Revving the Custom Business Process Engine

Does your company have a unique process that requires a specialized form and approval process? Maybe you're tracking this information in Excel today and are frustrated by the inefficiencies and lack of reporting options. Bring that process to life with the Projectmates custom business process (CBP) engine.

On February 11th, the Projectmates team hosted its monthly Power Hour webinar, Revving the Custom Business Process Engine. The CBP engine lets you create your own forms, run an online approval process, and even report on the information globally. Although Projectmates construction program management software provides over 40 modules out of the box that are based on construction industry best practices, your company may need an individualized solution for a unique process. That's where the Projectmates CBP engine comes in.

Custom Business Process Overview

Projectmates construction management software provides the ability to create custom forms to replace your current processes that may be tracked in Excel or other files. We call these forms "custom business processes." These custom forms alleviate frustrations that come from the inefficiencies and lack of reporting options when tracking these processes outside of Projectmates.

With custom business processes in Projectmates, you can fully customize the forms to contain your own terms and nomenclature. Create single- or multi-instance forms. Single-instance forms capture information that would be entered in a project once, like a custom closeout checklist or onetime site survey. Multi-instance forms are designed to capture information that is entered multiple times during the project lifecycle, like a weekly safety inspection.

The custom business process can also employ approval processes with the same ball-in-court responsibility functions as Projectmates cost tracking. Nothing slips through the cracks. Create multi-staged forms with approvals at each step. File attachments are also supported so you can store relevant documents with this custom form.

The world is your oyster in terms of information you can capture in a custom business process. Text fields, date calendars, numeric fields, and checkboxes are just some of the field types available. Defining field values in drop-downs, checkboxes, and radio buttons leads to consistent reporting and happier users; there is simply less for the user to type.

Some common uses for custom business processes include:

  • Inspection reports
  • Test reports
  • Survey forms
  • Closeout checklists
  • Travel requests
  • And much, much more!

Real World Examples

The practical applications for Projectmates custom business processes are virtually limitless. This functionality is included for enterprise clients from day one, which helps them avoid expensive custom programming fees that other competitors to Projectmates charge. Since the proof is in the pudding, let's take a look at four real world examples of custom business processes being used today by Projectmates clients.

  1. RaceTrac: RaceTrac created a custom business process to track the outstanding bonds for each of their projects to make sure they recapture all funds from bonds after a project is finished. This process was previously tracked in Excel. Unfortunately, there were multiple occasions when projects had outstanding money left on the table, due to Excel's inefficiencies and lack of reporting. Today in Projectmates, project managers update the bond status throughout the life of the project. A report is then run across the projects to give management a snapshot of bond status at any time.
  2. UNC Healthcare: UNC Healthcare created a custom checklist to track interim life safety measures during the construction phase of their projects. Their project managers fill out an inspection report each week to ensure safety protocols are being followed. This is just one of multiple forms that UNC Healthcare is using to track safety prior and during construction. Having this information stored in the project makes it easily accessible and reduces risk for the hospital.
  3. SOS Retail Services: SOS Retail Services created a Manager Questionnaire to survey convenience store managers and document any issues at the store. This form is one of over six different custom forms SOS Retail Services uses when surveying existing conditions at locations across the US and Canada. All these forms were previously entered in a large Excel file, making multi-project reporting challenging. Personnel in the field can now enter this information on iPads right at the location surveyed.
  4. Source Refrigeration & HVAC: Source Refrigeration began using a Closeout Checklist for their field personnel. Source has over 1,000 projects going at any given time for major retailers across the country and uses this form to document the closeout process of a project. This includes crediting money back to a project, material returns, communication and client signoff for final billing and release of retention money. These forms help to ensure repeat business due to Source Refrigeration's excellent quality assurance protocols.

Reporting

Information captured in a custom business process can be filtered, sorted, and reported across multiple projects using Projectmates ad-hoc reporting. With ad-hoc reports, simply drag and drop fields from your custom form into the report then quickly group and summarize the desired data. Projectmates has powerful filtering capabilities to narrow down large amounts of data to what's critical to you.

Best Practices for Implementing Custom Business Processes

It is easy to implement a custom business process technically speaking but a careful, well planned approach is best. Work with your Projectmates site administrator to design the custom business process and then configure the access rights within the project template. Once this is done, it is just a matter of copying the form from your template to the rest of the projects. Creating the process is quick and simple, but consider the following to make sure your form is the best possible for your organization.

When implementing a custom business process, consider how the form will look for the different users completing the form. Are they filling this out on a tablet in the field or entering this on a desktop computer in the office? Make sure to test it out internally on a test project with multiple devices. Design the process to be as easy to use as possible for the people expected to enter the data. Does the form provide enough instructions? Does the button name to access the process make sense? Pretend to be somewhat new to Projectmates. Can the form be completed with a minimal amount of training? If so, then this custom business process is on the right track. Lastly, consider the time required to complete the form. Minimize the amount of information required. A form with hundreds of required fields typically will not be successful. Try to use as many predefined values using drop-downs and checkboxes rather than forcing users to do a lot of typing. This also makes reporting more consistent.

In conclusion, the Projecmates CBP engine is a powerful way to capture specific and customized workflows across your construction program. Since this functionality is available out of the box, you can avoid expensive programming, and the customized forms can be implemented quickly. Projectmates has many customers currently using these forms successfully for a wide variety of purposes. With a little planning and pre-rollout testing, Projectmates clients can take advantage of this powerful and flexible feature.

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