Success Pillar: Administration

Monday, December 19, 2022

The success pillars panel discussion continues with a deep dive into the administration pillar.

Matt Bohan, the Director of Customer Optimization at e-Builder, breaks down what success looks like from an administrative perspective with Kiavash Parvan, the e-Builder Administrator at University of Maryland, and James Styles from Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance at the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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Administration is the depth and breadth of resources, people and controls needed to operate. If you lack any of these, your initiative will fail.

Managing More

The University of Maryland is no stranger to a plethora of projects - in 2022 alone, they are managing around $210 million covering about 130 construction projects spread across 7 campuses. James Styles from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has an even larger capital budget to manage 5.5 million square feet of state office buildings and assets, coming in at over $2 billion in capital planning, design, construction, and project delivery funds to meet the needs of their citizens.

To manage this many projects at the level of detail, efficiency, and thoroughness required for the jobs, these organizations reached out to e-Builder to digitally transform their project management information systems (PMIS) into a cloud-based solution. Now, with about 600 active users for the University of Maryland projects and 140 agencies depending on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to deliver quality projects and project documentation, the e-Builder administration teams supporting these programs must be adequately staffed with employees possessing proper qualifications and training and have an understanding of how to prioritize projects.

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University Campus Construction

A peek inside their administration teams

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At the University of Maryland, Kiavash describes two e-Builder administration teams. The first is what they call the “first responder team”, which is user support and their “help desk”, and includes two permanent employees and two graduate assistants from the University of Maryland. This team is typically a higher turnaround team with graduate assistants moving in and out of the positions, so training videos and user manuals are helpful to bring this team up to speed quickly. This team helps e-Builder users “create new users, create new processes and projects, give access to users, change the project assignments, resolve log in issues and, and create reports.”

The second team Kiavash describes is the expert e-Builder enhancement team. They tackle projects such as updating processes, tweaking the tool to imitate e-Builder best practices, or updating processes to reflect new regulations and rules from the state. Kiavash says that the skillset for these positions includes “business analysis skills, understanding how to create business workflows in e-Builder, how to set access, also knowledge about your organization,” and “how your organization does construction.”

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For James Styles, Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, they have a smaller team that is capable of doing it all, with redundancies in staffing so no issues arise if someone is out for the day. His extensive experience with e-Builder stems from the implementation of the PMIS and working with the e-Builder team, where he and his team were “challenging the [e-Builder] team during the implementation.” He says, “...we have a pretty complex integration in terms of the code steps that we had to develop. And because of that, knowledge was really grown and understanding how the system was able to create and utilize those code steps.”

What to look for in an e-Builder administrator as an owner

Kiavash describes the traits that he looks for in what he refers to as his first responders: they have to be “patient and understand the user’s pain,” know how to treat users, and be a good listener.

Having some background in construction helps, since e-Builder is a tool that supports owners in construction management. He usually hires rapid learners, explaining that this is a good skill set because things are changing in the construction and technology industry very quickly.

For their e-Builder enhancement team, a background in business analysis, programming, web application, and databases is critical.

James explains that critical thinking skills, communication, patience, thinking creatively, and even sales experience come in handy for his team.

Daily e-Builder administration duties

A day in the life of an e-Builder administrator may include minor (or major) adjustments to processes, testing process improvements, or day-to-day user support.

Kiavash describes the reports he uses on a daily basis to have a greater understanding of what is going on in their e-Builder system, how to delegate projects, and determine priorities:

  • Reports of requests for help desk team
  • Audit reports for missing information
  • Diagnostic reports to search for missing assigned users

Both teams use reports to help with early identification of a problem and correcting of any data issues in support of the overall goals of the organization.

Prioritizing projects

The panelists agree that e-Builder projects are prioritized based on project impact, measured by how many end users, and which end users, are impacted by the project. Typically, issues with integration are the focus to make sure that the teams can continue their “commitments and payments to [their] vendors, because that keeps the projects moving.”

By automating major workflows such as customized reports for project summaries and budgets, supporting daily e-Builder activities, e-Builder administrative teams are the heroes behind the scenes, contributing to the overall success and smooth operation of their organizations.

Watch episode 4: Success Pillar - Technology