Microsoft technology.
Since that time, the company has created additional enterprise-class construction management tools that work with real-time field data management to analyze job costs and production information. The firm has released an enhanced Unified Construction Management Suite, and was rebranded in 2013 from BID2WIN Software to B2W Software.
Growing rapidly over the years, the company under Mr. McKeon’s leadership has continued to lead the way in the construction software industry. With a strong executive team and sales force, B2W Software remains a market leader, recognizing the growing industry needs of its customers while being quick to successfully adapt to emerging devices such as iPad and Android tablets, and Smart Phones to maintain its competitive edge.
Keeping Pace with Technology
In just the past few years alone, there has been a dramatic shift from devices such as laptops to tablets and Smart Phones in the field. As a result, Mr. McKeon says customers have run into a glass ceiling, purchasing many different products over the past five years. New devices, combined with an increasing reliance on the Internet, have changed people’s expectations about not only a single unified platform, but the need for visibility in different areas; depending on one’s role and permissions within a construction company, employees can access different aspects of applications. “You could, as a foreman, do your field log for the day, enter in payroll, and equipment,” Mr. McKeon explains. “If you are a mechanic, you might not have access to field logs, but you would have access to work orders. So again, in a very elegant and efficient way, we have a single app that is used by everybody, and based on your role and permissions, you get to access and use different parts of the application.”
A single unified platform and a mobile app which will run on either an Apple device or an Android device, enables construction customers to work efficiently, cost-effectively, and more productively. As customers move away from laptops toward devices which are always on and touch-enabled, the need to increase efficiency grows; clients can now work on-the-go in a truly mobile fashion. Best of all, the application is highly flexible, and can be made as simple or as sophisticated as customers like.
ONE: Operational Networked Elements
Prior to being built on an enterprise-class platform, earlier versions of software centered on Visual Basic and Microsoft Access. While the company had tremendous success around the product and the intuitive, easy-to-use nature of the software, it was not able to scale-up for use by very large companies, so newer versions were rebuilt on the Microsoft.net and SQL platform, putting B2W in a unique position as a truly enterprise-class, scalable, secure and robust software provider. Early on, success came with cement company Lafarge, who put about 120 estimators across North America on the product. It was, says Mr. McKeon, what the market was looking for. “There had been some products coming up that were not built on enterprise-class technology, or architected to run across a large enterprise integrated with Web services, with Oracle, and the like. The new generation we came out with did that and that it nicely.”
In time, clients asked for much more than estimating tools – the ability to track the success of the project through production, labor and equipment; material usage on job sites on a daily basis; the ability to look at estimates in real-time for work being done against other estimates. Other features were introduced, including scheduling and equipment maintenance, which were built into a browser-based single product, designed so products that were not purchased could be turned off. Unlike competitors, the company’s products offered a unified single platform – if a worker in the field noticed a piece of equipment required repair, it could be entered into the software and seen immediately in the repair shop. “It is a unified platform where everybody is collaboratively on the same page at the same time, and nobody else has that. That really was the genius, if you will, behind the ONE platform: the notion that everything is in one single database and instantly viewable, accessible by everybody.”
Unlike the old days of estimating on sheets of paper, B2W Software, Inc., through ONE: Operational Networked Elements, has made work for construction companies more accurate, more effective, and more profitable. Staff members are able to use mobile devices to create estimates in minutes, analyze job production in real time, use GPS to determine exact locations of all equipment, and a great deal more. The ONE Platform creates a unified workflow among all operational business elements necessary for profitability, and networks all of these elements in a suite of enterprise constructions operations software which, literally, puts everyone – from office managers to field foreman – on the same page, at the same time.
Highly scalable, this enterprise-class platform works with a construction company’s current environment, yet is designed to accommodate needs both present and future.
With the development of the unified model of ONE, construction companies are able to share a common group of resources across all operational departments and have a single point of data entry and real-time visibility across all application models. By unifying operational elements (modules) rather than integrating them, B2W Software not only eliminated an additional layer of programming, but made the entire suite more efficient, easy to use, and accurate, since multiple entries are eliminated. From estimating to bidding, logistics to field operations, modules can work independently or together seamlessly, which ultimately increases visibility into control of project profitability through a single database. Duplication is no longer an issue, human error is greatly reduced, and integration is no longer an obstacle, as adding, removing, or changing the value in one application adds, removes, or changes the value in all – and data is visible in real-time.
Working with Customers
Using a detailed, solution-based selling model, B2W Software talks to all relevant players in an organization, including CEOs, CFOs, and owners, in order to identify their needs and educate them about the process. In addition to 24/7 support, the company helps customers ensure their success with a very sophisticated support model, implementation and training. B2W will meet clients face-to-face to conduct training, but does not undertake training until the team has implemented the software and made sure it is configured around the client’s particular needs. When the company goes in to train, construction firms are live the next day with software.
Some customers choose to run the software on their own server, but a growing number are taking advantage of B2W’s own private Cloud environment, where the company can host the software on their behalf. “People are realizing that in this margined, pressured space, if you don’t utilize technology tools, you’re going to have a problem from a competitive position,” comments Mr. McKeon.
Looking forward to the future of technology, the company’s next offering will be released at its user conference in California in March of 2015. “Inform will be our first Cloud SaaS endeavor. It will run in the Cloud, it will not be on premise in the office, and it will be used under an SaaS model, a subscription model based on the number of users.” Able to capture essential data in both the office and field, in real-time, through customizable forms, Inform will allow companies to use collected data to track internal business trends. Everything will be able to be leveraged into the platform, including equipment lists, jobs and employees, meter readings, and much more. With user interfaces configured automatically depending on the device, users can use a laptop, tablet, or Smart Phone to access real-time information, run reports, check KPIs, and more.
“If someone is out in the field and they’re writing down on a form that there was an accident, that’s on a piece of paper that ultimately makes its way back into the office, and doesn’t do much in terms of generating current or long-term reports. With this new tool, if you filled out that safety form on a tablet for example, the moment you click ‘injury,’ it would notify the right people in the business. So it’s not only collecting all the operational data, it’s collecting KPIs, metrics, and alerts across the business. It makes a tremendous difference to people about how they should be running their business, what they should be looking at, and analyzing and utilizing the information available to them. So we’re excited about it, the market is excited about it, and were going to release it at our user conference in March. It is our first fully Cloud, SaaS-based product, so very exciting,” says Mr. Brown.
Operating in a field where technology changes rapidly, B2W Software, Inc. continues to grow as it responds to the present and future needs of its many clients. With a focus on leveraging the Cloud, the team at B2W believes in being adaptable and accountable. With the move toward the Cloud, different models will be needed to sell the software, or even rent it. “The reality is, a company that is not looking into the 12, 24, and 36-month vision is probably in trouble,” shares Mr. McKeon. “People’s expectations around how software will operate, how it will run, how it will leverage the Cloud, are going to change over the next three to four years. In order to run software efficiently and scalably in the Cloud, it has to be architected a certain way, and we are building technologies to support that in the future.”
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