Leading the way digitally with Kreo's construction software - O'Keefe's Story

O’Keefe, a leading UK civil engineering company which has recently celebrated its 50th birthday, has big ambitions when it comes to innovation and driving change - in the words of Group Managing Director, Patrick O’Keefe - “I don’t want us to be brash or the biggest… just the best. I want us to be excellent at everything we do.” With its wide range of services, O’Keefe is well placed for continued profitable growth in the highly competitive construction market due to its on-going commitment to innovation, and in particular, leading the way digitally.

With a Masters' degree in BIM Management and a keen desire to work in an environment that embraces digital advancement, Marta Baron joined O’Keefe as a fresh pair of eyes back in 2018 as BIM Manager. Her focus has been to help the company to digitalise, saving both time and money. 

It hasn’t been a straightforward journey to encouraging and seeing change, though. For Marta, the forward-thinking approach of O’Keefe was a breath of fresh air - as she says, “Many companies still haven’t heard of BIM and can’t even use Excel. The lack of training in some companies in terms of digital is unbelievable.” When Marta first saw Kreo in action and began to use our Takeoff tool, she was excited to see how it could shape her ways of working and make various tasks more efficient.  Previously to working with Kreo, Marta’s team were modelling with ArchiCAD, and using Vico and Asta. Due to its increasing importance in the UK for modelling, they then made the switch to Revit, and given Kreo’s compatibility with Revit, it was a convenient match. Performance began to improve right away - as Marta explains “With the old products we had so many problems, especially when we updated a model. Many times we got errors. Now I can upload a model from scratch & won't lose data or get errors, for example when deleting layers”.

Marta Baron
BIM Manager

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Adoption is notoriously a key challenge when it comes to new technologies. With this in mind, Kreo is designed based on extensive user research and centred around ease of use. Marta describes her own experience of using Kreo Takeoff - “It’s pretty simple to use - you don’t need anyone to tell you how to use it. Adapting it into our working processes was straightforward, and it’s made life so much easier. I was impressed with the ease of use and support.” 


Given her positive and complimentary response about working with Kreo, we wanted to know more about the time savings and other benefits Marta has experienced, given O’Keefe’s commitment to efficiency and future-forward approaches. “It improves the confidence of the Estimators and Quantity Surveyors in the software. We have fewer errors, higher confidence, and it runs faster than Vico used to. And because I can transfer straight from Revit to Kreo I don’t have to change to IFC then import and load it. I have a takeoff for each model, and you can save templates as well, so I don’t have to re-assign all the structure - I just copy the template and it’s ready straight away.” And referring to re-work, Marta adds “When we have revisions, Kreo is much faster. In terms of re-work it’s saving me a lot of time. Probably at least half the time.

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Discussing the benefits of O’Keefe taking a multi-aspect approach to process improvement, Marta says “We’ve made massive progress on how we work. Having a new structure and workflows; using Revit and Kreo - Kreo has been a part of that whole. Things are getting done quicker, there are no errors, we save time on the bills and the time to get to the estimator is quicker, so we can price more tenders. Or at least they can keep a better eye on the tenders they produce and make sure they are more accurate”. And what would be the impact of inaccuracy? “Losing money. If you price for 2 sq metres instead of 3, unless there’s a variation, you can't pay for that extra metre. So that’s money you are losing. You get the takeoff wrong. The reason we’re doing these takeoffs digitally is that it’s meant to be 100% accurate.”
Of particular use to O’Keefe, and one of Marta’s preferred features, is the flexibility around bill structure. I can structure bills to please the estimators, which is a great thing about the product. The ability of the software to adapt to estimators and not the other way round is really helpful. It makes our life much easier because sometimes the modellers are too busy to pay attention to so many details. Re-naming to the specific requests of the estimators - I can do all that in Kreo. The way we model now is way more efficient thanks to Kreo because it helps us to classify things in a way we need as a company, not in a general way.Elaborating further on this need for flexibility, she adds “Every company is different and needs to consider different things. To my estimators, classification is the top thing. They need to classify the same way they’ve done it before, in terms of the cost breakdown structure and how they arrange it. You can’t change how they do it."

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When it comes to support and collaborative product development, O’Keefe’s experience has been particularly positive. Marta explains, “The support is great. Every time I have a problem I get a really quick response and I know someone will be trying to get me an answer.” In contrast to her previous experiences of support with other software, she adds “With other platforms it would take at least a day to solve issues, when with Kreo it’s sometimes a matter of minutes, which is important when looking at the timeframes we have. We can’t afford to wait.” 

The future looks bright for the partnership between Kreo and O’Keefe. Marta adds a few more words on how she hopes to develop O’Keefe’s use of Kreo products - “Hopefully we can use Kreo for pricing as well as takeoff, as the more different software we use, the more difficult it is to transfer that data and there will be more errors and missing information.” Speaking about 2D drawings and modelling based on these, she explains “We get everything in .pdf drawings, then we do the modelling. It depends on the detail, the shape and size of the job, but for example a project with sub-structure, drainage & services of around £2m budget could take about a week to produce. And if we have other projects running as well, then it might be longer. And it would take 4 people.” In response to similar feedback from other clients and prospects, the Kreo team has been developing a new 2D Takeoff tool that will be launching in Beta mode over the coming weeks, which Marta will be involved in testing. Its key features include Auto Measure, Auto Count, multiple scale options, trace dependencies and an integrated online spreadsheet in a familiar Excel-like environment.

Finally, when asked what other industries or professionals Marta would recommend Kreo to, her answer is simple - “Any company within the construction industry that wants to go digital!”

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