This article on Bridgit originally appeared in the Digital Journal and was written by Jack Derricourt.
The construction site is rapidly transforming through the adoption of digital tools. Innovators are developing technology to help stakeholders deal with tasks in an effective and efficient way. Startup Bridgit is right at the heart of that effort.
For founders Mallorie Brodie and Lauren Lake, creating a useful product for the construction site was all about transforming the workflow process for the better. According to Lake, they decided to focus on creating “transparency for the general contractor” as well as value for everyone involved in the process.
Bridgit Closeout is a mobile task management tool that allows contractors and subcontractors to track specific elements of a job site, and track when a task has been completed. It’s a far cry from the futurist vision of drones being used on job sites, but it’s a major step towards greater efficiency and a big step up in terms of clear communication.
Bridgit’s founders laid the groundwork for their product by focussing on workflow and communications issues on the job site — and for them, the answer was mobile tech.
Lake’s background in structural engineering, as well as her time on several job sites, uniquely positioned her to assess the needs of workers and managers in construction, and locate target areas for efficiency.
When Lake met Brodie at Toronto’s The Next 36 accelerator program and discussed the digital transformation of the job site, the two hit it off. It also didn’t hurt that both Brodie and Lake had a direct family connection to the industry as well: Lake’s grandfather worked in specialty trades, and Brodie’s grandfather had operated in construction.
The founders drew on feedback from friends and family, working to create a product that would improve the efficiency of task-based communication occurring on the job site. Brodie said that it was key that the new tool provided stakeholders, contractors and subcontractors with peace of mind. “We wanted to build a solution that would be valuable to all the different stakeholders.”
While there was obviously room for improvement at the job sites Lake and Brodie visited as they researched and developed their product, they didn’t want to force something on contractors and subcontractors. Digital transformation isn’t always a smooth transition for everyone involved, and they wanted to make sure they had the confidence of users.
“There was definitely a push to bring mobile to the job site,” said Lake. There wasn’t much pushback from adopters, Lake noted. She found the most important part of the product release process was going in with an open mind, allowing different users and stakeholders to voice any frustrations they might have.
Just recently, Andersen Construction in Seattle used Bridgit while working on a $150 million urgent care facilities project. Andersen had to work with several subcontractors, and conventional reports with that many parties involved would take hours to keep up to date. Bridgit allowed the company to track the whole process automatically via mobile device, and avoid an overcomplicated punch list process for the tasks at hand. That’s music to Brodie and Lake’s ears.
When it comes to high volume, complicated workflows, that’s when a mobile tool like Bridgit really gets to shine.
Bridgit allows job site stakeholders to run an efficient job site and manage a complex list of tasks with clear communication.
The data generated by the app is also turning up new insights for users. Brodie and Lake were surprised by just how much Bridget Closeout’s reporting tools were being used by people on site. ‘We found out they were using those reports every single day,’ said Brodie. The app currently provides users with tools to create a number of different reports, using a variety of different filters.
Now the founders are looking to provide even more reports to their users. The startup is developing what has been tentatively titled ‘Bridgit Insights’ around the office, a new tool that will generate things like a running count of tasks, how long tasks have been open and even a comparison of the performance of subcontractors week over week. The new analytics tool is still in development, but Brodie and Lake are excited about how much it will help Bridgit users.
When it comes down to it, Brodie says Bridgit is about “bringing positive change to the job site.” The amount of digital transformation going on in construction is likely to accelerate in the coming months, and with tools like Bridgit showing entrepreneurs how it’s done, positive change is sure to follow.