In five minutes I can create a new field and start tracking something. In other businesses, that might mean a big programming effort to change the database.
Colt Boehme, CEO
Seattle-based Isola Homes needed a better way to manage all the deadlines, materials, and resources for the 130 construction projects it runs per year. Spreadsheets kept data in the dark, and building a custom database on Microsoft Access was too difficult and expensive. The solution was an application built on QuickBase that keeps company leaders up to speed and manages every key process of construction management.
Isola Homes is a Seattle-based construction company that prides itself on the livability, quality, and efficiency of the sustainable homes it builds. A division of Isola Capital Management, Isola Homes is a multigenerational company that blends environmental stewardship with high standards of workmanship to create long-lasting customer relationships and long-term business success.
While the company was innovating on the construction side, its reliance on outdated productivity software was an issue that needed to be addressed. Project data was stored in hundreds of spreadsheets, making collaboration difficult and preventing true real-time access to project status and other key information. Employees never knew whether they were working from the latest and most up-to-date information.
With 40 employees managing the resources, materials and deadlines of 130 residential building projects per year, Isola Homes needed a better way to collaborate and share information related to the development, sale and management of each property.
"We had challenges with communication on Excel spreadsheets. If someone needed to figure out who owned a property and when it was going to be completed, it was difficult to keep all that information up to date across many different Excel files," says Colt Boehme, CEO of parent company Isola Capital Management.
Boehme decided to replace the company's Excel spreadsheets with a database solution to manage and share construction data. Microsoft Access was too complicated to manage himself, and hiring a full-time developer was too expensive.
A web search led Boehme to QuickBase, which gave him the flexibility he needed to create an app that would meet his exact needs, plus the ease of use he needed to build, customize, and manage the software without any additional resources.
"I had some familiarity with QuickBooks, so it was easy to get started in QuickBase. We started by adding our inventory information and kept exploring different features to grow the app," says Boehme. "In five minutes I can create a new field and start tracking something. In other businesses, that might mean a big programming effort to change the database."
Isola Homes' QuickBase app now manages:
The app also enables Isola Homes to streamline its document creation and signature tracking processes through an integrations with Exact Forms Plus and DocuSign. By consolidating paper-based processes into one web app that can be shared with clients and vendors, Isola Homes delivers a world class experience to everyone with whom it does business.
(See THE PARTNER PERSPECTIVE box below to learn how Juiced Technologies, a QuickBase Solution Provider, was able to implement a seamless integrated platform for generating, managing, and tracking documents at Isola Homes.)
Managing all construction-related data from a central source has tremendous benefits. Isola Homes has been able to ramp up both speed and quality, driving value back to its vendors, subcontractors, employees, and customers.
Getting property pricing reports to sales agents is faster and takes up fewer staff resources now that reports can be generated through Exact Forms Plus with a few simple keystrokes. Collecting signatures for contracts has shifted from a manual operation to an automated solution within DocuSign that can be completed in a fraction of the time and that makes it easy to see where information is incomplete.
And internal communications is improved, now that QuickBase provides real-time access to construction information in one location that employees can access anytime, anywhere even on the road with their computer or mobile device.
"We grew our app — one problem and one solution at a time — to a point where now everybody in the company uses it. It's what we use to track everything and to stay on the same page," says Boehme.