Project Objective: Create software to enable customizable, on-demand, cloud-based forms to eliminate paper waste and make projects and employees more efficient on Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Project Background: Mechanical Testing, Inc., headquartered in Saratoga Springs, NY, provides testing and balancing services for clients in the heating, ventilating and air conditioning industry. Over the course of its 50 years in business, Mechanical Testing’s reports on large-scale projects for hospitals and universities were generated the old-fashioned way—on clipboard and paper.
In addition to being cumbersome and time-intensive, the sheer quantity of paper reports Mechanical Testing churned out was costly and environmentally unfriendly. “Our main deliverable is a detailed report, and the paper environment adds cost and effort,” explains Brian Venn, Mechanical Testing president. “We wanted to put our data and reporting into the cloud and work digitally.”
So Venn solicited feedback and advice from a handful of local consultants, including Troy Web Consulting. His objective? A forward-thinking, cloud-based solution that would not require constant maintenance.
“The Troy Web Consulting team came back to me with a lot of great stuff and added a lot of value to our RFP process,” Venn says. “Ultimately, I chose them to develop our software. They educated me as a consumer, sat with me multiple times and thought about the long term.”
The Challenge: Jon Briccetti, CEO of Troy Web Consulting, says to create software that efficiently and effectively met the company’s needs, they sat down with Mechanical Testing field staff before entering the design phase. The result was a flexible, customizable system over which Mechanical Testing had complete control—a system called Clipboard.
Clipboard allows Mechanical Testing staff to build reusable and customizable templates easily and on the go. The software includes the ability to do complex calculations, auto-populate data, add project-specific equipment and upload photos. In addition, Clipboard acts as a communication tool for the project team, and a “view only” mode allows the company’s clients to log in and check project status. Crews can even use the Clipboard app, available for iOS and Android, to work offline where internet access is poor. Backed by EC2 Linux based servers hosted on Amazon AWS, the system can scale as needed and store large amounts of data and documents used to generate the final PDF reports.
“This product allows us to use the technology we already have in our hands—smartphones, laptops, iPads, and data plans. I didn’t have to buy a bunch of equipment—just the software,” Venn says. “My guys no longer have to come in and pick up paper. And I can review what my employees are doing out in the field because all the data is in the cloud.”
Business Impact: Venn says prior to using Clipboard, his work in progress (WIP) hovered around 22%. Since installing Clipboard, he’s tracking jobs at 40-45% profit. In addition, Venn says report accuracy has increased.
“When I ask my guys why, they tell me ‘Clipboard,’” Venn says. “My guys do variable air volume system testing every day. They used to do eight a day. Now they do between 10-15 a day. Clipboard makes them much more efficient because they can do things on the fly. I see my return on investment in the first week of every month, maybe even sooner.” Mechanical Testing currently has 24 employees using Clipboard on a daily basis. He says the software has given him a major advantage over his competitors.
“My competitors are still doing stuff on paper. Very few competitors are in the cloud and paperless,” Venn says. “Certain state and federal projects mandate that you have a cloud portal for bidding on jobs. We’re already qualified to bid those jobs, while 60-70% of my competitors are struggling to catch up.
Briccetti says Troy Web Consulting is proud to have played a role in the software’s success and its positive contributions to Venn’s business. ClipBoard now leverages AWS for cloud based services AWS EC2, RDS, S3, VPC, SQS, Lambda and CloudFront to provide highly secure and scalable services.
“In the past, anytime Mechanical Testing wanted to change a form, they had to call the developer and wait for the change to be made. That’s really inefficient when you’re running a company,” Briccetti says. “Now, they can customize their own forms – immediately – and service their customers better. They’re way ahead of the curve.” What’s more, Venn has decided to expand Clipboard and market it to other businesses that could benefit from the same sort of software. Clipboard has created a new source of profit for Mechanical Testing and a unique resource for many businesses doing a variety of jobs.