Terri Olson & Mike Eccher
The Power of Data and Employee Buy-In with OE Construction
CFO & Co-Owner, OE Construction
Terri joined OE Construction 17 years ago after spending decades in technical consulting in software, hardware, and back-office. She also has a strong developer background, and today Terri prides herself on organizing information, developing a plan, and enacting it. Terri consistently looks for reproducible processes to help OE streamline and pull the information they need when they need it. She believes in thinking outside the box and always looking for ways to improve.
IT Manager, OE Construction
Mike’s been with OE Construction for over three years and worked with Terri for years prior. With a similar tech background, Mike’s created a career for himself developing and managing IT infrastructure and platform development systems. Simply put, he deals with a lot of data and finds ways to deliver and deploy software solutions efficiently. He does the same for OE: implementing tools to capture data while making it easily accessible for stakeholders.
This week, we sat down with VP and Co-Owner of OE Construction, Terri Olson, and their IT Manager, Mike Eccher, to talk about how tracking and collecting data helps companies do a lot more with a lot less effort.
Data’s Place in Construction
Many mid-sized civil contractors like OE Construction don’t emphasize the role of IT Manager, making Mike’s role unique for the industry.
Terri also comes from tech, with a background in organizing info, developing a plan, bringing teams together, and enacting it. To Terri, data plays a significant role in that.
When she joined OE Construction, they faced common challenges for subcontracting companies just starting. For example, they didn’t know the answers to questions like:
- How are we billing for the project?
- How are we capturing dollars for the project?
- Do we know if we’ve actually made any money on this project?
Terri says these questions are easy to ignore early on, but you need those answers at a certain point.
Mike is in charge of capturing the data that answers these questions – and more. Whether it’s software, upgrades, individual users, or implementation in the field, Mike does it all, requiring him to be flexible. Every day is different, so OE is focused on having something reproducible to quickly pull the information and reports they need to help the office and the field.
These processes result in less time collecting data, and streamlining is even easier. It’s so easy now, in fact, that they could cut out administrative roles in the office.
In essence, they’ve made do with less.
Making it Count
Every piece of data that OE collects with Assignar has a reason. Whether it’s for the estimators, accounting department, or supervisors, Mike says that it’s needed.
To ensure they get the information they need, Terri restricts the data they collect and how they collect it. For instance, field users handling equipment must record the machine they are using before tracking their time, daily project logs, and pre-task planning.
But you know what really sticks out to them? The ability to submit photos. It’s something paper forms cannot do, and it’s great for project logs and safety incidents.
Mike says it might look like a lot of data, but they’ve worked continuously to trim it down, and today, they use it all.
What’s in it for Me?
In Terri and Mike’s experience, when field workers understand how the data they’re collecting is used, they are more likely to fill out forms.
OE takes good care of its workers and includes them in the process conversation. To Terri, it should be a collaborative effort. They emphasize the importance of having great answers to the age-old adage, “What’s in it for me?” and that the answer should not just be to make the company better but to help those in the field be better, too.
If the data has no real reason, don’t ask them to fill it out.
In 2022, OE Construction processed 23,000 forms and significant pieces of information, using it in all aspects of their business.
Terri says it’s not about burdening their people with processes and forms so that you can collect data that no one really cares about.
“The principle should be, ‘What’s in it for me?’”, she continues, “And if you can answer that question, you’re going down the right path.”
Vice President, Assignar
Chris is Co-Host of the Dirty Boots Show. While he's not hosting the show, he's the VP of Marketing for Assignar where he is no stranger to reaching and engaging customers and igniting revenue growth.