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Insights into the ideas and innovations that are transforming project planning and delivery

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Innovation

Walbridge Director of Innovation on the Future of Machine Learning

In Part I of our interview with John Jurewicz, director of technology innovation for Walbridge Building Design and Construction, we explored John’s professional background as well as his insights into emerging technologies. In Part II, Dr. Burcin Kaplanoglu, Executive Director, Innovation Officer for Oracle Construction and Engineering, and John discuss the potential of machine learning and where technology is heading long term. BK: What is the biggest value in AI and machine learning leveraging the existing data we’re collecting in the short and mid-term? JJ: The value of machine learning—or algorithms that optimize—is going to first evolve in repetitive building types. For example, you’re putting up data centers and modular construction in days instead of months. You have a pattern of what we've done in the past, and now we want to increase efficiency or look at how to shave 30 percent off the schedule, which obviously saves money. The initial result you see is we’re taking the patterns that you’ve already collected in your data and optimizing it with better intelligence. It’s usually experience-driven—people looking at the algorithms but also saying, “OK, if you're checker boarding the concrete pours to optimize how the concrete cures, what if you use two crews versus three?” Study how the crews affect each other’s efficiency. Monitoring patterns for optimization For example, we can see the weather cycles and the predictability of rain. What if we build at a different time of year, when we're not as likely to encounter rain or flooding? You’re going to see a mixture of weather data with predictability of patterns of how you pour concrete. And you see some of these technologies we’ve been talking about. We’ve seen algorithms with recipes that can improve how you self-perform an activity. But I’m thinking more holistically about the following optimization questions: Should you even be building like this? Or should you be building it at a different time of the year, and if so, how much money would that save? How can you optimize by evaluating four different sites where you could potentially build? By observing the patterns of how to deliver concrete or build a batch plan, you can optimize the site selection based on the construction value or by lessening the environmental impact. You’re weighing both considerations simultaneously: “I’ve got less erosion and less impact to the environment, but am I paying a premium to deliver concrete or services to this site?” You can begin evaluating things differently. BK: Where do you see technology heading in the long term? JJ: I foresee two trends in our industry: Constructors will become more technological in their approach to services. We’ll also be more driven towards prefabrication. We’ll partner with people who are very smart. Or we will become very smart at building portions of buildings, meaning we’ll specialize in the prefabrication of certain building types. For us on the industrial side, if we’re designing and building data centers near power stations that are cogeneration facilities, we may start specializing in building just those because the cost of distributing the electricity is so much less. We’ll become advisors on how to build buildings for the biggest bang for the buck, meaning you build these factories close to where power’s generated. And that isn’t new. If you build something near a hydroelectric dam, you could say it’s going to be a lot easier to get reliable energy. But I’m thinking more in terms of looking at your existing nuclear assets. The cost of energy is going to go down. They’ve got to do something with these nuclear facilities which are very expensive to run. Why aren’t they locating the data facilities near the power stations? Or, why aren’t energy-intensive factories that are producing gypsum drywall located closer to where the power source is? Tracking emerging projects will become easier. Expensive tools are rapidly becoming more affordable everywhere. It’s going to almost be an expectation now by owners: "Well, why aren't you tracking and doing things that quickly? Because everybody else is.”  Owners are beginning to demand tracking work in place, using more meaningful dashboards, and telling you what's going wrong in terms of risk sooner. You can track bad news much more quickly. For example, Intel's RealSense sensors, which are under $200, are essentially doing what the $500 Tango did last year. And for quick little scanning studies, why not?  It’s better to track work put into place. And once you know exactly what’s put into place, what do you do with it? How do you adjust and start to optimize or reduce people working on top of each other - like you see with Oracle Prime Projects? We can pull people apart so they're not working on top of each other. That's reducing our risk. There's a real value there.  Those construction advisors are going to evolve long-term. We’re going to become better at giving good guidance on where to build in the future.  And you’ll be able to back it up with data using AI for sure. Discover more innovative ideas emerging in construction and engineering in our “Navigating the Future of Projects” report from Oracle Industry Connect. Related posts: Disrupting with Intent: Bechtel's David Wilson on Innovation in Engineering & Construction Mortenson Innovation Leader on Driving Transformation in Construction  

In Part I of our interview with John Jurewicz, director of technology innovation for Walbridge Building Design and Construction, we explored John’s professional background as well as his insights into...

Construction Project Management

Maverik Turns to Primavera Unifier to Fuel its Ambitious Growth Strategy

Maverik, a fast-growing chain of fuel and convenience stores throughout the Western United States, builds about 30 new facilities each year, in addition to renovating and expanding scores of existing locations. The scale of this work creates urgency to complete projects efficiently and effectively. “We have to complete projects as quickly as possible to maintain the customer base and start or continue to earn revenues as quickly as possible,” Leslie Springer, director, engagement and Project Management Office for Maverik, said in a case-study presentation at the recent Oracle Industry Connect 2018 knowledge-sharing event in New York. But achieving that goal was a challenge. “Our problem statement was, ‘Every time we open a store, Maverik is pulling off a miracle,’” Springer quipped.  To continue its growth trajectory, the company had to modernize its project management and construction processes, which were no longer sustainable or scalable for its current requirements. To achieve those objectives, Maverik chose a new path forward: close collaboration with Oracle and the implementation of Oracle’s Primavera Unifier. “Unifier provides a unified solution for managing our complex projects,” Springer said. “We now have total visibility from project conception to completion. With this in place, we know exactly how much we spend on materials and on external vendors, and we can determine where opportunities exist for cutting costs.” Oracle representatives worked closely with the Maverik staff to define requirements and reorganize construction process components. Stakeholders then identified and implemented as many standard features of Primavera Unifier as possible to avoid costly and time-consuming customizations. “We are able to supply standard business processes and provide checkpoints for authorizing or denying changes,” Springer adds. “And we have one place of truth to report on the repercussions of those changes.” Working with Oracle, the Maverik team successfully implemented Primavera Unifier under budget. Stakeholders and executives have reacted so enthusiastically to the platform, Maverik officials decided to expand its use to additional areas, such as entitlements and special projects.  “Because of Oracle, we have happy employees, as opposed to resource overload,” Springer says. “Which now makes [our process] sustainable and scalable.” Read our earlier post to learn more about how Leslie Springer finds adventure in project management, and check out our recaps of day one and day two at Oracle Industry Connect for more coverage of innovation and digital transformation in project delivery. Read insights from the Oracle Industry Connect 2018 report here. Further reading:  Oracle's Primavera Unifier Enables Earned Value Management to Improve Project Delivery      

Maverik, a fast-growing chain of fuel and convenience stores throughout the Western United States, builds about 30 new facilities each year, in addition to renovating and expanding scores of existing...

Five signs your organization is ready for ERP-PM integration

Engineering and construction is a project-centric world— and ERP-PM integration is key. Along these lines, E&C professionals frequently ask, “How can I tie my corporate ERP system together with my project management system(s) to avoid error-prone, time-consuming double entry?” Few will dispute how the lack of integration is is a headache—including missing or inconsistent information and inefficient double entry— but taking the first step can feel daunting. Fortunately, the tools and expertise available today make ERP-PM integration faster, easier, and more complete. How do you know if integration is right for you? Five signs your organization is ready for ERP-PM integration Recognition of the value of integration Buy-in from the departments and roles impacted by the integration Understanding of process optimization Flexibility to change job functions to match new integrated and optimized processes Open-mindedness: there is more than one way to accomplish the goal To help ensure a successful integration, it’s important to set the groundwork. Keys to successful integration Define and align business and project processes Optimize processes before you automate them Set up the framework and ensure the right mindset to enable cross-departmental collaboration Scope your integration to align with business goals Inspire people to push the limits to gain the most value from integration A recent survey from Oracle’s Aconex revealed that individuals’ main motivation for technology investment is to “improve efficiencies.” In E&C, we all want to see the results of our efforts. Concrete results of integration Improved data integrity by eliminating error-prone double entry Time savings in data entry, analysis, and reporting More timely and accurate reporting Better decisions from improved access to timely, accurate, and complete information Ability to up level job functions, such as transitioning from data entry to data review and analysis Increased bottom line One firm that recently integrated their ERP and PM solutions is saving over 40 hours per month in project management time alone— allocating more time to focus on higher value-added work and overall project improvements. Like anything, ERP-PM integration is not a one-size-fits-all activity. Economies of scale do apply. Define the right level of effort and investment What is the right breadth of implementation? What is the time horizon of your program? How mature are your current processes? Remember: Anything is possible, but what is appropriate? At the end of the day, it’s all about leveraging data to your best advantage. Data rules the world. Make sure you rule your data

Engineering and construction is a project-centric world— and ERP-PM integration is key. Along these lines, E&C professionals frequently ask, “How can I tie my corporate ERP system together with my...

Construction Project Management

Oracle’s Primavera Unifier Helps Real Estate Developer Rockefeller Soar to New Heights

Rockefeller Group, a 90-year-old real-estate developer, owner, and investor, specializes in high-rises and other complex construction projects that represent about $300 million in annual capital expenditures. When existing project management systems and processes started falling short, company officials decided to act. They turned to Oracle’s Primavera Unifier to deliver the modern capabilities Rockefeller needs: company-wide reporting, uniform standards, paperless workflow processes, electronic approvals, and integration with existing enterprise applications, such as Oracle PeopleSoft. “We chose Primavera Unifier because it helps us provide standard operating procedures for project administration, while also supporting cost and financial management requirements,” John H. Pierce, Rockefeller Group’s senior vice president of design and construction, explained in a case-study presentation at the recent Oracle Industry Connect 2018 conference. The success of two recent commercial projects in the metro New York area highlight the wisdom of this decision. Primavera Unifier reduced the manhours needed for project controls compared to past engagements, while greatly improving project management and providing more accurate forecasting of project outcomes and cash flow requirements, Pierce explained. Primavera Unifier supports not only overall project administration but also handles the complex tracking of subprojects, such as the replacement of the elevator system in a newly renovated Manhattan skyscraper.  “Consistency is huge for reporting across multiple lines of business,” Pierce said. “We’re now able to sort data by region and industrial segment or by a number of other sources.” Rockefeller executives are seeing additional benefits. Because Unifier integrates closely with Oracle PeopleSoft, the company has streamlined how it handles project invoicing, Pierce’s presentation also highlighted a number of lessons learned from implementing and capitalizing on Primavera Unifier for complex projects. They included the need for buy-in from a cross-section of stakeholders, who must come together to develop a single design mandate at the start of a project. Stakeholders include project control professionals, as well as financial, legal, procurement, and audit teams, Pierce said. For more from Oracle Industry Connect, including additional customer success stories and insights into innovation and digital transformation, read our blog posts highlighting day one and day two at the event. Read insights from the Oracle Industry Connect 2018 report here. Further reading: PROMTEL Transforms Internet Connectivity in Mexico with Oracle's Primavera Solutions Maverick Turns to Primavera Unifier to Fuel its Ambitious Growth Strategy

Rockefeller Group, a 90-year-old real-estate developer, owner, and investor, specializes in high-rises and other complex construction projects that represent about $300 million in annual capital...

Five essential corporate trends: Set yourself apart from the competition

 In Part I, we discussed how company culture impacts team members. In Part II, we’ll examine how five corporate trends help organizations distinguish themselves from competitors and gain a leading edge. 1. Corporate trends: The biophilia hypothesis E&C organizations have also created many new and innovative approaches to redeveloping their physical workspace. The biophilia hypothesis proposes that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. Connecting workers in office environments with nature certainly isn’t new, but it’s getting a lot of recent traction. I visit many clients who’ve added courtyards, gardens, beehives, and natural light to their work spaces. For example, CookPlusFox Architects in New York City designed the Bank of America tower at One Bryant Park— the first LEED Platinum certified skyscraper in the U.S. CookPlusFox was one of the first architectural firms to incorporate the biophilia philosophy as part of its company culture and brand. As a result, the firm has become an incubator for future leaders in the field interested in sustainable design. 2. Corporate trends: Cross-discipline training Years ago, a co-worker and I were dropped by helicopter on top of a New Hampshire mountain to perform routine maintenance to a remote hybrid power unit. We hiked 12 miles back to civilization after completing our tasks. For the typical cubical dweller, opportunities such as these are both memorable and rewarding. Offering employees different, unique experiences (i.e., cross discipline training) adds immense value to company culture. I became a better designer after seeing and touching a working model—something I’d only previously known from a CADD station in 2D. Shared experiences amongst the designers and field engineers forge a bond across everyone in the organization who worked on the project. 3. Corporate trends: Workplace culture and customer satisfaction Chances are your client won’t be posting a raving five-star review on Yelp if you do your job well, but we all know how the phones light up when you don’t. It takes a lot to move the needle up a favorable notch or two, but, it’s quite easy to make the needle drop. A good impression begins with solid communication— regardless of your industry, service, or product. The organizations that adopt solid communication practices as a culture are well-positioned to have their clients become reference accounts. When clients are happy, everyone should share in the success. Organizations that consistently recognize the importance of happy customers draw and retain the best employees. 4. Corporate trends: Learning and development Organizations should identify what differentiates quality talent. The millennial workforce is keenly aware of company culture. Technology plays an important role in which opportunities millennials will pursue to further develop their careers. Engineering and construction firms that continue with monotonous and inefficient practices (hello, spreadsheets) will not likely retain creative thinkers. A recent Deloitte University Press survey states that, “more than two-thirds (of millennials) believe it is management’s job to provide them with accelerated development opportunities for them to stay.” Finding employees who understand how to effectively enable and use technology is paramount. Developing existing talent through ongoing learning and training is also crucial. Many of the most successful organizations either have their own certifications or allow corporate access to credentialed training as a measurable component to an employee's career growth. 5. Corporate trends: Technology as a culture Just a few years ago, assigning smartphones and tablets to construction workers as part of their job was unheard of. Construction, while making major leaps, still lands near the bottom of the list for adopting technology. These days, employees in the field can’t imagine doing their jobs without smartphone gadgets. That said, the E&C industry still has a long way to go in terms of digital transformation. The challenge of seamlessly integrating and connecting E&C teams remains. This disconnect is partly due to there being three main locations where people work: the office, the worksite, and the field. These three locations must establish an easily repeatable communication strategy to reduce errors and resolve issues quickly. The office: Access to technology is plentiful in the office. The worksite: Wireless signals or trailer workstations are the norm at worksites, but communication is somewhat limited. Accessing documents between organizations is difficult due to on premise applications, corporate networks, and firewalls. The field: Often no signal is available on handheld devices in the field, so technology must function offline and then sync. The technology is readily accessible, but looming disconnections still prevail. Breakout sessions at nearly every construction related conference and forum prove the challenges of communicating in the field. E&C firms that explore, adopt, and develop technology as part of their corporate culture will be well-positioned as future industry leaders to help drive job satisfaction, productivity, and ultimately— profitability. Read more about Oracle's Aconex here.  

 In Part I, we discussed how company culture impacts team members. In Part II, we’ll examine how five corporate trends help organizations distinguish themselves from competitors and gain a leading...

Four ways to tackle change management across your project

In our previous blog post, 7 Deadly Project Controls Sins, we highlighted project management missteps that contribute to construction project delays and budget overruns. Last April Oracle’s Aconex organised a Project Controls webinar series which addressed: challenges and solutions, the importance of contract administration, and the benefits of one stop solution. Even if each project is different, the challenges faced by organizations remain the same: Aligning data: Companies are often using different systems that lead to disconnected data across the project. Integrating Cost & Schedule: Lack of consistency across these two disciplines is leading to higher risks. Managing change: Inaccurate reporting of a scope or variation change during the project decreases the visibility into project status. Disconnected environment: Project performance suffers when people, disciplines, and departments are working in isolation. These challenges stem from various sources, ranging from the design of processes and use of systems to organizational culture. Fortunately, you can overcome these challenges by learning about today’s project controls hurdles. Effectively manage change across your project Many questions arise throughout any given project, including: “How does a change in scope affect my schedule?”, “How does this project delay affect my cost?” or “How will this delay impact my processes overall?” Below are four ways to improve change management: Project members must weigh a project’s change against the entire project to assess the impact. Tracking a change’s origin before managing its impact on the project is crucial, because changes will affect the entire project, not just one area. Organizations need a strong solution that manages the impact changes have on cost and schedule. Successful projects depend on a standard approach to change management that’s supported by a system robust and flexible enough to support multiple project types. Watch our webinar on Contract Administration to learn more about effective change management. The goal of project controls is simple: reduce risk and successfully deliver a project. According to a World Economic Forum study cited in Construction Dive, a 1% reduction in costs would save the construction industry approximately $100 billion annually. However, achieving these goals requires an artful integration of teams, systems, processes, and data. Early visibility into cost impacts starts with connecting every project member of the supply chain on a single platform -- whether they’re in the office or the field. A single source of truth across the project lifecycle and portfolio is essential. Program and Cost Management capabilities give project members an accurate view and forecast into how their projects are performing across cost and schedule. Select a secure solution for your projects so you can: improve internal and external communication, have better visibility into your project performance, avoid risk and errors, and successfully deliver your projects. Watch our webinar to learn more about the benefits of a one stop solution.

In our previous blog post, 7 Deadly Project Controls Sins, we highlighted project management missteps that contribute to construction project delays and budget overruns. Last April Oracle’s Aconex...

Construction Project Management

Oracle's Primavera Unifier Enables Earned Value Management to Improve Project Delivery

With evolving government standards and securities laws increasing pressure to adopt stringent cost and earned-value standards, many organizations today recognize the need to incorporate comprehensive cost management and earned-value analysis capabilities into their project portfolio management systems. Earned value, a critical dimension of the execution of large and complex projects, provides an integrated view of progress that encompasses cost, scope, and schedule, enabling deeper project analysis and more intelligent decision-making. The earned value management (EVM) methodology entails comparing the amount and cost of what was planned to be completed against what work has actually been completed, and how much that work has cost. Such a comparison enables greater precision in forecasting the final cost of the project and whether it will be completed on, behind, or ahead of schedule. New enhancements to Oracle’s Primavera Unifier enable users to perform EVM to better analyze the progress and performance of projects. The new Primavera Unifier EVM capability allows users to leverage data from Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management to: Import multiple projects from Primavera P6 EPPM into a single Primavera Unifier project activity sheet, creating a consolidated view of the costs and earned value. The new EVM capability in Primavera Unifier incorporates resource spreads and progress information from the Primavera P6 EPPM schedule data. Create rate sheets by resource and role with escalating rates. Rate sheets can also be created at a company or project level and be assigned to a mirror of the Primavera P6 EPPM projects within Primavera Unifier through the activity sheets. This allows different rates to be assigned to each P6 project and even to the P6 project baselines. Pull data from the activity sheet into the EVM module, which will display industry standard graphics in addition to various critical project metrics, including historical trending. “Earned value management is an increasingly important project delivery process that enables organizations to understand key dimensions of project progress and performance. The data that the new EVM capability in Oracle’s Primavera Unifier yields will enable project delivery professionals to improve outcomes through better visibility and smarter decision making,” said Andy Verone, Vice President of Strategy for Oracle Construction and Engineering. For more information about these new enhancements to Oracle’s Primavera Unifier, register to attend a webinar on EVM and Oracle.  

With evolving government standards and securities laws increasing pressure to adopt stringent cost and earned-value standards, many organizations today recognize the need to incorporate comprehensive...