Patriot Air Systems

How eSUB provides better project visibility and effectiveness for the company. 

In the construction industry, where project management and efficiency are critical, the right software can be a game-changer. This principle was put to the test at Patriot Air Systems, based in Oxnard, California, a company that found itself grappling with the limitations of archaic project tracking methods. The journey of Patriot Air Systems underscores a vital business lesson: ease of use is paramount when it comes to software adoption, as complexity can lead to resistance among end-users, rendering any system underutilized and, therefore, invaluable.

Years ago, Patriot Air Systems co-owner Mike Pruner recognized the need for a software solution beyond the cumbersome spreadsheets they were using to manage project documentation and productivity. They turned to eSUB, an emerging platform in the realm of construction project management. The transition was transformative. Pruner recalled his initial interactions with Wendy Rogers, eSUB’s co-founder, and how game-changing the platform was for their operations.

We didn’t have a system for tracking change orders or tracking RFIs or anything…

Mike Pruner, co-owner Patriot Air Systems

Before eSUB, the company’s system was non-existent. Tracking change orders, RFIs, and other critical project documents was a manual, error-prone process, confined to physical books and isolated spreadsheets. There was no interaction, no centralized control, no real-time tracking.

patriot air systems

“The system that we had before eSUB was we didn’t have a system,” Pruner said. “We didn’t have a system for tracking change orders or tracking RFIs or anything. We had a spreadsheet and before the spreadsheet, we had a book. And that was it.”

Pruner continued: “There was no interactive system with the purchase orders that was doing anything for us other than just saying we issued one, and it may or may not have even had an amount. There may have just been a PO number to this vendor. And we didn’t know how much it was.”

eSUB introduced them to a world of streamlined processes and automated tracking, a stark contrast to the disconnected methods they were accustomed to.

“eSUB opened up a whole new world to me,” said Project Manager Jessie Harris.

Despite the initial success with eSUB, a decision from the company’s ownership led Patriot Air Systems to explore alternatives, a move that Harris, among others, found challenging. They switched to a different project management software, a decision that would serve as a stark reminder of eSUB’s value.

Harris’ struggle with the new system was palpable. Geared more toward general contractors than subcontractors, the software didn’t align with Patriot Air Systems’ needs. Critical modules like time tracking and purchase order systems were subpar compared to eSUB’s offerings. The software failed to integrate into their workflow, and even after several training sessions, support for real-time problems was lacking. Ultimately, the alternative software could not meet their standards.

“It was awful,” Harris recalled. “Everything about it was bad. I tried to give it a shot. I spent a couple months really trying to make it work. But finally, I said to the team, ‘this does not function, we can’t use it.’”

The realization dawned on Patriot Air Systems that a switch back to eSUB was inevitable.

patriot air systems

“I felt really bad for our Project Managers, like Jessie, because they just were going through hell trying to get it to work and everything was a workaround,” Pruner said. “And we didn’t feel like we should be paying for workarounds … so we did a little bit more research and decided that switching back to eSUB was a good plan for us.”

“The grass isn’t always greener on the other side,” Harris remarked, reflecting on the period. They had not only recognized eSUB’s superiority but felt the direct impact of its absence. The transition back was not just a return to a software system but a return to functionality, efficiency, and user satisfaction.

“They were definitely more based towards general contractors,” said Harris. “Even just things like submittals …  the way they’re printed out looked awful. I could not turn them in; they didn’t look good. They were very rough.”

Just being able to have everything all in one spot and go through it saves time…

Jessie Harris, Project Manager

Back on eSUB, the team harnessed features integral to their operations, such as dedicated PO numbering systems, advanced timecard management with location tracking, and centralized access to RFIs and submittals. These features weren’t just about convenience; they were about accountability, cost-saving, and having real-time insights into project status and resource allocation.

“Just being able to have everything all in one spot and go through it [saves time],” Harris said. “I go through everything about once a week to see what we don’t have answers on. I review all of our submittals depending on their status and do a really quick follow up.”

Pruner cited a notable instance where eSUB’s change order system played a crucial role in turning around a financially draining project. During their work on a large medical facility project, the ability to efficiently manage and track numerous change orders helped them recover from a deficit, highlighting how vital such features were in the grand scheme of project management.

“We got pretty negative on the job, Pruner recalled. “We got into the red, and it was mostly other people’s fault, but also some of our own, but through capturing change orders and using the eSUB system, we were able to get back to the black before the job was done.”

patriot air systems

“I don’t recall how many change orders we did on that job,” Pruner said. “If we hadn’t had eSUB it would’ve been hard to track that many change orders and to recover where we had gone red on the job.”

And Pruner appreciates how eSUB helps them hold general contractors accountable for those change orders by never losing sight that they are still out there awaiting approval. “We have some jobs right now where we have multiple change orders that the general contractor just won’t approve,” Pruner said. “And that’s very frustrating. But we have the visibility to see that.”

Because of eSUB, the Patriot Air Systems team can follow up, and the change orders aren’t forgotten or lost in the shuffle.

“If we didn’t have eSUB we would not be able to function as we do right now…”

Mike Pruner, co-owner Patriot Air Systems
patriot air systems

Today, Patriot Air Systems leverages eSUB as a cornerstone of its business operations. Their weekly meetings revolve around insights drawn from eSUB data, discussing job status, workforce allocation, and project performance. The software’s impact transcends the convenience of digital transformation, resonating with the very way Patriot Air Systems operates and thrives. Pruner concludes, acknowledging eSUB’s role in providing visibility and insights critical to making informed, strategic business decisions.

“If we didn’t have eSUB we would not be able to function as we do right now,” Pruner said. “It provides all of the information that Jessie needs to process for payroll, but almost as important to that is that it inputs it into a format that we can see where we’re at on the job and how the job is performing.”

Their story underscores not just a successful case of adopting technology but also highlights the perils of overlooking user experience and support. It’s a testament to how businesses, especially those in sectors like construction, need reliable, user-friendly solutions, a niche that eSUB has successfully managed to fill for Patriot Air Systems.

“eSUB just generally provides all-around visibility into projects and how effective we’re being at executing them,” Pruner concludes.

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