Construction and Infrastructure
LiveTiles Intelligent Workplace Platform,
Microsoft Modern SharePoint and Office 365
Founded in 1890, Sundt Construction is one of the largest employee-owned construction companies in the United States, with 2000+ staff in multiple locations across the nation’s Southwest.
Sundt construction is well respected and trusted across the United States for delivering projects across commercial, mining, power, water treatment, civil and transportation construction.
Sundt has earned more Associated General Contractors (AGC) Build America Awards than any other contractor in the United States. As a part of its corporate culture, Sundt has a strong commitment to innovation and transformation, which is a large factor behind its longevity as a company.
A key communications platform on Sundt’s intranet, the Sundt Management System (SMS), plays a central role in the organization’s administrative and operational functions.
The SMS is an extensive library of forms, templates, guidance documents, and references, which is maintained internally by the Sundt IT team. SMS was built “out of the box” using Microsoft SharePoint technology.
Sundt’s SMS was underutilized, and users were unable to access data on the platform due to poor content architecture and visual design. The clunky user experience was an issue for Sundt employees, who would continuously escalate their frustrations to their supervisors. Eventually, this issue reached the executive team at Sundt, and the business pain point could no longer be ignored.
To evolve Sundt’s intranet, Sundt’s in-house IT team responsible for the SMS deployed LiveTiles Intelligent Workplace Platform.
With LiveTiles technology, Sundt was able to design an easy-to-navigate, intuitive, and aesthetically pleasing corporate-branded platform, which has dramatically improved the speed and access to information for Sundt staff. The new platform has seen a 90% user adoption rate on SMS as opposed to the previous 40% user adoption rate.
To help implement SMS 2.0, Sundt onboarded LiveTiles partner and system integrator CloudScale. Together, LiveTiles and CloudScale have given Sundt the freedom and power to get the most out of their Microsoft SharePoint investment and meet their unique needs.
Sundt’s SMS 2.0 is a living digital workplace that continues to evolve with the regular adoption of new SharePoint, Microsoft and digital workplace technology features as they’re released by LiveTiles into the Intelligent Workplace Platform. SMS 2.0 has inspired the transformation of Sundt’s overall intranet strategy, creating engaging client portals and enhancing the user experience across internal sites that host business-critical information.
The construction industry is not typically seen as an early adopter of innovative workplace technology; however, Sundt Construction is an exception.
With more than $2.4 billion in project revenue in 2019 alone, Sundt recognized that its current workplace technology strategy needed an overhaul. Leadership knew they had to evolve their workplace collaboration technology to better support staff, improve business processes and invest more meaningful time in their customer relationships.
The focus for Sundt’s digital workplace transformation was the Sundt Management System (SMS), an intranet-based communications platform. The SMS plays a central role in Sundt’s operations and administrative functions as an extensive library of forms, templates, guidance documents and other references. It is maintained by the Sundt IT team and the Sundt Project Support Department, directed by Carla Collinge, which includes Sundt’s Project Management Office (PMO) and Continuous Improvement (CI) personnel. The SMS also houses third-party resources like confidential documentation and intellectual property belonging to Sundt’s clients.
Sundt Construction built the SMS “out of the box,” using Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365, but they found the lack of customization flexibility and functionality had a negative impact on user adoption and engagement.
The Sundt IT Team wanted to provide a tailored intranet experience for the company’s specific business and user needs. Wanting to democratize platforms for all users and reduce dependence on in-house IT support resources, Sundt invested in LiveTiles Intelligent Workplace Platform, which enabled the IT team to craft an engaging intranet experience.
The project to transform Sundt’s digital workplace was led by Sundt’s Continuous Improvement (CI) Program Manager, Dominic Daughtrey. According to Daughtrey, the large volumes of critical business data his staff kept on their SharePoint intranet was not being leveraged.
While the content housed on the SMS was good, using standard SharePoint out of the box didn’t provide the functionality and customization specific to the company’s business needs.
“The amount of information created across our teams and outside the business is extensive. We recognized that our staff wanted a better way to share information and manage projects together,” Daughtrey said.
“In the construction industry you’ll often hear, ‘Well, we’ve been doing it this way for 30 years.’ If you’re doing anything involving technology the same way for 30 years, it’s insane that you would continue it for another 30.”
Sundt recognized it needed to evolve its workplace technology strategy to achieve intelligent transformation and improve business practices.
“People want simple, straightforward access to information to know what they’re supposed to do and how they are supposed to do it. Then they can take action. But the user experience and design of our SMS 1.0 was defeating.
“After a couple of months, I had new employees admit they would rather take the risk of making a major mistake on a project than spend time on the intranet trying to check if they were doing something right. We’re 100% employee-owned, and everybody is a shareholder, and there were still people willing to risk their jobs and everything associated with them, rather than go and try and navigate this SharePoint site.”
Sundt’s aim was to improve access to information so users could better communicate and collaborate as part of multi-location teams.
“Sundt’s purpose is to build environments where our clients, our employee owners and our communities prosper. We should create virtual environments the way we do physical ones, putting the emphasis on our employee-owners being successful, which automatically creates value and makes everyone around us successful.
Sundt Construction’s West 7th Street Bridge
project in Ft. Worth, TX, winner of the
AGC Build America Award
“If I have people that are getting 12 hours’ worth of work done in 10 hours and they’re able to see their children more than they’ve been able to see them in the last 10 years, that’s worth it ten out of ten times.
“The human side of it really matters, and that’s one thing that motivated everybody. Everybody knew that is wasn’t just about the SMS; it was much bigger.”
After assessing six different software options to enhance its existing Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365 investment, Daughtry says he had his “eureka” moment with LiveTiles Intelligent Workplace Platform and its Page Designer feature: the UX/UI design tool that layers on top of SharePoint to create engaging portals.
He recognized its ability to improve Sundt’s business processes by better communicating and showcasing its content in a more intuitive, quickly consumable, aesthetically pleasing and corporate-branded digital workplace.
“It was 2:00 am, and I was in a Microsoft chat talking about flexible tile-based navigation and sifting through the LiveTiles videos and watching every single one of them. By 3am, I felt like, ‘I’ve got to tell somebody about this technology!’
“In the morning I shared what I found with my boss and the IT Team. We knew we had found a solution which was more than just an intranet facelift. Our intent with SMS 2.0 effort was to create a digital workplace environment where our employee-owners could prosper and do their best work.”
Sundt realized the value of LiveTiles technology: it could support its workplace transformation well into the future.
“Sundt is 100% employee owned, so I’ll tell you right now, we put LiveTiles through the ringer. We started engaging with Erin Stearns from LiveTiles (Southwest US Sales Lead), and she set up a demo site and was very helpful in listening to our needs.
“After seeing what we could create (and create quickly), our IT team was impressed with how they could empower the end user.”
Sundt’s IT team realized LiveTiles would be a technology partner that could offer them additional features such as AI Bot assistants and intranet analytics, which the company could add on as it continued its digital workplace transformation.
Ultimately, Sundt decided to invest in a rebuild of their entire SMS intranet site and aimed to launch SMS 2.0 in just 8 weeks.
To assist Sundt with the implementation of LiveTiles technology and its overall SharePoint and communications strategy, Sundt was introduced to Microsoft and LiveTiles AI Spark technology systems integration partner CloudScale.
“We got to a point where we knew, with the level of transformation we were aiming for, that we needed help. We needed someone with a proven track record,” Daughtrey said.
“I called Erin Stearns one day and asked, ‘Who would you hire?’, and she answered, ‘CloudScale. I think you guys would be a perfect match.’ She gave me CloudScale CEO Stephen Costigan’s number, and it was the perfect sync-up of like-minded people.”
CloudScale is a systems integrator who is a leader in intranet communication, AI bot strategies and user experience design. CloudScale is a LiveTiles partner who leverages LiveTiles technology to help their joint customers transform their digital workplace.
Costigan says what sets his company apart is the time they invest in understanding their clients’ business drivers and pain points before they kick off any project.
“We focused heavily on improving the user experience for Sundt. We led an intranet communication strategy and incorporated a visual design refresh that was aligned directly with Sundt’s brand guidelines. We wanted this to be a purposeful deployment that the client could build on,” Costigan said.
“It’s the soul of who we are as a technology partner; we focus on the AI-infused digital experience. So LiveTiles as a technology partner makes sense, and we’re excited to be part of the LiveTiles family.”It was a case of “collaboration as the best path to innovation” across the partnership delivery teams with LiveTiles, CloudScale and Sundt liaising closely throughout the rollout. CloudScale’s content strategy helped ensure the ongoing success of the project.
Costigan says when clients are supported in identifying and using the right content, they reap the greatest benefits from their SharePoint technology.
Intranets and workplace platforms are ongoing, living, breathing investments that require regular attention to ensure they remain current and engaging.
“What I love about what is happening at Sundt is we’ve been able to utilize this whole project as the first step in driving change across the entire digital workplace for the business. This is a pattern I see across all of our LiveTiles customers: their Intelligent Workplace Platform and its features enable a business to phase their transformation, building an engaging platform with page designer, tracking user engagement with intelligence and empowering the speeds and access to information with their AI bot technology,” Costigan said.
Daughtrey said the project included three beta tests among 60 of Sundt’s staff across multiple locations and departments; this included engineers, superintendents and project executives.
“We wanted to provide a better, more empowering experience, so we asked,
‘What does that look like?’ That meant fewest clicks, richer content, embedded videos, a video library and content that was easily accessible. For example, we’re using strategic sliders to make information retrievable instantly,” Daughtrey said.
After launching SMS 2.0 with the go-live date of January 1st, 2019, LiveTiles Intelligent Workplace Platform and Page Designer feature received positive user feedback company-wide.
“Our people started using SMS 2.0 and feeling good about using it. We’ve had this transformation where some of our most skeptical users (department heads) called asking ‘Could you do a presentation on the capabilities of LiveTiles to my entire team?’ I’ve had to do a presentation on the capabilities of LiveTiles literally once a week since the start of the year.
“Now it’s evolving, and we’ve got all sorts of initiatives popping up throughout the company. People are saying, ‘We want to do template sites now,’ and people want the ability to use this on their projects, in pre-construction or create a LiveTiles site where you can do miscellaneous invoicing on project. It’s given them a new look at what technical capabilities we have, and we have empowered the team to collaborate more.”
CloudScale’s Director of User Experience, Patrick Worthington, agrees the Sundt team has embraced the transformation.
“Sundt now has all this information available in a very digestible form, and we’ve begun to make our experience more refined. We’ve started using collapsible elements and more advanced content organization on pages. Now we’re bringing in more advanced features and running with it,” Worthington said.
Sundt is also looking to leverage additional features of the LiveTiles Intelligent Workplace Platform to improve the portal experience for its own customers.
“We’ve got different sorts of platforms that are outward or customer-facing, not just on our projects and internal support group, but for the external customer stakeholder, and what we’re now creating is a dashboard experience which consolidates all of these different platforms,” Daughtry said.
“We’re looking at creating templates for project teams where you can embed your drone platform views and aerial imagery. Then you’ve got a project dashboard with all your financials, and you can give external users access as guests, so we don’t have people logging into 10 different software platforms. You’ll have an amalgamation of all this technology, and it’s all hosted within SharePoint and enhanced with LiveTiles.”
Sundt Construction’s transformation is ongoing, as it should be. An intranet is not a set and- forget project. If there’s a lesson behind Sundt’s experience for other companies, it’s to actively look to implement technology that will support their teams and business objectives today and in the future. With LiveTiles, the SMS is now is constantly enhanced with new digital workplace features.
“Our people are having new experiences at work and on their projects using LiveTiles. We have empowered our people by giving them the autonomy to customize their digital experience as well as the ability to collaborate across projects and with their peers like they never have before.
“At Sundt, we’re going to focus on AI and bots next. We’ve already built one bot use case in a demo environment, leveraging LiveTiles Bots technology. This bot will address the common use case in sourcing and gaining access to relevant information throughout our intranet. We want to eliminate people’s need to scan tons of content and deal with mundane tasks, so they can focus on more meaningful and creative work.”
With LiveTiles and CloudScale, Sundt Construction is achieving significant digital transformation, which has extended well beyond the original requirement.
Using LiveTiles Intelligent Workplace Platform, Sundt’s management system has become a powerful tool, not just for new content and data to support its business operations, but for the personal success of Sundt’s 2000+ staff.
“We are now more connected in our business. It’s a hard thing to measure, but our people are collaborating, accessing information easily, leveraging critical data for projects and, most importantly, enjoying their work. We continue to see a return on our investment every single day,” Daughtrey said.
“Everything that was promised by LiveTiles is coming to fruition and has given us so much credibility. The ability to ensure success and just deliver on every promise is a big deal for any IT Team and Lead.”
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