McCorvey Sheet Metal + Trello

Making History With A Paperless Process

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Established in 1925, McCorvey Sheet Metal Works has a rich history of craftsmanship and innovation. The HVAC sheet metal detailer, fabricator, and installer has seen incredible growth over its 92-year history, building a local mom-and-pop shop into a multi-state corporation that now numbers fourth-generation McCorvey family members and hundreds of dedicated employees. With facilities in Houston, Orlando, and Dallas, the manufacturing company is a standout example of how to scale a steady, successful business.

McCorvey Sheet Metal also has an established history of paper—paper filing systems, that is. Until recent years, the company ran on an analog administrative system that consisted of handwritten tickets that were used internally as well as sent to partnering businesses. Tech coordinator Chris Mondeau quickly observed that this was one tradition of the family-run business that wasn’t going to successfully scale with the rest of the company:

“Paper was getting lost, and people couldn’t keep track of where items were in the fabrication or office process.”

The goal was to move operations to a paperless system that was easy to learn, and more importantly, easy to maintain by everyone involved.

Constructing A Central Hub

Chris began looking for a scheduling program that could visualize the quantity of tasks at hand at each stage of the fabrication process. The biggest need, however, was a software system that was easy for people to interact with at any point of the process and at any level of technical ability. He wanted a program that would be a digital hub, bringing together files and processes that McCorvey employees were already working on in programs like Word and Dropbox. On the more technical side, having an open API for integrations (like Trello does) would help future-proof the adoption of a central organization tool as more team-specific digital tools are introduced in the company’s workflow.

During the research phase, a variety of team-oriented tools were put to the test, including, Trello, Mavenlink, Wrike, and CRM software.. Trello became the top “paper replacer” for a few reasons:

  1. The straightforward, collaborative features were quickly adopted by users in the company.
  2. Tracking tasks across the production process on one board view was simple and effective.
  3. The visual nature of the workflows felt intuitive for employees.

 

First, A Trello Field Test

Trello launched in a test phase with 15 users in the fabrication process. Their team saw an immediate boost in quality assurance: Workers in the field could now see the status of projects in the shop in real-time and verify all required information was provided. The added bonus? They had no more need to constantly phone or email the shop for check-ins and small questions.

“Trello is good for our teams because it’s so organic. If you don’t like how the process is working on the board, you can change it. Trello fits right in with exactly what we are doing on a day-to-day basis.”

More teams within the company began to see the impact of bring teams into a collaborative digital hub:

  • When Vice-President Charlie McCorvey saw the impact Trello was having in the shop process, he brought the estimation team on a digital workflow. By visually tracking jobs in the pipeline, they saw a reduction in the number of jobs left on the table. They could also see when jobs were taking longer than expected, and who needed help in getting their job to completion.
  • The fabrication team started building a historical log of issues that arose in the manufacturing process. Fabrication reports went mostly paperless after that.

Overall, employees like being able to find and access any information they need thanks to the transparent nature of Trello boards. If there is an issue with detailing for example, comments can be left for the detailer on the task’s card, and other work can continue in the meantime.

Building Out Company Trello Culture

One of the ways Chris has incorporated Trello into daily company use is having by it installed on devices in kiosk mode located around each shop and office, so employees can login and use Trello anywhere, at any time. The mobile apps also allow team members in the field to get the same access on the go.

“Trello has caught on fire with the guys in the shop and office.”

Beyond basic Trello training (which usually takes a half day), Chris pairs up with different McCorvey teams for a week, helping them build boards based off their processes. Starting from a basic Kanban-inspired set of “To Do,” “Doing,” and “Done” lists, he then monitors and helps the team evolve the workflow using more customized list layouts, labels, and Power-Ups.

One of his top tips is to take advantage of the Trello Inspiration directory to get ideas and sample boards that can be customized instead of starting from scratch. Regular check-ins with teams are also important. Chris makes sure he is available to simplify workflows on an ongoing basis if boards and lists get too long or unwieldy.

Top McCorvey Team Boards

Here are a couple of McCorvey Sheet Metal’s top Trello workflows:

Team Brainstorming

The workflow: To help foster creativity in the company, a central brainstorming board encourages employees to create cards with ideas for improving or trying new processes. The board is reviewed collectively every couple of weeks, when top ideas are selected and put into action.  

Use it for: Entire Organization

Board build tips: Use the Voting Power-Up to crowdsource feedback on each idea.

Multi-Location Workload Distribution

The workflow: A board shared between the Houston and Florida facilities that visualizes the fabrication workflow. Shop managers use the board to distribute team workloads between the two locations, depending on backlog.

Use it for: Team Managers

Board build tips: Use labels to visually indicate which tasks are going to which locations. Email-to-board makes it easy for estimators to forward emailed customer requests to the board, and get jobs into the pipeline.

Aiming Higher

McCorvey has certainly benefited internally from the collaboration and transparency that Trello has brought to their day-to-day operations, but they have also become a leader in their industry thanks to their digital transformation.

During a bid for a large medical facility project, Trello helped them stand out among the 14 companies competing for the project. As part of their presentation, they set up a communal board where both parties could communicate and track the fabrication process in real-time. The open collaboration that they were willing to bring to the table impressed the client. As Chris notes, “Transparency is always a big selling factor. Using Trello sends the message that we want to make sure the job is done right.”

A New Era Of Paperless Productivity

When Chris Mondeau set out to find a program that would help organize manufacturing processes, he may not have known the true impact that it would have on the company as a whole. As it turned out, Trello has been the catalyst to push their teams to go truly paperless:

“McCorvey was a paper company for 60 to 70 years and went completely digital overnight thanks to Trello. It made a huge impact and really was an unintended result—and we absolutely love it.”

The original goals that Chris had bringing Trello into the company—increased collaboration, transparency, and communication across teams—have all been reached with tangible results too, helping their offices, shops, and jobsites across Florida and Texas stay connected. For McCorvey Sheet Metal Works, now having a digital hub that scales with their organization is a solid step forward for the next 100 years of successful company growth.