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The First Virtual Plan Room for Building Contractors in Texas

Heather Ball - HT Cares! Management Consulting

Heather Ball, was hired by Associated General Contractors in 1996 to run one of the first online commercial construction plan rooms in existence.  These physical plan rooms were like a library of architectural drawings and thousand-page specifications books that provided every detail needed to calculate the cost of materials and labor to construct a commercial building.  At the time, AGC Connect had just launched in Houston.  Through Heather ‘s leadership, the virtual plan room was rolled out to six markets in Texas and two in southern California.  A few of the many challenges of being on this cutting edge of new technologies included; alleviating concerns of the design community, digitizing massive amounts of oversized paper documents, managing scan teams in remote areas, implementing a VPN among non-technical groups, hosting unusually large data banks, and leading a software development team.  Not to mention, the need for introducing and training all onboarding plan room staff and customers on new technology, methods, and approaches to the bidding processes.

It was Heather’s negotiating skills that positioned the organization for the successful merger in 2003 with iSqft, now Construction.com.  Through a series of cooperative steps over 5 years with the software provider, OnCenter Software, she was able to attain the exclusive, unlimited license to the plan room software making the way for the Texas plan rooms to become a part of a nationwide system through the merger with iSqft. 

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