Commercial kitchen projects are insanely complex. Any execution mistakes will impair your profits and diminish your brand with operator's and GC's. Most dealers are stuck using Excel, SmartSheet or a general-purpose project management system that isn't tailored to the unique needs of our industry. We are fixing this by building exactly what a dealer needs to seamlessly execute their kitchen projects.
As will always be the case, we began our development process by interviewing subject matter experts — project manager’s & project executives. The only way to solve a problem is to fully understand it and that requires talking to the people who deal with the problem every single day. This is the power of what we call, “Community-Driven Development.”
Through these conversations, the issue became quite clear. Executing these projects requires effective communication, coordination and collaboration across a large number of internal and external stakeholders. This creates challenges because the industry is reliant on disconnected software and communication tools (excel, email, smartsheets) and/or project management applications that aren't designed for the unique needs of FE&S dealers.
To solve this, we are building a centralized platform, tailored to FE&S, that will make it easier to track and communicate progress across all projects, and coordinate with your team and external stakeholders through an open communications system. Examples of the latter include reviewing and approving all of your shop drawings before submittals or purchase, and requesting confirmation of job-site readiness (with photos) from the General Contractor before sending out your installation team.
One of the big issues with general-purpose project management applications is the need to configure it to better meet your needs. This takes a lot of time, something that is rarely available in the busy world of FE&S construction. Our singular focus on this industry allows us to auto-configure this platform so it works for FE&S dealers right out of the box. Think of it as a digital, and much cheaper, assistant! While every project is different, they have a similar process. Plans must be finalized (submittals, contract, approved drawings, site measurements), products must be purchased and staged, installers must be scheduled, and projects must be closed out via punch list completion and product demos.
Our platform can auto-create these core tasks with the right dependencies. It can also auto-assign these tasks to the right person and provide them the information/files they need to complete the task. If external communication is required, the software can create the correct message, add the correct recipients and provide the correct response options. This way, the project manager only has to review and click one button.
Here is a quick example of how this could work.
- When a project is awarded, the software creates tasks to review and approve every shop drawing
- It automatically pulls in the shop drawing files that were uploaded to the platform by the salesperson or estimator earlier in the project’s lifecycle
- The due date is automatically set to be a certain number of days prior to the submittal due date and the task gets assigned to the project manager added to the project
- When the recipients get added to the task, individual emails get created (see below) with the shop drawing attached with two response button options: "Approved" or "Rejected"
- If the recipient clicks "Approved" in the email, the task is marked as completed in the software platform. If they click "Rejected", the project manager gets an alert letting them know there is more work to do
- Email sends, views and responses are recorded in the platform so everyone knows where the process stands and for record-keeping in the event of future issues/disputes
Importantly, this can be leveraged for many other FE&S project management use cases: Bid Submissions, PO Acknowledgement, Job Site Readiness, etc. It also creates better transparency for executives. Our platform can show them the current status of all projects in real-time (no more status update meetings!), the primary bottlenecks to project completion, and alert them to any at-risk projects. Furthermore, as we capture data on what drives project execution successes and mistakes, we can develop better analytics to help optimize performance.
In summary, the FE&S industry is weighed down by disconnected software tools. Our objective at Centerpiece is to replace all of them with a software platform that brings your data, teams and streamlined workflows together. This will save your team time and provide them with better insights to sell, win and earn more. Building technology has never been easier. Building the right technology remains the challenge. This is why we build in public with industry experts so we can build, collect feedback, learn, iterate and repeat.