The One Platform Advantage: How Owners and Contractors Win Together [Webinar]

The most successful construction projects are rooted in strong collaboration between owners and general contractors.

When these parties understand and support each other, information flows more openly, stakeholders stay aligned, and things just get done faster. 

But even the best teams have a hard time working together if they don’t share the same platforms, tools, or data standards. Disconnected solutions lead to data silos and inefficiencies, ultimately forcing slow downs in collaboration. That’s why owners and GCs should leverage systems that keep everyone on the same page.

This is exactly what you’ll learn in our recent webinar, Connected and Collaborative: How Owners and Contractors Win In the Same Platform. Click that link to watch the whole thing, or get the recap below.

This on-demand discussion brings together speakers from General Motors (the owner) and Barton Malow (the GC). They’ll discuss how they’ve established a shared construction platform and the wins they’ve achieved while doing so. 

Specifically, you’ll hear from:

  • Matt Hedke, Director of VDC Solutions at Barton Malow
  • Brian Popis, Senior VDC Engineer at Barton Malow
  • John Raad, Engineering Group Manager of Sustainable Workplaces at General Motors
  • Eric Thomas, Manager of Construction Thought Leadership and Host of the Digital Builder Podcast at Autodesk


What you’ll learn

You’ll get an inside look at how top-performing GCs and owners are working together. You’ll walk away with knowledge on:

  1. Why it’s essential for owners and GCs to share the same construction platform
  2. Actionable guidance on how to smoothly roll out new solutions and increase adoption within teams
  3. Examples of project successes that General Motors and Barton Malow have gained with a shared construction platform


The perils of not having a shared platform

General Motors and Barton Malow have a longstanding history and have worked together on many successful projects over the last several decades. In fact, Barton Malow has been named as a General Motors Supplier of the Year five times now, and they have plans to collaborate on other major projects in the future. 

“One of the things that we often hear from a lot of partners throughout the industry is how much they really appreciate our level of collaboration and partnership between General Motors and Barton Malow,” says Matt.

However, as the industry continues to evolve and projects become increasingly complex, both parties knew that they had to find even better ways to work together. 

Here are some of the biggest pain points faced by General Motors and Barton Malow before they moved to a shared platform. 

A severed flow of information

Without a shared platform, teams experience a disconnect with the flow of information. As Brian puts it, "when you have all these different programs in different places, you essentially have a severed connection between the flow of information." 

When you have all these different programs in different places, you essentially have a severed connection between the flow of information.

— Brian Popis, VDC Engineer, Barton Marlow

As a result, team members don’t always get the info they need, which leads to confusion and unnecessary delays. 

Eric weighs in, and says that teams that don’t have solid platforms in place suffer a myriad of project issues, "including out of date information, inefficient workflows, and lack of communication.”

Security concerns

There’s also a matter of security. People need different levels of permissions to access project data, and managing multiple users is more difficult when teams are using solutions that don’t connect with each other. 

Inconsistent processes

From the owner’s side, John says they grappled with a lack of consistency with their processes. 

"When everybody's working on these different platforms, there are almost too many options for people. And what we've found is a lot of them would just come up with their particular combination of programs to make it work,” John explains. 

When everybody's working on these different platforms, there are almost too many options for people. [sic] The big pain point is that nobody's consistent.

— John Raad, Engineering Group Manager of Sustainable Workplaces, General Motors

“The big pain point is that nobody's consistent. So, when somebody comes and tries to jump into a new project, there's a whole set of things they need to learn.”


How owners and contractors multiply each others’ wins

To solve the above pain points, Barton Malow and General Motors decided to transition to a shared platform — Autodesk Construction Cloud. This move helped them unlock several wins, including:

Eliminating silos between the owner and GC

Having a shared platform eliminated silos between General Motors and Barton Malow. 

“There was a barrier and there were silos between us and General Motors in the past,” says Brian. “By having those workflows hosted in a place where stakeholders have access to them, we can make sure that everybody is seeing the latest and greatest stuff. So, that's just a quantum leap in and of itself.”

He adds, “If General Motors needs to see something, or if one of our design partners needs to see something, they can access it, as opposed to being in all these different programs.”

Eric summarizes this point quite well. He says that when GCs and owners have a common platform, “you're able to democratize the access to data by streamlining it and making sure that everybody's able to get to it.”

That way, the information isn’t “hiding in a folder 17 layers deep in a non-standard file format that nobody agreed on before the beginning of the project.”

Improving access to data

With Autodesk Construction Cloud, team members no longer have to hunt down for the information they need, because everything is accessible through a single platform. For example, if someone needs the current construction drawings, they can simply access them through the shared system instead of asking other people to send the info or make copies of the documents. 

Finding information that’s most relevant to each person’s role is also much easier, as Autodesk Construction Cloud enables them to create custom dashboards containing the data they require. 

"It gives us what we need to see based on our role within that project,” explains Matt. “So, the ability for us to be able to go to one location and create those custom dashboards, to be able to understand and see what we want, is a really big thing for us.”

Standardizing processes

A shared platform has also helped Barton Malow and General Motors be more consistent with their workflows and processes. 

The concept of standardizing from job to job, things like folder structure, has been a big win.

Matt Hedke, Director of VDC Solutions, Barton Malow

According to Matt, “The concept of standardizing from job to job, things like folder structure, has been a big win.” 

“Folder structure can be in the same conversation. How do we standardize that? So, as we go from project to project, it's consistent.”


Easier day-to-day operations with a shared platform

The speakers also talked about the positive changes they’ve seen in their day-to-day work lives after switching to a shared construction platform. 

Less noise and non-value waste

Both General Motors and Barton Malow agree that a shared platform has eliminated noise and unnecessary chatter between teams. Because stakeholders can get everything they need from the same place, there's less confusion about how to find documents or information. 


“I'm seeing a lot less of just random drawings or requests for information. Those are starting to fall away,” says John.

Brian echoes this and adds that a shared platform "eliminates non-value-added waste.”

“People no longer have to re-communicate a process for finding something or where something is,” he says.

Saving time on meetings

John says that Autodesk Construction Cloud has allowed him and his team to better document meetings, which has been helpful, particularly on days when he can’t always attend them. 

I didn’t need to sit in a meeting for an hour to figure out who did what. I just see the issue and it’s on my dashboard.

— John Raad, Engineering Group Manager of Sustainable Workplaces, General Motors

“Things get documented. Maybe I missed a meeting, but I can see that somebody has already answered an issue. I could look at it real quick and go, ‘Oh, okay.’ I didn't need to sit in a meeting for an hour to figure out who did what. I just see the issue and it's on my dashboard.”


If nothing else, remember these tips

If you’re interested in transitioning to a shared platform, the following recommendations will help make the process much smoother. 

Talk as early as possible

Don’t wait to have those platform conversations, says Brian. “The number one key in bringing people on board with this journey we're on with Autodesk Construction Cloud is talking as early as we can. Being able to have that conversation early and have some structure around what that looks like for the project makes all the difference.”

Doing so helps build a strong foundation, so teams can hit the ground running when it’s time to switch to a new solution. 

Invest in training

Encourage folks to learn the software by providing training materials that are easy to access and consume. In the case of Barton Malow, the company created on-demand training programs, broken down into shorter sessions. 

“We have an on-demand training software that we use to help quickly push out our processes,” explains Brian. “That information is parsed down to just what you really need to know.”

This approach was helpful, Matt says, because it allowed teams to consume the information without getting too overwhelmed. 

“We looked at the roles within the platform and said, ‘Hey, what does the project team need? What do our subcontractors need? What do our own owners need?’ Then we built out those training segments for them and broke that down into bite-size chunks.”

Celebrate your team’s wins, no matter how small

Implementing new systems and processes isn’t easy, which is why it’s important to celebrate the “pockets of wins” that you see in your company, advises John.

“It's very easy to get frustrated when implementation isn’t going smoothly. So we just really celebrate the ones that are doing it well. We hold up other teams that are paving the way forward,” he says. 

Eric agrees and says that these small wins can be used to create a bigger impact. “You've got those pockets of adoption and you can really leverage those because you get to step back and show the rest of the project teams where you are really finding success.”


Watch the webinar on-demand

Truly, when owners and contractors collaborate on the same platform, amazing things can happen. If you’re interested in adopting a shared construction platform and in need of guidance, this on-demand webinar has you covered.


Ben Renschen

Ben Renschen was a writer & associate editor for the Digital Builder Blog at Autodesk.