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Construction Executive talked with Jenny Moshea, director of technology at Sellen, a Seattle-based construction company, about how implementation of technology early in the project can effectively bridge workforce gaps, create efficiencies and drive greater diversity in the industry. 

Construction Executive: How has preconstruction software been an effective tool for your business?

Moshea: For Sellen, preconstruction often starts as far back as a napkin sketch. Once an idea is formalized and we begin putting actual numbers to a structure, we use BuildingConnected, a bidding software, to reach out to our subcontractor community for input on the estimates. This method speeds up the process of bringing a concept to reality for our owners because we can begin to show decisions in real time as the project takes shape.

Moving Sellen’s bid management process into BuildingConnected three years ago drastically improved the traditional back-and-forth email exchange and eliminated the single point-of-failure that previously occurred when information was held up in an individual’s inbox. The entire Sellen team now has visibility into the communication exchange with our partners so we can consistently keep the ball rolling.

CE: Is there a unique way in which you utilize the software that is different from other users?

M: We use BuildingConnected to facilitate our selection of Disadvantaged Business Enterprises in support of our diversity program. At Sellen, our Director of Subcontractor Diversity Angela Battle helps our teams to set internal diversity goals even if it’s not owner-required. And as early as the proposal stage, Angela advises owners and owner representatives on diversity categories and the impacts those decisions will have, as well as how they play out in the market. Angela can direct decision-makers toward vendors who are diverse by adding Sellen company diversity tags on the subcontractor’s profile immediately from within the software. From there we can see the data across projects in our dashboards for a holistic company view.  

CE: Why does diversifying the industry matter to you?

M: We have a tremendous opportunity to connect with historically underutilized subcontractors and partners to help bridge the gap to entry into our industry. There are so many roles, functions and expert opinions that are needed: design, field, technology, back office, facilities, operations…the opportunities are limitless. Other industries have figured this out, and I think we are seeing a shift in construction that embraces new ways of thinking and introduces new disciplines into the mix.

CE: Why does the advancement of construction technology matter to you?

M: Advancing construction technology is critical to reducing the impact from the current labor shortage. It’s particularly important when it comes to engaging diverse partners so that we can lower the barriers to entry and bring more equity to the overall process. Enabling project teams and subcontractors with technology also provides consistency and standards across our jobs, which accelerates getting everyone on the same page. In turn, project teams can operate more efficiently and hit the ground running.

CE: What improvements would you make to current preconstruction technology?

M: Partners like Autodesk are doing a great job at bringing their customer communities together to inform their product roadmap so they are able to respond to the changing landscape and evolving customer needs. I believe preconstruction technology will continue to bring visibility to data and close the loops throughout the construction lifecycle. Ultimately, we’ll be able to feed the next job with better information, thus enabling our clients to make more informed decisions.

CE: As a female executive in construction, how does technology help you to stand out in the field?

M: Technology has become central to our industry and it’s important for everyone to embrace it. My focus has always been to connect people with technology to improve their day-to-day workflows, which is essential in driving business value and delivering results. When project teams can do something in a better way that makes their lives easier in the field, the results speak for themselves. 


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