Podio enables Schuster Concrete Companies to improve efficiency and productivity through enterprise collaboration and business process automation.
Organizations today are committed to accelerating growth while minimizing disruption and prioritizing employee experience. And companies like Schuster are no exception.
Schuster is a manufacturing and construction company with experience in many sectors, including commercial, industrial, government, and health care and medical facilities. Established in 1974, Schuster has grown to be one of the largest concrete construction companies in the Mid-Atlantic region, employing over 1,000 employees to provide value and quality service to their customers.
For Schuster, driving growth hinges on their employees’ ability to get work done efficiently and effectively. They needed integrated solutions that could improve operational efficiency while increasing employees’ productivity.
Before turning to Citrix in 2012, Schuster's IT team relied on manual effort and multiple systems to complete routine tasks, like handling support requests. “At that point, we were looking to break out of spreadsheets and documents and get more collaborative around the things that we manage on a day-to-day basis,” shared Chris Blanchard, Director of IT, Schuster Companies.
Since then, the IT team has managed nearly 10,000 support requests in the tool. “Managing requests in Podio naturally connects them to applications, recurring maintenance items, individual user tech profiles, and other existing data structures that we create and manage in the system,” says Blanchard.
Over the years, Schuster has added ShareFile® and RightSignature to further expand the solution’s value and empower end-to-end document workflow automations to improve the way employees work. And with more than one million items deployed in the tool, including 1,000 workflows and over 2,000 apps, Schuster has been able to reduce manual effort, maximize cost savings and improve their employee experience.
I spend probably 40% of my day using Podio and another 20% helping others solve problems with Podio.
Director of IT
Reimagining daily workflows to improve employee experience
The IT team, led by Blanchard, quickly realized that Podio could be used to improve other teams’ workflows, and the safety team was a natural fit.
Schuster’s safety team ensures safety policies and regulations are implemented and followed for multiple construction projects at a time. They are responsible for checklists, inspections, and investigations to keep things safe on the job sites. But prior to using Podio, the team faced a few challenges that disrupted their work: safety officers are typically dispersed across sites, there was no central system to manage their activities, and they are mobile-only employees who depend on tablets and smartphones to do almost all their work.
Today, the safety team can easily submit incidents, inspections, safety violations, and other related items using web forms, and organize the information in one collaborative space all with a few simple clicks. And because Schuster also uses the tool as an employee database, items are relationally attached to employees and integrated into projects with related project managers.
The team can also automate routine tasks, like submitting daily reports. Safety officers oversee crane operations and submit a daily report to contractors. Using the tool’s workflow automation and the Dynamic Forms extension, the team created workflows that enable crane operators to submit daily inspection reports easily from any device. Schuster automates downstream communications with project stakeholders via email in real time using Podio Workflow Automation, so general contractors and owners immediately receive the inspection results without having to request them from the safety team. According to Blanchard, it would take 10 administrative hours each week to complete the reports manually.
“Using Podio to manage safety activities has saved us from having to implement a separate safety management system and it gives the team better access to the other data we manage in Podio, such as projects and employees,” shared Blanchard.
From managing safety operations to executing purchase orders and reimbursing expenses, Podio helps Schuster transform the employee experience by customizing work and improving collaboration between teams.
Automating key document workflows to increase efficiency and productivity
With Podio’s workflow automation, Schuster employees can also organize and automate simple and complex business processes, enabling them to set up triggers for time-sensitive actions. This has helped teams remove bottlenecks and reduce time spent on low-value tasks.
Schuster’s Sales team executes all their sales quotes in the tool using workflows. Once a quote is ready to be signed, it’s automatically deployed to RightSignature, where clients can securely review and electronically sign quotes. And with the tool’s mobile app, the team can easily create quotes and send them for signature from anywhere.
“Customers don’t have to struggle to print quotes. They can sign contracts with the push of a button in an email which delivers the quote to them via RightSignature, and the appropriate person is notified once signed,” shared Blanchard.
Podio has also been instrumental in transforming their sales operations with improved data management and visualization. “Our previous sales tool was a bolt-on to our logistics/dispatch software. It was powerless to help our sales and operations teams project their pipelines of work, and our financial and operations management teams were behind the market. We needed to start projecting six months into the future. And Podio helped.”
According to Blanchard, they would have to hire another sales administrator to execute these tasks manually. Across the board, Podio estimates that Schuster saved more than 14,000 hours in a 30-day period using workflow automations, driving cost efficiency for the organization.
Accelerate key business operations to drive cost-effectiveness
Hiring and onboarding is a critical element for business success, and this is especially true for manufacturing and construction companies like Schuster. An efficient hiring and onboarding process ensures they have skilled workers to get projects done on time.
Like similar organizations, Schuster’s HR team relied on a manual, paper-based process that was largely managed on-site. In response to the pandemic, their IT team was given a mandate to make their processes fully electronic to minimize contact between people. This posed another challenge as construction workers aren’t often tech-savvy. Podio helped fill the gap.
“All our hiring and onboarding is done in the tool. We collect applications through web forms. Offer letters are generated through workflow automation, delivered to employees as PDFs via RightSignature, and signed and returned,” says Blanchard.
The time it takes to hire a worker has decreased by nearly 90%. “The process used to take on average 45 minutes for each person. We’ve been able to reduce that to about five minutes per person because all the paperwork is finished before they walk through the door.”
Once a hiring decision is made, the HR team can collect all the onboarding information for the employee through web forms. “We pre-fill all the necessary tax forms using built-in RightSignature templates. Employees are given RightSignature versions of their tax forms to sign and return,” explained Blanchard.”
Efficient hiring and onboarding processes help the HR team save time on manual, low-value tasks while driving organization success. And candidates can complete applications and sign paperwork anywhere on any device.
Everything in Podio has enabled us to take the tool, make it ours and do exactly what we want with it as opposed to trying to fit our business into something else and does it in a way that is simple enough that most people can figure it out.
Director of IT
Driving value into the future
Blanchard and his team are on a mission to help every team experience the benefits of Podio. “Our goal is to replace manual or inefficient processes,” says Blanchard. “We’ll work with individual business units and ask, ‘What if I could do it faster, cheaper, more automated?’ ‘What if you had more time to focus on things that matter instead of busy work?’ And we'll invest some time, solve a problem, and just rinse and repeat.”
Since 2012, Citrix solutions have helped Schuster save on costs associated with buying a safety management system, sales CRM, and quality control management system, while extending the capabilities of payroll and HR systems. Looking ahead, the team will continue to extend the value of the solution across the organization as they look forward to new features and tighter integrations with other applications. If there’s a better way to do something at Schuster, it seems to begin with Podio.