The construction recession has hit many areas particularly hard, not just in the U.S., but also in Canada. A ten-year old organization, Embers–Eastside Movement for Business and Economic Renewal Society–http://embersvancouver.vcn.bc.ca, is a social enterprise located in downtown Vancouver that has developed several programs for getting people back to work, including in the construction industry.

According to Peter Rossing, business development manager, Embers, “We’re an organization about creating hope for people that have barriers to getting back to work. We started out doing Embers Ventures where we help people put a business plan together to start a business and give them job training skills. Last year we began a pilot project, Embers Green Renovations, which started out doing weatherization projects. Now we’re moving into doing everything from landscaping, roofing, dry walling, painting, almost any kind of general contracting you can think of. We are a rapidly growing organization, and have placed around nine hundred people in at least temporary jobs.”

Because of such growth, Embers found it needed some technological help that was outside its normal scope, specifically construction project-management software. After evaluating several packages, both onsite and online, Rossing chose JetStream Online Construction Management from JetStream Technologies, www.jetstreamapp.com, Auburn, Ala.

“The most important reason was that it seemed extremely straightforward to use,” recalls Rossing. “It has a very nice user interface that makes it easy for people to go in and immediately enter whatever they’re doing with a project. You can set up a price database with all the materials used, so it makes it very easy to be consistent in your different bids and quotes.”

According to Rossing, another reason for the selection was the fact it is Internet based, meaning users can access all the information online and they are not tied to a computer in the office.

JetStream has made renovation work easier due to the transparency it affords and the ability to access documents from any location utilizing the cloud computing model. “Doing quoting has been tremendously simplified,” acknowledges Rossing. “When you enter the parameters you need for one project, and you have another similar project, it takes you just 15 to 20 minutes to make a quote. That is a significant timesaving.”

JetStream is working on features that Embers believes would benefit the company and other users. For example, invoicing which is lacking in the edition Embers is using. Currently, JetStream communicates with Intuit’s QuickBooks to handle accounting and the company is working on additional connectivity with Microsoft Outlook for calendar and email applications. For a growing company, or non-profit organization like Embers, that is doing construction, the minimal investment in technology that a cloud-based service offers is a good starting point. Being able to access files, make quotes, and do business from anywhere there is an Internet connection for your tablet, laptop, or even smartphone, means you can be where the work requires.