Key insights from the construction software provider's annual user conference

Viewpoint’s annual user conference, Viewpoint Collaborate 2015, was held September 14-17 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. Over 1,600 Viewpoint users gathered for a week of meetings with Viewpoint employees, educational seminars and time on the exhibit floor with some of Viewpoint’s 55 partners.

During the keynote speech, conference attendees heard from past CEO Jay Haladay, newly appointed CEO Manolis Kotzabasakis and television personality and author Ross Shafer.

While Haladay will no longer be involved in day-to-day operations at Viewpoint, he still plans to work closely with the company through his travels.

“I want to use the added time to keep my ear to the ground and watch the progress our customers are making in this industry in terms of technology,” Haladay said. “We are now an international company with over 800 employees, and it is time our leadership reflects that.”

Haladay spoke of Viewpoint’s new CEO, Manolis Kotzabasakis, who most recently served as Aspen Technology’s chief technology officer and the executive vice president of research and development.

According to Kotzabasakis, the construction industry faces several challenges it will need to address in the coming months, including tight profit margins, technology initiatives and increased safety needs.

“The industry is going through a strategic inflection point,” Kotzabasakis said. “There is an enormous opportunity to improve—but we need important innovations that help you work better and faster to improve overall.”

Viewpoint has over 8,000 customers and 500,000 users who rely on the company’s technology to run their businesses every day. Haladay said an important of executive leadership was embracing change and improving on it—something he thinks Kotzabasakis has a great propensity for achieving.

Some of Kotzabasakis’s accomplishments at his previous company include:

  • A laser focus on customer value
  • 25 different acquisitions
  • Integration of those technologies from the acquisitions
  • Creating a concept of data entry that can be used across all interfaces
  • Starting with 100 different products and condensing those down into two suites of fully integrated products
  • A new customer engagement model—with help in software integration

“Transforming an industry is a freeing feeling because you can watch users learn to use technology you provide and accomplish things they never imagined,” Kotzabasakis said.

Kotzabasakis plans to use his experience to improve Viewpoint’s product offering, too. This year to date, there have been 180 new customers that have moved from competitor products to either ProContractor or Vista. Viewpoint boasts 35 new customers and 6,400 new users of Viewpoint Collaborative Products.

Kotzabasakis mentioned three new developments in the Viewpoint product offering:

  • Increased speed of implementation – “We know how long it takes to deploy our technologies, and we want to help you with that,” Kotzabasakis said.
  • Creation of a customer engagement team – “We have put some of our best employees on a core team that will be focused much more closely on our customers and their support,” Kotzabasakis said.
  • Introduction and launch of Clearview – One central place to find all the information customers need about Viewpoint and its products.

A “World-Class Company of Choice”
Ross Shafer’s company compiles a yearly study of 18 disparate industries and how they improve their company culture. Shafer had several tips for business owners to improve their overall business and customer engagement.

  • If you serve the culture, you will always win. “Abraham Lincoln said, ‘With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed,’” Shafer said. Think of your company culture as your herd—if you keep a pulse on what they are thinking, you will always win.
  • You don’t have to be perfect—you just have to be in touch with humanity. If you give the culture (your company culture and your customers) what they want, they will buy from you. If you don’t, they will move on.
  • Technology will make you a hero by solving the impossible. The workforce of the future will be completely synchronized. A new generation of digital natives are entering the workforce with the expectation that your company will have the technology already in place to make their jobs easier.

“Dave Hopla has the most brilliant formula for success—to make a free-throw every time, shoot the ball correctly, and shoot it more than anyone else in the world,” Shafer said. “Do your job correctly, every time, and practice the fundamentals.”

  • Design and engineer the client experience. Viewpoint must always be thinking about what the user wants and needs. In the same respect, you, the construction business owner, must always be thinking about what your client wants and needs.
  • Be more curious than your competitor. Don’t go into a meeting and open with, “I don’t have too much time.” Shake hands, say hello and make every minute count. Know how to communicate with people. Serve your herd.
  • Work is hard—champion one another. Every choice you make affects something else. Construction is the core of the economy; remind your team members of that. Employ empathy in your daily interactions.

“Honor your team members,” Shafer said. “Albert Einstein said it well, ‘The world’s greatest achievements were accomplished by tired, discouraged people who just kept working.’”

Educational Seminars
Throughout the week, Viewpoint scheduled helpful, educational seminars for conference attendees. The seminars covered everything from customer panel sessions with Viewpoint users who had successfully implemented the products into their company to a session on implementing change within your company.

At one such customer panel, three Viewpoint customers shared their tips and experience with implementing Viewpoint for Project Collaboration (VPC) into their companies’ daily processes. Wanda Peatross, building division controller for Kinsley Construction, cited an organized workflow system as one of the main reasons for the push at her company to integrate VPC software. For David Olivet, manager of software development at Yates Construction, the audit ability was their biggest draw.

At a seminar on implementing change, Viewpoint representatives Beth Allen and Jessica Parzanese gave their top tips for smoothly integrating software changes into your company.

“Dialogue is extremely important in the change process to move forward,” Allen said.

Parzanese’s 5 tips for effective change management:

  1. Be positive! Communicate things your team members can get excited about.
  2. Keep the team informed with continuous communication.
  3. Have a cheerleader committee. Get the right people involved and identify your champions for change.
  4. Create helpful tools. An example is a laminated card with new software terminology and the old equivalent.
  5. Celebrate the change! Close one door, open a new one, and celebrate the new beginning.

Stay tuned next week for news from Viewpoint’s Cindy Whitner about ProContractor, what’s next for the company from product manager Rob Humphreys and a one-on-one session with Kotzabasakis. For more information, visit Viewpoint.