Behind the Build: Interview with Dikkie Anderson, Senior Project Manager, Nevell Group Inc.

“All the project details are easily accessible, and we have a single source of truth.”

If you're a construction project manager, we're willing to bet those words are music to your ears. The more accessible and organized the project info and documents are, the easier it is for you to do your job. 

Dikkie Anderson from Nevell Group Inc. knows this firsthand. As the firm's Senior Project Manager, he oversees projects and works with several stakeholders to ensure timely completion. “Having Autodesk Construction Cloud for centralized communication and document management is a must.”

We recently caught up with Dikkie and discussed how he navigates today's construction landscape and technology's role in his day-to-day work life. 

Check out what he has to say. 

Tell me a little bit about Nevell Group Inc (NGi) and what you specialize in.

Nevell Group Inc. was founded in 2003 (20+ years ago) and is a specialty subcontractor that specializes in metal stud framing, drywall, taping, lath, fireproofing, and plastering in California and Nevada.

I'm based in Northern California and specialize in healthcare projects. I have worked on a variety of construction projects, from schools to commercial high rises or building satellite warehouses. Right now, I'm working on a project to build a 14-story hospital replacement tower in Sacramento, CA.

Walk me through your career and what led you to becoming Senior Project Manager

I started my career on a fluke. In 1998, I was interviewing to work at a movie theater in Santa Clara, CA and the interview took place outside. Where a Construction Project Manager noticed that I was looking for a job and offered me a position after a 10-minute conversation. 

I started out as a warehouse driver, driving materials like drywall and metal studs around the San Francisco Bay Area. 

From there, I worked with Project Managers and learned how to do submittals and scheduling. I then became a Project Engineer and transferred to a different company where a lot of my co-workers had transitioned. 

I just stayed in construction, moving up in positions until I became a Senior Project Manager at Nevell Group Inc.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your role? How does technology help you overcome those challenges?

When I started working as a Project Manager, one of my biggest challenges was reading blueprints, which went from 2D to 3D. I was trying to make sense of the building three-dimensionally by using 2D prints.

One of my biggest pain points was trying to overcome that hurdle. It took some years to learn what all the details meant and how all the pieces came together. But now, with technology and BIM, Nevell Group Inc. can view the model on an iPad, and the team can understand the building more succinctly.

This allows us to “see as a team” all the aspects of the building in one view by seeing the model and details at once. Tools like BIM make it easy to understand how a header can clash with a critical stud, for example. 

That's why I'm excited about construction technology. It's providing more value to me and to other people who have been learning to read 2D by making them think in a three-dimensional way.

What were you missing (or what was the biggest weakness) in your previous technology stack that encouraged you to explore Autodesk Construction Cloud?

We were missing access to the model in the Field. Having the model and the 2D drawings linked together and being able to navigate everything was a big missing piece. Using Autodesk Construction Cloud this solved that. 

Autodesk Construction Cloud also helped us use the the model and drawings to identify issues and then write RFI’s that help the whole team see and understand the issue more effectively. Utilizing all the team members experience (Craft workers, Project Managers, Architects, General Contractors) to resolve an issue.  

Autodesk Construction Cloud also allows us to sync or overlay a drawing digitally on top of another. So now, it's easier to say, "Hey, you could see how these weren't lined up." It made identifying issues just so much faster.

What data/information do you need to do your job on a day-to-day basis?

I need to be able to understand the construction flow on a project (ie schedules, locations, areas, scopes). What is the state of construction (is it an active project or in pre-con.) I review constructablity issues everyday and then create issue reports so we can solve those and manage tasks.

How does Autodesk Construction Cloud help you access that information?

Autodesk Construction Cloud is our one source of truth. It allows our field team and office to be on the same page and look at the same documents in the same way. 

I can upload something and sync it, and we're looking at the same document—whether it be an overlay or an issue—we're on the same page. Perhaps we're trying to figure out room dimensions or plan the next week's work. Whatever the case, Autodesk Construction Cloud is our one source of truth. It's our hub for everything. 

It's valuable because when we're building something, the plans are our main source of information. All the supplemental information—RFIs, submittals, all that other stuff—can be linked to that particular item. We all start from looking at the drawings where we can hyperlink all supplemental documents and we now have everything available on the same page in the same context instead of having to flip through different pages just to find the right info. 

What are the benefits to you/your business of managing design, precon, and field solution workflows in a single platform?

One benefit is that it allows us to make changes to our teams. So, if a foreman is sick or one of our team members is unavailable, someone can easily cover for them because they have the information they need. 

Let's say we're working on ten different projects. Team members know that they can access the information for each project either at night or on the weekend. They know where to find it and how to get up to speed because we're all following the same protocols. 

If one of our team members is working on an airport and our scope is to build some temp walls, we are expected to get in, get out, and go back to another job with a different scope. We use ACC, so we are all consistent. This allows for a lot of flexibility when it comes to managing many projects with a variety of team members. 

Has your team been able to calculate any positive changes since implementing ACC (reduced rework, reduced project schedules, better profit margins, etc)?

We haven't been able to identify a specific issue using ACC, as we are utilizing various features.  

That said, we have seen a 30% reduced errors, and we've seen our profit margin increase because we're making fewer mistakes. 

We've also seen an increase in our productivity in the office and in the field because finding information doesn't take as long. This makes everybody more confident about resolving issues in 10 minutes and moving on to the next item. 

It has helped us reduce waste, and those savings keep multiplying. 

Finally, ACC makes us more self-motivated because we know what to anticipate and creates accountability as we all know who is working on what. 

When you think about the future, what are your plans to advance innovation and productivity at NGi?

There's some exciting stuff happening on the Autodesk Construction Cloud side. Because of some new rollouts, ACC has implemented a work planning module in its scheduling. So we're looking at how we can utilize that to better coordinate our field teams and better plan with the general contractors. We can show better flow opportunities and help keep us on track and accountable.

Looking forward to progress tracking and new updates with 360 video capture. 

How do you think AI will impact construction?

Well, there are a couple of challenges for the construction industry in general. Our labor force is changing quickly. We have a large amount of very knowledgeable people, and they're on the verge of retiring. The next generation that's coming in has different tech tools and skill sets. Because of that, we have a gap in between. And there are not enough people coming in that will be exiting. We must figure out how to work smarter so we can continue to manage the workload in the industry. 

That's where artificial intelligence comes in. AI can automate many of our tasks and make information more useful. In the future, I see AI tools being integrated into our workflows to fill gaps and allow people to do some of the work that they love—whether that be building or solving problems. 

We'll also be connecting data and information. That was one of the other pain points we had. We were like, "Oh, how does the spec section relate to the submittal, and how does everything relate to what we're building on site?" We can see everything's now connected. 

We'll then be able to collaborate from that. All the information can be interacted with and connected, so when I update in one space, it updates in all five spaces. I also see a lot of the redundancy taken out. These include things like filling out first name, last name, middle name, company name, etc. Can I enter it once it populates everywhere, speeding certain processes up because that information is critical for different people in different ways.

What advice would you give to the next generation of men and women entering and preparing for the future of the industry?

The future will be about collaboration, trust, and the ability to use the tools to do that. 

I would say to learn about AI and be able to have it create trustworthy information.  

Also, learn about conflict resolution. The construction industry will be about, "How can I be in an environment where we can talk about conflicting ideas and at the same time have respect and trust for each other?"

Kelsee Campbell

As a Senior Customer Advocacy Program Manager at Autodesk, Kelsee has the privilege of working with Autodesk customers to champion their stories on the Digital Builder Blog. Kelsee strives to create an engaging experience that amplifies customer perspectives, fostering a sense of community and connection.