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Featuring David Green of Swinerton Builders

This commercial construction case study investigates how one of California’s most prominent general contractors employs pre-construction technology to stay at the forefront of the commercial building industry.

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Tell us about yourself, David Green.

I have been in the business for about 20 years. The last 16 with Swinerton Builders. I am a licensed Civil Engineer and have a Civil Engineering degree from the University of Texas and a Masters in Construction Management from University of California at Berkeley. I have spent most of my career in project management and transitioned to estimating and preconstruction about 5 years ago. I currently manage preconstruction, estimating and oversee BIM for the Swinerton Builders Northern Region.

 

Tell us about your company – what do you build and where?

We are headquartered in San Francisco and the Swinerton Family of Companies provides commercial construction services throughout the Western United States. Established in 1888, Swinerton formally incorporated in the State of California in 1908 and holds California Contractor License No. 92. Today, Swinerton offices are located throughout California, in Colorado, Hawaii, Texas, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington, and is celebrating their 125th Anniversary this year. We are a 100% employee-owned company and recognized as one of the top general contractors in the U.S. We have built a reputation for having the flexibility and financial strength to deliver added value to our clients and stay ahead of building trends. We’ve had a great deal of success across a wide range of markets in the industry including Renewable Energy, Healthcare, Federal, Education, Corporate Interiors Services, Mission Critical/Data Centers, and Hospitality. In addition, having built our first green roof in 1971 and now with a third of our staff LEED AP certified, we have always strived to be at the forefront of green building and remain a national leader in sustainability.

 

Describe the preconstruction process at Swinerton – from Prequal to Bid Day, including the number of employees, subcontractors, plan files, etc. involved.

Hard bid: We typically have a Senior Estimator lead the bid with 10-12 people involved on Bid Day. Generally a typical bid will include 300-400 subcontractors with all communications and plan distribution done through the SmartBid construction bid software.

Negotiated Pre-construction / Guaranteed Maximum Price (Most of our work): This will generally involve a lead estimator/pre-construction manager with two to three people helping at various times. It requires bidding/budgeting to a pre-qualified list of subcontractors (usually 3-5 per trade) with phased bid packages. We use Smartbid to issue revisions to selected subcontractor(s) throughout pre-construction and into early construction before the project team will transition to our construction management system.

 

How did you traditionally handle invitation to bid?

Swinerton Builders has always been an early adopter of invitation to bid software systems. For close to 10 years we had been using ISQFT for ITB and document distribution.

 

How long has your company been using SmartBid?

We have been using SmartBid for about a year and a half with full implementation for a year.

 

What features of the product influenced your purchase decision during the buying phase?

Our primary driver was ease of use for subcontractors, our clients in a bid situation. The abilities to have one database for multiple offices and ease of use for our employees were other primary factors.

 

Which employee roles use SmartBid within your company and how often?

We have about 275 of our 1,000 administrative employees who use the system in some capacity. Their roles include estimators, project managers, and administrators.

 

Describe the most recent project in which SmartBid was essential for preconstruction.

Swinerton Builders was recently awarded preconstruction of a $60M retail project in downtown San Francisco which we only had one week to budget. Use of Smartbid was essential to be able to get documents and communication out in an expeditious manner for subcontractor feedback. We are now continuing to use the system for preconstruction and value engineering efforts.

 

What other technology did you or are you using during the pre-construction phases of this project? How does SmartBid fit into the mix?

Smartbid doesn’t necessarily have a direct tie-in to other technology we are using on the project but is consistent with Swinerton Builders’ practical use of technology for preconstruction. We are using Revit, P6 and 5D estimating tools for our additional pre-construction efforts.

 

How has your company’s use of construction software solutions evolved since you first started working there?

Swinerton has always been ahead of the curve on adoption of technology. When I first started with Swinerton 15 years ago we were using a Swinerton-developed construction management and accounting software that was accessible to the field via modem, P3 scheduling software and Lotus 123 customized spreadsheet solutions for estimating. This evolution has continued with early adoption of web-based invitation to bid systems and web-based document distribution.

Currently, Swinerton is a leader in the adoption of BIM 3D, 4D and 5D solutions. Our most recent push is to bring these technologies into the field with paperless offices, using tablet based project management and monitoring tools. We are again an early adopter of cloud-based BIM software and collaboration as well.

 

Over the next decade, in what ways do you hope to see construction technology evolve?

We would like to see integrated applications that can freely exchange data. We would like the ability to delete all paper and migrate pricing/bidding online as well.

 

If any of your users have downloaded the SmartBid mobile apps, how do they assist in mobile preconstruction?

We do use the SmartBid mobile app, mostly for access to our subcontractor database and phone numbers, etc. for bidders.

 

How do you like the new Version 12 of SmartBid?

It is a much cleaner interface, faster, and the dashboard has improved. We like how it gives you more control over your interface.

 

 

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As a founding member of the Construction Open Standards Alliance, JBKnowledge (makers of SmartBidNet) works with 20+ other construction software providers on developing data exchange standards for the integration of independent software solutions.

By using a software built on COSA standards, you're able to:
- Incorportate all your favorite software into one high-performing, multi-function construction software
- Eliminate errors and omissions associated with faulty integrations.
- Eliminate manual and spreadsheet data transfers between software.

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All SmartBidNet users can utilize the integrated ConsensusDocs 721 form for subcontractor prequalification. Users can further customize those forms with the Prequal Pro add-on module.

SmartBidNet users are able to use ConsensusDocs to:
- Request standard subcontractor prequalification information at the click of a button.
- Keep subcontractors' qualifications up-to-date with easy-to-manage ConsensusDocs forms.
- Keep sensitive information private with ConsensusDocs 721 digital forms.

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The Virtual Planroom Network (VPRN) partnership allows users of SmartBidNet to view, select and bid on thousands of public project opportunities from VPRN – impacting market coverage and ultimately revenue.

The VPRN is a collaboration of builders' exchanges that have been delivering construction data, news and information of opportunities at various stages of the construction process for over a century.

With this partnership, SmartBidNet users can benefit by:
- Publishing public bid projects from SmartBidnet to the VPRN Online Planroom.
- Pulling projects and documents from the VPRN Online Planroom into SmartBidNet for private prequalification and bid management.
- Accessing industry news easily within VPRN that our commercial building clients depend on daily.

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Dun & Bradstreet is collaborating with SmartBidNet to improve the quality of data integrated from the SmartInsight contractor network. D&B solutions assist in data cleansing and verification by running SmartInsight subcontractor data through the world’s leading source of commercial data, analytics and insight on businesses. D&B’s global commercial database contains more than 240 million accurate business records.

Through our integration with Dun & Bradstreet, SmartBidNet users are able to take advantage of verified commercial company data integrated from SmartInsight by referencing a D-U-N-S number for each subcontractor. This integration also gives general contractors confidence in the validity of subcontractor data listed within the SmartInsight network.

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ShareFile, our recommended cloud storage service, integrates into SmartBidNet for a seamless connection between both systems - allowing users to keep their project documents up to date within both platforms.

By integrating a ShareFile account into SmartBidNet, general contractors are able to:
- Upload bid project files and documents from ShareFile directly into SmartBidNet and vice versa
- Quickly add and remove project documents with real-time synchronization
- Always keep your plans within reach for any shared subcontractor in SmartBidNet or ShareFile

 

Our partnership with Plans4Less allows SmartBidNet users to get the most affordable pricing for same day printing and shipping for plans from the SmartBidNet online plan room.

With the option of using the integrated Plans4Less feature, SmartBidNet users are able to:
- Give subcontractors access to the reprographic services offered by Plans4Less as they view plans in the SmartBidNet Online Planroom.
- Take advantage of fixed pricing with no minimum orders required.
- Print & ship daily direct to your office or construction job site nationally via UPS.

 

With the STACK Estimating (formerly Cloud Takeoff) integration into SmartBidNet, all SmartBidNet users can easily open plan files and quickly perform basic quantity takeoffs from your SmartBidNet plan room.

By becoming a STACK Estimating customer, SmartBidNet users can:
- Experience real-time, collaborative estimating takeoff with your project team and subcontractors.
- Use detailed reporting to calculate the cost and quantity of materials to pull back into SmartBidNet.
- Take advantage of STACK’s pre-built catalogs to help you quickly calculate costs for specific trades based on your own rates and historical experience.

 

SmartInsight is an online construction network that helps general contractors find, verify and connect with subcontractors and suppliers. The full SmartInsight database of contractors is integrated with SmartBidNet for general contractors to tap into when sending project communications.

By using the SmartInsight construction network, general contractors in SmartBidNet can:
- Access a quality, up-to-date database of subcontractors for additional bid coverage.
- Locate qualified subcontractors that match your project requirements.
- Access a platform focused on streamlined prequalification with subcontractor scoring available from industry leading risk analysts.

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Cloud Storage Integrations


In addition to our preferred cloud integration with ShareFile, our users’ SmartBidNet online plan room can also integrate with these cloud storage solutions:

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ShareFile

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Box

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Google Drive

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OneDrive

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Egnyte

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SharePoint

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OneDrive
for Business

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CMIS

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Alfresco

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AWS S3



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