Homemade BluVue speaks contractors language

Homemade BluVue speaks
contractors language

by JONATHAN BARNES, for BuiltWorlds | April 22, 2015

It’s rare for a contractor to devise a tool for a job, but Dallas, TX-based Ed Bell Construction Company saw a way to incorporate technology into the worksite to benefit itself, and in the process, also found a way to help others.

EBCC is unusual in self-performing most of its $100-million annual workload, but its leaders still felt they could do better. By creating the BluVue LP plan management app, the firm accomplished specific goals for its workers and improved the company’s bottom line by decreasing mistakes.

In early 2012, EBCC management saw a need to upgrade its technology and began developing its own software. They beta-tested BluVue in late 2012 and have incorporated it into operations. Recently EBCC began offering the software to others, and it is currently being used on the $33-million Bishop Lynch High School project in Dallas TX. 

Creating BluVue with the contractor’s needs in mind meant making it simple. “We wanted to provide whoever’s out there building with the capability of easily seeing the documents, and to be able to do some very intuitive functions,” explains Phillippe Falkner, EBCC operations manager.

Any good plan app should prevent inaccuracies and mistakes in plans, but EBCC wanted an app that was also easy to use. “BluVue is really designed for the guy who’s out there doing the work,” Falkner said. “If you take an over-complicated app and give it to a foreman, you could scare the hell out of him.”


Here's how BluVue.com describes itself: Designed by construction professionals for secure, fast, reliable, consistent access to construction plans and their revisions. Designed for mid- and large-size construction companies with large plan sets in either a design+build or design/tender environment. BluVue Plans includes tools for PDF markup and annotation, and workflows to support RFI, centralized document and project management, teams and notifications.

While EBCC is not entirely unique in developing its own plan software, the firm’s approach to designing the software appears to be. With easy-to-understand icons that are comprehensible even to non-native English speakers, BluVue hastens communications within the Dallas-based firm. In so doing, it speeds changes, work orders, requests and other info from the worksite to the office, helping employees to perform even routine tasks more easily.

Because the app was crafted with the help of seasoned construction pros with plenty of field experience, it incorporates a ground-level understanding of the needs of workers on the jobsite.

“It is unusual for a contractor to develop their own app," notes ConAppGuru Rob McKinney, safety director for Atlanta design-build contractor J. M. Wilkerson Construction. "I know of a few cases where very large general contractors, such as Holder Construction, have created their own apps to use on mobile devices, (but) they only use it for their own purposes. I have not seen a company actually sell an in-house created app to other companies to use.”

But BluVue wasn’t created for firms across the industry. It was initially designed to help one contractor do better work. “We built it for ourselves, and people showed an interest in it, so we began to market it,” explains EBCC owner Win Bell. And based on that growing interest, the app is now a separate business. 

While that business is in partnership with EBCC, "I can confirm without reservation that we are a stand-alone entity and derive our success metrics from independent operations,” says BluVue President Jeff Musa.

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So far, those metrics are translating into a stand-alone success, as well. 

The author is a freelance writer who has been published by Fortune, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and ENR, among others. Based in Pittsburgh, he is a longtime correspondent for ENR, covering safety, management, economics, industry trends and project news. Recently, he began focusing his reporting on construction apps.


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