Today, we will cover three things:
- A lookback at 2022,
- Features we added since our Q3 launch, and
- A sneak peak at features that are upcoming on our roadmap for the rest of Q1
Construction supply chain issues in 2022
When we look back at our product in 2022, it's essential to keep in mind why we founded Katalyst and the goals we have for our platform. As we see it, there are several major issues impacting the construction industry:
- Skilled labor is in high demand, and the construction workforce is aging and retiring quickly.
- Material costs are increasing, especially for engineered products. This is creating material shortage issues leading to longer project timelines.
- Lead times continue to play an issue in builders and contractors successfully delivering projects to owners and investors.
Our 2022 product launch
The KatalystDI Application officially launched in September 2022. For those that have not been following along on our journey, we released our initial platform functionality around the concept of productizing construction projects. The Katalyst Package Library allows users (such as owners or contractors) to create a productized design broken into work packages (or modules). Packages can be as simple as commodity products assembled on-site such as structural steel or a foundation. They can also be complex engineered products such as a generator enclosure or an integrated analyzer shelter.
Each package is natively tied to its supply chain with a visual representation tool that shows each tier of supplier all the way down to the nuts and bolts. This allows users the ability to identify which component is causing delays and potentially replace them to ensure on-time project delivery. In addition, procurement professionals and planners can understand construction cost as an aggregate of product cost. This simplifies applications such as should cost modeling so that everyone is operating with transparency.
Looking at a project as an aggregated collection of products (known as packages) tied to lead times and logistics needs allows project managers or planners to schedule construction activities either on or off-site. Many industrial projects in the United States are located in less populated, often rural areas where low populations imply site-based worker shortages. Depending on the availability of skilled workers you can make the best decisions for when and where to build packages in order to address labor shortages.
The last quarter
A hallmark feature of large construction projects is that they involve many stakeholder groups who often run on different systems and have different ways of working. When we started designing project deployment features for the Package Library, we knew we would need to create a solution that did two things very well:
Integrated with almost any tool on the market used in construction. This includes tools for design, BIM management, project management & coordination, and many others. This seems like a tall order, but we use Palantir Foundry as a data ingestion and aggregation tool which gives us the ability to create virtually unlimited integrations.
Offered unlimited users and licenses with a simple user management process. Often in construction subcontractors, consultants, and thousands of suppliers are responsible for the successful delivery of a project. With our Project feature, a license owner can create an unlimited number of users. We also released user management access features so that each person only sees what they need and is not mistakenly given access to project data they do not need.
In the last quarter of 2022, our product & software teams have been focused on deploying these capabilities in terms of project execution. The KatalystDI Project Module took all of the same features from the Package Library and added three main capabilities around the same functionality that we released in September
1. Manage Packages in Projects
After laying the foundation for the solution, our team concentrated on the jobs that users would need the platform for. Organizing your scope of work into packages is just the start. Packages are not helpful unless you can deploy them to projects.
We built functionality to allow owners who are planning projects the ability to make package selections around lead times with direct visibility into supplier lead times and inventory. Specialty and general contractors who would execute the planned work have similar capabilities to select construction materials (electrical equipment or even iron and steel) vendors on a project by project basis. In addition, both contractor-furnished and owner-furnished equipment are shown together in the package library. This allows users to monitor progress regardless of who the purchaser is.
You can also use project features to localize packages to new locations. For example, you may choose to reuse a design on one project that has very different environmental needs or different code requirements (such as voltage differences in different countries). Localization features allow a user to update a package for unique site requirements so that changes can be made to the design and then shared with vendors and contractors.
2. Procurement Views
Beyond deploying a package to a project, what you spend procuring those packages is essential for sticking to the project's budget. We released our first set of procurement views last quarter to select enterprise-level customers. We built a suite of features including Should Cost Modeling, Inventory Management, and Optionality into the Project Library. Currently, each deployment of our Procurement View tools is a tailored solution for Enterprise users, but we will be releasing some of these features out of the box to lower-tier licenses in the future (more on that later)!
3. Production Tracking
Once a package is deployed to a project, the next item to tackle was integrated production tracking. Production Tracking is a new out-of-the-box feature for all customers. The last several years have taught everyone that supply chain challenges are best avoided by planning and using the right vendors. The production tracking functionality was designed around the understanding that supply chain disruption can happen at any time. A late shipment of even the smallest component such as specialty fasteners can delay the delivery of a much larger integrated assembly.
There are three main features we have under development that I want to share a teaser of!
1. Aggregated programmatic views will make it easier to get straight to the job you need to do. Not everyone is assigned to work on every project, so upcoming programmatic views will focus on presenting program-level information that is needed by each user.
2. We are working on procurement features for non-enterprise customers. These will be out-of-the-box tools and reports you can use for picking the right supplier, tracking inventory you have already purchased (and allocating it to projects), or finding insights and trends across your program.
3. Last but not least, you may have noticed something different looking from the first screenshot. Our team is hard at work on an updated user interface. This will make it easier to see what projects users are working on, display packages from the library in a more structured way, and allow for better navigation around the platform.