101 Greenwich

Customer Story: Convene


Conversation with Brian Tolman:
Part one, Data Transparency

 

CONVERSATION WITH BRIAN TOLMAN: 
PART Two, Cost Savings

 


The Challenge

Founded in 2009, Convene is the fastest growing, tech-enabled portfolio of workplace, meeting, and event spaces. When Brian Tolman, SVP of Design & Construction, joined Convene in 2016, they were only managing a small handful of properties.  As the project quantity grew and the company planned to more than double their square footage in 2019, tension began to rise in their existing processes of managing and tracking projects using Excel spreadsheets and email.

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We realized that if we didn’t get ahead of the costs, and have an organized, orderly way of tracking, we were going to have a problem.”

- BRIAN TOLMAN, SVP DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION

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Reporting to company stakeholders on their spending would require hours compiling spreadsheets, just to get to a simple picture of their data trends. Convene needed the ability to compare historical projects to align their past spending, so they could make better proactive decisions on future projects. With disjointed spreadsheets and manual data entry, reporting and analyzing projects was challenging, time consuming, and unsustainable.

THE Solution

 

Convene was working with The Durst Organization to open a full-service meeting and amenity space at 4 Times Square when the Durst team introduced Tolman to Honest Buildings. Tolman had been searching for a tool to solve the issues of stagnant, error prone spreadsheets and provide meaningful data insights. He recognized that Honest Buildings enabled access and ownership of data that would give Convene the ability to analyze, understand, and make better decisions from their data.

When Tolman started using Honest Buildings, he was “amazed at how simple and user friendly the platform was,” especially in comparison to the often overly complicated tools he had seen before. After seeing how Honest Buildings transferred the entry of invoices, change orders, bids, etc., to the vendors rather than his team, Tolman was on board. The usability, the lack of manual entry for his team, and the data transparency into individual project details to portfolio-wide trends made Honest Buildings an easy decision for Tolman.

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Brian Tolman“You can’t do anything about your costs if you can’t analyze the data. The first thing Honest Buildings gave us was the ability to truly analyze the data. Honest Buildings is the first major step we’ve been able to make in getting true transparency in our projects’ costs and processes.”

    - BRIAN TOLMAN, SVP DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION

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The outcome

Since 2017, Convene’s project costs have decreased by about 20 percent. Tolman attributes a large portion of those savings to the ability to understand their costs and make better decisions about how they spend capital. Understanding where their projects stand relative to targeted budgets and timelines has helped Tolman’s team to keep their projects on track and keep costs low. The access to data allows Convene to learn from their historic and ongoing projects to make better decisions moving forward.

The accessibility of data via Honest Buildings has also improved team efficiency. Prior to rolling out Honest Buildings, if Tolman needed to look back on a project to understand an issue, it could take a month of his time to compile the data. Today, Tolman estimates that it would take only a few hours to do the same thing in Honest Buildings, because all of the data is easily accessible. Efficiency has not only come in reporting, but in managing the RFP process, approvals, and communication. Centralizing the entirety of the project in a transparent tool makes every step of the project faster for Convene.

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Honest Buildings has, without a doubt, forced us to be more on our game, more transparent. We’re able to deliver projects faster, without sacrificing quality. Now, in real time, we understand not just where our projects stand, but where they’re trending.

- BRIAN TOLMAN, SVP DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION

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About CONVENE

Founded in 2009, Convene is the fastest-growing network of full-service, tech-enabled meeting, event, and flexible workspaces. With 20 locations across 5 cities as of September 2018, Convene has become an industry leader in workplace services and hospitality.

Brian Tolman is the SVP of Design & Construction at Convene. He has been with the company since 2016. He is a registered architect, member of the AIA, and a LEED-accredited professional.


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