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How Commodore Builders Rolled Out OpenSpace as an Enterprise Solution

Commodore Builders
Amanda Finnerty

As Director of Internal Operations at Waltham, Mass.-based Commodore Builders, Amanda Finnerty is responsible for evaluating and implementing software solutions that are used across the firm’s projects.

In January, Commodore entered into an enterprise relationship with OpenSpace less than 60 days after using it for an initial site walk — an unusually fast turnaround given that it normally takes six to 12 months to finalize an enterprise agreement with a software provider. (Her team found OpenSpace so useful that they wanted to have it available for projects right away.)

Finnerty spoke with us about the experience of launching and scaling OpenSpace and her approach to evaluating and rolling out enterprise software, including Procore, more broadly. Here are four core principles she follows:

1. Start with pilot projects to prove out the value.

Through this approach, Finnerty learns whether an enterprise deal is worth pursuing based on how easy software is to use and train people on and the value users and the company derive. If project teams perceive new technology to be adding complexity to their workflows, widespread adoption will be an uphill battle even if the capabilities are powerful.

Assuming these test projects go well, another benefit is cultivating internal champions from among the pilot users, who can help demonstrate to senior leadership that the software should be made widely available.

In the case of OpenSpace, Finnerty started with two pilot projects — one of which was run by a superintendent she knew to be interested in new technologies.

“OpenSpace had instant traction because of how easy it is to visualize the benefits,” she said. “Other software I’ve rolled out seems more abstract to people.”

2. Get buy-in from senior leadership early on.

To make enterprise success happen, early buy-in from the top is critical.

In December 2019, Finnerty gave an OpenSpace demo to Commodore’s senior management and project executives, who responded enthusiastically and encouraged her to give the same presentation to the entire company. The General Counsel was particularly interested, since he recognized how useful 360 photo documentation technology could be in cases where information about projects is needed years into the future. (Instead of spending countless hours poring over photos to find a needle in the haystack, it would be seamless and quick to see if relevant documentation existed.)

3. Thoughtfully explain the cost and time savings benefits to end-users.

Finnerty sees the rollout of enterprise software as similar to selling, but done internally. It’s her job to get user buy-in on the software by demonstrating to her colleagues how a software solution like Procore or OpenSpace will make their jobs easier, and she never wants to be prescriptive.

“If you force something on people, they resent it, and they’re resistant to use it. If you show the value, they adopt it quickly,” she said.

Since project managers are responsible for all costs on a project, they’re understandably wary of spending money when the cost of a solution will come out of their budget. When introducing an enterprise solution, Finnerty will often share a cost analysis to show how and where it can save money, assuming cost savings are a core benefit.

If PMs are concerned about the expense of new software, she sometimes makes the case that they should try it for only a relatively small window of time (for two months on a four-month project, for example), believing that tangible benefits of using the software will make a strong case for continued use.

In the case of OpenSpace, Finnerty showed how 360 photo documentation saves money on rework and change orders and laid out the potential time savings on activities like taking photos manually and poring over manual documentation in the event of a change order.

4. Do hands-on training and monitor usage.

Finnerty recommends doing training sessions in small groups, following a company-wide demonstration to generate interest among the people who would use software in the field. 

To introduce OpenSpace, she first gave a three-minute company presentation to explain the core benefits, including reduced documentation time and savings on rework. She also emphasized ease-of-use, describing how OpenSpace functionality can be used within Procore and that it leverages passive capture to thoroughly document job sites. She fielded several requests for log-ins straight away, which fueled the idea of expanding into an enterprise relationship. (The marketing team was also interested and has already used OpenSpace to conduct walkthroughs for proposals, which has helped Commodore win several projects.)

For the dual purposes of training and continuing to communicate the benefits of using OpenSpace, Finnerty visits job sites where teams are using 360 photo documentation for the first time. (She did the same when rolling out Procore.) The brief sessions entail having project team members download the OpenSpace app, sync their phones to a 360 camera, do a quick site walk, add a Field Note and upload the capture, which can all be done in 15 minutes. From there, she pulls up an already-downloaded capture to demonstrate how to open a side-by-side view of an area on different dates and compare current conditions to the BIM model.  Users are immediately impressed, and can’t wait to view the captures for their site.

“OpenSpace is the easiest software to train people on,” she said.

Finnerty also typically monitors usage to ensure that adoption of enterprise software is tracking with company goals. Lack of usage is typically an indicator that the users need more training.

“I haven’t had to say to anyone, ‘How come you aren’t using OpenSpace?’, because everyone I show it to is excited about it,” she said.