McCorvey automates construction manufacturing work management and elevates the voices of its experts with Smartsheet Control Center and WorkApps
McCorvey Companies uses Smartsheet Control Center and WorkApps to create role-tailored access to information from any location, dramatically increase efficiency, and save thousands of dollars per year.
"We save about $80,000 a year just on materials from prints no longer lost. And we save six to eight hours a week on communication alone. But the real value for us is the downtime saved for our workers. That’s more of an impact for us than the material costs."
Research and Development Manager, McCorvey Companies
Founded in 1925, McCorvey Companies has become a major manufacturer of custom ductwork, pipe, and plumbing across the Southeastern U.S. Smartsheet Control Center and WorkApps are key parts of McCorvey’s strategy to simplify and streamline its own operations, provide a customized user experience, and scale for growth.
“McCorvey is an innovative company, and we’re also trying to benefit the industry as a whole,” says Chris Mondeau, research and development manager for McCorvey Companies. “We will work with other trades, vendors, or customers to try and make it more efficient for everyone. That really enhances our relationships with others and makes it more efficient and streamlined for everyone we work with.”
McCorvey Companies designs, builds and installs ductwork and piping for hospitals, hotels and major event centers. The larger organization encompasses several specialized businesses: McCorvey Sheet Metal, Way Engineering, Way Mechanical, Duct Direct, McCorvey Industrial Fabrication, and Kirlin-Way Mechanical. McCorvey’s growth has accelerated in the past decade, prompting its leaders to invest in technology to help smooth the evolution from a family-owned business to an industry leader.
“[Before Smartsheet] A lot of our departments had their own siloed workflows,” Mondeau says. “Someone would have a great tool or process, but it wasn’t used by anyone else. We worked with the subject matter experts to design sheets or workflows. We said, ‘We’re going to take your expertise but remove all the manual redundancies with Smartsheet.’ Today our project leads work with us on a weekly basis to test out ideas and build them up to scale. Documenting the way the business works allows us to be more efficient, capture that knowledge and share it with the teams.”
Before Smartsheet, achieving that consistency and visibility was challenging. Many business and design processes were paper-based. Technology tools varied from team to team, ranging from email and PDFs to stand-alone spreadsheets and databases. Mondeau and his colleagues saw the need for a single platform that would integrate disparate sources of data, support workflow automation, and enable access to information from any location while eliminating the risks inherent in paper-based processes.
The first project McCorvey tackled with Smartsheet was scheduling and coordination of projects for the fabrication shop, which included digitizing production drawings to save hours of work time and thousands of dollars per year. As other teams saw the platform’s power, the organization’s Smartsheet implementation expanded quickly. McCorvey Companies now uses Smartsheet for business-critical functions like estimating, change proposals and RFIs, accounting and billing, purchasing, fabrication scheduling, field operations, and much more — a single system of record for the whole business.
“Consistency is becoming the key factor for us as we grow so quickly,” Mondeau says. “We’re trying to take our mom-and-pop-shop mentality and build it up to grow with any other companies that we work with, acquire, or start up so we can provide the same consistent experience. There’s a big movement in the construction industry to start standardizing construction processes, and there’s increased demand for visibility from suppliers, distributors, and even the other trades to make things run more efficiently.”
Real-time access to data that saves time and money
Smartsheet saves McCorvey time and money by giving people real-time access to the information they need from any location. Processes like managing updates to production drawings are completely transformed. Before Smartsheet, if foremen at a construction site had an outdated drawing, they’d call a detailer, who would manually check the versions, coordinate printing of a set of perhaps dozens of pages of drawings, and arrange for it to be delivered to the site — which could be hours away.
Now a foreman can pull up the most current drawings on a mobile device, and can use comments within Smartsheet to resolve specific concerns with the detailer. A process that used to leave work crews idle for half a day or more can be resolved in 10-15 minutes. Eliminating the need to print and deliver large packets of drawings has saved McCorvey more than $80,000 per year.
Real-time information-sharing through Smartsheet simplifies material requests as well. A site foreman can consult a sheet or dashboard to see when particular materials are scheduled for delivery, and can check spending against budget and make immediate changes to prevent cost overruns. McCorvey also uses Smartsheet to cut costs for tool and equipment rentals; teams incorporate tool planning into the project plan for a job, so they can supply only the tools that are needed rather than stocking a large reserve “just in case.” Through buying and renting fewer tools, as well as avoiding late fees on rentals, McCorvey has saved between $50,000 and $100,000.
“Some of our foremen will look at the app and say, oh, this job has the roll hammer, let me call them,” Mondeau says. “It allows them to problem-solve and bypass other people to communicate directly, because they have access to that information.”
Scaling effort and saving time with Control Center
Smartsheet Control Center helps McCorvey standardize how project information is collected and reported across the organization, enabling top-down insights and efficient planning. With hundreds of active projects going at any given time, overseeing work that ranges from a few weeks to nearly two years, the ability to scale and automate changes is crucial.
“We used to copy folders to use as the template sets,” Mondeau says. “But as our sheets got more advanced, we wanted to make this process self-service. IT can use Control Center to process the changes that product owners want, and we don’t have to go through and make an update every single time.”
By capturing a wealth of detail for each project, McCorvey has created a data resource that can be used to identify larger issues and solve problems. For example, an analysis of the materials request process discovered that a large proportion of requests were for same-day or next-day delivery. Managers were able to find out whether those short turnarounds resulted from lack of planning, delays in receiving estimates or specs, or other factors that could be improved. Mondeau estimates that using Smartsheet has created a 60%-70% increase in efficiency of workflows and accessing information — and in communications alone, a 400% increase in efficiency as teams cut delay and confusion out of collaborative processes.
Tailored workspaces by role with WorkApps
One way Mondeau and his colleagues have been able to streamline communication is by taking advantage of Smartsheet WorkApps. With WorkApps, Mondeau and team can easily build intuitive web and mobile apps that can incorporate Smartsheet assets and external resources like Tableau dashboards or Google Docs without writing a single line of code. McCorvey is using WorkApps to create role-defined workspaces, built to streamline access to just the information fabricators, contractors, or even customers need to get their work done.
“As our use of Smartsheet has grown exponentially, we’ve had feedback from employees that it’s a little difficult to navigate,” Mondeau says. “With WorkApps, we wanted to see if we could change the interface of the experience to a simpler app-based approach, and bring in elements of our company’s operations that are currently outside of Smartsheet.”
Mondeau says the WorkApps app builder is “extremely easy to use,” and its flexibility for sharing and presenting information is as good as Dynamic View. He has built apps for work functions such as travel planning and shop fabrication. With role-defined permissions, the travel app allows travelers to see their own upcoming trips and itineraries, while managers can view their direct reports’ schedules but not personal information like home address or traveler ID number. The fab shop team members can see the specifics of the pieces they’re working on without having to scroll past columns for shipping information or other details used by the purchasing or sales teams.
The simple interface helps new hires, contractors, or partners quickly find what they need, no Smartsheet experience required. And because McCorvey can incorporate its own branding and colors into WorkApps, the apps are a custom built experience from end to end.
“It’s a nice, clean interface for users to come in and do all their main work without opening up new browser tabs or different apps,” Mondeau says. “It’s just that simple: This is your workspace. You’re not navigating through 100 project folders to find the information you need; you’re explicitly given the views that are pertinent to your job function.”
Finding and learning from the experts within the company
Not only has McCorvey saved time and money by implementing Smartsheet, it’s given voice to the people who have years of experience across the organization. The push to capture and standardize best practices has led managers to the people who have the greatest expertise and insight to offer.
“Since we’ve been training and building these tools, we’ve identified employees who have experience that no one’s ever heard,” Mondeau says. “It’s really allowed us to find new experts or and evaluate and implement newer ideas. We’ve got people who’ve been working in construction for 50 years who say, ‘I’d like to test this out; help me put my words down on paper, in a sheet or a database, and build it.’ It’s driven that innovation and exposed people who are really passionate about what they’re doing and want to invest themselves in the company.”