The following interview with Michael Carr, president at Touchplan (a division MOCA Systems), is being published in High Profile Monthly in four installments. Below is the second installment.
Scroll down to find links to all other installments.
HP: What are your company values?
MC: Our preeminent goal is to advance the industry, be helpful and add value to projects, staying at the forefront of construction technology by pushing the envelope, and being that trusted advisor.
Integrity is also critical, because any time you’re helping, if you don’t have integrity, there’s a concern that there’s either a conflict of interest, or you don’t have the customer’s best interest at heart — you’re interested in making money. It’s important for people to understand that our No. 1 goal is to help them build better.
HP: Why is now the time for your company to exist?
MC: In the construction industry, there is this growing idea of collaborative planning in Lean construction — Lean is on the rise.
Also, there’s an openness to using tech to help with our day-to-day lives: smartphones, touch-enabled tablets, and other devices that make it possible to have more of a human interaction with data; think of advancements like pinch-to-zoom, even!
In addition, the whole cloud component is also here, which allows for a quick transfer of information between people — and it’s widely accepted that people can push data into this environment.
These three things are all happening right now, coupled with the fact that there is very little elsewhere to help you do what you do, the way that Touchplan can.
HP: What was your first (code/product) ship like — and what was the same or different compared to your most recent?
MC: Our first build was really just around replicating the pull planning process with Post-it Notes, which automated and supported the process but didn’t carry through to execution. There were no activities that you could refine and plan with and have updates on progress. The first version only represented a small portion of what happens on a project.
What helped us is having people involved that are really good at identifying what they needed and verbalizing it so that we could provide a solution that meets actual needs.
When I started my career with a general contractor, I was on three projects over two years. With MOCA working as a consultant, I found myself on dozens of projects every year, which makes you learn faster. At Touchplan, we are able to quickly bring best-of-class knowledge to our app because we are dealing with so many contractors and subs — this really influenced Touchplan — past, present and future.
HP: What was your journey like to get where you are?
MC: It was a process that started off with wanting better data, better models, better tech. Effectively, I’ve been on this mission to increase the trajectory of that productivity curve, which has pretty much been flat in construction since the ’40s.
We started by bringing computer models into the process and sought to have them give us the right answer or the optimal solution. Over the course of time, though, we recognized we had a flawed approach — people needed to be integral in our solution — that was a fundamental shift for us. Nobody blindly follows a computed solution no matter how good of a solution it is. Now when we look at tech, it’s less about giving people the answers and more about giving them the tools to spot patterns and understand the consequences of their decisions and what the effects of their performance is — this cycle and process is what’s driving the improvement.