In tough economic times construction companies are looking to be more efficient than ever. Reducing costs and accelerating timelines are a top priority. Many look to technology to help them improve their operational efficiency. Web-based software is particularly great at helping construction companies throughout the construction management process because it can be accessed anytime and anywhere — whether in the office, home office or on a jobsite.
Centralizing Documents and Making Project Management Easier
Onehub helps many construction companies connect and coordinate the work of general contractors, subcontractors, architects, and construction workers. By helping companies create a centralized repository for access to documents and business information, Onehub allows sharing of blueprints and construction drawings, RFIs, submittals, purchase orders, site photos and more. That is why construction companies like DTR Contractors, Coastal Construction and Vali Cooper & Associates are using Onehub to enable better project management and make sharing files easier.
Do you have questions about how Onehub can help your construction management company be more efficient? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
It’s time once again for another post in our “Conversations with Customers” blog series. This time I had the honor of speaking with Jessica Ahlering, Marketing Manager for Chef’n. The interview below details how Jessica and the team at Chef’n are using Onehub as a retailer and distributor extranet.
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): Can you tell us a little about what Chef’n does, and what role you play in the company?
Jessica Ahlering: We are a house wares company; we design kitchen gadgets, utensils, and other things for cooking. We also have a few other brands in the lifestyle and entertainment category, as well as cleaning products. I am the Marketing Manager so I handle all of the PR, trade shows, packaging, websites, etc.
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): How did you hear about Onehub?
Jessica Ahlering: Oddly enough, I heard about Onehub through our website developer. We were looking for something that was much prettier than standard FTP sites of today, and our website developer uses Onehub with the company he works for and recommended it to us.
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): And how is Chef’n using Onehub today?
Jessica Ahlering: We use it as an FTP replacement for hosting all of our product photography, which is one of the largest components of our selling approach. Onehub provides the perfect alternative where if we don’t have the product in hand to sell, at least we have an easy way to share and view product photos. We’re also providing hi-res images for our distributors so they can print them out for their catalogs or our retailers can print them out for store signage and other things.
A lot of our photos can be up to 12mb in size, and the Chef’n line alone has over 80 products, and when you include all of the colors that are involved you end up in the hundreds of products, there was really no source available to provide all of that without either slowing down people’s computers or being too complicated to understand. We were also really concerned with making sure it was brand specific. We didn’t want to create an FTP site that we had to manage, maintain, and host, because that was more than we wanted to handle in-house.
We currently have hubs where we host photography and videos. We also have hubs used domestically for our retailers, and others used internationally for our distributors, where I can give them collateral, advertisement and marketing ideas, PR samples, all in a very clean and presentable package.
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): When you were evaluating various services, what led you to choose Onehub?
Jessica Ahlering: I did a ton of research on FTP sites, and other options and possibilities. We needed a solution that was easy for our retailers and distributors to access, so they see all of our products and easily download the photos to choose what they want. Some services in my search just became too complicated to do this. Also, I love how you can view the photos nicely and easily, which helps to create an environment where it feels like our retailers are purchasing the products in the store.
The second thing which is a huge bonus is the customization and branding. We have added our logo, and we can choose a color scheme that is specific to our brand. Not only are we a design forward company but we are very color conscience and very well known for that in our industry, so being able to provide a really bright and colorful online location was an added benefit. I think it’s just easier, I mean, all of the other FTP sites that
I looked at kind of looked like a Microsoft folder, and some of them were just way too difficult to understand and had no personality. One of our core values is that we are design oriented so speaking to our retailers and distributors through something with no personality wasn’t going to work for us.
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): What benefits are you seeing from your use of Onehub?
Jessica Ahlering: A lot of the people and industries we interact with don’t have a lot of experience with computers, so Onehub has helped us to provide information to our retailers and distributors in an easy to understand format. FTP was simply too complicated for most users, and it would have been too costly to try and develop and manage something on our own.
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): What is your favorite feature in Onehub, and why?
Jessica Ahlering: I would have to say the customization potential, I spent a lot of time customizing and tailoring Onehub to fit our specific needs, from the color scheme, to the layout, and adding the right features for each hub’s purpose. The hubs are friendly, welcoming, and interesting. I feel that our site will inspire them to want more.
Last week I mentioned our new blog series called “Conversations with Customers” and I’m excited to continue it with a new conversation. This week, I spoke with Adam Trimm of Construction Management Solutions, headquartered in Sierra Madre, CA. Read more about how Adam is using Onehub as a central location to access information.
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): Can you tell us a little about what CM Solutions does, and what role you play in the company?
Adam Trimm (Construction Management Solutions):
We are a construction management company; also specializing in claims consulting, project controls, and 4-D project scheduling. We work primarily with agencies and contractors involved with large public works projects, waste water, roads/highways, and bridges.
I am an associate. I do project management working with the client, but I also wear many hats.
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): How did you hear about us?
Adam Trimm (CMS):
I think through a web search, in hopes of finding something better than SharePoint. We had a serious issue (sharing information outside our network), I’m sure SharePoint is good if you have a full time person that can manage it and develop features as needed, but we were having a real hard time with it and wanted something simple.
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): How are you using Onehub today?
Adam Trimm (CMS): My colleague and I share duties on several projects so we use it internally for file sharing where we both need access to the same files. It keeps us from emailing files back and forth. We also have some projects with larger clients where the client’s project manager has access to their own hub for an easy way for them to access large files that we need to send them.
We keep one Hub to share files between some employees of CMS marketing operations, and then we have project hubs that we share with our larger clients. We do all of our schedules in 4D, and link 3D drawings in our scheduling software that creates a virtual build-out of our projects. This process creates a very large file that we can turn into, say, an .avi video file that we then upload to Onehub and send to our client so they can see the project build before any ground is ever broken. These large files made it necessary to use Onehub.
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): When you were evaluating alternatives, what led you to choose Onehub?
Adam Trimm (CMS): The user interface was VERY simple. In a good way, it doesn’t have frivolous bells and whistles. Another one we looked at is a construction management specific solution that everyone in our industry knows. Everyone has been saying they wished there was “software like it that was simple to use without the million useless bells and whistles that make the software so convoluted.”
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): And Onehub accomplishes that need?
Adam Trimm (CMS): So far it’s been great, exactly what we were looking for. Everyone likes using it and has been happy with it.
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): What benefits are you seeing from your use of Onehub?
Adam Trimm (CMS): Everyone operates very independently so whether we’re on project sites, or home offices, or the main office, or wherever we may be on any given day; this is a nice way to give us a centralized location to access information. Sort of an easier alternative to FTP.
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): Thanks for your time.
Adam Trimm (CMS): Thank you.
We’re excited to announce a new blog series called “Conversations with Customers” . Every few weeks we will feature a new customer and share with you their successes while using Onehub. We hope that each interview opens up new ways to use the service and even unlock some new ways of thinking about your current business processes. We will feature companies from all industry types and sizes, each who are using Onehub in their own unique way. This week I had the privilege of interviewing Jen Francis of Jen Francis Design, a graphic design firm located in Warwick, New York. Read more about how Jen is utilizing Onehub as a client extranet.
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): Tell me about what you do? What is your specialty?
Jen Francis: We do everything from print to web, logos, brochures, annual reports, ads, trade show booths, websites with content management systems, and our clients range from everything from pharmaceuticals to food service.
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): How are you using Onehub today?
Jen Francis: We use Onehub as a client extranet solution to share files and collaborate with our clients.
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): Can you give me an example of a client that you work with and how you’re using Onehub with them?
Jen Francis: We’re doing a pro-bono project for the library in our town here, and they ran a photo contest for their annual calendar, we had over 200 entries and needed to pick 13 winners for the calendar.
Everybody was flooding my inbox with these large images, since we needed high res images for the calendar. So we sent out a Hub invitation for each person that won and they were able to go in and just upload their images to the Hub so they weren’t bogging me down.
We use it a lot, say we’re building a website for a client, we set up a hub and everyone on the project can upload their content to it – from the sitemap to the images. It allows us to better collaborate with the developers, we can upload the hi-res images for them to download.
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): Based on your evaluation of other solutions, what led you to choose Onehub?
Jen Francis: It was a variety of things, the price for what you get… a lot of other solutions either didn’t give you enough storage space, workspaces, or were difficult to manage. We looked at some solutions that were way too costly.
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): What are your clients, partners, and colleagues saying about the Onehub service?
Jen Francis: Well I personally think it’s very intuitive, the people that know their way around the internet are instantly comfortable with it, or those who have the basic knowledge of how an ftp site would work.
You really don’t need instructions, you just go on and immediately know what to do and it’s not hard to find your way around, everybody seems to be very pleased with it.
And it’s great for our printers too, instead of having to upload to all our different printers’ FTP sites, and trying to figure out all the different ways to send files through their sites, we just upload everything to Onehub and they can grab what they need. It is also great for when I want to work from home for a day, I have all my files on Onehub.
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): Would you say you’ve been able to save time or money with Onehub?
Jen Francis: Definitely, instead of building a custom extranet, or having someone build a custom ftp site for us, Onehub is much more robust compared to the amount of money we would have to have paid to develop one. It just didn’t make any sense to reinvent the wheel.
Kurt Ricketts (Onehub): Jen, Thank you for your time.
Jen Francis: Thank you very much.
Delivery Agent chooses Onehub to Create a Secure Collaboration Portal and Reduce IT Administration
Delivery Agent, the leader in shopping-enabled entertainment, chooses Onehub to collaborate with high-profile media company partners as well as create a company-wide intranet
Delivery Agent, Inc., is the leader in shopping-enabled entertainment for television shows, movies, magazines, sports, and music videos. Delivery Agent created the market for shopping-enabled entertainment by redefining how products seen on or related to entertainment content are catalogued, sold and measured online.
Delivery Agent partners with high-profile media companies, such as Discovery, A&E, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX NBC, MTV, UFC, and Universal just to name a few.
They need to share different types of graphical and audio-video media files, spreadsheets, and presentation documents with theses partners.
Prior to finding Onehub, Delivery Agent was using a combination of systems and services. Including their own hosted FTP, FTP hosted by their partners, other systems that required software installation on Delivery Agent systems and finally email. Delivery Agent knew that the FTP server had to be replaced and also wanted to consolidate the variety of systems and methods used to share files in order to better manage costs, training time, administration, and support issues. “We had been waiting for an easy to use application like Onehub that would combine collaboration functions (similar to those in popular social networking sites), security that would enable us to protect assets and access, and robust file sharing that was reliable and would accommodate the size and variety of files we work with,” said Glen Hendler, Delivery Agent Customer Support Technician.
- Cost Effective
- Reduced IT Administration
- Intranet and Extranet Solution in One
Delivery Agent explored many possible solutions and found Onehub to be the most cost effective solution to meet their needs. Onehub had all the features the Delivery Agent team needed for their extranet and company intranet — and with unlimited user accounts and generous files size and bandwidth restrictions, their search was over.
Implementation and deployment of the Onehub service was effortless, especially compared to solutions that require new client software. With Onehub, Delivery Agent already enjoys savings in time spent on internal IT support and administration. But soon (if not already) the ability for employees who work with outside contacts to create a customized and secure portal to collaborate will outweigh the IT benefits.
“When I see the number of hubs created by staff, and files shared with partners, without IT requests for assistance, I consider that positive feedback. I fully expect a number of our partners will purchase their own Onehub accounts to share files with their other contacts.”
Delivery Agent also needed a Human Resources intranet site for facilitating employee access to benefit information and company news. Instead of purchasing a separate hardware/software solution and taking the time to install, configure and deploy, it was a simple matter instead to create a hub called Human Resources and populate it with information. “Now we have created several other Intranet portals, including one for company/corporate services, one for the IT Helpdesk and several for other organizational groups,” says Hendler.
Microsoft Sharepoint is now used by the vast majority of enterprise companies. Sharepoint is a powerful solution for building Intranet applications and has grown to become Microsoft’s fastest growing server product. However, Sharepoint is often overkill for small and medium business users and has significant challenges when sharing data and collaborating outside your company.
Onehub provides a powerful, easy-to-use alternative to Microsoft Sharepoint.
When should I use Onehub instead of Sharepoint? Not in every case. If you are building a custom web application or running an company-wide Intranet in a large organization, Sharepoint is the right solution for you. If you are building a client extranet, collaborating with partners, building an Intranet for a department or small business, then Onehub is easier to use, lower cost and much quicker to implement.
Key Benefits of Onehub Compared to Sharepoint
Easy to Use – Onehub does not require a manual or 500 page book to learn. Our service is designed for the business user with the goal of being fun to use while making you more productive.
Setup in Minutes – Onehub is on-demand and you can setup a secure workspace and share with others in minutes. There is no software to install and you can access Onehub from Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Google Chrome.
Drag-and-Drop Customization – Customizing your workspace with drag-and-drop tools and add features with Onehub Widgets. Onehub’s design tools makes it easy to customize a secure workspace to meet your needs without writing a line of code.
Collaborate Outside Your Firewall – Onehub is web application not an Intranet application. We make is easy to invite users, regardless of where they work and control permissions through roles, without any IT involvement.
Affordable Monthly Plans – Onehub is free for the first 30 days and service plans start at just $19 per month. There is no hardware or software to install and you can cancel at any time.
Try Onehub for yourself and see why PC World described Onehub as "All the power of Sharepoint, without the complexity".
Onehub helps real estate services company save money, the environment and surpass customer expectations.
Construction Economists of America (CEA International) is a Rochester, NY-based real estate services company that specializes in estimating and construction monitoring services for banks that provide mortgages on large real estate projects. The CEA client base is predominantly commercial real estate lenders like Bank of America, HSBC Bank, Citizens Bank and more.
“Onehub is not only saving us time, it’s also saving us money because it has lessened the need for color printing and binding of reports. In addition, Onehub is helping us do our part for the environment, because we have reduced our printing by over 50%.”Louis Giardino, President of CEA International
CEA produces hundreds of highly-confidential reports for their clients each month. The reports are typically large (over 100 MB) .pdf files. As a service provider, the CEA team needs to share these reports with their clients on a regular basis.
Before Onehub, CEA often had to print, bind and send these very large reports via mail. They evolved into sending parts of the reports by email attachments, and eventually through an unsecure FTP site—which was always a concern.
“We wanted to make improvements to the way we shared business information and files and enhance the service we provide to our customers. We found solutions that cost upwards of $50,000 to set up but it was essential that we find a more cost effective alternative,” said Louis Giardino, President of CEA International.
In October 2008, CEA chose Onehub as their extranet solution provider. CEA has over 40 Hubs for each of their clients and the CEA team is sharing gigabytes of data each month. Onehub gave CEA the ability to upload a complete report without having to divide it into smaller files to send via email.
“Onehub is not only saving us time, it’s also saving us money because it has lessened the need for color printing and binding of reports,” said Giardino. “In addition, Onehub is helping us do our part for the environment, because we have reduced our printing by over 50%.”
In addition, Onehub features like the shared calendar have improved their customers’ satisfaction by allowing them to share scheduling information. “Our clients have told us that they find Onehub to be user friendly and a pleasure to work with. We are happy to have surpassed their expectations,” said Giardino.
Graphic Design Firm, Turnstyle, Uses Onehub to Reduce Costs and Improve Client Satisfaction
Turnstyle, a graphic design firm, chooses Onehub as their custom extranet solution for better file sharing with clients, vendors and business partners.
Turnstyle is a Seattle, WA based graphic design company that uses design as a tool to forge emotional relationships between customers and brands for their clients – which include Microsoft, Nordstrom, Dry Soda Co. and many more.
“Before Onehub we often burned DVDs and had them couriered around town. Onehub is not only saving us money but also improving our client satisfaction. Our clients tell me that they are happy to have a Hub to go to for all the files related to their projects.”~ Matt Diefenbach, Turnstyle Principal and Business Director
As a graphic design firm, the Turnstyle team produces thousands of large documents (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc). Turnstyle needs to share these files with vendors, clients and other marketing agencies that they partner with on a regular basis.
Turnstyle knew that a custom extranet was the answer. The Turnstyle operations team explored several off-the-shelf collaboration solutions for many years but they were either too expensive or required too many resources to implement and deploy the software. “We knew we needed to make file sharing easier for our team and our clients. It was important that we find the right solution that allowed us to create a true Turnstyle extranet while remaining easy to use so as not to create more work for our team or our clients,” says Ben Graham, Turnstyle Principal and Creative Director.
Turnstyle considered building their own custom extranet solution but quickly realized that this would be a costly endeavor.
In early 2008, Turnstyle became a Beta user of the Onehub service and quickly chose Onehub as their custom extranet solution. Onehub gave Turnstyle the ability to create a branded login page for their customers that links directly from the Turnstyle website. In addition, Onehub allows Turnstyle to create a secure Hub (extranet) for each of their clients. “Before Onehub we often burned DVDs and had them couriered around town. Onehub is not only saving us money but also improving our client satisfaction. Our clients tell me that they are happy to have a Hub to go to for all the files related to their projects,” says Matt Diefenbach, Turnstyle Principal and Business Director.
“Onehub is so easy to administer that we don’t need an IT manager to do it. Plus, Onehub has empowered our project and client managers with the tools they need to do their jobs more efficiently. Now, they can easily share files and information with our clients. We will continue to use Onehub in new ways to innovate and collaborate with our clients and business partners,” says Ben Graham.
QuickHubs for Sending Files
QuickHubs can be used for sending large files to another party outside your firewall within a few seconds. They are meant for temporary storage of large documents so a coworker, customer or vendor can access the file and download it. QuickHubs replace the need for FTP sites and make it easy and convenient to send large files in a timely manner.
To set up a QuickHub for sending files:
- Go to the Home Screen
- In the box labeled “Send or Receive Files with QuickHubs”, choose “Send Files”
- Enter the email address for person you’d like to send to, enter a message, and upload the files – takes less than 30 seconds