7 years in review: A fireside chat with Envision’s CEO

What first prompted you to launch Envision?

Adrian and I had worked together in the aerospace industry developing software to automate engineering and design processes in commercial and military aircraft applications. After a job change to a fly-in-fly-out construction project in the coal seam gas industry, I was shocked by the manual processes used to control projects and exchange data to track performance and progress. I reconnected with Adrian and we launched Envision – first around a simple BIM construction model to visualise a construction plan and progress, using mobiles to check a project’s status from the field. After signing our first project, we learnt that what projects really needed was much simpler than a 3D BIM model environment. We quickly changed course and made Envision a fast, easy way to capture site information and workforce timesheets to track productivity.

What features did Envision start with?

Event logging and timesheets were the two key features, with the focus being on transparency when justifying variations or delays to a client or subcontractor.

How is the Envision of today different to your launch platform?

Our original intent was a system for contractors and delivering benefits to them. We’ve since seen that far greater value can be generated by facilitating the use of Envision between contractors and their clients, and contractors and their subcontractors, to better share cost and progress information. When everyone works off the same single source of data, you save a lot of administration and, more importantly, get access to real-time data.

What most influenced the development of Envision over the past five years?

It’s always been about making life easier for frontline supervisors, engineers and other users who are short on time and need simplicity and speed as they are capturing data daily. We develop workflows and usability improvements with that in mind because frontline users drive downstream performance management and project tracking. The other key influencer has been working across different industries and contracting/commercial models and seeing how they change the way project participants engage with Envision.

Have you seen a change in the way projects are managed?

The desire to better manage digital data across the project lifecycle has become a priority. A lot of contractors now have roles like digital engineering managers and innovation managers – roles that rarely existed five years ago. The other change is a stronger drive to leverage mobility and, wherever possible, capture data digitally at the source.

What are your top three learnings in relation to impacts on project performance?

The first is absolutely around creating trust in data and the data capture process. If project stakeholders don’t trust the main management system, they will work outside of it, offline, and that dilutes the value of the main system. Building trust is linked to people actively using the system and to achieve that you need to keep processes as simple as possible.

The second is maintaining relevance and creating the right conversations. That’s means having the right reporting structure, key metrics, analytics, reporting timeframes and so on for each project. One size definitely doesn’t fit all. We do a lot of listening and learning to understand what matters most to project managers and other stakeholders and tailor Envision so they are armed with what they need to drive performance.

The third is prioritising continuous planning. I’m impressed when I see projects that take the master schedule, continually break it down into three-week look aheads and then maintain a link to the master schedule. It keeps the schedule relevant to frontline teams while ensuring they are working within the master plan.

What has the Envision team done to keep pace with that change?

We are always pushing to make data capture as quick and easy as possible. The flexibility of our mobile application is particularly important to end users. We’ve strongly invested in improving our mobile offering and working with clients to keep it relevant – improving workflows and removing administration burden. For our contractor clients, we’ve also sought to ensure the workflows their clients and subcontractors interface with are relevant for those stakeholders. Getting all parties collaborating efficiently is key to projects harnessing the full value of Envision.