In the last two decades, BHI, once a small construction company in Vernal, Utah, has expanded its operations to dozens of industries in over 25 states. But while the company grew, its technology trailed behind. File sharing and emails both ran off a single server. Editing a document was a grueling undertaking that required an employee to VPN in, patiently download the file, edit it, then upload it again—all from a job site with limited internet connection. Acknowledging the need for better technology, BHI adopted Google Workspace and AppSheet and transformed its business to be more innovative, productive, and profitable.
Rebuilding collaboration and productivity
BHI first looked to replace its archaic email and file-sharing systems. They found that Google Workspace—as a proven and popular collaboration solution for remote teams and a familiar, preferred platform that most employees use in their personal lives—was the clear choice. BHI migrated its 500 employees to Google Workspace in less than a week. Productivity immediately soared, since employees could collaborate more easily with Google Workspace’s products and access them from any device, from anywhere—even at the construction sites.
For instance, the contract writing process drastically improved with Google Workspace. Version control had always been a struggle—as employees circulated a draft contract from one computer to the next, versions became unruly and randomized, untracked changes popped up, and files went missing. With Google Workspace, the pre-construction, legal, and finance teams can all edit and track changes of a contract from wherever they work. Version control has become a thing of the past, as everyone is always working on the latest version.
By adopting Google Workspace, BHI decentralized its operations and began collaborating in real time across over 150 job sites. Management and IT gained new insights into challenges that they may never have uncovered nor confronted without a cloud-based productivity tool. The IT team also saw an opportunity to overhaul the methods of their deskless workforce, which accounts for 90% of the company. This deskless majority needed to connect directly to the data that influenced, impacted, and comprised their work. They also required more streamlined processes. AppSheet provided the answer to the workforce’s needs, enabling IT to create applications that simplified key tasks so mobile workers could get their jobs done faster and better.
For example, one BHI client required extensive inspections multiple times a day. Before using AppSheet, a BHI inspector would perform the inspection, return to a computer, record the results from paper to a spreadsheet, copy and paste them into a formatted report in a Google Docs, convert the Doc to a PDF, and email the final inspection report to the customer. This manual process took two hours to complete. Now, using AppSheet, the inspector inputs the results on their mobile device while performing the inspection. As soon as the device connects to the internet, it automatically updates the database with the inspector’s inputs, adds the inspection results to a preformatted report built in Google Docs, and emails the final report as a PDF to the customer. With AppSheet, BHI shortened this inspection process from two hours to six minutes, saving over $50,000 a month in labor.
With Google Workspace and AppSheet, BHI has turned into a digital company with real-time data allowing for real-time decisions, collaboration, and transparency in a decentralized environment.
An easier software choice for faster results
BHI also found that building apps with AppSheet is much easier than using other solutions, such as developing with low- or full-code tools or purchasing third-party products. Because AppSheet is a true no-code platform, anyone can learn to build and maintain apps. Since adopting AppSheet, the BHI IT team has become so proficient with the platform that they have eliminated the company’s previous backlog of software needs. Now, when a new site opens up, IT proactively works with the site managers to understand its unique requirements in order to build a custom app. Start to finish, scoping and building this site-specific app typically takes less than a week—compared to months with traditional development platforms.
IT team members aren’t the only BHI employees building apps. As Johnny Hacking, BHI’s Director of IT explains, “We have people that aren’t in IT, and when they have an idea we say hey, log into AppSheet, build it out, and then we’ll help out with some final touches on it.”
Empowering employees outside of IT to build AppSheet apps has benefited teams across the company. For example, one team on a solar farm construction project needed to perform inspections of an array of specialized technical equipment with which IT was not familiar. In this case, the solar team, being the subject matter experts, simply built the app according to their specifications. All IT had to do was jump in at the end to help finalize the app—the final product was completely customized to the solar team’s very specific needs. This highlights the benefits of no-code development: on-the-ground experts build and prototype job-specific apps and IT puts the finishing touches on the functionality, all while keeping guardrails in place.
Using Google Workspace and AppSheet also simplifies BHI’s reliance on third-party software. “Our company divisions are so diverse that they each require different software,” says Hacking. “Plus, if we buy a third-party software, we still have to customize it by getting other software, because they don’t play well together. By replacing this software with AppSheet apps, we save a lot of money. And it’s easy to integrate those apps because on the back end, they’re all connected to Google Sheets.”
For the few third-party software products that BHI hasn’t been able to replace, they’ve used Apps Scripts to import the software’s data into Google Sheets, so that their data all lives on one platform. Overall, BHI has been able to free up 10% of its total IT spend by replacing third-party software with Google Workspace and AppSheet apps.
Company culture transformed by technology
“Because we’ve used Google Workspace and AppSheet and it’s been so successful, people are very willing to use them,” Hacking says. “And for a construction company to gain so much trust in these platforms in such a short period of time—that’s huge. Now we’re at the point where employees are asking, ‘What else can we do?’”
Adopting Google Workspace and AppSheet has not only made BHI more productive, but also transformed the company culture. Employees feel empowered to be more innovative and are constantly seeking ways to improve. Simplifying employees’ work has led to a direct boost in morale.
The role of IT has also transformed. As Hacking explains, “In just three years of using these technologies, IT has gone from being support overhead to being proactively brought to the table to take part in the business strategy.” Increased IT visibility and culpability has helped solve business problems and led to increased profitability.
BHI continues to find new ways to leverage Google Workspace and AppSheet to improve business. In response to COVID, they created a timesheet app that allows employees to clock in without touching a device. Most meetings are now held virtually using Google Meet. Fleet maintenance and repairs are all managed with apps. And, of course, the company has better data and insights than ever. As Hacking puts it, “We’re continuing to stay on the cusp of innovation because of Google Workspace and AppSheet.”
Learn more about Google Workspace and AppSheet.
How a construction company transformed its operations with no-code application development and Google Workspace