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Innovation

Where Construction Technology is Heading: A Venture Capitalist Offers Views

For this issue of our innovation-focused “Trailblazers” blog series, we spoke with Curtis Rodgers, principal at (venture capital firm) Brick & Mortar Ventures, to learn about his career to date and his views on innovation and digital transformation. Dr. Burcin Kaplanoglu, executive director, innovation officer for Oracle Construction and Engineering, led the conversation. BK: What’s your current role, and how has your career evolved since you started working in the industry? CR: My primary role is Principal at (venture capital firm) Brick & Mortar Ventures. I work with a great team of limited partners, investors, and entrepreneurs who are passionate about revolutionizing the way we design, build, and maintain our environment.   In addition, I contribute to The Society for Construction Solutions, the U.S Department of Energy’s Project Leadership Institute, the NASA 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, Uncharted Power, and FBR - formerly known as Fastbrick Robotics. Early interest in technology and process improvement I graduated in 2009 with a Master of Science in Industrial Technology from Texas State University. I worked for Kiewit Construction at Plum Point Power Plant, a self-perform $900 million coal-fired power plant in beautiful Osceola, Arkansas.   My next project was on the DART Orange Line light rail expansion in Dallas, where I continued my rotations through the field, engineering, and project controls. After my first year in operations, I joined Kiewit’s Solutions Team for three years. We focused on new technology and process improvement across the company. After Kiewit, I moved to San Francisco to join the PlanGrid team, which was a great experience, and I eventually joined McCarthy Construction as their first hire dedicated to new technology and process improvement. One year into my work at McCarthy, I found myself struggling to maintain relationships with all of the construction entrepreneurs in the Bay Area, so I founded The Society for Construction Solutions (SCS) to connect everyone. Through SCS, I met Darren Bechtel, who had founded Brick & Mortar Ventures and was looking for a first hire. I pitched Darren an idea before he asked me to join his company and learn venture investing. BK: What’s your view of this state of innovation in the industry generally? CR: We’re in a period of solution abundance. Technology has finally advanced to the point of addressing the unique challenges of construction. It marks the first time in construction’s history that technology is a clear competitive advantage to delivering a project on time and on budget. In the past, we were suffering from solution scarcity. We just didn’t have the solutions. Moving forward, we’ll see each market segment in construction seek vertical efficiency. In some cases, we’ll see true vertical integration. We don’t see construction as an industry - we see construction as a common process among many industries. BK: What do you see are the biggest challenges to innovation?   CR: If you don't have the proper leadership, then you're going to struggle to realize any benefit from technology. In addition, everybody's competing for top talent. This means "the leadership challenge" is the biggest opportunity to secure a competitive advantage.    BK: How do you think talent can foster a culture of innovation within their organization? CR: Every organization is motivated to solve problems. It’s up to talented people to clearly articulate those problems and the order they need to be addressed. And it’s up to management to support the evolution of the business. For example, if document control isn’t properly staffed, or if IT can’t take care of basic issues, then project teams aren’t going to care about some new technology because their more basic needs haven’t been met. BK: What emerging technologies do you see representing the best opportunities in construction engineering? Autonomous vehicles driving advancements in LIDAR and Radar CR: Autonomous vehicles are going to be interesting. Solid-state LiDAR development is being supported by the autonomous vehicle programs that need cheaper hardware. Solid-state LiDAR doesn’t have any moving parts and could be a major advancement for construction survey and construction robotics. Safety and gait tracking By monitoring a worker’s gait, I can determine if their posture exhibits an injury or intoxication. The challenge is in finding a suitable gait tracking technology. Smart tools Smart tools provide quality data without requiring humans to actively participate in the capture process. This solves a lot of problems with data integrity and unlocks the potential for AI, etc. Communications: Beamforming antennas Fundamental things like connectivity are going to change. Beamforming antennas make it possible to connect to the next generation of satellite communications with very little setup and maintenance. BK: Which areas do you see the biggest impact for AI and machine learning, both short and long term? CR: Currently, there are many examples of AI automating repetitive tasks. Construction has an abundance of relevant problems. However, data still needs to be better organized and structured. Once this happens, we’re going to see some very interesting applications for AI.   AI will increase the adaptability of construction team. Construction struggles with high exigency – the challenge of dealing with incomplete information in a high-pressure situation – and AI will be a fantastic tool to aid in decision making. ### Discover how Oracle Construction and Engineering is helping power project success for asset-intensive industries. Check out 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 The Next Generation of Building: Walbridge Director of Innovation Technology Speaks        

For this issue of our innovation-focused “Trailblazers” blog series, we spoke with Curtis Rodgers, principal at (venture capital firm) Brick & Mortar Ventures, to learn about his career to date and...

Trends and Insights

Construction’s Big Data Revolution is Here to Stay

Last year, a large Tier-1 contractor invited us to speak about digital disruption and how leveraging data could dramatically improve how organizations operate. Participants in the meeting were a mix of excited believers and reserved skeptics. The managing director asked, “How can we focus on this data thing when our hands are full trying to deliver projects on a daily basis?” This question isn’t unusual. Our industry is facing tightening margins, cost and schedule blow-outs, stringent new regulations, and workforce productivity challenges. We also heard frustrated claims of: “That’s how we’ve always done it here,” “[o]ur systems aren’t integrated,” and “[i]s anyone else really doing any of this?” Amongst all the noise surrounding data, digitisation, and innovation, the “signal” can sometimes be hard to decipher. Datafication is real Yes, “datafication” is a word. Kenneth Neil Cukier and Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger coined the phrase in 2013. Datafication describes the process of taking aspects of the world that have never been quantified and rendering them into data. Datafication of the E&C industry is a good case in point. A $500M engineering project running for 3-4 years creates more than 6.3M documents and 8.5M correspondence items with 3,000+ users from more than 13 countries.* The adoption of digital tools and growing technologies is also rapidly producing data as a “byproduct.” In fact, over 40 zettabytes of data around the world will be created within the next 2 years. Converting this data “byproduct” into an “asset” requires strategic intent, a data culture (including the right systems), and supportive senior management. Designing a data strategy will help unlock the potential of data already stored in E&C and owner organizations. Understanding the stories data is trying to tell Project sites are increasingly becoming digital and connected. For example, LIDARS sensors are used for surveying, drones for aerial mapping, IoT sensors for assets and equipment, NFC and RFID to track materials and equipment, AR, VR, etc. The list seems to grow every few months. Oracle Construction and Engineering recently launched an Innovation Lab in Illinois to help organizations determine how to leverage such technologies, both for improved project outcomes as well as insights than can help support continuous improvement. Indeed, this array of emerging technologies generates massive amounts of data waiting to be integrated with everything else that generates data to understand correlations, patterns, and signals. This “network” isn’t just limited to connected devices; people are also connected. In the $500M project referenced earlier, more than 55% of the data generated is cross-organizational, with people exchanging information for project delivery.** Project networks can be the topic of full-fledged social network analysis – much like LinkedIn and Facebook. More companies are becoming interested in understanding the stories that data is trying to tell. Practice makes perfect Companies are beginning to recognize the value of leveraging data. An adaptive and iterative approach to data helps by: getting some early runs on the board, learning from mistakes, experimenting, getting buy-in, and demonstrating value. Owners and contractors that have previously delivered projects and own data can ask these questions before embarking on a new project: What do we already know about projects of this type? How long do processes take? What is our baseline for different processes? Who are our best and worst performing partners? How much delay should we expect in this schedule? How do we factor for cost overruns based on past experience? How do we bid based on what we already know about our processes, baseline, and efficiency? How do we optimize project team selection based on the supply chain partners? How do we compare to industry benchmarks in general? Where’s the data hiding? Most organizations who own data can answer many of these questions. Data that’s “hiding” requires extraction, analysis, translation, and interpretation. E&C professionals can launch their digital journey by uncovering the value of data on just one project. The true power of data becomes game-changing when data can help analyze predictive questions such as: Are there potential safety risks on site that could become issues in the future? Is the schedule at risk of an overrun? Will the change requests and variations cause a cost blow-out? Are there signs of potential disputes and litigations? Does the schedule need to be changed based on the weather forecast? Will equipment and materials arrive on time based on the schedule? How can workflows and work processes be optimized? Machine learning, anomaly detection, sentiment analysis, and many other artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms – all of which need data for making predictions – can help answer these questions. More organizations are beginning to use parts of their historical data to build their AI capabilities. The data revolution is here to stay The Tier-1 contractor we met with has realized it can’t avoid working with data. Data is progressively shaping their strategy, including looking at their systems landscape and the data they’ve been creating to-date. Large screen dashboards reflecting project performance are facilitating the conversation and increasing transparency. The contractor is setting short and medium-term goals to build on their data capabilities. One senior executive quipped, “It’s a start, but we’re jumping on the data bandwagon.” Read Construction Dive's Playbook, in association with Oracle's Aconex, to learn more about how to leverage big data across your project portfolio. Discover how Oracle Construction and Engineering is helping power project success for asset-intensive industries. [*] [**]Data analysis from projects delivered on Oracle Aconex  

Last year, a large Tier-1 contractor invited us to speak about digital disruption and how leveraging data could dramatically improve how organizations operate. Participants in the meeting were a mix...

Customer Success

Oracle Helping LA’s Transit System Get in Shape for the 2028 Olympics

The Second Largest Transportation System in the US The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is used to challenges. It’s the second largest transportation system in the United States, after all. The Authority handles everything from light and heavy rail lines to freeway repairs and emergencies, bus transportation, and repairs to traffic lights and potholes. But even experienced executives within the department knew things would get interesting once Los Angeles was named the host city for the 2028 Summer Olympic Games.  The Authority has $10 billion of work in process and a total of $28 billion in projects scheduled between now and the opening ceremonies. This portfolio is just a subset of a long-term plan that covers the next sixty years. Accurately tracking all those projects in such a huge program is obviously challenging, but essential. “10% swing [from the plan] - that's a lot of money,” Julie Owen, deputy executive officer of project management for the Authority, told attendees of Oracle Industry Connect during her presentation at the event. To support this massive undertaking, Owen’s group is looking to Oracle’s Primavera Unifier. The agency is using Oracle’s project lifecycle management solution in part to replace some manual, paper-based processes with automated workflow capabilities. “We’ll get them into an environment where we can look at all the schedules and share them among departments and communicate that information to executives,” Owen says. The combination of Primavera Unifier and Oracle’s Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management will also enable the Authority to track how project risk changes over time. “If my projects can take ten years, how do I track risk from year one to see how things changed from year one to year four?” she says.The department will also move its change-order management and cost management to Primavera Unifier. Preparing for the 2028 Summer Olympic Games “The bottom line is, we're getting ready for the Olympics, and it's going to be a pretty exciting time,” Owen says. “We will max out every contractor, every designer, every consulting firm in the area, and LA will be on fire for the next decade. We've have to get ahead of the curve, and we're doing our best to make that happen.” Watch the full webcast here. Read more about successful digital transformation efforts in construction and engineering in our full "Navigating the Future of Projects" report from Oracle Industry Connect.  Discover how Oracle Construction and Engineering is helping power project success for asset-intensive industries.  

The Second Largest Transportation System in the US The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is used to challenges. It’s the second largest transportation system in the United...

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...

Customer Success

2018 Oracle Aconex Connect Award Winners

Double Revenue, Halve Rework and Errors, and Reduce Scope Changes by 20% Good news: We’re witnessing the highest technology adoption rate to-date thanks to swiftly maturing technology in the Construction and Engineering industry. Created in 2016, Oracle’s Aconex Connect Awards honors global customers for their innovative approaches to efficiently delivering significant construction and infrastructure projects. I’m excited to share examples of the 2018 Oracle Aconex Connect Award winners’ achievements across five key themes: Advanced BIM Management: Project-wide model access and BIM collaboration leading to fewer scope changes, RFIs, errors, and rework. Systems integration: Maximizing technology benefits. Information management and reporting: Resulting in better decisions and less administrative time. Configurability: Enabling standardization across processes and projects. Process efficiency: Leading to company growth. These fearless industry leaders are reaping the rewards of technology advancement. Their projects, organizations, and clients have benefited, too. Advanced BIM Management Enprode expedited clash detection from 1-2 weeks to just one day on the Garri 3 and Port Sudan Power Plant Projects, helping to keep the project on schedule and avoid rework. Pingat cut model distribution time by 75%. They also reduced RFIs and scope changes by 20%. Turner & Townsend reduced model review cycle time on their BIM project. Systems Integration Faithful + Gould cut report creation by 99% and achieved 1.5x faster data analysis on project schedule performance for their client. The Colorado High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HTPE) has 60% faster access to project documentation. They’re creating a full and accessible project record for a 30-year design, build, operate, and maintain contract. Information management and reporting Austin Industries reduced RFI and submittal administration time by 75% for a San Francisco Airport expansion project. They cut communication management time by 66% between themselves and their JV partner. Besix – SsangYong JV processed 350% more QA/QC issues per month by moving from a manual to a cloud-based process on the Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences in Dubai. They reported 290% productivity increase in document control review cycles and 100% accuracy in Engineer’s Instructions register and content. China Major Bridge Engineering Co. achieved 75% faster document compilation for handover and 60% faster monthly report preparation. Aktor-Yapi-L&T-STFA-Al Jaber Engineering JV cut rework and errors in half and cut review cycle time by 50%. Configurability Burns & McDonnell previously reduced RFI cycles using Aconex from 3.64 days to 2.35 days. They have standardized on Aconex across multiple projects to meet process and project specific needs. The result: decreased RFI cycle to just 1.6 days.  Valley Metro saved 4,500 to 6,000 hours per project on submittal processing and 4-5 days per design review. Process efficiency Lahey Constructions grew revenue by 100% in 18 months and improved overall operational efficiency. Insitu improved QA sign-off and safety inspections by 80%. They expedited transmittal creation by 80% and review cycles by 43%. View the complete list of Global 2018 Oracle Aconex Connect Award winners below and click through to read their full stories. Americas: Aguas Pacífico – Hero Award to Lilian Barrios for Excellence in Process Implementation on a Public Project.                                                                                  Austin Industries – Project Award for Excellence in Project-Wide Collaboration on a Joint Venture (SFO Terminal 1 Boarding Area B Reconstruction). Burns & McDonnell – Leadership Award to Patty Sullivan - 2018 Woman in Construction Technology.                                                                                                                             Colorado High Performance Transportation Enterprise – Project Award for Excellence in Process Improvement on a P3 (Central 70).                                                     Valley Metro – Enterprise Award for Excellence in Process Improvement to Support Company Growth and Hero Award to April Trevett for Excellence in Company-Wide Implementation and Adoption. Asia-Pacific: China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group Co., LTD – Project Award to GuangFo Expressway Foshan section S4 for Excellence in Process Efficiency Across the Project Lifecycle ‎China Communications Construction Company – Enterprise Award for Excellence in Collaboration Across Globally Distributed Teams Insitu Group – Hero Award to Brooke Smith for Excellence in Company-Wide Implementation Lahey Constructions Pty. Ltd. – Enterprise Award for Excellence in Process Improvement Enabling Exponential Company Growth New South Wales Department of Justice – Enterprise Award for Excellence in Progress Claims Management on a Government Project                                      Richard Crookes Constructions Pty. Ltd. – Hero Award to Tyrone Padayachee for Excellence in Advanced BIM Implementation                                                     Scentre Group – Hero Award to Meliza Batain for Excellence in Handover Management Europe: CODAH – Project Award to Digital City and Normandy Management School for Excellence in Communication Acceleration Across the Project Team Connect Plus –Project Award to M25 Motorway for Excellence in Secure Collaboration across a Government Project Consortium DEME – Company Award for Company-Wide Adoption of a Standard Platform and Hero Award to Emma Josey for Excellence in Configuration Across Projects Enprode – Hero Award to Deniz Asar for Excellence in Speeding Review Cycles Through Advanced BIM Implementation Groupe NOX – Company Award for Excellence in Company-Wide Implementation and Adoption and Hero Award to Georgina Kobon-Monnet for Excellence in System Configuration to Meet Client Requirements Horizon Nuclear Power – Project Award to Wylfa Newydd for Excellence in Regulatory Compliance and Safety and Security Adherence Losange Deploiement – Project Award to THD Grand Est Project for Excellence in Complete System Adoption Pingat XD – Project Award to Learning Center – Paris Saclay for Excellence in Implementation of a Common Data Environment (CDE) on a BIM Project Turner & Townsend Company – Company Award for Excellence in Advanced BIM Implementation Turner & Townsend Company - Hero Award for Excellence in Innovative Configuration Providing Financial Advantage to the Client VINCI Construction Grands Projets – Project Award to Kingston Container Terminal Phase 1 for Excellence in Collaboration Across a Consortium Middle East AECOM GLOBAL – Hero Award to Estman Datu Mamadra for Excellence in Project Set Up ALYSJ JV -Aktor- L&T- Yapi Merkezi- STFA- Al Jaber– Project Award to Gold Line Metro – Qatar for Excellence in Collaboration on a Megaproject SsangYong- Besix JV – Project Award to The Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences for Excellence in Project Quality and Hero Award to Erin O’Herlihy for Excellence in Innovation Configuration Faithful + Gould – Company Award for Excellence in Cross Project Ecosystem Integration and Hero Award to Alejandro Lopez for Excellence in Implementation – Open Systems Integration Manateq – Company Award for Excellence in Process Efficiency to Improve Schedule Adherence National Authority for Tunnels – Company Award for Excellence in Technology Leadership by a Government Entity  

Double Revenue, Halve Rework and Errors, and Reduce Scope Changes by 20% Good news: We’re witnessing the highest technology adoption rate to-date thanks to swiftly maturing technology in the...

Innovation

Prepare to Innovate! Oracle Future of Projects Returns to London in December 2018

New technologies and data-driven approaches are already increasing productivity and safety and improving project outcomes in the construction and engineering industry. But what other emerging technologies will surface as potential game changers of the industry? And what technologies hold the key to business transformation today? On December 6th in London, the second annual Oracle Future of Projects event will explore these questions and dive deep into stories of successful digital business transformation. This exclusive knowledge-sharing event will feature an array of customer-led presentations, industry round tables and networking opportunities. Who should come? The event, which last year drew hundreds to London, is designed for current and prospective customers of Oracle Construction and Engineering (including Oracle’s Primavera solutions, Oracle Aconex, and Oracle Textura). Discussions will focus on how numerous innovative customers—including Turner and Townsend and Horizon Nuclear Power—have successfully used Oracle Construction and Engineering solutions and products. The event will also host a panel discussion with this year’s Oracle Aconex Connect Awards winners. What will I learn? While your imagination will be aflame with innovation, you can set aside your science-fiction mindset for many of the presentations. The use cases discussed throughout the day’s chock-full agenda are rooted in present-day successes: The event will include: Deep-dive presentations from leading organizations such as: Mott Macdonald, National Grid, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, and more. Each speaker will explore how digital transformation has helped them overcome critical challenges and improve outcomes in project and program management . Innovative sessions addressing two key questions: 1) How are disruptive technologies shaping the “worksite of tomorrow”? 2) How can organizations position for success in this evolving landscape? Opportunities to engage with Oracle Construction and Engineering leaders and network with peers from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Speakers include: Kim van Rooyen, Global Head of Technology at Turner & Townsend Saurabh Bhandari, Technical Director, Project Controls & PMO at Mott Macdonald James Tattershall, Head of Project Controls at National Grid Simon Taylor, Senior Strategic Planner at Network Rail Jose Luis De Jesus, Office at the CIO of the Government of Puerto Rico Dana Cojocari, Internal Project Manager at Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy Leon van Berlo, BIM Maverick at TNO Brice Neveux at Bombardier Transportation UK Mani Golparvar, Associate Professor at Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of Illinois And more customer speakers   Learn more about Oracle Future of Projects 2018 and register today! Stay tuned for further announcements about the speaker lineup and scheduled event activities.  

New technologies and data-driven approaches are already increasing productivity and safety and improving project outcomes in the construction and engineering industry. But what other emerging...

Innovation

The Next Generation of Building: Walbridge Director of Technology Innovation Speaks

For this installment of our innovation-focused “Trailblazers” blog series, we sat down with John Jurewicz, director of technology innovation for Walbridge Building Design and Construction, to discuss his professional background and views on innovation. Dr. Burcin Kaplanoglu, senior director of industry strategy and innovation for Oracle Construction and Engineering, led the conversation. BK: What is your current role, and how has your career evolved since you started in the industry? JJ: My current role is director of technology innovation. It crosses both optimizing the tech we currently have while watching what new innovations are coming at us.  I was originally licensed as an architect in 1990 but played with super computers and digitized everything in CAD. I also worked as a superintendent with survey equipment and as a project manager before things evolved into design build—designing and building things like radar stations and equipment. My work was often something beyond just the building itself. In the mid ‘90s I learned early on the value of coordination modeling the systems inside the building. In the case of radar facilities and air traffic control buildings, we often digitally modeled then built physical mockups to simulate what was about to happen for the FAA and the Air Force. How you placed equipment and cable tray along with erection sequencing was very complicated. This experience would later be invaluable to me. Walbridge and Industrial Design-Build Fast forward to my last few years working at industrial design-build contractor Walbridge. It’s much more about what’s going on inside the building than the building itself, including confirming the plant is kept up and running through multiple phases of new work. The building itself is simply protecting very expensive equipment from the rain—equipment that generates a lot of money. More sophisticated technology is used inside the plant compared to the exterior. It's not just how advanced technology improves productivity, safety, efficiency, or the construction of a building; it's also how you can most efficiently create the structures for production, whether it’s an assembly line or manufacturing. It’s really the next generation of building. BK: What are the biggest challenges to innovation, and how did you resolve them?  JJ: Meeting expectations is one of the greatest challenges. A lot of people on the vendor’s side often sell what the software is going to do. There are these built-up expectations that the software, the systems, or the processes they’re going to deploy are truly there. Most of the time, anyone who has deployed technology realizes that it isn’t all there because there are little bugs or integration problems that must be solved first. That’s typically outside of the vendor’s control. It’s usually getting all the data organized in your house—or maybe the owner's house—so that you can deploy these cool new technologies.  These technologies already work, it's just that the culture—the organization of people—hasn’t caught up yet. We haven’t thought through what this all means. The greatest challenge is often the sociological aspects of trying to deploy technology and how the culture should change to become more optimal.  BK: How can organizations create a culture of innovation?  JJ: How do you foster new ideas? We try to encourage and remove the barriers to try new concepts. These are usually applications people haven’t thought of, combining two different solutions or using solutions that do a certain thing we like in a new way.  We get buy-in from the people funding this by taking it in steps. First, you must build credibility. This is usually getting teams to agree that this is the right thing to do and showing operations where the value is by taking it beyond the sales talk. Building credibility After you get buy-in, you must offer proper support and follow up by taking things past demonstrations and teaching people how to use it. After a pilot with champions, we try to take it out further to the organization, although this takes more effort to spread across multiple jobs. Building credibility amongst the operations side—with the people who are already controlling money and resources—to show that innovative technology is more efficient or optimal is the greatest way to build credibility. This is what fosters growth and trying new things.  BK: What challenges have you faced so far in terms of implementation and how did you tackle them?  JJ: We’re currently facing a lot of demands to see if modular or offsite construction makes sense. The way I've personally tackled this is to break apart chunks of models that are provided either in-house or by outside partners and make the models more constructible. The models become more valuable because you're doing this off-site, out of harm’s way in an environmentally controlled facility. You’re thinking through delivery in an entirely different fashion. You’ve got chunks of the building being delivered, and that doesn’t always work with viaducts and bridges. You’re using these model chunks to think through rigging and installation—the logistics of how you're going to bring all this premade stuff to the site.  Obstacles to preassembly and prefabrication If you’re pre-welding with robots, weldments can be done much more accurately with an automated welding machine. However, you need to think: “Where do I need power, how am I going to build temporary facilities to pre-make the pipe, and what are the maximum ranges of delivery that will allow me to still ship and install it effectively while reviewing the safety aspects.” For preassembly, when does it make sense to prefabricate? The question also arises, “Why don’t we just do it the old way? Why does this new approach save that much more time?” If it doesn't save time, maybe you should do it the old way.  But then you realize sweating copper in the middle of a dust storm is hard to do. You've got to build a tent. Finding temporary enclosures sometimes closer to the job site is a viable alternative. When you’re doing modular construction, you must think fluidly and have an open mind. BK: What emerging technologies do you see representing the best opportunities, and what other technologies do you see helping us the most? JJ: Within the past three months we’ve noticed people agreeing that they can't conquer the world with sensor technology by building another proprietary database; they must build things on an open platform.  We’ve seen progressive movements in not just making construction trailers smart or the job site smart, which is always usually related to getting bandwidth out there early. It’s more about putting the infrastructure in place earlier that will then benefit the owner running the whole building later.  Sensor and laser technologies Sensor technology has a dual purpose beyond helping you create the building smarter, faster, and more optimally. The greater value is for the owner who's paying the general conditions for those sensors. Sensor technology helps them track their workers and where things are, including long-term in the building itself. This is a trend that we are paying close attention to.  The cost of sensors is also dropping, and even the cost of automating things. For example, South Korea has new technology that hooks up to any light switch, making it easier to deploy a smart building even when you're retrofitting existing legacy systems.  The ball is rolling so fast and there's so much momentum that it won't stop and go backwards. That’s what I find fascinating. You can just see everything that's going to evolve, especially with this innovative—what I'll call “millennial thinking”—of, "Well, why don’t we just do it this way?"  Read other Trailblazer stories: Bechtel's David Wilson on Innovation in Engineering and Construction  Emerging E&C Technologies: Bechtel's Chief Innovation Officer Offers Views Mortenson Innovation Leader on Driving Transformation in Construction Construction Innovation Leader on the Future, AI and Machine Learning Stay tuned for Part II of our interview with John Jurewicz, in which he explores the value of machine learning and the future of technology.    

For this installment of our innovation-focused “Trailblazers” blog series, we sat down with John Jurewicz, director of technology innovation for Walbridge Building Design and Construction, to discuss...

Trends and Insights

Oracle Aconex Named Most Popular Construction Management Software

Capterra Names Oracle Aconex #1 for Fourth Consecutive Year We’re excited to announce that Oracle Aconex has once again achieved the top spot in Capterra’s “Top 20 Most Popular Construction Management Software” report. Oracle Aconex blazed ahead of numerous competitors in terms of number of customers, users, and online presence. Who is Capterra? Established in 1999, Capterra is a free, online service owned by Gartner. Capterra helps businesses find the right software by offering a comprehensive list of business software solutions. “Which software should I buy?” Capterra created the “Top 20 Most Popular Construction Management Software” report to help answer many software purchasers’ leading question: “Which construction management software would be best for my business?” The ranking methodology for the online review service is determined by a company’s number of customers, active users, and online presence. J.P. Medved, content marketing director of Capterra said, “Every month, Capterra helps over three million people find the right software for their business. With tons of user reviews and unbiased research, we try to give software buyers as much relevant information as they need to make the right decision.” Read the full Capterra review here.  

Capterra Names Oracle Aconex #1 for Fourth Consecutive Year We’re excited to announce that Oracle Aconex has once again achieved the top spot in Capterra’s “Top 20 Most Popular Construction Management...

Innovation

Construction Innovation Leader on the Future, AI and Machine Learning

In Part I of our “Trailblazers” interview with Ricardo Khan, senior director of innovation at Mortenson, Ricardo and Dr. Burcin Kaplanoglu, Oracle Construction and Engineering senior director of industry strategy and innovation, explored driving innovation within an organization – and an industry. In Part II of our interview, Ricardo offers his views on promising emerging technologies within the AEC space. BK: What emerging technologies do you see presenting the best opportunities for our industry? RK: We start with those emerging technologies that target real challenges in our industry and within our business that require a new approach. The one that first comes to mind is safety. It’s the most important—and the only thing we benchmark within the industry that really means something—and yet, people are still getting hurt. We need to continue to move from lagging to leading and develop predictive indicators to improve safety performance in the industry. Safety is about behavior. Technology can help us identify new ways to proactively drive positive change. We must consider automating how data is captured, analyzed, and processed in real-time.  For example, some of the emerging technologies that we are targeting are those that fall within the Internet of Things (IoT) category. There is an explosion of sensor and telematic technologies entering the industry. As 5G enters our market and jobsite WiFi mesh systems become standard practice, we should see a major shift in automating data capture. This will help us focus on predictive models and driving change. BK: What do you see will be the biggest impact of AI and machine learning—in the short or long-term—in the industry? RK: It starts with visual data. For years we’ve been documenting through photographs, and now video aligned with core business functions, including: Inspections Punch lists Audits Safety audits As-builts. We have so much visual data today. The challenge is understanding how to manage or process that to create value. Leveraging machine learning and AI will help the industry from the field perspective to better understand people’s behavior, automate work status, or drive predictive models. We’ve been very reactive as an industry.  Someone identifies something on a job walk, snaps a photo, and corrective action is taken afterwards. The question is how much later is the corrective action taken? In a proactive scenario, data capture is automated, continues through various sources, and is analyzed in real-time. AI and machine learning becomes your predictive analytical engine that reports potential areas of risk before issues arise. This sounds like science-fiction, but there are emerging tech startups working on this today. BK: When you look at the overall AEC space, where are the first opportunities or low-hanging fruit?  Is it the engineering side, architectural side, or the construction side? RK: There are huge opportunities to leverage advanced computational models that could change the way we think about design and engineering. Most engineering systems are rules-based.  What if we could analyze the last 50 years of designs through learning algorithms? We could apply new rules through generative design that result in a completely new form of architecture. Many people consider this inconceivable, but it’s already happening with generative design processes.  I really like the quote I heard a few years ago that says, “We are moving from a point in time where we are telling computers what to do, to a world where we are telling computers what we want to achieve.” The global trends that are happening right now impact all industries. Construction is probably experiencing more dramatic change because we’re still largely paper-based and not fully digital like other industries. We’re seeing more dramatic swings in our industry compared to others. But all industries are going through similar types of disruption and evolution; we’re just on an accelerated path. Digital transformation and collaboration in the AEC industry There is also a massive cultural change happening within the industry. It’s an interesting and exciting time. I feel really blessed to be part of this industry right now. We are seeing much more diversity in the type of people who enter the construction space. At Mortenson we correlate this diversity to the acceleration of innovation. We are seeing more collaboration between firms.  Over the last decade, we’ve been witnessing a transition from using the term “competitor” to “peer”. This is also compounded by the increasing amount of joint ventures on large complex projects. We are getting to the point where we are sharing knowledge; not just internally, but with our peers. Why? Because, we are trying to solve the same problems with the same set of resources (design, vendors, and trade partners). The future is connecting people with ideas The future is about connecting people with ideas and helping get to a common solution through collaboration. The innovation trend—or the philosophy or process—has everything to do with collaboration and knowledge sharing that deals with inventing something new. We’re building upon lessons learned industrywide. We’ll grow by sharing common data points that we’re all facing and, if we want to measure across the industry, we have the benchmarks. To benchmark, we must have a standard of work, and to have a standard of work, we must share knowledge. And to do that, we must have trust. All these interconnectivity points are starting to mature, which is fueling innovation within our industry.The culture is changing through that knowledge share.  Read perspectives from Trailblazer David Wilson of Bechtel in a previous post here.  

In Part I of our “Trailblazers” interview with Ricardo Khan, senior director of innovation at Mortenson, Ricardo and Dr. Burcin Kaplanoglu, Oracle Construction and Engineering senior director of...

Public Infrastructure

Leading PPM Strategies for Travel and Transportation Organizations

Organizational transformation is a key initiative for travel and transportation organizations. It should come as no surprise that highways, airports, and railways have many complex, moving parts. Understanding how to initiate these intricate projects can be a challenge. Organizations working on these projects are striving to become more effective while keeping their costs low. Companies facing tight budgets and a lack of resources must select projects that will provide the greatest return on investment across stakeholders. How to properly manage projects However, this strategy assumes that projects will be completed without any setbacks. What’s the point of choosing the right project if it’s not managed properly? Both project selection and project management are vital for travel and transportation industries in their quest for transformation. “The Organizational Benefits of Project Portfolio Management Tools for Travel and Transportation Industries”—a report based on Aberdeen’s Project and Portfolio Management Survey (2017) of travel and travel organizations—shares how top performers select and execute projects using project and portfolio management (PPM) solutions’ centralized information and automated processes. Top two pressures in project management Choosing the right project can often be hindered by high costs and low potential ROI. 18% of survey respondents claimed slim ROI leaves little room for error. Aberdeen’s survey asked travel and transportation organizations to choose their top two challenges in selecting and managing transformative projects, and they identified: Stakeholders frequently change their minds mid-projects Contention for limited resources Unfortunately, the survey reveals that 32% of stakeholders may decide to change project scope very quickly. In addition, companies must learn to become more resourceful as they manage individual projects. Limited resources are further compounded by rising, unpredictable costs. 29% of survey participants admitted feeling contentious over strained resources. These challenges stress that organizations must do a better job of prioritizing which projects will positively impact an organization the most. Travel and transportation organizations must learn how they can improve project execution overall to overcome these numerous obstacles. Strategies to help project & portfolio management Fortunately, there’s hope for improving organizational transformation in travel and transportation. Top-performing travel and transportation organizations who participated in a survey were asked to share two main components essential to managing projects and portfolios. To learn the two key ingredients to project and portfolio management, read the full report, “The Organizational Benefits of Project Portfolio Management Tools for Travel and Transportation Industries” here.

Organizational transformation is a key initiative for travel and transportation organizations. It should come as no surprise that highways, airports, and railways have many complex, moving parts. Unders...

Innovation

Mortenson Innovation Leader on Driving Transformation in Construction

Welcome to the second issue of "Trailblazers", our blog series exploring frontiers of innovation in construction and engineering. This series uncovers insights from innovation leaders in the E&C industry, including exciting emerging technologies, how to foster new ideas within an organization, and more. Dr. Burcin Kaplanoglu, Oracle senior director of industry strategy and innovation, spoke with Ricardo Khan, senior director of innovation at Mortenson. We learn about his role in driving continual innovation and where he thinks the E&C industry is heading. BK: What’s your current role and how has your career evolved since you started in the industry? RK: My current role is Senior Director of Innovation at Mortenson. I lead our innovation program company-wide. Like any other career, it’s about a journey—following passion and taking opportunities when you can. I grew up in a construction background. My father was a mechanical contractor in New York. Before he retired, I got my bachelor of architecture and practiced architecture for about four years. In school, I learned how to model in 3D back in the days of DOS and 3D Studio and found a passion in the digital world. While I was sitting for my licensing exam as an architect, I decided to quit architecture and apply my architectural background to computer graphics. I focused on 3D modeling for web-based rich-media games, movies, etc. It was fun. I did that for about five years before my interests changed because I still missed the building world. Leading the charge in virtual design and construction I was hired at Mortenson in 2005 as one of the first VDC (virtual design and construction) people in the company. Mortenson has always been innovative and forward-thinking. We were working to integrate BIM and VDC technology into operations to deliver more value to our projects and our customers starting in the late 1990’s. VDC has been a breeding ground for innovation—where our team found new ways to solve age-old problems like coordination and how we plan, visually communicate, and drive decisions earlier. Our VDC team was comprised of a group of diverse people—from architecture, engineering, mathematics, computer graphic folks, like myself, and construction management. We all came from different backgrounds and we were all innovating on our projects.  Over the years we started to focus on bigger and broader business challenges. We now have a formalized innovation program within the organization that I have the opportunity to lead. It’s been an interesting journey. BK: In your day-to-day role, what is the biggest challenge that you’ve faced with and how did you resolve it? RK: At Mortenson, we’re a company of entrepreneurs and innovators. Harnessing the creativity and innovation of broad and diverse teams on hundreds of individual projects is constant. We are always challenged with ensuring we are not chasing ‘shiny balls’…innovation is about solving business problems in new creative ways, so we always start with, what problem are we trying to solve. What’s the business challenge? We approach innovation in different ways to help answer this fundamental question. It enables us to better focus our efforts and creativity on what matters to get to where we need to be. Innovation is supported throughout our organization, across the company and with support from the leadership team. This is a vital element that really enables positive outcomes. Our innovation program’s overarching purpose is to find new ways of creating value for our customers, within the organization, and for our business. BK: What’s your view of the state of innovation in our industry right now? RK: We’re a fragmented, regulated, and old-school industry, which has not traditionally embraced R&D, change and technology. To change this culture, we must identify the core challenges of the industry and approach it from that point with respect to innovation. We’re at a dynamic and defining point in our industry with the massive influx of venture capital funding, new start-ups, digitization, and industrialization. And we’re going from a digital transformation to a business intelligence era in a very short period of time, and it’s really exciting. The speed of change in the industry is creating a heighten sense of awareness, and we are focused on the next 10 years.  BK: Do you see AEC disruption happening within or from external forces? RK: There’s this big debate going on about disruption in the construction industry. Some believe that it’s going to happen from outside, and some believe it's going to happen within itself. I think it'll be expedited through external forces—from outside the industry—and it will generate movement internally within the industry to keep up.  We're already starting to see that happen with companies using new business models within the construction realm. Industrialized construction and blockchain is being tested within the industry. Look at automation and industrialized businesses—like manufacturing and aerospace. We've been learning from those industries and plan to be part of the next generation of industrialized providers of the built environment.  BK: How do you drive the culture of innovation within an AEC organization? RK: It starts with the company leadership, mission and objectives and is followed directly by our strategy for the organization. What are the key areas of focus for the organization, and how do we identify business problems that align with our strategy? Culture is essential to drive innovation and we are very focused on continuing to nurture our culture of innovation. The Three-Horizon Model A formal way to describe this is with The Three-Horizon Model, which allows us to identify key drivers that will impact areas of our business—whether it's financial performance, safety, customer experience, and just overall productivity. And we start to understand what happens and what we need to do today, tomorrow and so forth? We assess where things are going to be for certain areas— like safety, finance, etc.— and then we need to build that pathway to get there.  That’s what energizes me about what's happening across our business and within the industry. We're collectively starting to reframe how we look at these problems from a longer-term perspective, because innovation does not happen overnight. It takes effort and time to percolate an idea into a solution and a scalable model. We’re also finding champions at all levels within our organization who will encourage this kind of process.  Over the years, the response from our seasoned builders is shifting to, “help me understand” or “let’s try it” or “I wish we had this 20 years ago!” BK: How are you fostering a culture of innovation at your organization? RK: While it starts within the business process, we’re multi-sourcing innovation challenges. It’s been a success in a short period of time. We’re pulling from cross-functional teams across the business—not just around operations—but all parts of the business. When you have this top-down leadership for innovation, and you identify key business problems before opening it up to the entire company, it’s amazing. There’s an infectious energy created by people who think, “Well, I’m not an ‘innovator,’ but I’m contributing to larger-scale innovation challenges within the business.” Our culture promotes that every team member is an innovator! I love seeing how much diverse talent we have within our organization. We’re excited about what’s to come in the next couple of years—and unleashing our own talent within our business. We hope other companies do the same, because that’s where the real solutions lie—within their own organization.  Read the second half of our interview series with Ricardo Khan in which he discusses AI and other promising emerging E&C technologies.    

Welcome to the second issue of "Trailblazers", our blog series exploring frontiers of innovation in construction and engineering. This series uncovers insights from innovation leaders in the E&C...

Innovation

Experiencing the Worksite of Tomorrow Today

Recently I headed to Chicago for the unveiling of the Oracle Construction and Engineering Innovation Lab. As co-founder and CEO of a construction technology company, it’s been incredible to witness the industry’s transformation over the last 18 months. The Innovation Lab, based in Deerfield, IL represents the culmination of this shift. The Lab is an important step towards merging the experimental with the practical, enabling contractors and industry partners to truly experience the power of the connected jobsite for the first time.  E&C: One of the Least Digitized Industries Construction is one of the least digitized U.S. industries. Despite increasingly sophisticated buildings, tasks onsite are completed in largely the same manner as 50 years ago. It’s remarkable to contrast today’s hi-tech buildings with decidedly low-tech processes, including paper timesheets, manual headcounts, and other point solutions. The industry’s sluggish adoption of technology is due to several factors, including the lack of scalable, construction-specific solutions. Construction is a fast-moving, results-oriented industry. Solutions need to perform well on often unpredictable jobsites. The Value of Scalable Solutions Fortunately, over the last twelve months, construction has shed its low-tech image. Growing backlogs, a labor shortage, and record outside investment has resulted in the rise of construction-specific solutions to connect the jobsite, enable remote visibility, and provide data-driven insights that help the industry build safer and more efficiently. During this time, the industry conversation has shifted towards fusing technologies with key strategies to maximize investment and scale solutions across their organization. The last piece— scale —is of the utmost importance. As technology matures and more solutions hit the market, systems must be able to communicate and work with each other. Systems can be fully utilized in the long term by adding value across departments and functions. The Oracle and Triax Partnership This is where partnerships come in. Triax believes in the power of innovative, intelligent technology and real-time data to streamline processes, improve safety, and boost productivity. Our Spot-r system automatically collects and transmits location, utilization, and safety data (such as worker falls or push-button alerts) via a proprietary, scalable network, compact hardware, and a cloud-based dashboard, which is accessible from any smart device. Our network allows us to collect information from a variety of sources in real-time. This real-time data is the key to unlocking knowledge and insights. (Think: data, insights, action.) By partnering with industry leaders like Oracle, we’re able to extend the reach and value of our solution, bringing actionable insights and project intelligence to more contractors and in the most relevant way. Combining Oracle Prime Projects with Spot-r Data In April, we announced our integration. Users can sign into Spot-r using Oracle Prime Projects credentials (single sign-on), create a Spot-r site from an Oracle Prime project, and push Spot-r hours into Oracle Prime Projects – the first step towards a unified construction platform that combines Spot-r data with Oracle Prime Projects. The Innovation Lab is a watershed moment for our partnership and the industry. Construction is a physical, hands-on world. The Lab brings to life the connected worksite of tomorrow, empowering visitors to experience the potential of wearable and sensor technology, drones, autonomous vehicles, and visualization technology for themselves. Encouraging Collaboration and Integration As a partner of Oracle, we are thrilled to participate in this effort to demonstrate how the worksite of tomorrow is available today. When the unfamiliar, the digital, or the experimental is grounded in the physical world, we can drive adoption of technology. We can also encourage collaboration and integration, and help build a stronger, smarter, and more connected future for the industry. Chad Hollingsworth is the co-founder and CEO of Triax Technologies. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and stay tuned for more partner blog posts.

Recently I headed to Chicago for the unveiling of the Oracle Construction and Engineering Innovation Lab. As co-founder and CEO of a construction technology company, it’s been incredible to witness...

Innovation

Emerging E&C Technologies: Bechtel's Chief Innovation Officer Offers Views

In our first installment of "Trailblazers", our blog series discussing innovation in construction and engineering, we spoke with David Wilson, chief innovation officer for Bechtel Corporation. We explored David’s role and background as well as his views on how to create space for and drive innovation at an organization. In Part II of our interview, David discusses promising emerging technologies within AEC. Dr. Burcin Kaplanoglu, senior director of industry strategy and innovation at Oracle, led the interview. BK: What emerging technologies present the best opportunities for what we're trying to achieve in the industry?  DW: If we apply the Lean principles to construction, to engineering, where is the most waste? Where do we have unnecessary travel, process, or steps? What technology is going to help address that and how is that going to help?   One of the ways we've started to think about productivity is just simply looking at the availability and utility of resources at the workplace and how can technology help solve that.  Digital Transformation There are a lot of repetitive activities and a lot of hunting for materials that could be addressed through autonomous vehicles, RFIDs, computer vision, BLE, or other digital tools. When you think about the job site, if we didn't have to send the craft to hunt for material, but it arrived on demand - that's a huge aid in keeping the craft productively working at the workplace.  Furthermore, I think what we're seeing with drones and visual analytics is just the tip of the iceberg. With construction statusing, and reporting, there's a lot of opportunity to use computer visualization to understand the work and automatically status progress. Computers can take care of 80 percent of field engineers’ repetitive work.This would free the knowledge workers to resolve problems as opposed to verifying status. There’s also a huge opportunity for technology to enable the craft to become more efficient and effective – eliminating the waste of hunting, over processing, planning constraints, lack of resources, critical roadblocks, or design constraints. AR, 3D Printing, and Robots One example is when we deploy subject matter experts directly to the work place through augmented and mixed reality, regardless of physical location. I don't know if that's a huge transformational change, but it starts to get folks comfortable with working differently and shifting their thought process on a jobsite to, “I just need to be able to get the resources I need to the workplace, whether that's through augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, or whatever type of technology.” Finally, 3D printing, additive manufacturing is clearly on the horizon. There are still some questions around the structural aspects of it, but we’ll get there. I do think we'll see more robotic assistance than 3D printing for a while. For example, can robots do repetitive work like rebar tying? Can we place a robot at a jobsite to deliver material? These ideas really start to demonstrate the potential to aid our craft and knowledge workers. BK: Where do you see the biggest opportunity for AI and machine learning in the EPC industry in the short and long term? DW: Short term, AI could be used to design simple optimization of facilities with standard volumetric components. What hasn't happened yet is the process design component, where you add the complexity of process operations to the spatial constraints for optimization. So, in the early design phase, I think AI is already being used by a lot of folks for optimization of design and seeking out the optimal scenario based on specific criteria. We’re not yet at the point of push button design, constructability, and operations optimization.    The Data Challenge One key challenge is data. Every process plant is not exactly the same, every linear project is not exactly the same…the data isn't consistent, so it's very hard to compare projects and components. And so, until we start to establish standard components across the AEC industry, it’s going to be hard to fully leverage unsupervised machine learning.   AI, or more specifically models, can be used when you structure the criteria, but to really understand history and create meaningful (real) AI we need to address data inconsistency. And that's something I think we continually must work on, both as individual companies and as an industry. The dream is to have a customer design studio for processing plants, linear projects, and vertical buildings – where we co-create the future of the industrial world. That's the payoff for AI.     

In our first installment of "Trailblazers", our blog series discussing innovation in construction and engineering, we spoke with David Wilson, chief innovation officer for Bechtel Corporation. We...

Innovation

Disrupting with Intent: Bechtel's David Wilson on Innovation in Engineering & Construction

Welcome to the first installment of "Trailblazers" our blog series exploring frontiers of innovation in construction and engineering. Throughout this series, we'll share insights from innovation leaders into the state of innovation in the project delivery world, how to foster new ways of thinking within an organization, the most promising emerging technologies in E&C, and more.    Digital transformation is rapidly accelerating within the E&C industry, driven by the proliferation of technology as well as the additional complexity in project delivery and a desire to improve outcomes— and to differentiate in the market. Companies are increasingly embracing new approaches and technologies— including artificial intelligence (AI), building information modeling (BIM), and machine learning, among others— to continually innovate and augment the effectiveness of how E&C professionals handle or use information. David Wilson, chief innovation officer for Bechtel Corporation, is an instrumental change agent within E&C. He defines his role as “disrupting with intent,” with one guiding question in mind: “How do we create a better experience for our builders?” Dr. Burcin Kaplanoglu, Oracle senior director of industry strategy and innovation, recently sat down with David to discuss his career path and experience at Bechtel— and where he thinks the industry is headed. BK: What's your current role, and how has your career evolved since you started in the industry?  DW: I'm Bechtel’s chief innovation officer. If you’d asked me five years ago, it’s not a role I would have predicted existing — or that I would have been in it. I came into Bechtel as a college hire — 17 years ago. I started as a mechanical system engineer at a waste treatment facility before joining Six Sigma. Leading Six Sigma was a chance to learn how we could improve engineering, procurement, and construction. We also learned how we could structure a process around innovation and apply the scientific method to really drive innovative results to improve the business. Six Sigma helped us structure an innovation program that drives process and disruptive change in a consistent manner – where mature innovation is delivered to our jobsites and innovation theater is discarded. In Bechtel, because of the diverse nature of our work, businesses, and geographies, it’s not unusual for people to stay the entirety of their career – it’s easy to have a varied career within the single organization.  BK: What's your view of the state of innovation in the E&C industry, both as it stands today and where we’re heading? DW: The industry is really accelerating. Two and a half years ago, there were only pockets of conversation about BIM, AI, ML, MR, autonomous vehicles, or additive manufacturing in the industry. These terms are now all nearly ubiquitous in industry discussions, panel presentations, and keynotes – it’s effectively become buzzword bingo. Innovation is at the point where what was disruptive and progressive two and a half years ago, is now table stakes. As the industry accelerates it’s increasingly difficult to disrupt and push the edge of the circle beyond the known and expected. My job within innovation is to continually find the edge and push ideas even further toward the future. As fast as the innovation discussions are progressing the problem quickly becomes…how fast can we convert discussions and discovery into deployment, adoption, and institutionalization? Adaptive speed and efficiency are quickly becoming the differentiator within the industry. BK: What are the biggest challenges to innovation and how did you resolve them for Bechtel? DW: Innovation isn’t inherent. It's not to say that people aren’t born with the ability to be creative or innovative, but it’s a muscle and a skill set that needs to be developed, flexed, and strengthened. That’s where “design thinking” can begin to help build the capability to create and innovate. If the innovative skills have not been strengthened, it’s really hard to create and discover the 10x ideas – 10x ideas can be grown within the right structure, and with the right development of teams.  Innovation at Bechtel is a constantly changing landscape, as with most organizations. When you begin to innovate a portion of the organization will be excited, another portion resistant, and a large portion will hedge. The Excited Group “The excited group” understands innovation and the disruption of tasks and work processes is not attacking them personally. The challenge can be around focusing their excitement and enthusiasm - they can become discouraged if their initial “great” idea is rejected due to merit – this is where we can begin to help the individual develop the creative skill and abilities, as well as connect them to ideas they can help develop. Calibrating people who are excited to understand innovation is a volume game. It takes a quantity of colliding ideas to create high quality ideas. It’s like batting practice: you need to take a lot of swings before you hit a home run. The Resistant Group There’s a small group that will actively work against innovative efforts. Some people see innovation as a threat to their career and job security, and so hold onto old processes. If you don't help articulate why innovation offers more opportunity for them, then you run the risk of creating resistors. Innovation and disruption aren’t about eliminating people; we’re talking about eliminating tasks.  And if we do this right, there’s more opportunities for people to redeploy new skills, new technology, and new approaches to help them transition into roles that don't exist today. We’ve done a pretty good job of addressing detractors, but as any organization evolves the landscape constantly changes. If you’re going to innovate, you need to continuously change the approach to stay ahead of resistors, while also reinforcing excited parties. The Hedging Group This group isn’t initially supportive. At the start, “the hedging group” ignored us. They’re betting innovation won’t succeed and the status quo is going to overcome the change initiative – organizational immune systems are very strong. For those betting against innovation, it’s important to have them contribute to innovation as opposed to control innovation. The typical response from those hedging—is, once innovation gains popularity and they see a chance to advance their careers, they’ll shift from hedging to excited – or possibly worse, controlling. We’re now working to mitigate “the hedging group” from taking control and diluting innovation through over involvement – rather we’re trying to align their newly formed interest to help drive innovation. BK: How do you foster a culture of innovation? DW: At some point, others pick up the ideas of the innovators and the creatives and carry them forward. When someone comes and tries to pitch you your idea that’s something to celebrate - it means your idea is gaining traction and taking on a life of its own.   That’s been tough for some folks to grapple with. It really helps to communicate this dynamic early and encourage creatives to keep moving towards the edge once their initial idea has begun to thrive within the broader organization. BK: One person may have had the idea, but, overall, it takes a lot of effort from many different people within the organization for the pieces to come together to make this a reality. It only happens as a team. DW: That’s exactly right. And, at some point in time, the organization becomes immune. You must constantly be changing if you're really going to innovate in a sustained fashion. The landscape has been very interesting.  Read Part II, “Emerging E&C Technologies: Bechtel's Chief Innovation Officer Speaks”, the second half of our interview series with David Wilson.  

Welcome to the first installment of "Trailblazers" our blog series exploring frontiers of innovation in construction and engineering. Throughout this series, we'll share insights from innovation...

Innovation

How Construction and Engineering Leaders are Driving Innovation at the Worksite

The engineering and construction (E&C) industry is clearly at an inflection point with technology. Often dubbed “the dawn of the digital era”, technical development and adoption are accelerating as organizations embrace new tools to stay competitive. The internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, visualization tools, and other maturing technologies are playing a growing role in how projects are planned and delivered. This digital transformation is bringing new levels of productivity, safety, and the intelligence needed to improve decision making and enable the repeatability of success. These technologies and more are helping organizations embrace innovation to address some of their most pressing business challenges, including: • Increasing productivity • Maximizing the value of capital assets • Improving project outcomes across the lifecycle Several companies are showcasing current frontiers in innovation by leveraging digital transformation to imagine new and better ways of working, including Catepillar and DPR. Caterpillar, a leader in providing automation solutions, operates the largest single fleet of fully autonomous Cat haul trucks in the world. The company plans to collaborate with technology providers to develop equipment that enables interoperability, communication across the enterprise, and integration with existing systems. DPR Construction, a national technical builder, have also worked to develop a culture where creativity and innovation can flourish. This is helping the company leverage disruptive technologies to reimagine its jobsites and end-to-end business. Charlie Dunn of DPR discussed the firm’s “innovation culture” and related quest to drive new levels of productivity. He focused on innovation in construction techniques – such as the company’s work to pursue a strategy of building and inspecting on the ground and then flying modules into place – and how Oracle’s Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management helps to support its goals. Dunn’s presentation also explored the role of play in sparking innovation. Technologies such as 4D modeling and virtual/augmented reality can create an atmosphere where play is okay, he explained, noting that this mindset helps enable transformation. Read more about innovative ideas emerging within construction and engineering in our "Navigating the Future of Projects" report from Oracle Industry Connect.   

The engineering and construction (E&C) industry is clearly at an inflection point with technology. Often dubbed “the dawn of the digital era”, technical development and adoption are accelerating as...

Energy and Resources

How Renewables are Transforming Capital Project Management for Utilities

The energy industry is rapidly transforming. Traditional power-generating utilities are shifting away from their reliance on coal, gas, and nuclear resources and tapping into the vast potential of renewables. In fact, the International Energy Agency (IEA) notes that the energy industry is doubling its investment in renewables per annum compared with nuclear, gas, and coal. The IEA estimates that the industry will have invested $7.2 trillion in power generation alone between 2016 and 2025—almost $1.0 trillion more than the previous decade—with renewables comprising a staggering 56% of the net new capacity. Renewables projects—often smaller and more easily managed compared with their traditional, more complex predecessors—are rapidly becoming the more commonly used approach to generating power. As this shift continues, utilities also need to change how they approach the management of such projects to ensure they can maximize resources and tap the full potential of renewables. Shifting from single project management to portfolio management The increasing number of renewable assets generating Mw/Hrs equivalent to coal, gas, and nuclear are impacting how projects are managed overall. The industry is transitioning from managing single large projects with a dedicated team to a team managing a portfolio of smaller projects. Utilities tend to follow an operating model that supports one-off larger projects instead of adopting a portfolio-based structure. This outdated model results in greater inefficiencies connected to renewable assets, including missed schedules and over-extended budgets. Utilities’ hurdles to managing portfolios A recent IDC Insights survey confirmed that E&C professionals’ top two preferred key performance indicators for projects remain “on time” and on budget.” However, the leading KPIs for portfolio management are resources and capital prioritization, in addition to increased visibility into a project’s performance and change management. The survey reveals that, while utilities aim to achieve these portfolio management guidelines, they surprisingly aren’t there yet. A significant number of hurdles are impacting projects/assets and how they have traditionally supported utilities, including: Financing availability Cost overruns Change management Missed schedules A lack of resources The industry must radically shift for utilities to overcome these obstacles and deliver solid project outcomes. Four portfolio management guidelines for utilities Because capital is at a premium, selecting the right projects/assets to deliver the most value is a critical component of portfolio management. E&C project teams must build business cases that can be evaluated and scored objectively against the overall funds available. They must also account for other metrics, including benefits, CO2 reductions, etc. Utilities are constrained not only by budgets, but by dwindling resources as well. Significant reductions in utilities’ staffing over the years has impacted the availability of project managers, project engineers, planners, cost engineers, etc. Utilities must adapt to successfully managing multiple projects/assets with fewer staff. Portfolio project management also requires greater flexibility and mobility to accommodate globally dispersed projects teams, including ensuring accessibility to data from any location in near real time. These global roles often lack dedicated resources to manage every aspect of a project. Due to limited staff, it’s crucial that both the process and solution (i.e., portfolio management tool) are simple and easy to use. In addition, the supply chain supporting these projects and delivering the product are generally Tier 2/3 organizations. Lower-tier organizations often provide better value than Tier 1 organizations due to their significantly lower overhead. Utilities must adapt to utilizing solutions that enable these organizations to full engage. Providing collaborative cloud-based solutions to the supply chain will: Include an easy-to-use application  Increase stakeholder engagement Ensure standardization and overall governance of the process Increasing efficiency in renewables Renewable energy projects are easily replicated, meaning that processes and solutions should also be: repeatable, easy to amend, value optimized, and current. In addition to streamlining projects with processes and solutions, there’s also a huge opportunity to use benchmarking and analytics to improve project intelligence. Managing projects with the same criteria helps professionals quickly grasp key takeaways of what worked in addition to monitoring efficiency gains. To make these changes, a project management structure must follow consistent criteria, whether that’s coding structures, KPIs, processes, etc. Using a simple template-driven model ensures that all projects will launch using the same guidelines. Providing visibility to project stakeholders Dollars and scarce resources can be easily wasted without visibility across the entire stakeholder community. For example, a project may be proposed by certain team members while the operations team knows that the asset is end of life. Tracking project benefits helps stakeholders confirm if their proposals have been delivered, whether productivity has increased, cycle times reduced, etc. Tracking projects and assets in one solution helps easily monitor these benefits, quickly ensuring future projects are well-positioned for success. Heighten project portfolio performance IDC clearly states that a project and portfolio management (PPM) solution is crucial for managing a portfolio of capital projects. An enterprise PPM tool unites all stakeholders onto a single platform, empowering organizations to closely monitor change management. Organizations can also start tracking existing projects and their historical performance with an enterprise solution. Utilities can overcome one key function they often miss—benchmarking and forecasting—by deploying Oracle’s Primavera cloud-based PPM solution for renewables, paving the way for a possible “Center of Excellence for Portfolio Management” within their organization. As portfolio management becomes the standard, utilities will see significantly better project performance. Learn how your organization can scale project management to manage larger portfolios with Oracle’s Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management.

The energy industry is rapidly transforming. Traditional power-generating utilities are shifting away from their reliance on coal, gas, and nuclear resources and tapping into the vast potential of...

Innovation

AEC Venture Capitalist Darren Bechtel Shares Insights into Construction Innovation

The Bechtel family has a long tradition of leadership in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) sector. One family member, Darren Bechtel, is charting a new path by combining his AEC experience and interest in venture capital and technology to disrupt the way we design, construct, and maintain the built world. Bechtel shared his insights and journey as founder of the leading AEC venture capital firm earlier this year at the Oracle Industry Connect sharing event. Bechtel founded Brick and Mortar Ventures in 2015 with the sole purpose of identifying, investing in, and accelerating the growth of emerging companies that develop innovative software and hardware solutions for the AEC and facilities management industries. The Dawn of the Digital Era “We recognized that the dawn of the digital era for the construction industry was just starting to break over the horizon,” said Bechtel. “The industry’s need for productivity and safety improvement was clear, and the foundational technologies necessary to connect the field to the office, trailer, and digital world were just starting to become accessible to end users.” The company is built around the team’s belief that the global construction industry – a $10 trillion-dollar sector expected to grow to $15 trillion by 2025 – will need to realize exponential growth in productivity and significant decrease in project delivery costs to meet the $50 trillion in infrastructure demand over the next 12 years. Bechtel highlighted the human capital challenges AEC companies face as an important impetus for disruption. “For an AEC organization to remain relevant, survive, and thrive over the next 10 years, we believe they need to be investing in innovation right now. And much more than just talking about; they need to be actively seeking out new technologies and learning how to work with the new generation of ever-improving solutions – or they will have a hard time remaining competitive.” Since its creation, Bechtel’s firm has tracked more than 500 start-ups in the AEC technology sector. His organization sees innovation accelerating as the technology matures and the need to improve productivity through innovation becomes ever more pressing. Brick and Mortar Ventures' vision for the construction site of the future includes: augmented workers local and remote connectivity 4D/5D plans and ubiquitous “digital twins” real-time, data-driven insight smart schedules and tasks autonomous and remotely operated equipment zero-waste jobsites pervasive off-site fabrication and a transparent and efficient supply chain. Read more about how Darren Bechtel is contributing to digital transformation within the construction and engineering industry. And for more insights into innovation and digital transformation in the project delivery world, read our full report from Oracle Industry Connect, “Navigating the Future of Projects.” Check out insights from the Oracle Industry Connect 2018 report here.

The Bechtel family has a long tradition of leadership in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) sector. One family member, Darren Bechtel, is charting a new path by combining his AEC...

BIM

How Reality Capture is Increasing Productivity and Accuracy in Construction and Engineering

For years, building surveyors resorted to tackling projects using the same decades-old gear: a tape measure, a theodolite (an instrument for measuring horizontal and vertical planes), and a level—not to mention lots of calculations and patience. To compound matters, surveyors’ tedious documentation was often incomplete or inaccurate. Fortunately, with the “Digital Era” of construction upon us, construction surveying has become easier and more precise. Reality capture leverages various technologies to create 3D models from photographs or laser scans, vastly improving the productivity and accuracy of a project. In addition, sophisticated visual data technology fused with inventive software has enabled real-time analysis of construction jobsites. Earlier this year, three experts in predictive visual data analytics gathered at Building Design + Construction’s Accelerate Live! Conference to discuss how augmented reality has vastly increased the productivity of several construction projects managed by Clayco, a prominent design-build player in E&C.   About the Accelerate Live! speakers: Dr. Burcin Kaplanoglu, senior director of industry strategy and innovation at Oracle Construction and Engineering Dr. Mani Golparvar, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Illinois  and co-founder of Reconstruct Inc. Carolos Montiel, director of project controls & scheduling at Clayco Construction The trio shared how images and videos from configured drones and smartphone cameras can automatically generate 3D reality models over a project timeline. They also revealed how artificial intelligence algorithms compare reality capture with 4D BIM to track productivity and assess risk of potential project delays. Golparvar co-founded Reconstruct, a visual data analytics platform for construction, to improve productivity in the construction industry through technology. The platform enables web and mobile products to seamlessly integrate with reality capture, BIM, and schedule. Users can manage their projects in a visual environment that’s user-friendly, accurate, and predictive. “The powerful thing about Reconstruct is that it calls attention to elements of construction in our schedule grouped by their location in 3D. This streamlines the management of our weekly work planning efforts, allowing us to visualize and mitigate potential risks to our schedule before they happen,” Lincoln Wood, regional director of technology and innovation at Turner Construction, shared with Reconstruct. Click here to watch the experts’ full discussion, “The Smart Jobsite,” at Building Design + Construction’s Accelerate Live! 2018 conference.

For years, building surveyors resorted to tackling projects using the same decades-old gear: a tape measure, a theodolite (an instrument for measuring horizontal and vertical planes), and a level—not...

Construction Project Management

PROMTEL Transforms Internet Connectivity in Mexico with Oracle's Primavera Solutions

A few years ago, Mexico’s government launched an ambitious plan to bring internet access to all corners of the country and open the market to more providers. To that end, the Mexican legislature in 2016 created the Telecommunications Investment Promotion Agency (PROMTEL), a public-private partnership that would create a shared network. Multiple carriers would use the network to deploy mobile broadband nationwide. After 11 months of deployment, the project already is seen as a success, covering more than 30% of the Mexican population – 36 million people – and leading new providers to consider operations in Mexico. In assessing the technology needs for this project, Alejandro Chavarri Rodriguez, engineering, supervision and project controls unit director, knew that he needed Oracle’s Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management on the job from the start. “When I was offered this job, I told the director general that I would only accept the job if I could introduce Primavera P6,” Rodriquez explained during a session at the recent Oracle Industry Connect event in New York. “This has been a game changer.” PROMTEL embraced a “fully in the cloud” model, using Primavera P6 EPPM to manage this large-scale, multifaceted initiative and Oracle’s Primavera Unifier for management of site inspections, enabling a real-time view of installation and objective evaluation of progress. The Primavera implementations began in October 2017 and were operational three months later. “You get everything into a BIM model and get it into P6…and follow through with a tool like Unifier – and get the analytics to respond to the questions you get every day on a project,” Rodriquez said. The solutions enabled robust project management and accelerated PROMTEL’s move to paperless operations – which just three other agencies in the government have done. Ultimately, the Primavera solutions helped PROMTEL automate processes, operate with about 20% of the staff of a typical government agency, and save 60% of its total budget. Those cost savings enabled the agency to invest in other systems that will improve operations. Visit here to learn more about how to drive new levels of efficiency and collaboration on projects of any size in the cloud. 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 Turns to Primavera Unifier to Fuel its Ambitious Growth Strategy

A few years ago, Mexico’s government launched an ambitious plan to bring internet access to all corners of the country and open the market to more providers. To that end, the Mexican legislature...

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...

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...

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...

Energy and Resources

Technology Supports the Intelligent Client Project Approach for Utilities

Last week, I spent the day with an incredible group of procurement and supply chain professionals from across the UK utilities industry. From our interactions at the Utility Week Procurement & Supply Chain Engagement 2018 conference, it became clear that they shared a few common goals. All were looking for transformational change that would help to: Improve the way their organisation does business Enhance their customers’ perception by providing exceptional service, and Manage their rate increase to the lowest possible factor The desired shape of that transformation was also shared: to influence procurement and supply chain activities across the asset lifecycle, from strategic thinking to delivery and into operations. But how best to accomplish that? During my presentation at the event, I covered a few core concepts which aligned with and provided insight into the realization of their shared goals – as well as exploring the engine needed to drive the sought after transformation. Operating as the intelligent client The utilities space has changed significantly over my lifetime in terms of the way utilities procure and manage asset delivery. Previously, this process was run by an entirely in-house organisation that undertook most activities thru design and construction management, mainly working with the direct supply chain. Later, utilities began outsourcing this activity to Tier 1 contractors, who handle project management and delivery. But with this shift came a loss of control, so today we are at a point where most of organisations are looking at becoming what is called the “intelligent client.” To do that they need to clearly understand - by capability - how they wish to manage and support the supply chain, including the appropriate approach for various tiers and even members within those levels. To successfully manage this change, a common data platform is needed. With such an environment, organisations can adopt different approaches based on project size, duration, supply chain, and organisational competency. In addition, with the desire to manage “TotEx” (rather than a split CapEx/OpEx approach), it is vital to understand the impact change has on the asset delivery project, including its outcomes and its impact on the asset’s revenue returns.  Ensuring governance and compliance around deliverables With the intelligent client concept comes the desire to manage the supply chain at any level by going directly to the appropriate level/source. This leads to a need to ensure compliance, governance, and control to a level that is appropriate to each member’s situation. So, now that utilities are interested in managing the tier 2,3, etc., supply chain organizations, they need tools that support that approach. A siloed patchwork of individual applications is no longer appropriate when trying to manage across a diverse array of suppliers and contractors. This approach also necessitates a model that delivers more real-time data. And because ownership of data is fundamental, a move to a subscription model is needed to support the key needs around collaboration, compliance, and governance. In addition, the intelligent client approach is supported by modern best practice in supply chain contracting, with processes such as NEC4 including significant provisions around collaboration, compliance and visibility. Managing change through its life, from RFI to approval As was discussed at length during the event, change is something that utility organisation must get to grips with (and, you would think, something that should have been sorted out years ago). But in light of the desire to directly manage tier 2 and below of the supply chain, the management of such change - and its impact on other suppliers and the overall asset delivery - is a significant area of focus. There is a need to move away from current models that involve multiple lines of communication and significant use of siloed data transmitted via email or other offline means. Such practices continue to result in disconnected and opaque management of change, bringing overruns in both budget and schedule and impacting asset revenues. Key to addressing this challenge is the use of a common data environment (CDE) that delivers a single version of the truth to support change control across stakeholders. With such an approach, organisations can manage the process from the point of an issue right through the RFI, assessment, change notice, approval processes, etc., and ensure everyone has visibility into the resolution path. How technology can support the above Any productive and efficient effort to embrace an intelligent model to manage a much broader range of suppliers and contractors requires the right technology to support positive outcomes. Fundamental to such initiatives is a common data platform that can provide collaboration, compliance, governance, control and real-time data for all stakeholders. Visit Oracle Construction and Engineering to learn more about how we are helping energy companies undertake journeys of digital transformation.              

Last week, I spent the day with an incredible group of procurement and supply chain professionals from across the UK utilities industry. From our interactions at the Utility Week Procurement & Supply...

Energy and Resources

How Cloud Technology Helps Utilities Overcome Market Challenges

It’s no secret that power companies today are contending with a staggering array of challenges. Between a shifting regulatory and environmental landscape and disruptive innovations such as smart grids, the sustainability shift and the Internet of Things (IoT), utilities are staring down change of historic proportions. Indeed, according to a recent Deloitte report, most utility executives now firmly believe their companies will be completely transformed in as little as three years’ time. As a result, many of these firms are already mapping out new ways to weather hardships and harness all opportunities. Visionary utilities will do that by applying technological best practices to critical facets of their businesses. Capital Planning Heads to the Cloud Capital planning in the utilities industry is complex to say the least. Predicting costs, measuring return on investment and ensuring desired outcomes is difficult. With long project timelines, billions of dollars in assets and large amounts of capital needed to sustain and grow businesses, effective planning is critical to not only profitability, but also in meeting stringent regulatory requirements. In fact, improving the way these projects are selected and managed can deliver savings of 15 to 30 percent, according to McKinsey research. Unfortunately, too many utilities still try to address capital planning using yesterday’s manually driven solutions, such as spreadsheets, instead of more efficient digital solutions. This simply won’t cut it. Considering the rate of change, forward-thinking utilities are turning to cloud-based portfolio management solutions to position for the future. These solutions are designed to deliver a bird’s-eye view of everything that might influence the success or failure of an organization, including key performance indicators, costs and funding/budget status. They can help utilities map out every step of project lifecycles, from planning, building and operating key assets to their ultimate retirement. Having a cloud-based system has the added advantage of creating a central, widely accessible repository for collecting information to advise planning. In addition, it establishes a hub where both internal and external stakeholders can share ideas about how to improve the business. In capital planning, “ideation,” which is the gathering of information from various people involved in a project, is also becoming increasingly important to success. For ideation to be effective, stakeholders-which in many cases include the public-must be able to collaborate, so the data must be both centralized and accessible by all key participants without punching holes in the organization’s firewall.   Sustaining Projects and Small Caps – the New Normal There aren’t many electric utilities building billion-dollar power plants anymore. With limited budgets and a desire to avoid the risks, not to mention the delivery struggles of large undertakings, most utilities are instead investing in multiple small projects with faster timelines. The challenge with such small projects is that they entail multiple teams working on many smaller efforts simultaneously. This means that if a utility doesn’t have a centrally accessible way of ensuring visibility, planning, control and executive oversight across these projects, they could fall behind schedule rather quickly. To solve this, many utilities are considering a combination of technologies. Many will begin with a cloud-based project and program solution. But the solutions they choose might depend on their need for specific capabilities, such as templates, mobile field status updates, field-initiated change requests to monitor potential budget impacts, and resource tracking. More importantly, utilities driving multiple small projects will need to rely on analytical tools to understand how all projects are progressing – collectively – and what they deliver to the business. Down the road, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) will play a considerable role in automating many repeatable, manually intensive, small project-planning processes – but most utilities are not there yet.    Optimizing Maintenance Utilities are always looking to maximize returns from existing assets, but eventually every asset must be taken offline for maintenance to optimize process and production. Unfortunately, even with the best of intentions, more than two-thirds of organizations fail to get their assets back online on time according to Aberdeen Group. The reason? In many cases, it’s because of poor scope development, a lack of solid data, using too many niche products and relying on outdated and manually intensive technology.   What’s more, while these maintenance projects are meant to improve efficiency, in far too many cases poor management has the opposite effect. Delivery delays from scope creep, inefficient resource supervision and other factors can lead to higher costs, lost productivity and angry shareholders (for public companies). Many utilities are finding that having a cloud-based project management solution can also help address challenges around planned outages. A typical outage can involve 10 or 15 different departments and dozens, if not hundreds, of workers and subcontractors. Tracking these moving parts is tremendously difficult, so finding technological solutions to ensure collaboration and coordination should be of paramount concern. The right project management solution can help organizations to better understand, manage and control the scope of an event by providing tools for resource requirements, procurement planning, identifying and tracking purchase lead times, directing contractor and engineering obligations, and providing daily status and cost updates to key stakeholders. Similarly, these cloud-based solutions can provide a common data platform so that everyone involved in a project is working from a single view of the truth. Of course, this only works with a rich solution capable of providing a strong back-end infrastructure and the ability to support analytical tools for understanding what’s happening across the organization. In addition, organizations must be able to capture status updates and emergent work from mobile devices and applications in the field. Soon, this could also involve connecting with sensors or RFID devices that field workers would carry on their persons, allowing the project management solution to capture, aggregate and analyze data – without anyone having to act by physically typing something out in an email, text, online tool or spreadsheet. Conclusion Visionary utilities are not only thinking along these lines, they are already implementing project management technology to improve their ability to survive and thrive in this rapidly changing industry. Every utility will be a radically different company in just a few years. Now is the time to prepare. This article originally appeared on Electric Light & Power.

It’s no secret that power companies today are contending with a staggering array of challenges. Between a shifting regulatory and environmental landscape and disruptive innovations such as...

Construction Project Management

Construction Firms See Benefits from Integration of CPM and Lean Scheduling

Amid growing demands from owners for more efficient project delivery, builders continue to search for ways to enhance project execution and boost productivity, both to improve margins and create competitive advantages. Construction firms recently gained a powerful tool to aid in such efforts: the Lean Scheduling capability of Oracle Prime Projects Cloud Service. The cloud solution is the construction industry’s only project success platform that integrates two historically disconnected project scheduling and execution methodologies: the Critical Path Method (CPM) and Lean Construction. Early adopters are capitalizing on this blending of CPM/Lean processes and data. “People using it in the field love how it saves time when developing weekly work plans, as well as when they are performing their overall schedule updates,” says Mark Jenkins, a product management director for Oracle Construction and Engineering. “This means teams have more time for what’s most important—getting the job built.” The integration of CPM and Lean scheduling closes an important gap for the construction industry, Jenkins explains. “In the past, construction companies struggled to align Lean values with CPM priorities, giving rise to tensions between scheduling camps,” he says. “Project teams had also been forced to spend time maintaining project data in two different systems, in two different places. Oracle’s solution eliminates this disconnect to improve project outcomes for all.” “Oracle Prime Projects has enabled us to digitize our Lean task planning work in the field and fully integrate that activity and data with the management of our critical path schedule. By connecting these teams and activities, we’ve been able to unlock new levels of coordination, visibility, and productivity,” Mike Ball, project manager for general contractor Walsh Brothers, said in a recent announcement.   Integration enables full digitization of processes, closer collaboration across project participants, and centralization of project planning information. By transforming the paper processes of Lean Construction (including the famed sticky notes on the planning board) and digitizing all activity and task planning data in a shared workspace, Oracle Lean Scheduling eliminates the traditional silos and optimizes processes for all project teams. The single platform also gives construction firms a holistic view of the project. This visibility includes both the long-view analytics needed to accurately determine project milestones and completion dates, as well as prescriptive roadmaps for how to complete projects as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Although the solution addresses complex data integration challenges, early adopters say it is easy to learn and use by Lean-focused teams. “People who are familiar with the Lean Construction Institute’s Last Planner System report they don’t need training to use the platform,” Jenkins notes. For more information, read our latest white paper on blending CPM and Lean scheduling and watch a webcast on how to digitize and integrate these activities at your organization.

Amid growing demands from owners for more efficient project delivery, builders continue to search for ways to enhance project execution and boost productivity, both to improve margins and create...

Construction Project Management

Digital Transformation Insights and Success Stories Take Center Stage at Oracle Industry Connect

Day two of Oracle Industry Connect opened with an engaging panel discussion focusing on an area of paramount importance to virtually all organizations: how to redefine business models and the consumer experience in an age of digital disruption. Cory Johnson, former journalist and chief market strategist for Ripple, led a broad discussion featuring innovators from several data-intensive industries, with executives from Con Edison, MGM Resorts International, Meed, and Bechtel Corporation sharing how their organizations are thriving in today’s  “disrupt or be disrupted” environment. The dominant theme was the need to navigate the challenge of investing in an organization’s core business while anticipating and delivering new business models. Bob Weiler, executive vice president for Oracle Global Business Units, highlighted the role that the cloud can play delivering next-gen solutions – built around artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, blockchain, and more – as a service. This model can empower organizations to focus even more closely on transforming their business and customer experience models. David Wilson, chief innovation officer for Bechtel Corporation, defines his role as “disrupting with intent,” and said that his guiding principle is, “How do we create a better experience for our builders?” Wilson explained that his organization thought they had a technology problem, but, in reality, they faced a process challenge. “The real question is, ‘How can we reshape processes now that we’re unencumbered by paper?’” Wilson explained that he sees team members eager to embrace mobile solutions, such as smartwatch applications that allow them to simply click and tap to complete their status updates. Wilson shared that Bechtel is now focused on using these technologies and others to more effectively deliver information. Focus on Customers Oracle Industry Connect is unique in that the focus is truly on customers talking to customers – with most sessions showcasing customers’ successes in the area of digital business transformation. Discussions and presentations on day two included the Rockefeller Group sharing its journey to next-gen project controls and analytics, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Julie Owen highlighting efforts to manage extensive transit upgrades in advance of the upcoming Olympic Games, and Leslie Owen from Maverik Inc. sharing her company’s story of transforming capital project management to support rapid growth. Later, Swinerton explored how it uses Oracle’s Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management in the cloud to achieve dynamic enterprise reporting that delivers critical project information to decision makers anywhere. “The cloud allows us to say, ‘What would we like to dream up – and how do we implement that?’ ” Murphy said. This approach has created a blueprint for organizational collaboration from the project site to the C-suite. The morning also featured a panel discussion on how women are driving change in technology. The panel featured women leaders from several industries discussing the key role that diversity plays in supporting digitization and other business transformation efforts – and what organizations need to do to drive needed workforce changes and ensure opportunities. Panelists also shared their own career journeys and offered advice for up-and-coming leaders. The Transformation Journey Sarina Moss-Tenan, project management consultant for NextEra Energy, spoke to a packed house, discussing the company’s successful ongoing journey with Oracle’s Primavera Unifier. NextEra Energy, named a Fortune Top 10 Innovator in 2018, implemented the solution approximately 18 months ago to address several key challenges, including: disparate project information; limited visibility of project data; need for process standardization; desire for greater collaboration; and necessity to eliminate duplicate work and data entry. The organization, which also uses Oracle’s Primavera P6 EPM, leveraged Unifier to centralize data, improve communication and drive efficiency. “Our vision was for Unifier and P6 to work together, with Unifer providing information back to P6.” Since deploying the solution – which is currently rolled out to the company’s wind and solar groups – NextEra has significantly reduced misses; cut time spent locating project documents and data; and strengthened communication through better management of checklists. Moss-Tenan also explained that NextEra deployed the solution in the cloud to enable both internal and third-party users. Later in the day, Charlie Dunn of DPR Construction gave a high-energy presentation on the company’s innovation culture and journey to drive new levels of productivity. He focused on innovation in construction techniques – such as the company’s work to pursue a strategy of building and inspecting on the ground and then flying modules into place – and how Primavera P6 helps to support its goals. Dunn’s presentation also explored the role of play in sparking innovation. Technologies such as 4D modeling and virtual/augmented reality can create an atmosphere where play is okay, he said, noting that this mindset helps enable transformation. Focusing on the opportunities and challenges presented by large, multi-year projects, Skanska/Walsh, the joint venture managing construction of the LaGuardia Airport Redevelopment project, shared how the Oracle Textura Payment Management Cloud Service is helping to ensure an efficient, scalable subcontractor payment process in the cloud. The solution is enabling Skanska/Walsh to streamline and automate payment activities, including invoice review, lien waiver collection, and electronic payment. Oracle Textura Payment Management integrates with the JD Edwards ERP system used on the project and has improved payment efficiency and transparency, while boosting team productivity. We’ll be diving into many conference topics and stories in greater depth in the coming weeks, so be sure to subscribe to the blog to receive updates. In the meantime, check out a rundown of day one at Oracle Industry Connect and our short videos featuring even more highlights from the event. Read insights from the Oracle Industry Connect 2018 report here. Check out takeaways from day one.

Day two of Oracle Industry Connect opened with an engaging panel discussion focusing on an area of paramount importance to virtually all organizations: how to redefine business models and the consumer...

Payment Management

Oracle Textura Payment Management Surpasses $500B in Construction Value Managed on System

We have some exciting news to share on the construction payments innovation front: Oracle Textura Payment Management Cloud Service since its inception has now been used to manage subcontractor payments on projects representing more than $500 billion in construction value. By streamlining, automating, and standardizing payment management activities—including invoicing, compliance management, approvals, lien waiver collection, and disbursement—Oracle Textura Payment Management helps improve payment outcomes and enable organizations to scale operations for growth. General contractors, subcontractors, and project owners/developers can all benefit from increased productivity, reduced risk, and improved communication across stakeholders from the application, which was launched in 2006. “Our customers rely on Oracle Textura Payment Management to improve efficiency, enhance visibility, mitigate risk, and improve cash flow,” said Mike Sicilia, general manager, senior vice president, Oracle Construction and Engineering. “Reaching this milestone is a testament to the value our application brings to the industry.” The $500 billion in construction value represents a significant number of projects, documents, and payments that Oracle Textura Payment Management has been used to manage since its launch: 43,000+ projects Nearly 10 million documents created and electronically signed $6.2 billion worth of subcontractor payments managed on a monthly basis To learn more, visit Oracle Textura Payment Management or read our white paper on transforming construction payment management.

We have some exciting news to share on the construction payments innovation front: Oracle Textura Payment Management Cloud Service since its inception has now been used to manage subcontractor...

Construction Project Management

Innovation and Customer Success in Focus at Oracle Industry Connect Construction and Engineering Program

The energy inside the New York Hilton Midtown matched the weekday bustle on the Manhattan streets outside as Oracle Industry Connect 2018 kicked off with record attendance for the Construction and Engineering program. Participants immersed themselves in innovation from start to finish on day one – absorbing and discussing insights from presentations showcasing business transformation and real-world customer success. Oracle Construction and Engineering Senior Vice President and General Manager Mike Sicilia opened Tuesday’s three-part General Session by welcoming attendees and previewing the program ahead. Soon after, a keynote address from McKinsey Partners Steffen Fuchs and Gernot Strube set the stage for digital transformation in the E&C industry - painting a picture of urgent need and unprecedented opportunity. Fuchs shared that productivity lags in the E&C industry cost the global economy approximately $1.6 trillion annually – roughly equal to the GDP of Canada. He also identified seven levers that the industry can use to achieve productivity gains of 50% to 60% and capture billions in new value: Regulation Collaborating and contracting Design and engineering Procurement and supply chain management Onsite execution Capability building Technology “Of these levers, technology represents the single largest opportunity for closing the productivity gap – offering gains of 14%-15%,” Fuchs said. The McKinsey team also shared three compelling examples of digital innovation in the E&C industry, including a leading real estate development company that introduced 5D building information modeling (BIM) and achieved $25 million in cost savings from original project estimates while avoiding 3,000 design clashes, and reducing masonry by 20%. The General Session continued with a spirited conversation between Lex Greensill, co-founder of Greensill, and Sicilia, focusing on a different element of innovation:  the democratization of access to capital. Approximately $3.5 trillion in working capital is tied up at any time due to unpaid invoices, Greensill announced to a surprised audience. Inefficiency in supply chain financing also drives up costs; a Greensill survey found that U.K. contractors are loading bids by as much as 5% to account for uncertainty around when they would be paid. He also provided an overview of the collaboration between Oracle and Greensill that is accelerating and transforming supply chain finance in the E&C industry.  “The partnership employs Oracle's leading-edge solutions and our innovative financing to unlock capital so our clients can put it to work,” Greensill said. To close the session, surprise guest Rob Phillpot, co-founder of Oracle’s Aconex, took the stage to a welcoming round of applause. Aconex, which Oracle recently acquired, offers cloud collaboration solutions that have been used in over $1 trillion in projects across 70,000 user organizations in over 70 countries. Together, Oracle and Aconex will provide an end-to-end offering for project management and delivery that enables customers to effectively plan, build, and operate construction projects. Innovation Unleashed A wide range of breakout sessions followed the General Session and continued throughout the day, offering insights on project delivery trends and best practices across a range of industries. Programs focused on themes as diverse as improving project outcomes using technology such as drones and autonomous vehicles, to a case study of how Turner Construction is improving subcontractor payment management in the cloud with Oracle Textura Payment Management Cloud Service (see some exciting related news). In a fascinating dive into innovation across industries, Bob Weiler, executive vice president, Oracle Global Business Units, led a discussion featuring the heads of Oracle’s seven Global Business Units that explored challenges and opportunities in each sector. Prime Time Oliver Greenwood, vice president, Global Sales Engineering for Oracle Construction, moderated a lively discussion featuring customers of Oracle Prime Projects Cloud Service, each of whom is using the platform for a different use case. Stephen Libby and Jason Duncan from McCarthy Building Companies are early in their journey and are leveraging Oracle Prime Projects to digitize and enhance Lean scheduling. Heather Leide, senior project manager of airport development for the Metropolitan Airports Commission, shared how her organization is introducing Oracle Prime Projects to support portfolio management. Jeff Davis, director of quality for White Construction, discussed how the builder is transforming field inspections and reporting, thereby accelerating project completion. All four echoed a single sentiment when asked what they would have done differently:  They wish they had begun their Oracle Prime Projects and digitization journey even earlier. Parks and Recreation Later in the afternoon, Diane Jackier, chief of Capital Strategic Initiatives for New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, brought local flavor to the program. She started her conversation by putting into perspective the scope of the department’s capital project portfolio. In the current fiscal year, the department will manage 530 capital projects, and she expects that number will hit 600 next year. Jackier shared her department’s journey and goal to provide better transparency – to the general public and government officials – into the progress of projects in the city’s beloved parks. The department used Oracle’s Primavera Unifier to launch - in just over four months - a Capital Projects Tracker that allows the general public, elected officials and administrators to get up-to-date, easy-to-digest updates on the progress of these projects. The tool delivers transparency and is driving additional results:  The department completed nearly 20% of construction projects early (defined as more than 30 days prior to their scheduled completion date) in fiscal 2017. Read more about Jackier and her work in our interview. The program took innovation to new heights at the end of the day when Darren Bechtel, founder and managing director of Brick and Mortar Ventures, presented his vision on the “Dawn of the Digital Era for the Built Environment.” His venture capital firm has tracked more than 500 start-ups in the E&C technology sector and sees innovation accelerating as the technology matures and the need to improve productivity through innovation becomes ever more pressing. In a wide-ranging discussion, Bechtel sketched out his vision for the construction site of the future, which includes:  augmented workers; local and remote connectivity; 4D/5D plans and ubiquitous “digital twins;” real-time, data-driven insight and smart schedules and tasks; autonomous and remotely operated equipment; zero waste jobsites; ubiquitous off-site fabrication; and a transparent and efficient supply chain.  For more on Bechtel’s work and vision, check out our recent interview. For more of the happenings and insights from of day one, watch our highlights video. And to keep up with the action in real time, be sure to follow us on Twitter. Discover what happened on day two here. Read insights from the Oracle Industry Connect 2018 report here.

The energy inside the New York Hilton Midtown matched the weekday bustle on the Manhattan streets outside as Oracle Industry Connect 2018 kicked off with record attendance for the Construction and...

Trends and Insights

Dive Deep Into Innovation at Oracle Industry Connect

We think of the innovator as a loner: Darwin following in the footsteps of unusual finches in the Galapagos, Tesla toiling alone in Wardenclyffe on his massive transmitter, Marie Curie busy isolating isotopes in a converted shed outside the École Normale Supérieure. But, in reality, innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There are people, ideas, and thinking that came before to lay groundwork, and there are chats, experiments, and happy accidents every day that make the ongoing potential (and spark) of innovation possible. Darwin chased his theories alongside a now relatively unknown naturalist—at least in popular culture—named Alfred Russel Wallace. It was a real rivalry, and it drove him. Tesla lived in a scientific world made possible by Edison. It was a turbulent relationship, but it drove him. Curie built on the X-ray work of Wilhelm Roentegen and Henri Becquerel while teaching. It was the very definition of mentoring, and it drove her. Innovation in any form is driven by rivalries, by relationships, by reversals of fortune. It’s driven by concepts, by collaboration, by conversations. It’s driven by people coming together to talk about what’s new, what’s hype, and what’s truly coming. At Oracle Industry Connect this year, innovation can be found in every conversation, across every represented industry from energy to retail, whether you’re looking for information on blockchain, artificial intelligence, IoT, or new and exciting concepts of customer experience. Darren Bechtel, founder of Brick and Mortar Ventures and a speaker for Oracle Construction and Engineering at the show summed it up for his industry.  “For an (architecture, engineering and construction) organization to remain relevant, survive, and thrive over the next 10 years, we believe they need to be investing in innovation right now,” he said in a recent interview for this blog. “And much more than just talking about it, they need to be actively seeking out new technologies and learning how to work with the new generation of ever-improving solutions, or they will have a hard time remaining competitive.” And that need for innovation permeates all industries. It’s not just construction and engineering looking toward new ideas to remain competitive. This in-the-now view of innovation comes from a single source—disruption. Every major industry has been dissecting major disruptors and how to react for a number of years. The innovation conversation is the next major step in that process.  “From Netflix to WhatsApp, digital disruptors are everywhere,” added Dave Shively, Group Vice President and General Manager, Oracle Insurance. “It is happening in the insurance industry as well. Many insurers are using core systems replacement as the foundation for digital transformation, which insurers are counting on to help them become more agile and responsive.” A number of new innovative concepts answer those disruptions and enable industries from construction to hospitality to be more agile. (Blockchain, for example, both allows for faster, more real-time energy markets and has potential for verification and establishing integrity in clinical research and healthcare as well.) So, the deep-dive facets of a variety of innovative touchstones are infinite. But one area in particular is rising to the top of every industry when it comes to innovative thinking—and that’s reworking, re-examining and, in some cases, completely rebuilding the customer experience. What do they see? What do they hear? What do they want? But, first and foremost: What do they need and what should stores, hotels and healthcare providers offer to answer that need? In the energy and utilities field—one of the many industries represented at Oracle Industry Connect—they’re starting with the basics. “Innovation is not about the tech,” said Lawrence Orsini, CEO of LO3 Energy and speaker within the Energy & Utilities’ track at the conference. “It’s the people. They’re going to be interested in services, [not necessarily about energy in general]. We’ve got to engage people in ways they comprehend; it’s the biggest hurdle we have.” Indeed, while the tech shouldn’t be the beginning of any customer conversation, for many industries, getting down to the elements of customer-listening sparks new forays into new gadgets and software. In the areas of retail and hospitality, for example, that move to customized customer experiences has led quite quickly to another major innovation concept: the cloud. “By shifting to [a cloud service], we are empowering our teams with an intuitive and modern interface, and a holistic planning solution that provides store-level detail and allows us to make more strategic merchandise decisions,” said Julie Fillion, Senior Director of Planning with Groupe Dynamite and a speaker for Oracle Retail at Oracle Industry Connect. “In hospitality, it’s becoming clear that one of the key factors for success will be the ability to deliver personalized service to each guest,” added Laura Calin, Vice President, Strategy and Solutions Management for Oracle Hospitality. “And that requires the power to innovate quickly, which makes one of the biggest arguments for cloud. The writing is on the wall.” Find what drives your innovation this April at Oracle Industry Connect. Here are a few of our most hotly anticipated sessions to highlight on your schedule: Redefining Business Models/Consumer Experience in an Age of Digital Disruption The Technology Infusion: Next Steps in Evolving the Guest Experience The New York State of Energy (Executive Panel) The Dawn of the Digital Era for the Built Environment E-sourcing at Scale: Are we ready to change the game? Groupe Dynamite: Planning in the Cloud Embracing Digital to Improve Operational Efficiency Engaging the Connected Customer Or search all of our Oracle Industry Connect panels and sessions by your favorite innovation topic: cloud, AI, blockchain and more. Start that search here. Read insights from the Oracle Industry Connect 2018 report here. This post was authored by Kathleen Wolf Davis, content marketing manager for Oracle Utilities.

We think of the innovator as a loner: Darwin following in the footsteps of unusual finches in the Galapagos, Tesla toiling alone in Wardenclyffe on his massive transmitter, Marie Curie busy isolating...

Construction Project Management

ACE Mentor Group Creates Construction Career Paths for High School Students

The construction industry faces a crisis in its ongoing shortage of skilled workers. The sector’s critical workforce challenges, which stem in large part from a worker exodus during the economic downturn a decade ago, threaten AEC firms’ ability to grow and prosper—and even meet the growing demand for building projects. One initiative working to make a big difference in this area is the ACE Mentor Program of America. Working with industry companies to engender interest in the AEC industry among high school students, the program provides practical experience, mentorship, and financial support to enable students to pursue additional education and enter the AEC workforce. Representatives of the ACE Mentor program will take part in a panel discussion next month at Oracle Industry Connect exploring the AEC industry’s workforce challenges and successful strategies for surmounting them. We recently sat down with Diana Eidenshink, president of the ACE Mentor Program of America, to discuss the program’s mission and activities.  What is the mission of the ACE Mentor program, and how did it come about? DE: Our mission is to enlighten and engage high school students about the integrated construction industry, and then to support their path to get them ultimately into the industry. And, when we say the integrated construction industry, it’s really any part of the industry: engineering, architecture, construction management, and trades. The program started 22 years ago in New York City. Manhattan College was looking at ways to attract more minority and women students to the engineering school, and a group of engineers got together to mentor kids about engineering. What they found was that a number of the kids weren’t all that interested in engineering but were interested in architecture and construction management. They realized that they really had something here if they expanded it to the entire industry. Probably about three years in, Thornton Tomasetti realized that this was really a great program and expanded it to all the cities where they had an office. And, it just kept expanding from there. What are the workforce challenges for the industry, and how does ACE Mentor work to address those? DE: The AEC industry has an interesting challenge in terms of general understanding of all of its varied roles. Most people know what an architect does. They have an idea of what an engineer does. They probably understand what a construction manager’s job is. But, there are many other jobs within the industry that are not as well known—jobs like landscape architect, geotechnical engineer, plus the various trades. The challenge is that many of our schools, many of our cities have really pushed the idea of college, and the trades have been forgotten. In our industry, the biggest gap of workers is in the trades. Our message to our students is, we’ll support you if you want to be an architect or an engineer and go to college, but we also want to make sure you understand there’s another path: the path of trades through an apprenticeship or trade school. Many of the trade schools and apprenticeship programs work with the students to ultimately get their associate’s degree. And, then they very often can find a job within the industry, where the employer will help financially support them to get bachelor’s degree. What is the experience like for a participating student? DE: ACE Mentor is an after-school program. We bring a team of professionals together—very often it looks like what a design team would look like in our industry—and we meet with the students. The program starts with the professionals explaining what the different roles of the construction industry are, such as an architect, engineer, so on. A big part of what we do is exposing them to different options, so that they can make an educated decision on their future path. And there are hands-on activities. We make sure the teams visit active construction sites. Many of the affiliates do trade days. Some of the affiliates have the students work on OSHA training so they understand the importance of safety. Every student also works on a project. I was just in Denver, and they are designing a new fire station for the city. At the end of the program, each group hosts end-of-the-year presentations, where these students present to an audience of their classmates, their mentors, their parents and other guests. They actually have to do a formal presentation on their project. So the students are not only learning about our industry, but also developing soft skills like teamwork, presentation skills, managing deadlines, and organization. Most of our affiliates offer scholarships to the students to help support them for their continued education.  Who are the mentors in the program? DE: The mentors are really where the program happens, and we are very, very lucky that we have an amazing group of mentors. We have around 3,500 volunteer mentors who come from more than 1,000 big and small firms across the country. We do have a number of large firms that are incredibly supportive, where the top-level management has worked to get their local offices involved. We would love to have every firm in our industry be involved. In addition, about 5% of our current mentors are alumni. They come back because the program impacted them and they want to give back to new participants. Many of our alumni tell us that they felt they had an incredible advantage over the students in their school because of their experience with ACE.  Visit the ACE Mentor Program of America website to learn more or get involved, and check out the full schedule of presentations at Oracle Industry Connect 2018 here.

The construction industry faces a crisis in its ongoing shortage of skilled workers. The sector’s critical workforce challenges, which stem in large part from a worker exodus during the...

Public Infrastructure

Construction of Central Park a Marvel of Public Planning and Project Delivery Innovation

As we approach Oracle Industry Connect 2018, we continue to draw inspiration from our host city of New York. This time, we look at the vision, creativity, and engineering and design innovation behind the creation of one of the city’s most loved and enduring public spaces, Central Park. Called by some the “crown jewel of New York,” Central Park is an expansive and vibrant green space in upper Manhattan. One of the largest public works projects of the 19th century in New York City, the development of Central Park involved more than 20,000 workers transforming what was a challenging topography – considered unsuitable for other types of development at the time – into one of the world’s most admired and replicated urban parks. Intended as a place for the people, the park had an appropriately democratic genesis: planning began with the country’s first landscape design contest. Frederick Law Olmsted, the park’s superintendent, and Calvert Vaux, an English architect, submitted the winning concept – known as the Greensward Plan – prevailing over 32 other submissions and ensuring their future as design icons. The park is designed to represent a microcosm of New York State, with the southern section showcasing more formal features, evoking the city and its suburbs, and the northern parts reflecting the more rural upstate regions. While much of the nearly 850-acre park feels quite bucolic, it is almost entirely man-made — with the exception of its famous rock outcrops and the native woodland that stands in the northwest corner. Transforming the site’s swamps into lakes required a complex engineering feat that included extensive grading and drainage systems. Other features required similarly heroic efforts. According to the park’s official history, after “blasting out rocky ridges with more gunpowder than was later fired at the Battle of Gettysburg, workers moved nearly 3 million cubic yards of soil and planted more than 270,000 trees and shrubs." Even the road system traversing the park was innovative. Olmsted and Vaux designed a network of sunken roads featuring landscape grading and plants to facilitate cross-town traffic while maintaining expansive views and minimizing noise. The gracefully curving roads were also intended as a form of 19th century traffic control – discouraging their use for horse and carriage races.    The ongoing story of Central Park and New York’s other green spaces is fascinating one, and that’s why were so excited to welcome one of the people shaping the future of New York’s landscape to Oracle Industry Connect in April. Diane Jackier, who is chief of capital strategic initiatives for New York City Parks and Recreation, will present on her work and Oracle experience at the event. Read more about Diane in our “Speakers in Focus” blog post. Innovation continues to thrive in today’s construction and engineering industry.  You just need to know where to look. We invite you to join us at Oracle Industry Connect, April 10-11, where Oracle Construction and Engineering, our customers and other thought leaders will together explore the cutting-edge ideas, tools, and approaches that are shaping the future of project delivery. For more information and to register, visit us here. Read insights from the Oracle Industry Connect 2018 report here.  

As we approach Oracle Industry Connect 2018, we continue to draw inspiration from our host city of New York. This time, we look at the vision, creativity, and engineering and design innovation behind...

Customer Success

Making Capital Project Portfolio Management a Walk in the Park

New York City is renowned for its lush and lively open-air parks. Indeed, few green spaces in the US are as iconic as Manhattan’s Central Park. With Oracle Industry Connect set for April in New York, we are excited to have Diane Jackier, chief of capital strategic initiatives at the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, join us to share her experience helping make New York City an inviting, beautiful, and livable metropolis. NYC Parks is the steward of more than 30,000 acres of land—14% of New York City—including more than 5,000 individual properties, ranging from Coney Island Beach and Central Park to community gardens, parks, athletic fields, and Greenstreets. With a five-year capital budget of more than $4 billion and a portfolio of more than 500 active projects, the department uses Oracle’s Primavera Unifier to manage capital projects and ensure visibility and transparency for stakeholders. We recently sat down with Diane to learn more about her professional interests, career journey, and approach to her work. What path led you to your current role? DJ: I never pictured myself working in city government. After college, I worked at an investment bank and a law firm before I realized that was exactly what I didn’t want to be doing. I decided to go back to school and study architecture, and through that process, found that I was much more interested in taking a broader look at cities and urbanism. I ultimately changed course and studied historic preservation and city planning. These are two very different disciplines that not everyone thinks would go together, but I’ve found them to be such a great combination.  After I graduated from graduate school I started working at the Landmarks Commission and later joined the Parks Department, where I’ve been able to continue working on exciting, large-scale projects that have a positive impact on New York City’s built environment. Other than your current work, what’s the most interesting initiative or project you’ve worked on? DJ: I think the most impactful project was my first internship in grad school, which was my first real professional job. I was working for an architectural firm, and they selected a group of students to work on a project at the Second Bank of the United States. We were tasked with doing a full conditions assessment of the south- and west-facing facades of the building, which involved climbing up on rickety scaffolding and looking for cracks and compromises to the structure. Since I’m terrified of heights I opted for the only role that kept my feet firmly on the ground, and that gave me the opportunity to connect and communicate with people passing by who wanted to know what we were doing.  I’ve used those skills in every job I’ve had since then. What’s the best advice—personal or professional—you’ve ever received? DJ: I used to work for an artist when I was in college, and she told me: “You should always listen more and talk less.” That is something that has stuck with me throughout my career, and I think it can be applied to both your professional and personal life. It’s really important to listen to other people and hear their point of view. I’ve learned to choose my words wisely and keep in mind that, if I’m not talking, that means I am listening — and people have really important things to say! Many other innovators and big thinkers will join Diane at Oracle Industry Connect to share their stories of successful business transformation. Visit Oracle Industry Connect to learn more about our full program and to register to attend.  Read insights from the Oracle Industry Connect 2018 report here. Further relevant reading: How Exoskeleton Technology is Helping Transform Construction and Industrial Work Darren Bechtel on the Future of Construction Technology Finding Adventure in Project Management Los Angeles Metro Helping Ready City for the Olympics  

New York City is renowned for its lush and lively open-air parks. Indeed, few green spaces in the US are as iconic as Manhattan’s Central Park. With Oracle Industry Connect set for April in New York,...

BIM

How BIM Can Enable Construction Scheduling in 4D

The concept of 4D schedule simulation holds significant promise to improve project delivery by marrying highly detailed scheduling to building information models (BIM). Unfortunately, this approach has been difficult to implement, as the constantly changing nature of the models, activities, and other schedule data used makes it difficult to share information across project teams. But Oracle and Assemble Systems are working to change that. Oracle Construction and Engineering and gold-level partner Assemble Systems recently announced integration between Assemble and Oracle's Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management. This integration enables construction managers to combine the schedule and BIM data to communicate construction sequencing to owners and other partners. Users can easily create simulations and manage project changes. “By merging the BIM model and scheduled activities, managers can watch a project being built virtually to validate the accuracy of planned sequences within the schedule,” says Mark Jenkins, Oracle product management director. “If there’s an error when moving from one project element to another, it will stick out like a sore thumb.” The Assemble integration will be showcased at Oracle Industry Connect 2018 this April in New York City.  The push for 4D scheduling has grown in recent years, and the Assemble integration fuels the adoption of this approach by streamlining the transfer of BIM data into Primavera P6 EPPM. The integration is also important for helping builders win jobs, Jenkins says. “General contractors who can simulate construction and 4D scheduling demonstrate to owners that they know how to deliver the project.” This innovation also helps companies better manage scheduled shutdowns for maintenance or for addressing outages. Because downtime means the plant isn’t generating revenues, these projects must be completed within narrow time windows. “With the combination of Assemble and Oracle’s Primavera P6 EPPM, staffs can practice the work virtually to hone their skills before the actual event,” Jenkins says. “They can also confirm that the scheduled work can be completed in the allotted time.”

The concept of 4D schedule simulation holds significant promise to improve project delivery by marrying highly detailed scheduling to building information models (BIM). Unfortunately, this...

Energy and Resources

Five Tips to Keep Energy Turnaround Projects In Scope and On Target

If there’s any certainty in the energy industry, it's that every few years executives will spend considerable time overseeing the process of taking refinery units out of service for scheduled maintenance or unforeseen events. These turnarounds (or TARs) are costly projects, not only because of the millions of dollars companies lose for each day a unit is out of commission, but also due to the direct costs, such as labor, tools, heavy equipment and materials that hit the bottom line. Indeed, TARs are now the most significant portion of a plant's yearly maintenance budget, according to EPCM Professional Services Partners, a US-based consultancy. A perfectly executed project will be costly enough by itself. Unfortunately, nearly every TAR invariably involves some degree of delay. When properly planned for, the damage from such glitches can be minimized. But if anticipation of potential issues is lacking and appropriate steps are not taken to avert them, the financial effects can be significant, with critical equipment offline weeks or months longer than expected. By and large, the traditional tools used to manage turnarounds don't provide the visibility and efficiency needed to effectively manage the agreed scope through its lifecycle. Organizations need the right combination of processes and tools in place to effectively manage this scope and mitigate risks arising from complex TAR events. Here are five tips for improving TAR project management to improve outcomes: Plan as if the Business Depends on It (Because It Does) Large TARs or shutdown projects often involve thousands — sometimes tens of thousands —  of activities that must be completed within a very tight, fixed window of time. Each piece of the event involves specific direct/sub contract labor resources, parts/equipment and major plants that needs to be available at certain times. All detail must be identified and scheduled in advance to ensure a smooth process and avoid costly delays. A large refinery, for example, in addition to turnaround activities will also have thousands of day-to-day preventive maintenance activities, and several new construction or expansion projects under way — all running concurrently. A refinery's profitability largely depends on being able to quickly schedule all the above and deploy resources across projects, locations, product lines, and divisions, to ensure projects are achievable to meet the business needs. If a turnaround in one plant impacts production of a highly profitable product in another, profitability on the whole can suffer. That's why it is critical to have a meticulous budget and timeline-driven plan that spans the entire scope of the project, from planning to execution and post-event analysis. The most important planning consideration for TARs is to recognize most plans stumble or fail because they do not adequately prevent "scope creep," where a project's original goals expand while it is in progress. Scope creep is one of the most common causes of TAR projects going over time and budget, and it's typically driven by conflicting objectives and lack of sufficient coordination among stakeholders. To minimize extensive scope creep, identify all project stakeholders from the start, get them engaged in planning, and ensure everyone understands and agrees to the business objectives well in advance of project kickoff. Every scope item should have at least one direct connection to the TAR business objectives. And every scope item should be tracked, compared against budget and deadlines, and mapped back into procurement. As part of this process, it will also be important to account for unscheduled or "emergent" work in the field — that is, identifying and planning against things that might go awry during a TAR. For example, a technician might take the head off a vessel, look inside a compressor and discover it's in worse shape than expected. A solid plan will always include scenarios and fixes for emergent work. Similarly, a comprehensive plan will also anticipate and account for delays beyond control, such as an unexpected permitting problem or extreme weather conditions that could delay work. Keep Scope Sacred It's one thing to have a plan and quite another to stick to it. Too often, teams struggle with following scope throughout a project's lifecycle, frequently delivering varied results from what was originally targeted and agreed upon. The idea of "scope freeze" — delivering on scope exactly as agreed upon at the onset — rarely works, resulting in huge costs. More often than not, the scope changes as the project progresses, chiefly due to poor planning and up-front coordination and alignment. To avoid such scenarios, it is critical to hold stakeholders accountable to commitments made during the often-lengthy planning process. Companies must also pay close attention to the "scope-challenge" — the points in the project where requested changes are reviewed and either approved or denied. This is a good process, but many times changes are approved for the wrong reasons (often, down to who shouts the loudest). Instead, make certain all approved changes map back to the initial and agreed upon business objectives and cost-benefit analysis. And be aware of how the changes will impact project deadlines. Make Data Available to All Many oil and gas companies track project information the old-fashioned way: they plug it into a spreadsheet and standalone tools. The trouble with this approach is that critical data resides on someone's PC, where it isn't readily accessible to all stakeholders who need the data to make decisions and execute projects effectively. With a centralized platform for project management, teams can track their work and increase overall coordination and organizational competence across the enterprise. For example, the ability to manage scope through its lifecycle — including all estimates, reviews, approvals and any changes to the overall scope connected to the resources and schedule — ensures visibility throughout the organization. This helps ensure all stakeholders, especially management, can make effective decisions. In today's connected world, oil and gas companies that do not take advantage of modern integrated tools and the ability to share information in real time put themselves at a significant competitive and financial disadvantage. Transparency is key to success in the digital age. Connect the Enterprise There are many tools and products available to support TAR events, but none delivers the kind of common, centralized project management platform that an Enterprise Project Portfolio Management (EPPM) solution does. As such, an EPPM solution should be a top consideration for oil and gas companies. The EPPM approach eliminates the need for multiple and disparate management by spreadsheets and the like and provides accurate, up-to-date information and a bird's- eye view of project progression. For example, on a TAR there are two shifts per day, and the shift scheduler must bring all the needed data together from one shift, reconcile it, and then create the next shift plan. Managers can leverage EPPM to more effectively forecast and manage costs, schedules, materials and resources across the enterprise. Cost, schedule, and earned-value thresholds can be set to automatically generate issues when projects exceed specified limits. Negative trends can be identified early so the necessary course corrections can be made. Managers can plan for the unexpected by performing 'what-if' simulations to determine the schedule and cost exposure of project risks. This holistic view, combined with the ability to see details when needed, provides management with the data they need to deliver the highest possible levels of predictability at the lowest possible cost. Learn and Improve Continually Far too often, the siloed and disconnected approach to TAR planning and execution leaves oil and gas companies unable to track performance and capture learnings that can be applied to future events. On average, larger TARs occur every four to five years. Everything that occurred during previous projects — actions, incidents, scope changes, overruns, etc. — needs to be centrally stored, analyzed, and readily accessible to advise future endeavors. TARs do not start with planning and end when specific projects are done. Organizations should view turnarounds as ongoing, circular maintenance processes that can have a direct effect on a company's revenues and competitive standing. In conclusion, managing scope, cost, scheduling, risk and change is a core challenge for the oil and gas industry. By successfully applying these five best practices above, oil and gas companies can not only keep current TAR projects on track, but also improve the overall planning process and minimize costly delays. A version of this article first appeared in Oil & Gas Financial Journal. Visit Oracle Construction and Engineering to learn more about how we can help you efficiently and effectively deliver turnarounds and other STO events.  

If there’s any certainty in the energy industry, it's that every few years executives will spend considerable time overseeing the process of taking refinery units out of service for...

Los Angeles Metro Helping Ready City for the Olympics

Throughout February, the world has been captivated by extraordinary displays of athleticism, dedication, and heart at the Winter Games in South Korea. As Oracle Construction and Engineering roots on these incredible Olympians from around the globe, we are also thrilled to highlight another impressive Olympic feat at this year’s Oracle Industry Connect: the transformation of Los Angeles in preparation for the 2028 Summer Olympics.  Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which manages the second-largest public transportation system in the US, is planning $160 billion in transportation upgrades as it readies the city to host the 2028 Olympics. Julie Owen, deputy executive officer, program management for Los Angeles Metro, will join us at Oracle Industry Connect this April in New York City to explore how her agency is leveraging technology to promote innovation and enhance the delivery of those and other projects. Key to such efforts is enterprise scheduling that provides project, portfolio, and program-level performance information for executives and constituents. In addition, the agency’s centralized solution enables tracking of transit project risks, while capital project lifecycle management solutions integrate with corporate financials and executive dashboard analytics to ensure project delivery on time and within budget. Julie is no stranger to extraordinary and inspiring projects, as you will soon see. We recently sat down with her to discuss her career path and background. What path led you to your current role? JO: Throughout my whole career, with the exception of the time I spent at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), I have been in the construction industry. I’ve worked in so many different capacities in the industry — I’ve been an owner’s representative, an owner, a construction contractor, and a claims consultant. Wearing all of these different hats has really helped me get to where I am because I learned how to view projects broadly. I like to think of it as being able to speak different languages when it comes to project management. In my current role, there’s a lot of collaboration with different departments when it comes to planning, staffing, and project delivery. Without the range of skills I developed early in my career, I would not be equipped to take on the kind of work that I’m doing now. Other than your current work, what’s the most interesting initiative or project you’ve worked on? JO: That’s an easy one. Hands down, the most interesting project I had the opportunity to work on was the Curiosity rover program at JPL, which I worked on for six years. In my role there, I was responsible for scheduling all of the mechanical systems on the Mars rover (Ed Note: Wow!). I worked with 70 different managers as they designed, delivered, and tested flight hardware before the launch. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling when I finally saw the rover land on Mars. Everything went exactly like clockwork through the whole process— exactly how it was designed and planned. What’s the best advice—personal or professional—you’ve ever received? JO: Work on your credentials. In this industry, you should get experience as both a contractor and an owner. As an owner, it’s easy to oversee the people who are doing the work, but when you flip those roles, it’s a whole different world. That has forever changed my philosophy. If you were to ask me the best advice I would give, I would say: “Follow your passion in your pursuits and be the example you want others to emulate.” Many other innovators and big thinkers will join Julie at Oracle Industry Connect to share their stories of successful business transformation. Visit the event site to learn more about our full program and to register to attend.  Read insights from the Oracle Industry Connect 2018 report here. Further relevant reading: Making Capital Project Portfolio Management a Walk in the Park How Exoskeleton Technology is Helping Transform Construction and Industrial Work Darren Bechtel on the Future of Construction Technology Finding Adventure in Project Management

Throughout February, the world has been captivated by extraordinary displays of athleticism, dedication, and heart at the Winter Games in South Korea. As Oracle Construction and Engineering roots on...

Customer Success

Finding Adventure in Project Management

We’re big fans of adventure – after all, what interesting project isn’t one? – and so we’re especially excited to have Leslie Springer, director-engagement and PMO for Maverik Inc., as one of our speakers at Oracle Industry Connect this April in New York City. With a rapidly growing footprint that today includes more than 300 store locations in the western United States, Maverik (aka “Adventure’s First Stop”), wanted to modernize and enhance its capital project management processes to support the company’s continued expansion. In her presentation at Oracle Industry Connect, Leslie will explore Maverik’s journey with Primavera Unifier—seen as one of the best implementations by the PMO—including how the initiative won key support from the sponsor and subject matter experts, and the critical role of end user involvement in managing any successful solution rollout. We recently sat down with Leslie to learn more about her background and how she approaches her work. What path led you to your current role? LS: Spending the last 10 years at a company that lives and breathes adventure, I can earnestly say that my career has been just that—an adventure.  With no specific career in mind, I began my early pursuits in marketing with the mindset that a foundation in how to make a business profitable and relatable to its customers would support any future endeavors, which it has. After working in various management roles in vastly different industries, I really found my passion was in problem solving and relationship building. I was able to leverage this while learning how the company works from the ground up, and as my knowledge and experience grew, so did my career.  Little did I know that early concepts in relationship management and driving solutions would lead me from roles in merchandising, loyalty development, and brand management straight to project management and more. I’ve spent the last several years honing the skills and knowledge I attained from those seemingly unrelated areas to develop as a successful project manager and leader. Other than your current work, what’s the most interesting initiative or project you’ve worked on? LS: Early on in my project management endeavors, my boss walked in and said, “You’re running the credit switch project.” My response: “Ok, what’s a credit switch?” From there on out I learned the intricacies of payment systems and how broadly they are intertwined with every aspect of the business, including the potential risks from the simplest misunderstanding. It was through this project that I really understood what it meant to be a great project manager. There seems to be a misapprehension that PMs just coordinate and communicate status and deliverables of a project; a PM does so much more than that. Leadership and an intimate knowledge of how to expertly and efficiently run a project is a trade every bit as much as an accountant or attorney. The skill set is not one you just come by, but is definitely more innate to certain personalities. With that balance of skill and demeanor come some of the best PMs I have seen in my career—and that’s something I continue to develop myself. That along with standing a PMO while managing projects and hiring, developing and retaining great talent are where my passions lie, which makes just about everything we do very interesting to me. What’s the best advice—personal or professional—you’ve ever received? Oddly enough, my grandmother always used to tell me “how blessed we are that our problems can be solved with money.” Anyone who has had to run a project wrought with cross-departmental turmoil or lack of appropriate support can relate to how much easier it would be if we could just throw money at it and solve the problem! Oftentimes, getting buy-in and support to implement complex or even simple solutions floundering under contempt is far more difficult than building a case to fund a project. And while I don’t think this is the exact intent of her words, it has helped me refocus on using the right tools at my disposal to navigate such difficulties. Thanks for the insight, grandma!   Many other innovators and big thinkers will join Leslie at Oracle Industry Connect to share their stories of successful business transformation. Visit the event site to learn more about our full program and to register to attend.  Read insights from the Oracle Industry Connect 2018 report here. Further relevant reading: Making Capital Project Portfolio Management a Walk in the Park How Exoskeleton Technology is Helping Transform Construction and Industrial Work Darren Bechtel on the Future of Construction Technology

We’re big fans of adventure – after all, what interesting project isn’t one? – and so we’re especially excited to have Leslie Springer, director-engagement and PMO for Maverik Inc., as one of our...

Construction Project Management

Darren Bechtel on the Future of Construction Technology

We’re excited to have Darren Bechtel, founder of Brick & Mortar ventures, join us at Oracle Industry Connect 2018 to discuss his work and his perspectives on the “dawn of the digital era” in the AEC industry. I recently sat down with Darren to discuss his journey to become a venture capitalist for the built world and his views on the future of technology in AEC. Why did you start a VC company for the built environment? I was born and raised in the engineering and construction industry. My great-great grandfather, Warren A. Bechtel, started the family business 120 years ago with two mules and a scraper in Oklahoma. He built up a grading business in the railroad industry and started making his way west. After saving up enough money, he purchased one of the early steam shovels, put his name on it, and then started winning construction work for railroads, then highways, then power, then dams…and the momentum continued to build. Fast forward to today: the company is in its fifth generation of family leadership with my brother, Brendan Bechtel, as the chairman and CEO. There are about 52,000 non-manual employees who, collectively, help the business generate annual revenues of around $35 billion. That was the world, the culture, and the family that I grew up in. As was customary and encouraged in our family, I started working summers once I turned 14.  By the time I graduated college, I had served as the gofer to the gofer on a homebuilding crew, a finish carpenter, a mason, a forklift operator, a TIG welding instructor, a field engineer on a light-rail project, and an area superintendent on a coal terminal expansion in Australia. It was a bit of a sprint-paced exposure across the broad spectrum of the AEC world. In college, I studied mechanical engineering at Stanford with a product design focus – so creative problem solving was the focus on my education.   Following graduation, I took on a role at a commercial architecture firm on the East Coast, initially as an in-house engineer and eventually an architect and construction admin. I loved working in a creative design community, but I came to miss the hands-on tinkering of product design. I pivoted away from the built world industries and returned to the San Francisco Bay Area to join a medical device startup as an R&D engineer – a role that ultimately led to me becoming a turnaround CEO for that company several years later, after completing my MBA back at Stanford. My work as a medical device CEO was a real crash course in startup operations and management; I learned so much about trying to get a startup cleaned up and off the ground, managing a growing business, and the day-to-day challenges of a turnaround effort. It was during that time I began angel investing – though then in an industry-agnostic way – and trying to help startup founders apply some of the hard lessons learned from my own experiences. I fell in love with the world of startups and venture capital. After my career in life sciences, I launched an incubator and co-working space in San Francisco for Stanford entrepreneurs and began focusing full time on venture investing. I knew that was my calling, but I also knew the world didn’t need another generalist super angel. After some soul-searching, reflection on my own experiences and competitive advantages over other investors, and looking for common traits among the breakout performers of my portfolio of investments, I realized the opportunity presented by the still underserved and yet-to-be disrupted built world industries of architecture, engineering, construction, and operations and maintenance. So what conditions make the built world a favorable target? We recognized that the dawn of the digital era for the construction industry was just starting to break over the horizon. The industry’s need for productivity and safety improvement was clear, and the foundational technologies necessary to connect the field to the office, trailer, and digital world were just starting to become accessible to end users. Digitization and industrialization of the built world industries has long been an inevitability, but we were starting to see early indications that suggested that the timing was favorable. We formalized our efforts to launch Brick & Mortar Ventures in early 2015 with conviction in our vision that the global construction industry – a $10 trillion dollar sector expected to grow to $15 trillion by 2025 – will need to realize an exponential growth in productivity and significant decrease in project delivery costs in order to meet the $50T in infrastructure demand over the next 12 years. Innovation through digitization is being embraced by some early adopters in the industry, and it is being forced upon others by the clients they are serving. From a human capital standpoint, AEC companies are also beginning to experience difficulties recruiting and retaining the next generation of the workforce that has come to expect the use of new technology in the workplace. For an AEC organization to remain relevant, survive, and thrive over the next 10 years, we believe they need to be investing in innovation right now. And much more than just talking about it; they need to be actively seeking out new technologies and learning how to work with the new generation of ever-improving solutions – or they will have a hard time remaining competitive. How is Brick & Mortar Ventures helping drive innovation in the industry? Over the last two-and-a-half years, since the inception of Brick & Mortar Ventures, we have invested a lot of time, energy, and resources into developing partnerships with some of the progressive, industry-leading organizations and corporations across the AEC world, realizing that those organizations are the ultimate end users of the technologies that entrepreneurs are trying to develop. It is not uncommon that the entrepreneurial tech talent that has the knowledge and tools to develop cutting-edge solutions lacks the understanding of what their target market actually needs and values. We believe that the way to develop sustainable, successful solutions is to get end users involved in the iterative design process and get them involved early. It is a fundamentally different way of thinking for an industry that has historically only had the options of buying technology off the shelf, as-is; developing solutions in-house; or paying a large software company to develop a custom-built solution. We’re helping to create a more efficient path to market for entrepreneurs that struggle to navigate our opaque industry, and at the same time, we are helping ensure end users are getting the tools and solutions they actually need. Part of this process requires us to help the industry think through their own strategies of how to engage, work with, evaluate, and ultimately implement new technology and business solutions. We are excited to see the position of Chief Innovation Officer becoming more common within the AEC industry, and we are encouraged by seeing established organizations allocate capital for funding pilots and investing in their own corporate infrastructure to enable and encourage innovation. We regularly talk about being at the dawn of this digital era, and that is because the industry is just starting to wake up to this new day. What emerging technologies do you see presenting opportunities to drive transformation? It is a wide variety; we feel like there’s almost too much opportunity. Construction is one of the largest industries in the world, and yet it is tied with hunting for the title of least digitized. There is massive opportunity in the internet of things (IOT) space – just being able to create the connected construction site, to start. To really try to improve processes out in the field, we first have to be able to get reliable connectivity, functional sensor networks, and ubiquity of mobile computing. The worksite needs to be connected to the office and the trailer to be able to unlock the power of real-time information and data-driven actionable insights. You can start doing predictive analytics and intervene before there’s an issue. Advancements in robotics introduce the possibility of disruption to the way we physically perform work, from automation of repetitive tasks to utilization of remotely operated equipment in high-risk and harsh environments. “Worker augmentation” is another exciting area of opportunity in which technology is utilized to enhance a worker’s physical capabilities through solutions such as exoskeletons or modification of traditional hand and powered tools. And then there’s new materials and fabrication techniques, such as additive manufacturing and subtractive manufacturing, that have the potential to not only change the way we build, but also unlock a new world of engineering and design capabilities. We also believe the refinement of emerging “reality capture” technologies – solutions that generate 3D models from scans or a series of photographs of a physical environment – will help users marry real-world conditions of “what exists” with their increasingly more detailed 4D and 5D BIM models of “what should be” to identify clashes, automate progress analysis and reporting, and verify site conditions and compliance against design parameters and intent. These technologies also start laying the foundation for utilization of autonomous drones and equipment by enabling a kind of situational awareness onboard in field equipment. The future of construction looks very different from the processes of today, and industry transformation is well underway. We see great opportunities across a wide range of solutions for the AEC industry, ranging from addressing the low-hanging fruit of getting people off of paper and into the digital world through to the stuff of science fiction, like 3D printing habitats on Mars. It is an exciting new era for the built world industries, and we’re betting science fiction is closer than most think. Darren will explore his work and vision for technology in AEC at Oracle Industry Connect this April in New York City. Visit the Oracle Industry Connect site to learn more and register to attend.    Read insights from the Oracle Industry Connect 2018 report here. Other relevant reading: Finding Adventure in Project Management Making Capital Project Portfolio Management a Walk in the Park How Exoskeleton Technology is Helping Transform Construction and Industrial Work    

We’re excited to have Darren Bechtel, founder of Brick & Mortar ventures, join us at Oracle Industry Connect 2018 to discuss his work and his perspectives on the “dawn of the digital era” in the AEC...

Construction Project Management

Carillion Collapse a Reminder of Need for Process Improvements, Transparency

The sudden collapse of Carillion reminds us that even titan contractors are not immune to the effects of cavalier fiscal and supply chain management. With all of the confidence placed in organisations of this size, we often fail to arrive at an adequate assessment of risk. Big does not mean unbreakable, and behemoth builders may still buckle under the weight of cascading short-sighted financial strategies. The end result is, without question, unfortunate for all involved – and potentially disastrous for some. As I wrote in my previous post on the Carrillion matter, unfulfilled government projects spell delays to critical infrastructure and present an increased burden on taxpayers. In this case, they also leave many small-to-midsize businesses and their employees at risk. The Carillion situation serves as a cautionary tale. It also, however, presents a valuable opportunity to focus on much-needed strategies for creating more robust lines of communication and greater overall transparency across project owners, builders, and contractors – at each stage of the supply chain. Such visibility can form the bedrock for more successful project outcomes – for all stakeholders – and should help provide a form of early warning when problems arise. Even before the Carillion news broke, we saw policy moves to support greater transparency and payment velocity in the supply chain. Recently enacted regulations in the UK require large corporations to report their payment terms and performance twice a year. In addition, Parliament has appointed its first small business commissioner, Paul Uppal, who is looking to tackle the issue of improving the timeliness of large corporations’ payments to their suppliers. He has indicated openness to a collaborative approach with industry, but is not ruling out punitive initiatives if progress is not made. So much of what occurs in the construction industry boils down to relationship management. Communication of schedules, guidelines, budgets, and goals between main contractors and project owners lays the groundwork for a successful partnership. The same is true for the relationship between main contractors and their many subcontractors, where clear definition of roles, timelines, tasks, and payments is essential to creating an environment that supports compliance, safety, good relationships, and on-time, on-budget project delivery. While transparency stands to deliver powerful benefits to all project stakeholders, it has long been a challenge in large projects – both public and private – that can span years and involve large numbers of stakeholders, including thousands of subcontractors and suppliers. One key factor obscuring supply chain visibility (while increasing risk and inefficiency) is that payment processes in the construction industry have remained largely manual and paper-laden. These disjointed and opaque processes are conveniently – and, at times, rightfully – blamed for lengthy delays in remittance to subcontractors.  Recent events underscore the need for an approach that improves transparency and accountability and brings all stakeholders in the supply chain closer together. This pressing need in the construction industry is part of why we see such promise in the Oracle Textura Payment Management solution. As a cloud collaboration platform, this technology provides needed control and process standardization, as well as appropriate levels of visibility to stakeholders – including those provided for in payment-related provisions of the UK Construction Act. Such a shared-platform approach to payment management can support mutually beneficial initiatives to shorten the invoice collection/approval period as well as help deter practices involving the “creative” use of change orders to boost margins (see my previous post). There are also considerable productivity benefits to be gained by liberating teams from the onerous, error-prone manual processes that now drain time and resources. Main contractors can leverage technology improvements to strengthen relationships with owners and their subcontractors – while elevating their reputation as a partner of choice in the industry. They also improve productivity, compliance, efficiency, and their overall ability to deliver projects – each of which has a positive impact on the bottom line. Owners reduce risk and are empowered to be informed and engaged stakeholders. And, subcontractor trades – the very foundation of the industry ‒ can demonstrate new levels of accountability, achieve greater financial stability, and, cash in hand, can focus more labour resources on projects. To be sure, the convergence of factors that led to Carillion’s demise is complex. Still, inadequate transparency into its projects and financial practices clearly played a role. The UK construction industry must look to the Carillion saga – and look within – to find ways to bolster operational processes and ensure their success and stability – as well as that of their partners and the sector as a whole.       

The sudden collapse of Carillion reminds us that even titan contractors are not immune to the effects of cavalier fiscal and supply chain management. With all of the confidence placed in organisations...

Construction Project Management

What Technologies Will Have the Biggest Impact on Construction in 2018?

The global construction industry continued to make progress last year on efforts to leverage new technology to tackle its longstanding and well-documented productivity challenges. That trend should accelerate further as forward-looking AEC firms embrace new tools, approaches and data-centric strategies to improve project and business outcomes. Kin to the Bechtel dynasty, Darren Bechtel of Brick and Mortar Ventures recently noted in Wired Magazine that construction is “one of the last massive industries to be disrupted.” There is growing consensus among industry thought leaders that construction, given its high volume of work and high degree of risk, as well as low profit margins and low productivity, is ripe for positive disruption. Indeed, there are many opportunities for the second least digitised industry (following only agriculture and farming). But what solutions in particular will drive genuine disruption and transformation in the near term? Here are some thoughts on the technology trends that will most profoundly impact the industry in 2018. Cloud and Mobile Realising true, real-time collaboration across all stakeholders remains the biggest challenge on the job site – and the area where an integrated approach to data and processes in the cloud will have the greatest positive impact on project outcomes. The ability to leverage the cloud to quickly, easily, and inexpensively stand up and manage an end-to-end project controls platform enables the collaborative workflows and communication needed to improve productivity and margins. In a field where project participants are numerous, teams are highly distributed and project complexity increases with size, project team collaboration is critical to success. The cloud and mobile applications enable these stakeholders to access common project data and work together more efficiently in real time. 4D & 5D BIM There is a growing push to use building information modeling (BIM) technology, especially in the wake of 2016 UK government requirements mandating the use of BIM on government projects. The potential benefits of next-generation BIM approaches – including 4D (3D+schedule) and 5D (3D+schedule+cost) – are considerable, including enabling faster, less costly and higher quality construction, to improved lifecycle costs. As the technology supporting this approach improves, traditional processes will also be challenged. Increased adoption of higher levels of BIM will bring about the industrialisation of construction. The lines between the digital and physical world will be much less defined. 3D models will be used to create digital simulations of physical objects – similar to processes in manufacturing – and technology platforms will be used to provide an integrated view of an asset throughout the manufacturing life cycle. 4D and 5D BIM is the starting point of this evaluation. Internet of Things (IoT) Construction companies collect a large volume of data via systems such as ERP and project controls, but most of this information is collected and reported after the fact, rather than in real time. Such an approach limits the value of the data, with organisations forced to be reactive rather than proactive. The growing use of connected devices – aka the Internet of Things (IoT) – is changing that by enabling real-time data collection and proactive management. In IoT systems, thousands of devices will be able to connect wirelessly to routers. Those routers in turn pass data into the cloud, where we will be able to run fast analytics and leverage machines to make decisions. Those decisions will be communicated back to the devices, prompting the devices to take actions. All of this happens at astonishing speeds, and artificial intelligence (AI) will play a big role in the decision-making. Some of these calculations have the potential to be made at the device level, as well as in the cloud. Rather than act individually, devices will communicate with each other and create a collective system similar to an organism. We believe robots, drones, exoskeletons, and autonomous construction equipment are also part of the larger IoT ecosystem, as they will always be connected and provide data points to improve operations onsite. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will also allow us to better communicate and act on the information collected and to collaborate more effectively. The AEC world is experiencing a digital transformation. Early adopters and visionaries continue to test new technologies by forming partnerships with technology providers and other AEC companies. The promise of cheaper, faster, safer, and higher quality construction operations is not that far away – and its arrival will be hastened if these technologies quickly prove their value and begin to be adopted at a larger scale. We believe when industry companies embrace a centralised, modern platform to manage projects and data from end to end, they will then be able to fully reap the benefits of the emerging technologies that promise to disrupt the industry in 2018 and beyond. This article originally appeared in the February issue of UK Construction Excellence magazine.

The global construction industry continued to make progress last year on efforts to leverage new technology to tackle its longstanding and well-documented productivity challenges. That trend should...

Construction Project Management

Blending Lean and CPM Scheduling for a Competitive Advantage

This post was written by Mark Jenkins, Director of Product Strategy for Oracle Construction and Engineering.  The construction industry remains relatively strong, but that doesn’t necessarily mean builders have their houses completely in order. With project owners demanding faster builds and trade resources becoming increasingly scarce, construction companies are keen to identify operational changes that will enhance project execution and boost productivity, both to improve margins and create competitive advantages. The urgency for more efficient project management becomes even more apparent when one considers that approximately 70 percent of projects come in late and over budget, according to the Lean Construction Institute. That’s why some progressive construction firms are beginning to integrate two project scheduling/execution methodologies traditionally seen as separate: the Critical Path Method (CPM) and Lean Construction. CPM is a proven, longstanding scheduling approach that uses a project network diagram to identify and map relationships between activities that affect the project completion date. This approach is ideal for any project with a network of interdependent activities, making it the standard across construction and engineering projects. The methodology’s precursor, developed by DuPont in the early 1940s, was even applied to and associated with the success of the Manhattan Project. Lean Construction is a more recent concept that focuses on the task level of building activities and the precise coordination and communication required to meet project commitments. Based on the Lean Manufacturing methodology, this approach strives to continually improve quality and efficiency in construction processes by maximizing utilization of materials and labor, thereby eliminating waste and minimizing activities that do not add value. In fact, a Dodge Data & Analytics Owner Satisfaction & Project Performance study last year found high Lean intensity projects were three times more likely to complete ahead of schedule and two times more likely to come in under budget. Both approaches offer significant efficiencies and other project delivery benefits to construction companies. But Lean values often don’t align with CPM priorities, giving rise to tensions between scheduling camps. While CPM advocates view its methods as ideal to building and maintaining a proper schedule, Lean proponents argue that CPM doesn’t consider the level of detail to properly execute the field production work. However, limiting adoption to one or the other also means leaving important opportunities on the table that could help improve project performance. Innovative companies know this and recognize that, if they can successfully merge the two and harness the power of both approaches, they can achieve synergies with the potential to deliver significant, operational, competitive, and financial benefits. By blending the “rival” scheduling methodologies in a single platform provides, construction firms can have a holistic view of the project – i.e., both the long-view analytics they need to accurately determine project milestones and completion dates, as well as prescriptive roadmaps for how to reach project completion as efficiently and economically as possible. So how can a company bridge the gaps that have divided scheduling camps and held back the efficiencies and visibility of a combined approach? Technology holds the key. New tools, powered by cloud technology, enable full digitization of processes as well as collaboration across project participants and centralization of project planning information. By eliminating the paper processes of Lean Construction – the wall of Post-It notes on the trailer in the field – and digitizing all activity and task planning data in a shared workspace, such a platform eliminates the traditional silos and optimizes processes for all project teams.         In recent years, the industry has embraced standalone point systems that automate parts of the commitment and task management process. Companies embracing such tools have taken an important first step toward bringing new levels of efficiency to site-based Lean processes. But they need to recognize that this approach does not address the Lean/CPM divide, which means construction firms will still struggle with communicating accurate task status information to the enterprise project management system in a timely manner. The next stage in the evolution of scheduling systems is a generation of project management solutions that effectively bridge the gap between master schedulers and “last planners,” connecting the field office with the enterprise in ways that can deliver even greater efficiencies. In conclusion, builders today have tremendous business opportunity in front of them but must never lose sight of the need for optimal project management and delivery. To that end, it is time to harness the exponential power of cloud-based tools that combine the key capabilities of the time-tested CPM approach with those of Lean Construction. Such an approach has the potential to put builders ahead of the pack and deliver even better projects to their clients, while also improving their own bottom line. This article originally appeared in the January issue of Modern Contractor Solutions. Visit Oracle Construction and Engineering to learn more about how we can help you digitize Lean Construction and integrate Lean task management with the CPM schdule.

This post was written by Mark Jenkins, Director of Product Strategy for Oracle Construction and Engineering.  The construction industry remains relatively strong, but that doesn’t necessarily mean...

Trends and Insights

The Collapse of Carillion in the UK and Remedies for the Future

Since the collapse of Carillion just over a week ago, much has been said about what brought about its downfall, who is to blame, and what the implications will be for Carillion’s 20,000 UK employees and the estimated 30,000 firms in its supply chain likely to lose out on around £1BN for unpaid bills. It is undoubtedly a very sad situation for the UK construction industry. But now that it’s clear this whole sorry state of affairs exists, we need to move beyond the emotions of denial and resistance and jointly evaluate the situation, learn from it, and move on, stronger and wiser from the events that led to it in the first place. Before we can prescribe a remedy that will avoid, or at least reduce, the likelihood of others falling victim to this ailment, we first need to diagnose its causes. Setting blame to one side, let’s first look at the underlying conditions that led to this in the first place. Then, let’s look at how others have found ways to overcome these conditions. Finally, let’s look at a method by which the UK can get its house in order and by doing so bring renewed confidence to the industry, construction companies, their employees, their supply chain, and not least of all the UK taxpayer. The Underlying Conditions Tight margins have been commonplace in the UK construction industry for decades, and central to this has been the overly aggressive procurement policies of clients, including those within government departments. Construction companies have been forced to bid low – often below what they know to be economically viable – to win the work, with the aim of finding “creative” ways of turning a profit. This has been achieved most notoriously through change orders placed on the client, working within the constructs of the contract but in a way that benefits the main contractor to the detriment of the client as well as the subcontractors beneath them. Less obvious, however, is using the supply chain to essentially provide the cash flow, with client payment terms typically in the order of 30 days and the prime contractor offering 120 day terms to its supply chain, making them into “mini-banks” as well as essential service providers. No matter what, the idea that Tier 1 construction companies are too big to fail is a proven myth when, as in the case of Carillion, two or three major project failures can bring such a company down – and potentially many in its supply chain with it. How Others Have Tackled Such Problems The UK Government has itself recognised these conditions existed before the collapse of Carillion yet has been slow to do anything about it. In 2011 it proposed the Integrated Project Insurance model (IPI) where a “virtual company” is created for the duration of the works and where the main and subcontractors work in partnership. This collaborative and no-blame approach allows for joint ownership of risk, cost overruns, and quality issues during and beyond project completion.  In the US, the supply chain has a measure of protection in that a subcontractor that has worked on a construction project and hasn’t received payment has a claim against the client for the value of the work done. Indeed, to avoid such issues arising, many large corporations insist that their general contractor implement a system for the duration of the project that provides them transparency that work done has been paid for. In addition, the UK law known as the Construction Act as well as Australia’s Security of Payment Act are designed to help protect subcontractors against payment risks, including providing for certain rights in payment disputes. The efficacy of those measures is arguable, though, in terms of ensuring prompt payment. Another approach is that of project bank accounts. These ring-fenced bank accounts’ purpose is to act as a mechanism for payment on construction projects to ensure that contractors, subcontractors, and other members of the supply chain are paid on the contractually agreed dates. Getting the UK House in Order The current method of contracting major construction projects in the UK is broken and needs fixing. There are no winners to be found in the aftermath of the collapse of Carillion, only losers. Central to many of the projects Carillion was involved in were UK Government contracts; in other words, taxpayers are culpable for the way the government is contracting for major projects.  When this contracting policy fails, it is the taxpayers who suffer, from employees of the likes of Carillion, to employees of their supply chain companies that in turn fail, to taxpayers who will ultimately need to pay (again) for the clean-up.  Like many issues that require significant amounts of change to happen, it will be a combination of changes in people, processes and technology that will enable real success.  By “people,” I’m referring of course to the procurement culture that dominates UK construction. There needs to be a move away from “cheapest-is-best” and a move toward shared risk and reward contracts that incentivise efficiency gains and true collaboration.  By “process,” I’m referring to initiatives such as the Integrated Project Insurance model and other ways to bring about shared ownership of risks and drive greater openness, transparency, and collaboration from the owner through the main contractor and as far down into the supply chain as is necessary. Finally, the technology component refers to the means by which the whole of the supply chain  –  from the owner, through the main contractor and down through its supply chain – can work in a single system that improves visibility and brings them closer together. A system that operates in line with the billing cycle to show the subcontractors what they are expected to be paid for the month and what is required to be delivered to be paid. A system that removes the archaic and disjointed slow processes that exist today and are often used as a means for delaying payment, and replaces it with transparency, real-time information, and speedy payment. Finally, a system that provides a fair and equitable basis for the UK construction industry going forward that in turn offers better supply chain certainty, protects jobs, and enhances the return on taxpayers’ monies.    

Since the collapse of Carillion just over a week ago, much has been said about what brought about its downfall, who is to blame, and what the implications will be for Carillion’s 20,000 UK employees...

Construction Project Management

How Drones and Data are Improving Project Outcomes in Construction and Energy

For construction companies, visibility into status and activities is critical to project execution. One innovative company, Uplift Data Partners, is taking that fundamental concept to new (ahem) heights, helping construction and industrial organizations get a new level of visibility into their projects by enabling the capture and analysis of drone data to improve outcomes. Uplift will take part in a panel discussion on drone technology at Oracle Industry Connect in April. To preview that discussion, I recently sat down with Chief Operating Officer Andrew Dennison to explore how drones are being used to deliver actionable information (and savings) in construction and engineering. Burcin: What is Uplift Data Partners’ role in the commercial drone space? Andrew: Uplift is a drone data collection platform. Any company that wants to use drone data can plug into Uplift, and we’ll collect their drone data throughout the country. We began by flying construction sites, and are currently the leading AEC drone data capture company. We’ve used our expertise to serve real estate and insurance clients as well.  Burcin: What are some of the key uses of drones in construction and industrial settings? Andrew: Currently, the number one use case in construction is job site media updates – photos and videos showing progress on construction projects. And what’s coming next is using the point cloud –which is essentially a virtual 3D model of whatever the drone flew over – collected on construction sites to dive a lot deeper and gain some really interesting insight into project progress beyond just the video. Some of the first things that are coming out of these point clouds are relatively simple surveying-type measurements, such as cut and fills and volumes.  Another really interesting use case is what we call “overlay,” where you take the design of your foundation and you overlay it with the drone imagery to ensure that everything is lined up properly and check your underground utilities, concrete pours and the like. In the future, as the drone data gets more accurate and the software for processing this data gets more intelligent, we think that these three-dimensional models that you can collect can be compared to the building design, so then you can do some really interesting automated clash detection. The long-term goal for data processors in construction is a status bar that you can share that really shows the status of construction with regard to the schedule – and this should be entirely automated using only drone data. Again, we’re definitely seeing more interest from construction firms, including leading companies like Clayco, and expect that sector’s interest to grow.   In energy, the general use case is new inspection capabilities – particularly for utilities, which are doing regular inspections of their distribution, their substations, and their transmission lines throughout the year. Using a drone, you can inspect more towers per day. It’s much easier and faster to inspect using thermal cameras. And also it’s much safer. Burcin: Can you share some of the demonstrable benefits of drone use in construction today? Andrew: Let me share a couple of real-world examples studies showing how we’ve saved projects money. The first one – and one that we see quite often – involves a dispute between the surveyor, the soil engineer, the general contractor, and sometimes even the haul-off contractor about how much dirt is being hauled off and how much is getting charged. So weekly measurements using  drones can help provide an objective record and get everyone on the same page about how much earth is actually being moved. In one case we worked on, the drone data indicated that the haul-off contractor on a project was almost double charging, and that determination resulted in a savings of around $50,000. Another significant example involves using overlays. When reviewing an overlay the site design against the actual imagery of the site, we have been able to detect several elements that were misaligned, including concrete footings and underground utilities. If those mistakes hadn’t been detected by the drone, it could have been weeks or months before they were detected by someone out in the field. And every day an issue goes undetected, the change orders get bigger and bigger to fix the problem. In one example, we found a cold storage pipe that was connected to the wrong coupling – a discovery that the project team estimated saved more than $200,000, as they likely would not have found the issue for a few weeks. Andrew will join panelists from DPR Construction, ComEd, and drone company H3 Dynamics to explore these issues further during the Construction and Engineering Program at Oracle Industry Connect 2018, to be held April 10-11 in New York City. Visit the Oracle Industry Connect site to learn more and register to attend.    Read insights from the Oracle Industry Connect 2018 report here. Other relevant reading: Darren Bechtel on the Future of Construction Technology Finding Adventure in Project Management Making Capital Project Portfolio Management a Walk in the Park How Exoskeleton Technology is Helping Transform Construction and Industrial Work

For construction companies, visibility into status and activities is critical to project execution. One innovative company, Uplift Data Partners, is taking that fundamental concept to new (ahem)...

Construction Project Management

Empire State Building Stands as an Icon of Construction Innovation

New York City will soon play host to Oracle Industry Connect 2018, drawing hundreds of Oracle Construction and Engineering customers, thought leaders and visionaries to the city to share knowledge in a collective spirit of innovation, inspiration, and business transformation.  New York City is a fantastic conference locale for many reasons, not least of which is the importance of construction to the city’s economy and its identity. Home to numerous acclaimed structures and other achievements of architecture and urban planning, the city’s skyline is shaped by an impressive array of iconic buildings. Among these, perhaps none is as famous as the Empire State Building. But less well known is the story of this New York landmark’s construction – and the remarkable creativity, innovation, and collaboration that made it possible. A Monument to Innovation The Empire State Building, with its familiar Art Deco design, still dominates the New York City skyline more than 86 years after its completion. In addition to its place in history as one of the world’s tallest structures, it is renowned for its premier Midtown location, panoramic views, and role as the backdrop for countless films.  A deeper look at the building’s story reveals some fascinating insights into construction and engineering innovation ‒ sparked both by rivalry between two automotive titans and a series of formidable logistical and engineering challenges. The result is an enduring architectural treasure and testament to the power of determination, creativity, and collaboration. Let’s start with the rivalry. Jakob Raskob, a former vice president of General Motors, decided to go head to head with Walter Chrysler in his quest to build the world’s largest building. Time was of the essence as the Chrysler Building was already in the works. William F. Lamb, chosen to lead the Empire State Building design team, worked at breakneck speed, completing preliminary drawings for the 102-story building in just two weeks. To help ensure the stability and usability of the massive structure, he offered an innovative design that placed critical components, such as plumbing, mail chutes, and elevators, at the building’s core. The Empire State’s water delivery system – which includes more than 70 miles of pipe – is especially noteworthy and remains virtually unchanged today. The landmark’s water tanks are housed in the core of the building instead of on the roof, like most tall buildings in the city. The team also broke new ground when it came to fire protection and building strength by encasing the building’s steel frame and components in concrete. Iron oxide and linseed oil paint coated the steel frame components when they were manufactured. Builders on site then covered the frame with asphalt to prevent erosion when coated with the concrete layer. The Empire State Building also pioneered a form of just-in-time material delivery. The site was very compact and did not allow for storage of construction materials – which included over 10 million bricks. Therefore, everything that was delivered had to be used that day. To expedite construction, engineers created a railway system to move materials efficiently and rapidly around the site. The speed of the building’s construction is enviable even by today’s modern engineering and building standards. The Empire State Building was completed in 410 days – three months ahead of schedule – and at a pace of 4.5 stories a week. The transport system was essential to the building’s rapid construction. So, too, was the role of collaboration.  Architectural historian Carol Willis cites a “team-design approach that involved the collaboration of the architects, owners, builders, and engineers in planning and problem-solving, and the organizational genius of the general contractors,” as critical factors in the project’s success. This approach has proven to be as lasting the iconic building itself. Innovation continues to be the engine powering the evolution of project delivery – and today's innovations will take center stage during Oracle Industry Connect in April 2018. We invite you to join us at this event, where Oracle Construction and Engineering, our customers and other thought leaders will together explore the ideas, emerging technologies and cutting-edge approaches that are shaping the future of projects. For more information and to register, visit us here. Read insights from the Oracle Industry Connect 2018 report here.

New York City will soon play host to Oracle Industry Connect 2018, drawing hundreds of Oracle Construction and Engineering customers, thought leaders and visionaries to the city to share knowledge in...

Construction Project Management

Oracle Buys Aconex

Creates the World’s Most Comprehensive Cloud Offering for Managing All Aspects of Construction Projects Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Aconex Limited (ASX: ACX), a leading cloud-based solution that manages team collaboration for construction projects, for A$7.80 per share in cash. The transaction is valued at approximately US$1.2 billion, net of Aconex cash. The Aconex project collaboration solution digitally connects owners, builders and other teams, providing complete visibility and management of data, documents and costs across all stages of a construction project lifecycle. Aconex has been used in over $1 trillion in projects across 70,000 user organizations in over 70 countries. The Oracle Construction and Engineering Cloud already offers customers the industry’s most advanced solutions for planning, scheduling and delivering large-scale projects. Together, Oracle and Aconex will provide an end-to-end offering for project management and delivery that enables customers to effectively plan, build, and operate construction projects. “Delivering projects on time and on budget are the highest strategic imperatives for any construction and engineering organization,” said Mike Sicilia, SVP and GM, Construction and Engineering Global Business Unit, Oracle. “With the addition of Aconex, we significantly advance our vision of offering the most comprehensive cloud-based project management solution for this $14 trillion industry.” “The Aconex and Oracle businesses are a great, natural fit and highly complementary in terms of vision, product, people and geography,” said Leigh Jasper, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Aconex. “As co-founders of Aconex, both Rob Phillpot and I remain committed to the business and are excited about the opportunity to advance our collective vision on a larger scale, and the benefits this combination will deliver to our customers.” The Board of Directors of Aconex unanimously recommends the transaction. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2018, subject to Aconex shareholder approval and certain regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. More information about this announcement is available at www.oracle.com/aconex.

Creates the World’s Most Comprehensive Cloud Offering for Managing All Aspects of Construction Projects Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Aconex Limited...

Construction Project Management

How Exoskeleton Technology is Helping Transform Construction and Industrial Work

I have long been fascinated by robots and other technologies that help expand the tasks and activities that can be performed by human beings. What once was science fiction is now being used  in hospitals, in factories and on construction sites. During a session at Oracle Industry Connect 2018, Russ Angold of EksoWorks will explore the evolution of exoskeleton technology and the applications and use cases for such innovative technology in several sectors, where exoskeletons are improving productivity, quality and safety, and helping to extend workers’ careers. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Russ to discuss his interest in exoskeleton technology and how his company is making a difference in industrial and other settings today. Burcin: How did you develop an interest in robotics and exoskeletons? Russ: It all goes back to when I was a kid. When I would get toys for Christmas, I would tear them apart and then put them together again. I’ve always been curious about how things work. I also did some construction work in high school and college summers, and after earning my engineering degree, I went straight into robotics. And then in 2004, I got a chance to work on a project for DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), in which they were funding an exoskeleton for soldier load carriage. As soon as I saw the video for the project, I was hooked – it was just cool technology. Burcin: What are commercial exoskeletons and how do they work? Russ: Think of it as a wearable robot. Some are powered, some are passive, but it’s basically a structure that goes around the human body and provides some sort of augmentation. That could be on the medical side, for people who have lost abilities – for example, due to stroke or spinal cord injury –enabling them to stand up and walk again. In addition, in the construction or industrial environment, we’re thinking about how to give someone unlimited endurance or greatly enhance their strength. We’re trying to help workers perform tasks that are hard. Whether it’s operating heavy tools or working overhead or moving stuff around, we think there are a lot of applications there for exoskeletons. And eventually we see this moving into the consumer space as well, helping augment capabilities to keep people active. Burcin: Can you describe some current use cases for exoskeletons in the industrial/construction world? Russ: So we first launched our medical exoskeleton in 2012, and then about three years ago, we started seeing a lot of inquiries from the industrial/construction sector, saying: “Hey, if you can help someone who is paralyzed get up and walk again, why don’t we have exoskeletons on the jobsite?” So we started surveying companies to understand their needs, and what came back were three things people were really interested in. Number one, safety; how do we keep our workers safe? Number two was productivity; how do we keep workers productive on the job and keep projects on schedule? And the last one was the aging population. The entire workforce getting older and staying on the job longer, so how do you keep them healthy and able to work out in the field longer? And so we started looking at applications around those areas. One of our products is the zeroG Arm (check out this video to see it in action – ed.), which helps workers using heavy tools. On one jobsite, the zeroG Arm increased the number of overhead holes a worker could drill in a day from 80 to 400 – and still end the day feeling good. In addition, our EksoVest is being used by companies like Ford Motor Co. for assembly-type applications – enabling workers to perform overhead tasks without causing fatigue and injury. Burcin: In light of workforce changes and productivity demands, is it likely we will see robots taking over jobs currently performed by human workers in construction? Russ: If you look at the past 20 years and examine productivity in manufacturing versus construction, there’s a marked difference. It’s almost doubled in manufacturing, while in construction it’s stayed relatively flat. And I think that’s because in manufacturing, you have a known environment. It’s a factory; you can put a robot in and it can do the same task every day. It’s not using any intelligence; it’s just repeating the same process over and over again. But if you look at the construction job site today, it’s very dynamic – the environment changes every day. You’re adding walls, you’re adding floors, so it’s a very complex environment to navigate for robots. And the work that’s being done is very decision-intensive. Workers are constantly making decisions about how to do the next thing, how to do it right. So I think we’re decades away from anything close to a robot replacing that skilled worker. And what we’re trying to do with exoskeletons is to take that skilled worker’s experience and knowledge and leverage it with robotic enhancement so you get the best of both worlds. You get the human intelligence with the robotic endurance, and everyone wins. Russ will explore these and other ideas at length during a session at next year’s Oracle Industry Connect titled “Better, Stronger, Faster: The Evolution and Applications of Exoskeleton Technology.” Registration for the exclusive event, to be held April 10-11 in New York City, is now open. Visit the Oracle Industry Connect site to learn more about the Construction and Engineering program and to register today. Read insights from the Oracle Industry Connect 2018 report here. Other relevant stories: How Drones and Data are Improving Project Outcomes in Construction and Energy Darren Bechtel on the Future of Construction Technology Finding Adventure in Project Management Making Capital Project Portfolio Management a Walk in the Park

I have long been fascinated by robots and other technologies that help expand the tasks and activities that can be performed by human beings. What once was science fiction is now being used  in...

Key Dimensions of Capital Project Delivery Transformation

Earlier this month, I joined Oracle colleagues and 1,500 or so fellow project delivery professionals at the Project Controls Expo in London, where attendees were looking to find inspiration and ideas from peers – and to capture those nuggets of wisdom that could make a difference at their own organisations. It was great to see so many old friends and meet new ones to discuss what the future of project delivery will look like, our vision at Oracle Construction and Engineering (or as many of you still know it, Primavera), and how we are working together with customers to innovate and continue to drive greater productivity and improve project outcomes generally. Throughout the discussions at the Project Controls Expo, several themes were apparent: transformation, digitisation, supply chain collaboration, and embracing current best practices. This sat nicely with my own presentation, in which I explored how technology can be an engine for transformation and generate significant efficiencies in project delivery. Indeed, a McKinsey report I discussed in a recent post found that a comprehensive and efficient application of current technologies could reduce total project costs by more than 20 percent.  In terms of digitisation efforts, we have found that the key to driving real transformation in capital asset lifecycle management is embracing an approach that encompasses these key areas: Enterprise investment planning: This entails ensuring  that the management of portfolios, capital planning, funding, and project selection are done collaboratively across the entire organisation. Scope definition and stage-gate governance: Organisations can derive benefits from ensuring scope is developed and fully defined at the required level for each stage gate prior to approval. This helps ensure the construction phase involves as little change as possible. Integrated planning: A key best practice in successful project execution is integrating schedule and resource planning, and we have seen many organisations benefit from leveraging cloud technology to achieve the visibility, coordination, and control offered by such an approach. Supply chain governance and standardization: Because as much as 90% of a CapEx project is delivered by the supply chain, it’s critical that technology and process support how they interact with owners – and ensure these interactions follow a common/standard approach that reflects modern best practice. Cost controls: A portfolio approach is crucial to supporting this function, and as the supply chain is heavily engaged – and often remote – the approach (and supporting technology) should enable the needed level of collaboration. Change management: Change happens, so it must be managed effectively. A key role of technology is ensure that valid changes are processed quickly while spurious ones are easy to identify and reject – all while providing appropriate visibility into change management to stakeholders. Mobility: Ensuring connectivity between field and office can deliver a range of benefits, including increased productivity, enhanced visibility into status and issues, and improved/accelerated decision making. Near-real-time analytics: Bigger, better and faster data will enable stakeholders to manage projects new and better ways, including improve the predictability of outcomes and – critically – the repeatability of successes.  In discussions with numerous organisations at the event, it was clear that these areas resonated, and many are already on a journey to transform project delivery using this foundation. Should you want to learn more, my entire presentation from the Project Controls Expo is available to watch on demand. And be sure to read our other post from the expo, in which a colleague explores the innovative project management methodology embraced by the UK Infrastructure and Projects Authority, as well as the great work being done by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to prepare that city to host the Olympic Games. Finally, you can visit us at Oracle Construction and Engineering to explore how we are helping organisations plot their own course into the future of projects.  

Earlier this month, I joined Oracle colleagues and 1,500 or so fellow project delivery professionals at the Project Controls Expo in London, where attendees were looking to find inspiration and ideas...

Customer Success

How Oracle Helped Railroad CSX Modernize Its Project Portfolio Management

CSX Transportation, a leading railroad with 21,000 miles of track across the U.S. East Coast and eastern Canada, recently set out to modernize its project management processes and improve information sharing for $1.8 billion worth of annual capital and operating expenses projects.  "We wanted a modern toolset that would give us mobile capabilities," A.J. Erdman, CSX's director of project controls, explained during a presentation at Oracle Industry Connect earlier this year that is now available to view on demand.  Additional business requirements for the transformation initiative included having a platform that could manage the entire range of project types and enable enterprise-wide information sharing and reporting. The latter goal was critical for the various engineering groups, whose responsibilities range from renovating signal systems to installing new tracks, bridges, and tunnels. Individually, each discipline successfully performed its roles, but stakeholders from the various groups couldn't easily collaborate with each other when projects required combined efforts. "Part of the Projects Control Group's task is to make [these groups] speak to each other," Erdman says.  In light of these needs, CSX turned to Oracle's Primavera Unifier, Which Erdman characterizes as having become "the core of project control" in his group.  The company uses Primavera Unifier to document project scope, manage accounting and budgets, manage processes, perform time tracking, and serve as a master document repository. CSX pairs the platform with Oracle Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management for project scheduling.  Oracle Primavera Unifier also integrates with the Oracle E-Business Suite and other critical business systems. For example, thanks to links with the company's third-party cost-accounting system, Erdman and his staff can import detailed cost estimates into Oracle Primavera Unifier. "This makes (cost management) much easier for us and much more manageable for everyone on the project," Erdman says.  With the modern lifecycle management and scheduling capabilities provided by the Oracle Primavera applications, CSX achieved greater information sharing and project visibility across all engineering departments, as well as more accurate project estimates and improved planning and cash flow.  Watch the entire presentation from Oracle Industry Connect 2017 to learn more about CSX's successful project portfolio management transformation effort, including additional benefits realized and key lessons learned along the way for ensuring a successful technology rollout.  Registration for the next Oracle Industry Connect, to be held April 10-11, 2018, in New York City, is now open; visit the Oracle Industry Connect site to learn more.  The event will feature a host of sessions led by customers and other innovators from a wide range of industries, including engineering and construction, industrial manufacturing, oil and gas, travel and transportation, public sector, and utilities. With a focus on sharing best practices, these sessions will highlight how leading organizations are using Oracle Construction and Engineering solutions to drive business transformation.

CSX Transportation, a leading railroad with 21,000 miles of track across the U.S. East Coast and eastern Canada, recently set out to modernize its project management processes and improve information...

Buildings and Facilities

Primavera Helps the University of Texas System Manage Complex Projects

Officials at the University of Texas System don't just imagine the future, they're already embracing it. "We feel we are already building the world of tomorrow," says Chris Macon, manager of program control systems for the Office of Facilities Planning and Construction (OFPC). His remarks echoed the core theme of the Construction and Engineering Program at Oracle Industry Connect 2017, where his presentation was delivered.  That presentation, in which Macon explores how the OFPC is bringing the future to life with the help of Oracle's Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management and Primavera Unifier, is now available on demand.  Oracle's technology helps Macon's team oversee a $6.2 billion capital improvement program that's building modern classrooms, health care and research facilities, advanced computing labs, and other future-oriented resources. "Over the last decade, the OFPC completed about $8.6 billion in projects; Primavera Unifier and Primavera P6 were utilized in all of that," he says.  With Primavera P6, the OFPC monitors contractual compliance, creates progress reports, analyzes change proposals, and facilitates scheduling and planning responsibilities as well as claims analyses and forensics. Primavera Unifier supports funding and cost management, schedule of values, and collaboration among team members.  Macon says the reports his staff produces with these applications "is one of our greatest assets" because in addition to the latest data, the analyses can draw from 10 years of archived information for trends and historical insights. Reports help decision makers understand project cost-recovery, the value-engineering effort, and how project expenses compare to building programs by other organizations in Texas and the rest of the country.  The OFTC also optimizes funding using Oracle Primavera's reporting and analysis capabilities. For example, Macon notes that cost reductions are possible by delaying bond purchases until they're actually needed. "If we know what our funding sources are and what our cash flow is, we can predict when we will expend one source and when we need to start expending another," he explains. "The flexibility of the system allows us to do this."  For additional insights about how Oracle helps the OFTC improve project planning and delivery, watch Macon's full presentation from Oracle Industry Connect 2017.  Registration for the next Oracle Industry Connect, to be held April 10-11, 2018, in New York City, is now open; visit the Oracle Industry Connect site to learn more.  The event will feature a host of sessions led by customers and other innovators from a wide range of industries, including engineering and construction, industrial manufacturing, oil and gas, travel and transportation, public sector, and utilities. With a focus on sharing best practices, these sessions will highlight how leading organizations are using Oracle Construction and Engineering solutions to drive business transformation.  

Officials at the University of Texas System don't just imagine the future, they're already embracing it. "We feel we are already building the world of tomorrow," says Chris Macon, manager of program...

Customer Success

Innovation, Technology Drive Infrastructure Program Success

Earlier this month, I joined a contingent of Oracle Construction and Engineering colleagues in London at The Project Controls Expo, where we (and roughly 1,500 others) heard stories of successful project and program management at a variety of industries.  Central to many of these stories was the role innovation and technology play in delivering critical improvements in these areas.   The keynote speaker was Dr. David Hancock, construction director for the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) of the UK government’s Cabinet Office. Being a UK taxpayer myself, I was keen to hear how the IPA is going about ensuring the major projects it oversees are delivered on time and on budget. The IPA works across government with the aim of supporting the successful delivery of all types of infrastructure and major projects, ranging from railways, schools, hospitals and housing, to defense, IT and major transformation programs. Their aim is to continuously improve the way infrastructure and major projects are delivered to support government priorities and improve people’s lives. In particular, I was excited to hear that the greatest proportion and growth area of major government projects are infrastructure and construction related; of the 143 major projects overseen by the IPA, around half of the full-life costs of these projects are infrastructure related. Of the total budget of £455.5 billion, £222.5 billion are infrastructure related, with the next biggest being military at £143.3 billion. The IPA uses a methodology called the Delivery Confidence Assessment (DCA) to evaluate a project’s likelihood of achieving its aims and objectives. The IPA uses a standard five-point scale that ranges from green, where successful delivery is highly likely, to red, where delivery appears unachievable unless urgent, and often substantial, action is taken. Across the whole portfolio, more than 60% of projects by whole-life cost were rated amber or better, and the performance of projects is improving year-on-year with the support of more than 10,000 project management professionals within government.  This investment in people is underpinned by one of the IPA’s main priorities, which is to build capability in government by providing project leadership programs such as the Major Projects Leadership Academy (MPLA), where more than 400 professionals have enrolled and 250 have graduated to date. Following the keynote there were five program tracks throughout the day. Naturally, I followed those related to infrastructure projects - my pet subject -  freshly enthused by the knowledge that at least part of the taxable portion of my hard-earned income is being spent diligently. Next on my agenda was a presentation by Julie Owen, deputy executive officer-program management, program control, for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.  Here was an opportunity to hear how a major program of work is delivered by the organization responsible for the planning, design, build and operation of the second-largest US public transport system, which covers some 89 cities and an area of 1,433 square miles. With the 2028 Olympic Games being held in Los Angeles, the urgency of certain transit system projects is uppermost in many people’s minds – including that of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. He announced a new “28 by 28” initiative at the last meeting of the Metro Board of Directors to speed up 28 of its transit projects in an effort to ready the city to host the Summer Olympics. It was great to hear how the program management information system used by the LA Metro is delivered using Oracle’s Financials and Primavera solution set.  For such a high-profile program of works, providing visibility on progress to multiple stakeholders is key, with dashboards allowing information to be delivered for to internal and external (public) users alike. One area that really caught my attention was how LA Metro has used the risk management capabilities of Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management and extended them with user-defined fields and snapshots to keep a history of how risks have changed over time and by project milestone, thus allowing them a better understanding of drivers.  It was an engaging and insightful talk, and I’m pleased to note that Julie will join Oracle Construction and Engineering as a presenter at Oracle Industry Connect next April in New York. During her presentation, Julie will further explore LA Metro’s work and how the agency is leveraging Oracle technology to promote innovation and enhance project delivery. I attended two additional presentations: one by Niall Faris, the Head of Programme Controls at Thames Tideway, and another by the team at National Grid. Both were great examples of the types of infrastructure projects and programs hidden from the casual observer but crucial to people’s everyday lives. Passionate people delivering life-improving projects is what makes working in this industry hugely rewarding to me.

Earlier this month, I joined a contingent of Oracle Construction and Engineering colleagues in London at The Project Controls Expo, where we (and roughly 1,500 others) heard stories of...

Customer Success

Explore the Future of Project Delivery at Oracle Industry Connect 2018

What does the future of project delivery look like, and how do we – collectively – get there? What are the transformative ideas and innovations that are reshaping this landscape, enabling organizations to unlock new levels of productivity and operational effectiveness? What technologies and practices, nascent or still speculative today, are likely to be commonplace in 15 years? These and similar forward-looking questions will pervade the many educational sessions, hallway conversations, and solution-focused presentations during the Construction and Engineering (formerly Primavera) program at the upcoming Oracle Industry Connect 2018 event. Against this backdrop, Oracle Construction and Engineering will showcase our vision of the future and examine the collective effort by organizations and their technology providers to bring about the changes that will transform project and program management for the better. Oracle Industry Connect 2018 will be held April 10-11 in New York City. Registration for this exclusive event is now open; visit the Oracle Industry Connect site to learn more. Central to our program are more than 20 educational sessions led by customers and other innovators and thought leaders from an array of industries, including engineering and construction, industrial manufacturing, oil and gas, travel and transportation, public sector, and utilities. With a focus on sharing best practices, sessions will highlight how leading organizations are using Oracle's Construction and Engineering solutions to drive business transformation with a holistic approach to reducing costs, mitigating uncertainty, and improving outcomes. In addition, our program will feature several presentations exploring how various emerging technologies -  including exoskeletons, drones, and autonomous vehicles - can reshape construction and industrial project delivery. Attendees also will have ample opportunities to network with peers and to engage directly with Oracle leaders and solution experts. Oracle Industry Connect 2017 featured an range of insightful presentations from Oracle customers such as Burns & McDonnell and Alectra Utilitles, as well as customer panel discussions on the benefits of moving to the cloud and other topics. This year's lineup already includes a keynote presentation from McKinsey & Co. and customer presentations from such organizations as Skanska USA, DPR Construction, Kellogg, NextEra Energy, Swinerton, Turner, LA Metro, New York Parks and Recreation, PG&E, Rockefeller Group, and many more. For the latest lineup and agenda, and to register to attend, visit  Oracle Industry Connect 2018. Read insights from the Oracle Industry Connect 2018 report here. In addition, check out a short video to hear from some of our attendees on the value of Oracle Industry Connect, both to them personally and to their organizations.

What does the future of project delivery look like, and how do we – collectively – get there? What are the transformative ideas and innovations that are reshaping this landscape,...

Communication Meets Collaboration Through FALM

This post was written by Karolina Tyra, a senior solutions consultant at Oracle Construction and Engineering. She has spent more than a decade in project management, guiding companies through software implementations. What perceived roadblocks are keeping your projects from getting off the ground? Are you wondering where and how to find skilled workers to complete facility management projects? Does the risk exposure of a new project seem so overwhelming stakeholders can’t move forward on planned projects? To find solutions, it takes a well-informed strategy and greater visibility in the planning process. You need to know where to find in-house talent when you need them, and projects need higher visibility to reach completion. More often than you’d expect, leading firms have found problems in facility management come from a lack of communication and collaboration. However, by optimizing facilities operations though software solutions, projects become more predictable and successful. How? Modern facilities and asset lifecycle management, or FALM, solutions hold the key to optimized facilities operations. Perception and Reality Nearly half of construction firms — 47 percent — surveyed by research firm Aberdeen Group reported that a lack of available resources posed a top challenge in managing multiple construction projects. Coming in at a close second at 45 percent was a lack of project visibility. Those concerns were followed by increasing risk exposure across project portfolios and the inability to determine the profit potential of new projects. With large-scale and multiple projects, there’s a lot of room for error when it comes to planning and managing facility operations. Adding to the complexity of these large projects, organization owners must make sense out of complex and disparate data sets from cross-functional departments and other stakeholders. This leads to a lack of communication among departments and opportunities missed for streamlining processes and aligning resources to be available when they’re needed. Collaboration is Key A FALM solution lets contractors collaborate with owners in one system. Owners can convey to contractors what they need quickly and easily, while contractors track and share data. FALM solutions provide workflow capabilities to capture and collaborate on documents and approvals in one place, and mobile capabilities allow all stakeholders to work together from any location, meeting today’s fast-paced work environment. Implementing a modern FALM solution should allow the enterprise to manage its entire portfolio of facilities and its innerworkings from one central solution. That means property management of owned and leased properties, preventative maintenance and cost control all in one place, where all stakeholders can access information. A portfolio of technology that supports this level of collaboration and integration should have an information-rich, fully transparent planning process. Whether the project involves new construction, leasing or renovating an existing property, the solution should help project leaders prioritize and budget during the conception and design phases. Once the project is approved, the procurement process, including the bidding and tendering of contract awards, should be integrated into the solution for better visibility and communication with contractors and stakeholders. As the project gets underway, the solution should also give stakeholders a single point of reference for work schedules, contracts and documents, to ensure resources are on the right projects at the right time, and to ensure projects are on schedule and within budget. If delays arise, the solution should be able to identify the problem and its potential impact on the schedule, and then offer workarounds to keep the project on track. This can only be achieved with a single, communicating solution that’s shared among all participants. A successfully completed facility needs to operate as efficiently as possible. Managing real estate contracts, lease administration, payments and commissioning should all be managed from a single platform. With this kind of visibility and cost transparency, owners can forecast each facility’s yearly revenue and expense budgets, allowing them to capitalize on operating investments. Finally, the FALM solution should help owners maintain and optimize the real estate investment. This includes the ability to assess the condition of all equipment and take immediate action when there’s a problem, or better yet, prevent the problem from occurring in the first place. It should also be able to help owners plan space more efficiently and optimize occupancy levels. Automating and standardizing these processes at a company’s facilities around the globe is not a simple task, but an integrated FALM platform can make the process more streamlined, predictable and manageable, while driving down operating costs.   A Unifying Strategy To see a modern FALM at work, consider a global real estate developer and management company that knows firsthand the value of a FALM platform. The company manages more than US$1 billion in projects at any given time, covering 550 buildings across the globe, 60 percent of which are leased and 40 percent are owned. More than 1,000 real estate and facilities personnel manage those projects, which represent 10,000 lines of operating budget. Before the company developed a unified facilities management strategy, each stakeholder group used its own disparate systems, such as spreadsheets, ERP software and manual email and phone calls to communicate. Meanwhile, each facility used its own work order management and lease management systems that weren’t connected to third-party vendors’ systems for information and reports. To address this lack of aggregation, the company deployed a unifying FALM solution that brought together all the components of a real estate and facilities management project — assets, maintenance, space, capital projects, environment sustainability, real estate and lease management. In February 2015, the company went live with Phase 1 of its implementation at 40 sites in North America, focusing on assets classification and preventative maintenance procedures. Assets across all facilities are now classified by their criticality, location and condition. Job plans and procedures for those assets are documented and standardized, and work order histories are housed in one central location. A single platform for this critical data allowed the company to better communicate and plan for the work to be done and to complete projects more quickly and efficiently. Next, the firm set its sights on a “Big Bang” rollout of the budget management module to all its sites. Once implemented, each project's budget workflow is followed through every step of the process, from creation through revisions, approvals, GVP authorization and inclusion in the current year’s budget. Monitoring budgets every step of the way keeps spending visible and under control, and helps the company reduce risk exposure. Phase 2 also included corrective and preventative maintenance solutions. Work orders are easily entered, and tasks can be monitored and resolved more quickly. Suppliers of the assets are located and contacted through a supplier management module that is linked with maintenance management. Phase 3, now in progress in Europe, adds environment, health and safety process to all facilities. In 2018, the company will roll out facility inspections and condition assessments where environmental inspections and compliance issues are logged, and action items are identified, monitored and resolved. As this real estate and facilities management company moves toward more mobile devices to manage its portfolio of projects, the FALM solution will go along with workers, who can perform inspections, add to and update work orders, access documents and collaborate with stakeholders from the field. The IOT Imperative Communication and collaboration in the future will rely heavily on the Internet of Things, or IoT. Facilities managers across many business environments are increasingly adapting their building maintenance strategies in response to IoT, which involves placing sensors on critical assets that can collect and feed data to a centralized server. The combined data can then be analyzed and acted upon. IoT has the potential to significantly increase efficiency when it comes to maintenance management and countless other areas of facilities management. Some 60 percent of surveyed FM professionals predict that IoT will impact their building and maintenance policies within the next year, and 65 percent of respondents are planning to increase investment in IoT-related technologies, including advanced building technologies that manage and glean insights from new data sets, according to a study commissioned by Schneider Electric. This transition won’t happen overnight, however, and real estate and facility managers must prepare their FM solutions for IoT. A FALM with built-in IoT cloud options will be able to integrate all IoT devices into the FALM solution without having to integrate third-party solutions. Something to look for in end-to-end facilities lifecycle management solution is the ability to provide visibility, transparency and collaboration across all parties involved in every phase of the lifecycle process — from capital planning, project delivery and execution, to real estate and lease management to operations and maintenance. A cloud layer makes the system available from anywhere and helps prevent data loss issues that may arise from having everything on an internal server system. An analytics layer and advanced IoT technologies will also bring facilities management into the new digital world. Look for a system with these layers already integrated into the cloud and equipped for complete collaboration and communication. FALM can help project leaders get to the truth behind perceived roadblocks and help stakeholders answer the question, “What if?” This article originally appeared in FMJ, the official publication of the International Facility Management Association. Read the digital version of the latest issue of FMJ here and learn more about optimizing facilities operations by listening to a podcast from IFMA and reading about Oracle's FALM solution.

This post was written by Karolina Tyra, a senior solutions consultant at Oracle Construction and Engineering. She has spent more than a decade in project management, guiding companies through software...

Customer Success

Digital Transformation in the Spotlight at Oracle Future of Projects Event

In my last post, I discussed the importance of digital transformation to unlocking significant productivity gains and other improvements in the area of project delivery. That concept emerged as a central theme at our recent Future of Projects event in London, where leading global and European organisations gathered to hear peer presentations on successful business transformation through digitisation. One such organisation, UK Power Networks, explored how Primavera solutions from Oracle Construction and Engineering have supported a key transformation program for the utility. Liam O’Sullivan, business transformation programme director for UKPN, explained that his organisation’s project delivery transformation journey was part of a larger organisational imperative to drive greater shareholder value. By enabling UKPN to manage cost, contracts (NEC3), schedule, and scope, while also facilitating collaboration across the supply chain, the use of an integrated solution enabled the project controls team to manage data holistically. In addition to driving new efficiencies, this approach has enabled more effective management decision making, O’Sullivan said. Another presenting organisation, engineering services company Assystem, examined both how it has transformed its own projects business as well as why it views the Primavera solution set as the ideal way for its customers to manage their projects and programs. Christian Jeanneau, senior vice president for Paris-based Assystem, said during his presentation that the ability to integrate cost and schedule and to reduce claims through effective change management processes are key components to driving improvements in project delivery. In addition, such changes can reshape how executive management views the role of technology in delivering better outcomes, as access to near-real time analytics enables better decision making. A presentation from multinational retail company IKEA explored how that organisation has leveraged Primavera Unifier to manage more effectively its current and forecast property portfolio. Unifier supports the management of IKEA’s CapEx budget across this ever-growing portfolio through all aspects of cost control as well as enforcing procurement best practices. Key changes include standardising processes, increasing visibility, and supporting governance, explained Kenneth Percy, Global Construction Cost Manager. In addition, one Future of Projects presentation examined both the transformation of project delivery processes – and the potential to transform how the world produces energy. Sébastien König, schedule responsible officer, ITER Organisation, discussed his organisation’s pioneering work managing a multinational effort to create the world’s largest tokamak, which is a device designed to prove the viability of nuclear fusion – the same process that powers our Sun – as a large-scale source of carbon-free energy. This is no mean feat.  The ITER program involves 35 nations and comprises around 250 interlinked projects covering many hundreds of thousands of activities spread over decades. With such a complex project and diverse, far-flung group of stakeholders, effective schedule management is critical to managing against the project’s timelines and budget. Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management plays a key role by ensuring all parties are working in a common technology while at the same time helping manage the complexities arising from information sharing governance and other stakeholder collaboration challenges, König said. The above represent but a few of the presentations and themes from Future of Projects. Watch this space for additional insights from the event and its participants.    

In my last post, I discussed the importance of digital transformation to unlocking significant productivity gains and other improvements in the area of project delivery. That concept emerged as a...

Energy and Resources

Digital Transformation: Moving Beyond Mere Change to Improve Capital Projects

A recent McKinsey report makes deceptively simple-seeming assertion: “Digital technology is disrupting capital projects. Companies that want to emerge as leaders must transform their organizations now.” McKinsey’s choice of words here is key. To be sure, calls for change in engineering and construction are nothing new; organisations have long sought solutions to the stubborn problem of flat productivity. But as this history underscores, more change isn’t what’s needed. As McKinsey avers, organizations must transform. Whereas “change” suggests incremental movement away from a former state that could be restored, “transformation” entails organisations fully reimagining how they operate – and reinventing themselves accordingly.  Technology is the engine for that transformation. McKinsey found that as technology solutions disrupt project management, “companies that do not innovate will find themselves at a disadvantage.” The report notes that a recent McKinsey analysis found that current digital technologies, applied “comprehensively and efficiently,” could reduce overall project costs by as much as 45 percent. McKinsey also highlighted key areas where organisations could focus digital transformation efforts, including project portfolio planning. Noting that software can assist decision making – for example, comparing projected outcomes for two potential portfolios – McKinsey said that “in one portfolio of small to mid-size projects, a company determined it could achieve potential savings of 20 to 30 percent.” The report, titled “Navigating the Digital Future: The Disruption of Capital Projects,” highlights several other areas ripe for digital transformation and the potential benefits: Back-office integration Savings of 10-20 percent can be achieved by deploying digital tools in strategic planning, portfolio management, and project controls Digital collaboration Savings of 5-15 percent can be realized from using digital tools for stakeholder engagement, capturing lessons learned, and providing a common version of the truth On-site execution Savings of 5-20 percent can be achieved by deploying digital tools in onsite progress and productivity, contractor management, claims management, etc. Digital transformation is critical to making a long-term impact on productivity within an organisation, full stop. And the proper selection of technology will have a lasting effect on the organisation’s ability to perform. What we have seen in the industry to date is a mixed approach. Some organisations are employing a mixture of digital tools from various vendors and relying on IT to manage the interaction of data. Others are moving more toward a minimum vendor strategy and requiring those vendors to ensure the data models work for the organisations. To ensure the maximum benefits are realised, it makes sense to adopt an approach that ensures digital technologies are additive in terms of benefits derived rather than detrimental due to technology differences or data impacts. The ultimate key to success in delivering digital technologies into organisations, from my perspective, is executive sponsorship. Lacking that support, transformation efforts are likely to fail as they will be perceived as mere change (as defined above) rather than as the new way of operating. Further, is only through executive sponsorship that true alignment of business requirements and IT needs can be achieved. Like McKinsey, we recognize organisations’ need to transform to realize real, lasting productivity improvements. That thinking has driven our development of cloud-based capital projects solutions supporting collaboration, visibility, integration and efficiency throughout the project lifecycle. Step changes and half measures haven’t worked – it’s time for true transformation to drive engineering and construction forward.

A recent McKinsey report makes deceptively simple-seeming assertion: “Digital technology is disrupting capital projects. Companies that want to emerge as leaders must transform their organizations...

Energy and Resources

Project Delivery Improvements Can Help Utilities Protect Margins Amid Challenges

Utilities continue to face an array of challenges that bring new costs and threaten both top- and bottom-line performance. Significant macro forces include: carbon-reduction and other operational changes arising from the Paris Agreement; an increasing global shift away from coal and toward solar, wind, hydro, and other renewable energy sources; and an attendant growing emphasis on distributed energy resource (DER) systems and technology such as smart grids. In light of this shifting and disruptive landscape, utilities are struggling to prioritize new investments and ensure that initiatives will positively impact not only customer/stakeholder satisfaction and expectations but also increase shareholder value. Amid these challenges, utilities are embracing some innovative approaches to remain healthy, safe, and profitable. Let’s examine some of these best practice areas and how they benefit the industry. Portfolio Balance As the macro challenges outlined above impact utilities, there has been a drive to use whatever investment funding is available to deliver value across a broad range of projects to ensure that customer satisfaction and shareholder value are maintained. This cuts across all aspects of a business, from CapEx to OpEx to IT and so on. Technology plays a key role here, enabling organizations to make smarter, data-driven decisions about how to allocate increasingly limited resources to maximize return on investment. Operational Efficiency Over the past few years, operational efficiency has been crucial to remaining successful despite the trying conditions in the industry. This focus continues to be a driving force, as organizations look across the enterprise for opportunities to improve efficiency to reduce overhead or increase revenue. Particular areas of focus include governance and standardisation, cost and change management, and supply chain control. Digitization Digital technologies have been embraced more fully in areas like IoT, but there has been less adoption of tools to help with the critical areas of delivering assets. That is changing, as organisations wake up to how various technologies (cloud, mobility, location-based services, collaboration and real-time analytics) can enhance project delivery – and, by extension, margins. So how are those three pillars playing out in practice at utility companies? We see significant potential for improvement across all three arising from a few key areas of focus. Focus: Capital Planning Improving how projects are selected can deliver upwards of 15% savings, according to McKinsey research. In our experience working with utilities, best practice entails capturing project/investment ideas from across an organisation (not just the executive suite), and then modeling options to help select the projects that will deliver the most value for the least investment.  We have baked such capabilities into our capital planning solution, which enables organisations to maintain a balanced portfolio that considers the status of in-flight projects as well as market changes and larger economic conditions. For example, a utility can monitor initiatives and shift priorities and resources should changing economic indicators signal that a once-promising project is unlikely to deliver expected value. A practical example: One of our customers uses our portfolio management solution to model multiple economic scenarios (i.e., sources, rates, value, etc.) against portfolios of selected projects. This has helped the organisation effectively predict which projects will drive the most successful outcomes across a wide range of conditions. Focus: Sustaining Projects/Small Caps (The New Normal) The utilities industry is no longer looking at a few major projects to deliver, focusing instead on an array of smaller projects. Driving that shift is organisations’ desire to use what limited investment funds they have to increase production without exposure to the risks and delivery challenges common to major projects.  These small projects may range in value from tens of thousands of dollars to $10 million or more, with delivery timelines of couple of weeks to a couple of years. The challenge with such small projects is to ensure visibility, planning, controls, and executive oversight, while still allowing them to be managed simply and effectively – in contrast to the often-complex controls needed to manage a major project. Our capital projects and programs solution (SaaS/on premise) is a highly flexible application that provides a range of interfaces – both web and mobile – to meet the needs of all project stakeholders (from executives, to project managers and engineers, to the supply chain) regardless of project/portfolio size. For small projects, organisations can take advantage of capabilities such as templates, mobile field status updates, field-initiated change requests to track potential budget impacts, and resource (labour, equipment, and materials) tracking. They also can track actuals and trends in near real time (versus waiting weeks or months for invoices to flow in), and perform analysis to drive management and executive action in near real time as well. We have seen the practical impact of this approach. One of our clients reported saving 10% to 15% on their portfolio of almost a half a billion dollars a year.  Focus: Outages With the reduction in investment funding, existing assets are being used to the maximum. But eventually all assets require extensive offline maintenance (outages) to optimize process and production. And while significant elements of an outage on any one asset are the same as the last one and the one before that, more than two-thirds of organisations still fail to deliver these outages on time, in large part due to lack of planning and failure to capture lessons learned in previous events. What’s more, while these maintenance projects are intended to improve efficiencies, in many cases poor project management yields the opposite effect. Delivery delays from scope creep, inefficient resource management and other factors can lead to increased cost, production and revenue losses, diminished shareholder value, and regulatory non-compliance. Our outage solution supports the business transformation under way at many utilities organisations as they look to improve management of outage events to minimize both their duration and their impact on revenues. To ensure that an outage is delivered well, organisations need to fully understand, manage and control the scope of the event, including: Resource requirements The procurement plan Purchase lead times Contractor and engineering requirements Status and daily cost They must also be able to manage changes throughout the event, both for additional/late scope and emergent works. Our solution was designed to support the various processes that help ensure outages are delivered on time and budget, helping some organisations to save upwards of 5% on both time and cost across a range of outage events.

Utilities continue to face an array of challenges that bring new costs and threaten both top- and bottom-line performance. Significant macro forces include: carbon-reduction and other operational...

Customer Success

Alectra Utilities Looks to the Cloud to Scale Program Management After Merger

Organizations around the world are moving critical business functions to the cloud to improve operational efficiency and project delivery. One such enterprise is Alectra Utilities Corp., which was formed by the 2017 merger of four energy companies and now ranks as the second-largest municipally owned electric utility in North America. The Canadian utility relies on Oracle’s Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management running in Oracle’s cloud environment to manage its enterprise project portfolio management activities. Zoran Dabic, Alectra’s director of program delivery, discussed the benefits his organization realizes from using Primavera P6 EPPM in the cloud during a presentation at the recent Oracle Industry Connect 2017. Dabic’s full presentation is now available on demand. In the run up to the merger, Alectra’s leadership realized they’d be seeing a dramatic increase in projects - from about 500 to more than 2,000 per year - after the combination. They also understood that the combined organization’s internal IT wouldn’t have the resources to deploy and manage a traditional on-premise EPPM solution that could serve the larger user base. Alectra's Zoran Dabic discusses how Primavera P6 EPPM helps the utility improve program management Using Primavera P6 EPPM in the cloud offered a range of benefits that would address these and other challenges. To handle the increased demands on Alectra’s project controls office, the cloud solution offered new capabilities, such as P6 Team Member for mobile devices and Primavera Analytics for advanced program management. Alectra staff simply turn on these capabilities as needed in the cloud, rather than having to implement them over several months, as would have been the case with an on-premise solution, Dabic says. Enhanced analytics has been one of the biggest payoffs from moving to Primavera P6 EPPM in the cloud, he reports. Financial managers can now better utilize assets thanks to a clearer understanding of how many projects are in the pipeline and their status. In addition, supply chain managers can ensure they have the right parts in the right places at the right times, which reduces inventory costs. “Analytics takes the application to the next level and provides substantial incremental value,” Dabic says. “For us going into a large merger, that tool alone really brought this solution to the forefront for us.” View the complete on-demand webcast to learn more about how Alectra has been able to scale its program management and explore the other benefits it has realized from the cloud.

Organizations around the world are moving critical business functions to the cloud to improve operational efficiency and project delivery. One such enterprise is Alectra Utilities Corp., which was...

Construction Project Management

Oracle Prime Helps Improve Construction Team Collaboration, Productivity in the Field

Construction firms increasingly are focused on revving up productivity, especially in the field. And Oracle Construction and Engineering is focused on helping the industry do just that, having recently launched a cloud service that streamlines jobsite processes to boost productivity from project setup to closeout. In the following interview, Mark Enstrom, Oracle Construction and Engineering director of product strategy, explains how Oracle Prime Projects Cloud Service can help construction teams work more efficiently and how it leverages the power of the cloud to facilitate true collaboration and improve accountability. Q: Which construction team members benefit can benefit the most from this new cloud service? A: Whether it’s a project manager, a site superintendent, a subcontractor foreman, or a tradesperson, Oracle Prime helps everyone become more productive. Oracle Prime allows field teams to escape the traditional paper chase associated with managing critical materials, such as construction documentation, issue-tracking records, punch lists and RFIs. All materials are stored centrally in the cloud, giving stakeholders ready access to the latest and most accurate information. With Oracle Prime’s field collaboration tools, project managers and field teams can import and centrally publish drawing sets and track issues directly with electronic files. Automated controls accurately manage versioning. In the cloud, all stakeholders can see the current status of every issue, punch-list item, and RFI. Q: How do these features fit in with Oracle Prime’s other capabilities? A: Oracle Prime Projects Cloud Service is a complete, cloud-first project management platform that enables team collaboration and real-time visibility across the project lifecycle. Oracle Prime Projects integrates management of project portfolios, schedule, Lean construction tasks, resource, cost, field management, documents and risk to deliver complete project success. Q: What other ways does Oracle Prime Field address the unique needs that arise at jobsites? A: Mobile technology is crucial in the field, and Oracle offers Oracle Prime Field for iOS, a mobile app that makes it easy for teams to access vital information while on a jobsite. At the end of the shift, they can use the app to sync back to the cloud to update the day’s progress and highlight any open issues for other stakeholders to address. In addition, configuration tools within Oracle Prime Field let project teams tailor the application to the specific processes they’ve designed for each job. This ensures that Oracle Prime Field conforms to established processes rather than making the processes conform to the application. Learn more about the field management and other project success capabilities of Oracle Prime Projects Cloud Service by viewing our on-demand webcast, What’s New in Oracle Prime 17.7.

Construction firms increasingly are focused on revving up productivity, especially in the field. And Oracle Construction and Engineering is focused on helping the industry do just that,...

Customer Success

Why Oracle Construction and Engineering Customers Look to the Cloud

Running mission-critical applications in the cloud offers a host of significant business benefits, according to participants in a panel discussion called “Shift to SaaS” at Oracle Industry Connect 2017. That presentation, now available on demand, features several executives discussing their organizations’ successes in improving project outcomes with cloud-based solutions. Panelist Rick Morris, senior vice president, construction at Bell Partners, explained that the commercial real estate investment firm is using Oracle Textura Payment Management Cloud Service to improve subcontractor payment. Textura Payment Management automates invoicing, compliance, and payment processes for greater efficiency and visibility. Having a cloud-based application benefits the company by making its staff more efficient. “I didn’t want people to do IT…I wanted them to do their work, to manage projects, and have visibility into projects,” Morris said. He added that because the SaaS application can be accessed by authorized users wherever they are working, stakeholders can collaborate much more effectively. For example, if a billings issue arises, field staff and project management teams can all see and discuss the relevant information. “They can respond very quickly and everybody doesn’t have to come to the same room to meet.” Collaboration is Key John Hartman, director at global engineering firm CH2M Hill, said his organization uses Oracle’s Primavera Unifier, in the cloud to enable collaboration on large projects. “Collaboration is a huge part of what drives the value that the client and stakeholders will see,” Hartman says. “It’s not just about costs or schedules; it’s doing the right things at the right times, and that all ties back to collaboration. If we can put it into the cloud, it allows everybody to collaborate more seamlessly.” For example, CH2M manages a program with a government agency that involves about 350 projects a year. “We use Unifier for change management,” Harman explains. “This allows the client to request changes and for us to respond in a consistent way,” which enhances the level of trust for both parties.  Another panelist, Zoran Dabic, director of program delivery at Alectra Utilities Corp., discussed business benefits the company has realized from moving to Oracle Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management in the cloud. The panel was moderated by Andy Verone, vice president of product and industry strategy for Oracle Construction and Engineering.  To hear the full, detailed discussion, including recommendations on measuring costs and ROI, view the entire panel discussion on demand.  

Running mission-critical applications in the cloud offers a host of significant business benefits, according to participants in a panel discussion called “Shift to SaaS” at Oracle Industry...

Construction Project Management

How Burns & McDonnell Improved Management of Client Projects

For most organizations, continual improvement is key to sustaining success, even when that means leaving behind a valuable resource that supported growth for more than a decade. This is a lesson that two executives of Burns & McDonnell, an architecture, engineering and construction firm, discussed in depth during a presentation at Oracle Industry Connect 2017 that is now available on demand. In their talk, “Blueprint for Success: How Burns & McDonnell Upgraded Program Management,” the executives explore the business drivers, implementation steps, and benefits realized in the company’s move from Oracle Primavera Contract Management to Oracle’s Primavera Unifier, a cloud project lifecycle solution for capital planning, project delivery and cost control.  After describing the various enhanced capabilities within the cloud application that convinced Burns & McDonnell to make the upgrade, Tarkan Yuksel, project controls manager, explained Unifier’s business process capabilities, which he calls the “building blocks” of the application.  For program management, the key is to bring people, process, and software to a client, enabling Burns & McDonnell to effectively blend in with the client’s delivery methods. “I go to one client this week it is a completely different environment from the client I go to the next week,” he said. “BPs are straightforward and allow for further configuration for specific programs,” he noted. The execs also offered examples of specific business processes developed, how they were designed, and the results they produced. “We can create new efficiencies,” said Christopher P. O'Grady, technology consulting department manager. “A lot of benefit comes from giving users the ability to do bulk editing and import their own data.”  The organization also needed to be able to scale to manage multiple projects in a multitenant environment as well as to manage across multiple complex client programs. “Unifier is awesome – I can create amazing solutions all the time,” O’Grady said. “Ultimately, we can integrate with almost anything.” To learn more about the benefits Burns & McDonnell realizes from using Oracle’s Primavera Unifier, as well as the presenters’ best practice recommendations for implementation, view the entire presentation on demand.   

For most organizations, continual improvement is key to sustaining success, even when that means leaving behind a valuable resource that supported growth for more than a decade. This is a lesson that...

Trends and Insights

How to Launch a Successful Project Portfolio Management (or Any Technology) Initiative

Organizations face increasing pressure to shrink technology budgets and get more out of smaller investments. Technology initiatives are now just another initiative to be evaluated like every other, whether a new building, product or service offering; employee development; or any other core investment. To navigate through this new landscape for getting technology initiatives launched, it is important to associate your effort with your organization’s objectives. Ideally, you target objectives that will be more readily achieved by executing your initiative. And these objectives, when accomplished, will deliver some combination of increased revenue, optimized capital, reduced costs, and mitigated risks. These objectives transcend every organization size as well as industry, including not-for-profit and government organizations.   Another set of objectives center around staff productivity and culture. These objectives are important - even necessary - and should be considered in every technology initiative. However, they cannot be the sole focus, because staff productivity is a continual quest irrespective of technology. When a technology initiative can enable revenue, capital, cost, and/or risk improvements, you will find that executives will be eager to sponsor the initiative. Remember that organizational objectives are set by executives. They spend their time creating them, monitoring them, and worrying about their success. As such, funding for these initiatives will rise to the top of the priority list. Such initiatives also receive top implementation talent, both due to prioritization and because staff and contractors recognize their importance. Careers are defined by these kinds of initiatives. Finally, when employees involved in the initiative understand its impact, they are much more likely to accept change.  The Methodology The next step is to package up your initiative definition for executive approval. In most organizations, investments in technology are decided by a committee. These committees meet periodically to hear pitches from initiative teams that they either approve, table for more details (a re-try), or reject. Most often these investment committees will react positively to a complete explanation of the initiative. The key is the content of this explanation, i.e., the story. This story should contain four chapters, as detailed in this chart:  When an initiative is presented via this framework -  in its entirety - it is much more likely to be approved. In the pursuit of gathering this documentation, most often initiative planning teams understand their capabilities and dream of a better tomorrow. However, this focus limits the investment committee to understanding capabilities that have no context – a showstopper. The next most common area of focus in initiative planning is the creation of a business case because planning teams are told they need one. The benefits of a business case that are not mapped to organizational objectives gain interest from the investment committee but are not prioritized. So, spend time mapping your initiative to organizational objectives to align with executive priorities. Last, but often least: When you communicate a compelling objectives-capabilities-benefits story to the investment committee, an executive will ask, “How fast can we get this?” You’d better have an answer. Otherwise, your meeting will end with at best limited funding and worst a dismissal with, “come back when you have the answer.” And good luck getting back on the meeting schedule. Develop an implementation roadmap that delivers quick, quantifiable wins so that you are ready for the question and able to gain approval for your initiative. When crafting a Project Portfolio Management or other technology initiative for your organization, spend the time to assemble a complete definition of your initiative. By doing this work, you are much more likely to gain executive sponsorship, adequate funding, appropriate resources and user acceptance. This will lead to the highest probability of initiative success and long-term impact on your organization. This framework has been developed primarily based on The Open Group, TOGAF, v9.1 set of standards for Business Architecture. And it has been utilized by over 100 organizations across the globe as part of the Oracle Construction and Engineering Value Program.  

Organizations face increasing pressure to shrink technology budgets and get more out of smaller investments. Technology initiatives are now just another initiative to be evaluated like every other,...

Public Infrastructure

Public Transportation Community to Connect, Learn at Oracle Virtual Summit

A day of transportation industry insights – no transportation needed! Oracle Construction and Engineering on Sept. 13 will host the Virtual Transportation Summit 2017, an online conference that will bring the public transportation community together to share knowledge and best practices for project and program management success. As this is an online event, attendees can participate using their computers and mobile devices, all from the comfort of their preferred  learning environment. Presentations will be led by Oracle Construction and Engineering customers and transportation officials from around the country, who will relate success stories and detail lessons learned in their own efforts to improve project and program management outcomes. Presenters include: Julie Meyer, Construction Area Engineer, Ohio Department of Transportation Matthew Wahl, Senior Project Manager, Transportation Department, HNTB Julie Owen, Program Control, Program Management, Metro Los Angeles Laura Laudon, Project Management System Administrator, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Dallas Ballmer, Engineer, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development The event will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern on Sept. 13; the full, detailed agenda is here. In addition to joining interactive, customer-led presentations, attendees can engage with Oracle solution experts about how to improve business processes related to key areas in transportation, including governance, capital planning and the role of mobile technology. They also will be able to connect in a group setting or one-on-one with fellow members of the transportation community to learn how their peers are leveraging Oracle Infrastructure Lifecycle Management solutions to deliver successful programs. Don’t miss this valuable – and easy – opportunity to connect with and learn from your transportation peers – register today.     

A day of transportation industry insights – no transportation needed! Oracle Construction and Engineering on Sept. 13 will host the Virtual Transportation Summit 2017, an online conference that will...

Customer Success

Airline Interjet Improves Project Management with Oracle Primavera P6 EPPM

ABC Aerolíneas, S.A. de C.V., operating as Mexican airline Interjet, has seen significant efficiency gains from using Oracle’s Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management to coordinate, manage and execute key projects. Interjet’s projects range from the acquisition of new aircraft to the introduction of new routes to the installation of flight simulators. The airline notes that Primavera P6 EPPM’s flexibility to adapt to different levels of project complexity and size has enabled Interjet to increase its efficiency by more than 50 percent among more than 200 projects. "With the former tools, planning was more complicated and required us to develop complementary tools to show in a very graphic and simple way the status of each project and each responsible person. Primavera P6 EPPM has reduced the effort and time needed to analyze and present results, with benefits for those who manage the projects, those who execute and those who follow up. Oracle’s software has allowed us to contribute in a coordinated and effective way to the development of the company," said Carlos Núñez Brambila, Project Director of Interjet. With Primavera P6 EPPM from Oracle Construction and Engineering, Interjet now also has the ability to streamline management responsibilities. It can designate one member of the project management team to control the project development, identify project deviations and bring visibility to key stakeholders to make informed decisions. Additionally, Interjet is able to map clear objectives and responsibilities for each project to corresponding specialists based on their knowledge and skills. The result is that resources are leveraged more effectively through closer coordination between various departments and managers. “Oracle’s Primavera P6 EPPM provides the real-time collaboration, visibility and scalability that enable organizations like Interjet to manage projects of any size efficiently and effectively,” said Andy Verone, Vice President, Product Strategy, Oracle Construction and Engineering. “We are thrilled to deliver transformative solutions that are improving project and business outcomes for customers in Mexico and around the world.” Using Primavera P6 EPPM, Interjet has been able to eliminate: 93 percent of the time spent on the generation of status reports by specific tasks 67 percent of the time spent on work plan updates 83 percent of the time spent on creating new project reports Learn more about how Oracle’s Primavera P6 EPPM helps organizations around the world plan, manage and execute their projects, programs and portfolios.

ABC Aerolíneas, S.A. de C.V., operating as Mexican airline Interjet, has seen significant efficiency gains from using Oracle’s Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management to coordinate,...

Public Infrastructure

Airports Look to the Cloud to Coordinate Delivery of Complex Projects

Airports are among the largest, most complex and most visible civil engineering infrastructure projects in the world. In fact, one could argue that airport construction is similar to building a micro city. Like a city, an airport project requires highly coordinated management through the complex stages of planning, building and operation across a conglomeration of assets, and throughout the airport’s lengthy lifecycle. As the numbers of these airport “cities” expand, a new urban form is emerging — the aerotropolis. An aerotropolis places airports as a “city center” surrounded by actual cities and a cluster of aviation-linked businesses with associated infrastructure around them. Such areas include Amsterdam Zuidas; Las Colinas, Texas; and South Korea's Songdo International Business District. Indeed, airports increasingly are seen as a catalyst for economic growth throughout the world. The significance of such facilities is reflected in the nearly £458 billion dedicated to capital investments for airport infrastructure projects globally, according to the CAPA Centre for Aviation. Critical to the success of such projects is careful coordination around the planning, investment, construction and maintenance needed to build and sustain such operations. Thoroughly planned and well-managed airport construction often results in economic boosts for a region or country. On the other hand, poor execution may result in losses of millions of pounds per day – and deter future investments. So how can major cities deliver ever-shifting airport infrastructure on time and on budget? Airports around the world are looking to the cloud for new efficiencies and to deliver multi-layered aspects of project delivery. Cloud Technology is Essential to Success Cloud technology can help programs from the onset and adjust to significant unexpected variables throughout the lifecycle of a project. If there are changes in the economy that affect the expected throughput of the airport, then some course correction may be required with some elements of the project delayed and others brought forward. The ability to respond to these variables is essential, given the need to develop short-, medium- and long-term capital plans. Having all of the right data available to all appropriate stakeholders is critical to such planning. Too often, that data is trapped in silos, limiting organizations’ visibility and ability to act.    Another benefit is the ability to guarantee governance and transparency to public and private investors. Being able to provide a coordinated look across projects for maximum economic benefit lets key stakeholders see how capital is being spent – an important step in winning and maintaining support for such large, long-term projects. Here again, the cross-stakeholder data management and analysis enabled by the cloud plays a key role. Building Challenges Can Be Mitigated with Better Visibility The actual building of an airport is vastly complex. There are many factors to consider: collaboration, coordination, a clear audit trail, strong governance, and change management. One could argue that the construction of an airport never actually finishes. It’s ongoing, forever. At any one time, there are many stakeholders including owner, government, regulators, airlines and financiers involved in complex infrastructure work. Managing compliance has to be done openly and accurately. Communication is essential. Cloud technology can help facilitate effective planning by providing a single source of accessible data to all key stakeholders, helping identify opportunities, and then evaluating these against strategic objectives in the planning phase of airport construction or expansion. Robust project portfolio management via cloud technology also can provide insights into which investments to make, how to prioritize their delivery against competing projects, and how best to navigate the constraints of existing budgets and legacy assets.  Building design of the airport may change – that’s a potential challenge that project planning can help mitigate. There may be a need to build or shape transport infrastructure; otherwise, the result is a shiny new airport but no means of getting to and from it easily. In the UK and elsewhere the New Engineering Contract (NEC) standard is being applied with the aim of providing all-round transparency in tendering, contract administration and dispute resolution.  Any systems deployed to manage the construction of the airport must be wholly aligned and kept in lock-step with the change management processes outlined in NEC. These varying challenges can be well managed by cloud technology that can track and control documentation, coordinate activities across key stakeholders and inter-related projects, and manage correspondence and transaction records. Sustain Seamless Lifecycle Operation The lifecycle of airport assets never end. Cloud technology can ensure operational productivity for maximum ROI throughout the lifecycle. Being able to better manage maintenance schedules is made easier when all those that need to be involved can access schedules, dispatch resources and provide the necessary materials needed to the get the job done – at any time. Cloud technology can also help organisations to manage warehouse and retail facilities, allocate space, track contracts, payments and maintenance requests. Facilities and Retail Management is vitally important in today’s aerotropolis, and much of airport revenue is generated from shops, bars and restaurants seen across terminals all over the world. Conclusion  The ability to select and deliver projects that meet strategic requirements and produce ROI over an entire airport lifecycle is now imperative as travel and transportation organisations attempt to transform their businesses to operate more effectively. A failure to do so not only leads to cost and schedule overruns of each individual project but can – in the case of an aerotropolis – negatively impact the economic growth of an entire region. In short, you’re not building an airport, you’re building an economy. Choosing the right cloud management technology gives investors, owners, operators and project teams full visibility into the entire lifecycle – and the biggest chance of success. That is surely worth investing in as aerotropolis culture continues to take off.  Learn more about how Oracle Construction and Engineering is helping deliver airport projects around the world. This article originally appeared in Construction Global.

Airports are among the largest, most complex and most visible civil engineering infrastructure projects in the world. In fact, one could argue that airport construction is similar to building a micro...

Energy and Resources

$50 Until 2020s – How Can Oil Firms Protect Margins Amid Lasting Price Pressures?

The oil industry continues to be hit from all sides. Challenges abound, but perhaps none is larger than economic conditions keeping the price of oil bouncing around between $40 and $55 BOE. And that range is unlikely to change near term. Oil giant BP said in early August that it expects such prices for the next five years. In such a pricing environment, it is difficult for most companies to justify significant new investments in greenfield or brownfield projects. Further, operations funding also is under significant cost pressures, so even maintenance and turnaround projects are closely scrutinised. Amid these adverse conditions, there are innovative approaches oil companies are adopting to remain healthy, safe, and profitable. Let’s examine some of these best practice areas and how they benefit the industry. Areas of Improvement Efficiency Over the last few years, operational efficiency has been crucial to remaining successful despite the trying conditions in the oil industry. This focus continues to be a driving force, as organisations look across the enterprise for opportunities to improve efficiency to reduce overhead or increase revenue. Oracle Construction and Engineering is similarly focused on how we can support organisations on this journey and provide solutions that enhance efficiencies in areas of governance and standardisation, cost and change management, and supply chain control, among other areas. Balanced Portfolio As with any crisis period, it’s important to not put all your eggs in one basket (or resources in one mega-project). As such, there has been a drive to use whatever investment funding is available across a broader array of projects that deliver value to the business more quickly. This cuts across all aspects of a business, from CapEx to OpEx to IT and so on. Technology plays a key role here, enabling organisations to make smarter, data-driven decisions about how to allocate increasingly limited resources to maximize return on investment. Digital At many organisations, digital technologies have been embraced at production/drilling sites, but there has been less adoption of tools to help with the critical areas of delivering and maintaining assets. That is changing, as they wake up to how various technologies (cloud, mobility, location-based services, collaboration and real-time analytics) can enhance project delivery – and, by extension, margins. We have worked to provide solutions that support these organisational focus areas and are seeing customers that have come on the transformational journey with us recognising significant benefits. Here are some industry areas of focus where we’re working to make an impact. Focus: Capital Planning Improving how projects are selected can deliver upwards of 15% savings, according to McKinsey research. Our portfolio management solutions help companies capture project/investment ideas from across an organisation (not just the executive suite), and then model options to help select the projects that will deliver the most value for the least investment. Here from Buckeye Partners on their approach in this short video. The Oracle Primavera Strategic Planning Solution enables organisations to maintain a balanced portfolio that takes into account the status of in-flight projects as well as market changes and larger economic conditions. For example, if a once-good idea starts to go bad because economic indicators turn against it, and at the same time the project starts to falter, the portfolio management solution can flag this confluence of issues and help executives to assess and potentially cancel the project and replace it with a better option. One of our customers uses the Primavera portfolio management solution to model multiple economic scenarios (i.e., ranges of $BOE, products, etc.) against portfolios of selected projects. This has helped the organisation effectively predict which projects will deliver the most value and have the most successful outcomes across a wide range of conditions. Focus: Small Caps/Sustaining Projects (The New Normal) The oil industry is rapidly moving from building a few mega-projects to focusing on many more small projects. Driving that shift is organisations’ desire to use what limited investment funds they have to increase production without exposure to the risks of mega-projects, which are commonly delivered late and over budget. These small projects may range in value from few million dollars to $50 million or more, with delivery timelines of couple of weeks to a couple of years. They may be planned and executed almost exclusively as “self-performed,” entirely contracted, or some combination of those approaches. The challenge with these small projects is to ensure visibility, planning, controls and executive oversight, while still allowing them to be managed simply and effectively – in contrast to the often complex controls needed to manage a mega-projects. While our solutions for the oil industry are well suited to mega-projects, given the complex business processes supported, they also can be easily adapted and extended for small projects, providing needed enterprise visibility. The Oracle Capital Projects and Programs Solution is a SaaS (or on-premise, if needed) application that provides a range of interfaces – both web and mobile – to meet the needs of all project stakeholders (i.e., executives, project managers and engineers, and the supply chain.) For small projects, organisations can take advantage of capabilities such as templates, mobile field status updates, field-initiated change requests to track potential budget impacts, and LEM (labour, equipment, and materials) tracking. They also can track actuals and trends in near real time (versus waiting weeks or months for invoices to flow in), and perform analysis to drive management and executive action in near real time as well. Primavera’s small project solutions helped one customer save 10-15% on its portfolio of almost a billion dollars a year.  Focus: Turnarounds With the reduction in investment funding for new projects, existing assets are being used to the maximum. But eventually all assets require extensive turnarounds to optimize process and production. And while significant elements of a turnaround on any one asset are the same as the last one, 68% of organisations still fail to deliver these turnarounds on time, in large part due to lack of planning and failure to capture lessons learned in previous events. What’s more, while these maintenance projects are intended to improve efficiencies, in many cases poor project management yields the opposite effect. Delivery delays from scope creep, inefficient resource management and other factors can lead to production and revenue losses, diminished shareholder value and regulatory non-compliance. Our turnaround solution supports the business transformation under way at many oil and gas organisations as they look to improve management of turnaround events to minimize both their duration and their impact on revenues. To ensure that a turnaround is delivered on time and on budget, organisations need to fully understand, manage and control the scope of the event, including: Scope selection Resource requirements Planning, including the procurement plan and equipment purchase lead times Contractor and engineering requirements Field status and productivity (mobility) Daily costs They must also be able to manage changes throughout the event, both for additional/late scope and emergent works. Our solution was designed to support the full turnaround lifecycle, from scope capture to lessons learned, and manage all of the processes that help ensure turnarounds are delivered on time and budget, helping some organisations to save upwards of 5% on both time and cost across a range of turnaround events. Conclusion Oracle Construction and Engineering is working to help the oil and gas industries globally to deliver more value with less resource – and to do so faster than ever before. We understand the full project lifecycle from inception to decom and have built solutions accordingly that can be deployed in the cloud or on-premise, depending on customer needs.

The oil industry continues to be hit from all sides. Challenges abound, but perhaps none is larger than economic conditions keeping the price of oil bouncing around between $40 and $55 BOE. And...

Public Infrastructure

Smart City Initiatives Demand Smart Project Management

Today, more people live in urban areas than in rural ones. And according to recent predictions that gap will continue to grow, with more than two-thirds of the world’s population living in urban areas by 2050. This presents significant challenges to city planners, who historically have not designed infrastructure to cope with population density growth on this scale. As a result, many cities need to undertake infrastructure upgrades or replacements to prepare for the accelerating changes to come. Related challenges include lack of revenue, staff reductions, and increased awareness and expectations from citizens. Cities also face significant global and local financing competition for funding their transformational projects and infrastructure development. Public infrastructure investments often attract multiple funding sources ranging from donations, foreign investment, public-private partnerships, development financial institutions, and self-funding. Potential investors require not only investment-grade projects but also traceability in how funding was appropriated to projects and vendors alike. As a result, sound financial management and governance must be implemented and maintained across the project lifecycle for cities looking to transform.   As they work to modernize infrastructure amid these challenges, modern city leaders are turning to smart city initiatives that leverage connected technology to enable efficient, sustainable management of city assets. Given the complexity of such undertakings, leaders from the start must coordinate efforts between multiple sectors – energy, telecommunications, transportation, water, and health, among others – to determine the roadmap. To ensure that a smart city can achieve successful long-term public infrastructure lifecycle management, municipal planners need to align their project portfolio with the smart city transformation agenda, improve operational performance in project delivery, and enable sustainability of infrastructure through improved monitoring and maintenance. That means stakeholders must be able to: monitor performance in real time; integrate project cost, schedule, and risk management; trace funding back to the transaction level; manage contractors and project changes; and manage facilities infrastructure. This is a tall order, to be sure, but technology can help drive the cross-stakeholder collaboration and visibility that are needed for planning and execution.  Smart Cities Management When selecting a portfolio management solution to manage a complex smart city initiative, city leaders would do well to look for the following capabilities:   Ease of use: These solutions should be easy to deploy, leverage existing communications infrastructure, and improve team collaboration while enabling access to real-time project status through mobile devices. Anywhere, anytime access: Project team members also need to be able to access information wherever they are – whether in the office or at the worksite. With an effective smart city PPM solution, team members can leverage mobile applications on smart devices to obtain status project tasks in the filed or access analytical data remotely. Enterprise-wide view: Smart city projects require enhanced portfolio management that defines and captures strategic multiyear objectives. Any technology solution should also provide a holistic approach to identifying and selecting opportunities across all departments and sectors (including private sector initiatives). Teams also need to be able to identify the interrelationships between multiple initiatives as well as analyze, score, and rank all transformation opportunities to ensure project success.    Comprehensive collaboration platform: Stakeholders can benefit enormously from being able to view all critical data in one place. With an integrated platform, team members can collaborate with ease for consistency across the entire project – enabling them to implement projects and initiatives with confidence. An effective smart city solution should empower teams to develop time and cost planning for all projects, identify and manage risk across the project portfolio, and track and manage funding allocation and budgets across all projects. In addition, the solution should ensure a smooth handover of new assets to operational teams while tracking and controlling all project documentation. Track costs and assets: Stakeholders should be able to operate and maintain the city’s assets in a cost effective manner by tracking, monitoring, and maintaining assets, facilities, and buildings; tracking and managing space allocation; and tracking all sustainability measures across the city. With a cloud-based solution, project team members and managers can leverage the mobile applications on smart devices to determine the status in the field or access analytical data remotely. The mobile technology rapidly improves on operational efficiency through the elimination of double administration. Cloud-based technology also enables teams to deploy the solution faster, helping ensure project timelines are met.  The challenges for city planners are many – and evolving. As they look to smart cities to help bring needed efficiency and sustainability in infrastructure management, leaders need to ensure that they have all of the right technology in place to ensure the success of such complex ventures. This article originally appeared in Construction Global. Learn more about how Oracle Construction and Engineering is helping smart city transformation initiatives.   

Today, more people live in urban areas than in rural ones. And according to recent predictions that gap will continue to grow, with more than two-thirds of the world’s population living in urban areas...

Payment Management

Late Payments Plague U.K. Construction Industry: Report

Late payment continues to be a debilitating challenge for the U.K. construction industry, resulting in damage to relationships, increased project costs and job losses, a new report finds. For its special report titled “Late Payment: The State of the Construction Industry,” U.K. publication Construction News surveyed more than 600 respondents from owner, main (general) contractor, subcontractor and other construction industry companies on their payment experience. The report was produced in conjunction with Oracle Construction and Engineering. Construction News notes that payment terms vary widely, with 16% of respondents who identify as either main or subcontractors facing the longest terms examined (60 or more days). But regardless of the terms offered, only around half of the survey respondents said that payments are actually made within stated timeframes, highlighting the extent of delays across the industry. Long and unpredictable payment waiting periods can be especially challenging for construction subcontractors. These organizations typically must fund operating expenses such as payroll and materials well in advance of payment, and lengthy, unknown waiting periods can create cash flow and working capital challenges. In addition, many such organizations are small or and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and as such often face difficulties in securing favorable financing.       Simon Rawlinson, partner and head of strategic research and insight for design and consultancy firm Arcadis, notes in the report that than more than half of subcontractors surveyed report payment terms of more than 40 days, while a similar proportion report payment delays regardless of terms. The report also examines respondents’ perceptions of the principal barriers to prompt payment, as well as the damaging impact of payment delays on the industry. In addition, it sheds light on respondents’ preferred remedies, which include legislation and new contract types. Commenting on changes that could help alleviate payment the problems, Rob Driscoll, head of commercial and legal for trade group Building Engineering Services Association, cites a clear need for payment process improvements. Driscoll and BESA have supported initiatives to digitize construction administration to improve efficiency. Read the full report to dive deeper into the survey data and findings and hear further insights into payment challenges and solutions from UK construction industry observers. An Oracle Construction and Engineering white paper also examines the inefficiency and other challenges associated with traditional construction payment practices - and how digitization can boost efficiency, reduce risk and improve cash flow.  

Late payment continues to be a debilitating challenge for the U.K. construction industry, resulting in damage to relationships, increased project costs and job losses, a new report finds. For its...

Customer Success

Oracle Construction and Engineering to Explore the Future of Projects at EMEA Event

What does the future hold for organizations that plan, build, and operate complex assets – and how can they position themselves for continued project success?  These questions will take center stage as current and prospective customers of Oracle Construction and Engineering gather later this year at a new knowledge-sharing event in the EMEA region. The inaugural Future of Projects event, to be held October 10-11, 2017, in London, will feature a host of customer-led presentations, case studies, and industry round tables. The event is modeled in part on the highly successful Construction and Engineering program at the annual Oracle Industry Connect event (read our wrap-ups of days one and two of Oracle Industry Connect 2017). Discussions at Future of Projects will focus on successful and innovative uses of Oracle Construction and Engineering solutions and products by EMEA customers. Kellogg Company has already been announced as a presenter, with David Kelly, global capital planning director for the consumer goods company, set to provide a deep dive into his organization’s ambitious efforts to improve how it allocates funds, selects projects, and controls capital costs globally. The full presenter lineup is expected to include representatives from some of Europe’s largest utilities, retail companies, and engineering and construction firms, among others. Like Oracle Industry Connect, the event will feature ample networking opportunities for attendees, enabling peers to connect and share knowledge in a spirit of community building and collective problem solving. In addition, Oracle Construction and Engineering leaders will be on hand to interact with attendees and share insights about the latest innovations to enable project success. Learn more about Future of Projects 2017 – and stay tuned for further announcements about the lineup of speakers and event activities generally.    

What does the future hold for organizations that plan, build, and operate complex assets – and how can they position themselves for continued project success?  These questions will take center stage as...

Buildings and Facilities

IoT Transforming Healthcare Facilities Management

Perhaps nowhere is the Internet of Things (IoT) showing more promise than in healthcare, where it has the potential to improve nearly every facet of the industry – from helping control surging costs, to cultivating “connected” patient care, improving drug safety and diagnostic accuracy, avoiding preventable readmission of patients with chronic conditions, and greatly improving the efficiency and operation of healthcare facilities. Indeed, healthcare facility managers increasingly are looking to the IoT to improve their building maintenance strategies. Some 60% of professionals say that the IoT has impacted their building and maintenance policies within the last year, according to a survey by Schneider Electric. Most hospitals already use IoT technologies for asset management and for controlling humidity and temperature within operating rooms, but these uses just scratch the surface of the many possible applications of connected systems. Healthcare facilities have been using technology-intensive systems for years with elevators, building security systems, HVAC, maintenance, and asset management systems. The challenge with the IoT is bringing those silos of system data together in the cloud and integrating IT and operational technologies to create a truly “smart” facility. When data is shared, the IoT can help facility managers understand what is happening within every component of a building and optimize performance of even the smallest components in a building automation system (BAS). In an IoT ecosystem, the BAS takes on a supporting role. The intelligence capabilities in IoT systems analyze the stored information in the cloud and determine the best course of action. The BAS then coordinates the necessary actions, such as turning systems on or off, sending alarms, or making adjustments to any or all devices in a facility. With integrated IoT functions, facility managers can dodge breakdowns, resolve issues and avoid any impact on building occupants. The IoT can also give building occupants and users more control over their environments. Mobile applications can enable users to control heating and cooling set points or lighting, for instance. By expanding the collective intelligence of buildings, the IoT exponentially increases the effectiveness and efficiency of systems. But for many facilities, that’s easier said than done. Facilities are often held back from fully adopting IoT technologies for several reasons.  Some 39% of respondents to the Schneider survey cited investment costs as the biggest barrier to adoption. Another 31% said they are held back by a lack of internal resources to interpret data into actionable results. When it comes to new building technologies, only a quarter of facility managers felt that available building information is totally adequate for facility maintenance planning. A majority of respondents cited room for improvement in this area, and only 15% reported they fully utilize predictive maintenance tools to proactively assess and target equipment maintenance. The good news is that your existing facilities asset lifecycle management solution may already provide the building blocks to create an integrated IoT ecosystem that can reduce costs, speed time to value, provide rich data, and enhance your predictive maintenance tools. Solutions with available cloud capabilities can integrate IoT devices and systems. So when you’re ready to step up your organization’s IoT capabilities or add new devices, the foundation is already in place, eliminating the need to build integrations to other third-party solutions. With an IoT–ready solution, healthcare facilities are already one step ahead in their digital transformation to a truly smart facility.  For more insight into making this change, read our latest white paper on facilities management for the healthcare sector. This post was authored by George Haddad, who is senior director of industry strategy for Oracle Construction and Engineering. 

Perhaps nowhere is the Internet of Things (IoT) showing more promise than in healthcare, where it has the potential to improve nearly every facet of the industry – from helping control surging costs,...

Construction Project Management

The Business Case for Construction Project Controls

What is a project controls solution, and how much should it cost? If those are the two questions you start with when you talk about project controls systems, you aren’t asking the right questions. The right questions are, “What is a project controls solution, and how much value will it deliver?” What is a project controls solution? To answer the first part of the question, the project controls solution is part of a people + process + technology system that provides an overarching strategy and the operational implementation of project-centric business processes that work with other business processes and systems (e.g., supply chain, finance, HR, etc.) to help keep the project on schedule, on budget, on scope, and safe. Business processes that might be part of project controls are: Planning and scheduling, and appropriate status updates Estimate, budget, incurred, actual, accruals, payments, holdbacks, and forecast costs Contracts and subcontracts, and relationship to schedule RFIs, ECNs, and changes (requests / orders / notifications) Work authorization Design reviews, quality inspections and tests, noncompliance reports, and follow-up remediation work or necessary changes Submittals and transmittals Drawings and other documents, and the state of each Warranty terms and documentation Risks, issues, mitigation plans, contingency, and related costs Tracking communications: meetings, actions, letters, emails, phone calls Collecting progress reports / status updates / quantity survey tracking - and ensuring these are reflected in the schedule and cost management Reviewing daily / weekly reports from contractors, subcontractors, and self-perform teams Publishing daily / weekly / monthly status reports for key stakeholders and executives Making and tracking EH&S observations and incident reports, and following actions to closure Permitting Project-driven supply chain: purchase orders, amendments, and substitutions; procurement, timing, and relationship to the schedule; shipping and expediting; receiving, inventory, and laydown; and materials management Vendor prequalifications, RFx, and evaluations Claims management Worker certifications, timesheets and approvals, etc. ... And, you probably have a few more you could add. How much value will it deliver? Project controls solutions are often compared to two types of systems: ERP systems. Enterprise resource planning systems are supposed to be the Swiss army knives of systems – purportedly able to do “any” business process in a company. While they may be great at debits and credits, supply chain, and HR, they aren’t optimized for project management and controls.  Spreadsheets and home-built database systems. All too often, project controllers have worked on shoestring budgets to bring controls to multi-billions of spend on capital projects. This has resulted in many custom-built database tools and hundreds of thousands of spreadsheets. There are many problems with these “systems,” including: they are owned and run by the Project Controller / Jedi masters of the tool; they’re not scalable to multiple projects or even the next project; data collections vs. analysis engines; and finally, islands of data vs. integrated information. For many reasons, ERPs, spreadsheets, and home-built systems are not enterprise project controls systems. They just don’t typically deliver substantial value to the project controls team. So, you must look beyond them to find the real value of a real project controls system. You need to consider value in terms of the “big dollars” that a project controls system can save. Much of your business case will be based on the potential for avoiding problems that you’ve experienced in the past. That means the first step is admitting you have a problem. Doing a business case this way will help you see the value of a project controls system and help you justify it quickly without the need to do a complex business case. Here are some examples, for which I’ve assumed an annual capital spending budget of $500 million/year: One company I have worked with keeps a monthly payables budget topped up to multi-millions of dollars because they don’t have an accurate picture of their incurred and actuals, so they can’t forecast how much they might be billed any given month. Freeing up that budget could save them about $3mm/year, as they could use those millions to earn a reasonable ROI if they were simply invested in the DJIA over an average 10-year period - and substantially more if they were invested back into good projects at the company.   In the Oil & Gas industry, fraudsters often play a game of sending simple false invoices into big oil companies. These are typically relatively small invoices, in the range of $5,000 - $100,000. These are big enough to pay well for the fraudster, and small enough (relative to other really big invoices on a project), that they don’t attract attention. It is easy to simply pay these invoices rather than try to track the invoice against the project – especially when the projects are done in remote places and the head office is in a glass tower in a busy city. One company realized that it had paid over $5 million in fraudulent invoices to an insider. In another case, a fraudster got too greedy and was discovered when he started invoicing in the range of $400,000 - $5.5 million. (Keep in mind, these are a couple of people who were actually caught. Law enforcement agencies believe that most of this type of fraud goes on under the radar, and is never noticed, let alone reported.) With a project controls solution, you can understand your contracts, commitments, approved incurred, and actuals and approve payments through payment authorizations. With this level of discipline, you can eliminate this type of fraud on projects.    Speed of processing critical work requests can dramatically affect the outcome of a project. For example, if an RFI halts work while it waits for an engineer to answer a critical question, and that RFI is paper-based and works its way through a business process that takes two to three days, then any RFI can add time to a project. It is common for a business process like a simple RFI to innocently add time and cost to a project. Alternatively, an automated workflow system can help you reduce this digitally to hours. Projects are typically 20% late. Conservatively, if delays due to RFIs simply added 3 days of work to all projects over the course of a year, you’d add just about 1% to your overall annual budget. Automated digital workflows can all but eliminate that, and potentially drive a conservative 1% savings of $5 million/year.   Change requests must all be tracked through proposals and approvals. If work is done but was unnecessary and unapproved, then costs are driven up needlessly. Or, if changes aren’t approved and tracked religiously, then they can never be disputed. One customer I work with had two change requests, worth $7 million total in one year, that they were pretty sure were never approved, but they couldn’t even dispute as the change request paperwork had been lost in a garbage can and in a locked email file. The customer knew this wasn’t an isolated story.    Submittals, transmittals, document reviews, and document management are document-centric business processes that are typically complicated on projects. Many projects still rely on PCs, file servers, and piles of papers on someone’s desk. Lost documents and documents that aren’t reviewed and approved in a timely manner can easily add time to the critical path of a project. Just like a delayed RFI response will stretch out a project, so will lost documents. Again, this can conservatively add 1% to the annual project costs, and potentially account for $5 million in savings. In addition, knowing where documents are and being able to find them quickly can help you avoid penalties for late projects (which can account for significantly more in savings).    Risks and issues are two sides of the same story. A risk is something that could happen that may  affect cost, time, and scope. An issue is something that has happened that may affect cost, time, and scope. As part of a project’s forecast, it is important to recognize both the existence of risks and issues, as well as the potential contingency requirements imposed by them. Often, project contingency is placed in a big contingency fund and drawn down on an as-needed basis.  However, there is no visibility into how that contingency might be needed. In addition, the contingency isn’t allocated to the forecast until it is needed. As the old proverb goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. If you track your risks and issues and the potential cost impacts through the life of a project, you can target these items and manage them to limit the cost impacts.  For example, in this example if 10% of project budgets is allocated as contingency, that is $50 million/year across all projects. If improved business processes managed through technology freed up just 1% of the annual required contingency, you could invest another $5 million/year in projects.  With just a handful of the 20 business processes listed above, you can already quantify more than $25 million/year on a $500 million/year capital budget. That’s a HUGE number. If you’re risk adverse, you can easily argue that down 10%-50% or more, and you still have a huge number. Certainly enough to make the business case for investing in project controls people, processes, and technology. Recommendation Having a clear vision of why you need a project controls system, and knowing what types of business processes are applicable and the problems you expect to eliminate from those are your first steps in creating a business case for investing in the people, processes, and technology that make up the system. Additionally, you must be willing to admit that you have a problem with your current project controls approach, and that you see a way to fix it. The benefits will typically come from the ability to avoid project costs and delays, and reduce or eliminate the dangers of going over budget and late, and of facing subsequent problems like costly disputes.  In addition, you may have other requirements such as the ability to scale your project controls system so that is equally applicable to one or two mega projects as well as potentially hundreds of small or sustaining projects. You may even see it being applicable to other areas such as turnarounds. You probably don’t want to boil the ocean, but if you can find one solution that meets these needs, then you will be on track to deliver a real enterprise project controls system with the potential for substantial ROI. This post was authored by David Jones of Oracle Construction and Engineering. He can be reached at david.y.jones@oracle.com.    

What is a project controls solution, and how much should it cost? If those are the two questions you start with when you talk about project controls systems, you aren’t asking the right questions. The...

Trends and Insights

Implementation Best Practices for Construction Software Solutions

While construction historically has lagged other sectors in terms of IT investment, such spending is now accelerating as more and more organizations wake up to the need to move beyond the industry’s traditional practices. At the same time, the speed of technology development has increased the availability of robust, customizable cloud solutions, which is lowering the barrier to adoption. But simply buying the latest tool is not enough. Positioning for long-term success and minimizing time to value requires a comprehensive approach to implementation that considers three key pillars: technology, people, and process. The way an organization approaches this triad can make or break a digitization venture. Although the technical aspects of an implementation are critical to its success, organizations too often focus on these aspects at the expense of organizational change management. In doing so, they fail to adequately consider how best to manage the experience of end users whose acceptance is critical to successful use of any new tool. In addition, they often fail to drive appropriate process changes – including education and training – needed to deliver a smooth transition to a new operating model. Implementing technology without providing adequate onboarding and training for users – and other stakeholders – greatly reduces the likelihood that the tool will positively impact the business. In light of these common pitfalls in technology implementations, here are some key best practices that can help construction industry leaders break down barriers to technology adoption: Set Your Goals: Define the initiative’s objectives and be crisp and clear in communicating to the organization how the technology achieves them when used appropriately. Make sure that those using the system understand both how to use the system as well as how it benefits both the organization and users. When implementation begins, the approach should be deliberate and efficient. Prioritize critical areas for improvement. This allows time to measure early successes, identify pitfalls, and adjust the approach before expanding roll-out. Technology at its best reinforces desired behaviors by creating significant process efficiencies. The resultant improvements in the day-to-day work of users create evangelists who can help engender organizational support for full implementation.   Establish Processes and Protocols: Best practices and protocols are critical to the success of any technology implementation, as they formalize and standardize use of the tool and the processes it supports. As such, it is important that both be established early on in an initiative. Leadership needs to ask: “How do we apply the solution directly to our own use cases?” By defining and implementing protocols clearly linked to use cases, organizations can ensure technology solutions are used effectively across teams, job functions, and projects. One best practice embraced by many leading construction organizations is the development of a project controls office, a governing body that determines the technology strategy (i.e., “What problems are we trying to solve?”) and enforces the right user behaviors (i.e., “How do we best use the tool to solve those problems?”) across the enterprise. Absent such a governing body, even organizations that recognize the need for process standardization can fall short of realizing the full benefits, as they often focus their efforts on only the largest projects.   Streamline and Enhance Employee Education: A pile of paperwork and handouts is likely the last thing most employees want to see during their work day, yet most organizations still facilitate employee onboarding and educating through the timeworn practice of supplying stacks of manuals, handbooks, and other product documentation. Onboarding should instead be handled in forums that facilitate the “high touch” aspects of learning how to use new technology. Emphasis should be on functionality (the “how”) and use cases (the “why”), with a particular focus on the benefits to end-users. One way to accomplish this is to bring in an expert team from the company that developed the technology and host an interactive training session that includes demos, simulations, and discussions. By keeping people, technology, and process equally top of mind, construction organizations can address their evolving business needs and project demands by capitalizing on digitization. Doing so will enable them to connect project participants - wherever they may be - to improve outcomes for all stakeholders. 

While construction historically has lagged other sectors in terms of IT investment, such spending is now accelerating as more and more organizations wake up to the need to move beyond the industry’s...

Customer Success

Construction Payment Management Technology Yields Big Savings for Pankow

General contractor Pankow estimates that using Oracle Textura Payment Management Cloud Service has saved the general contractor six figures annually by streamlining and automating the subcontractor billing process. Pankow was an early adopter of the solution, which facilitates collaboration to increase efficiency, enhance visibility, improve cash flow, and mitigate risk across subcontractor payment management activities. Prior to implementation, Pankow’s project teams were spending a significant amount of time manually collecting and processing all of the paperwork associated with construction payments – from compliance documents to lien waivers. Pankow Controller Vicki Martinet says her organization particularly values the system’s automated notifications, which alert subcontractors in real time to important tasks and information – including draw open and closing dates, payments, and compliance status – and cut down on the time project teams spend tracking down documents. She also notes that Pankow found the solution easy to implement, in part due to the exemplary support received every step of the way. Watch a short video to hear from Martinet how Oracle helps this tech-forward general contractor save time and money while holding down headcount. Learn more about how cloud technology can improve payment outcomes in our white paper, “Modern Payment Management – Optimizing Processes to Increase Efficiency and Reduce Risk”.  

General contractor Pankow estimates that using Oracle Textura Payment Management Cloud Service has saved the general contractor six figures annually by streamlining and automating the subcontractor...

Payment Management

Construction Subcontractor Early Payment Programs Gain Ground, ENR Says

Construction subcontractor early payment programs that are powered by Oracle Construction and Engineering cloud technology are gaining acceptance among general contractors and subcontractors, leading trade publication Engineering News-Record says in a recent article. Oracle Textura Payment Management’s subcontractor early payment capability leverages supply chain finance techniques that enable general contractors to offer optional accelerated payments to subcontractors. In exchange for receiving their funds faster and at a defined date, subcontractors agree to pay a fee based on the amount of their invoice. Such early payment programs can help deliver critical improvements in cash flow and working capital management for subcontractors, while providing competitive advantages and other business benefits for general contractors. In an article titled “Quick, Early Sub Payment System Slowly Gaining Acceptance” from ENR’s April 17 issue, the publication quotes Turner Construction Treasurer and Vice President Mike Bruynesteyn, who says that the early payment approach “fosters more of a partnership relationship for all of the parties down the value chain, and that’s helpful.”  Executives from Kast Construction and Alston Construction also offer their views on early payment programs in ENR’s article, as do some participating subcontractors, with one noting that “getting paid in 30 days is a lot better than getting paid in 90 days” under traditional construction financial processes.  Oracle Textura Payment Management is a cloud-based collaboration solution designed to increase efficiency, visibility, and control across construction payment management activities, including invoicing, compliance management, and the electronic exchange of signed lien waivers for payments. 

Construction subcontractor early payment programs that are powered by Oracle Construction and Engineering cloud technology are gaining acceptance among general contractors and subcontractors, leading...

Construction Project Management

Integrating Lean Construction and the Critical Path – It Can be Done

Vital signs are strong today in the construction industry, but that doesn’t mean things are easy or success is guaranteed. Project owners demand faster builds; skilled trade resources are increasingly scarce; and costs – both real and reputational – mount when projects are delayed. These factors and more exert considerable pressure on already narrow margins. Today, 70% of projects come in over budget and are delivered late. In addition, cash flow challenges continue to intensify, especially at the vital subcontractor level, threatening the stability of this critical part of the construction ecosystem. To ensure successful project and business outcomes today, stakeholders at every level – from the C-suite to the job site – require unprecedented levels of coordination, control, consistency, and compliance. The combined power of Lean Construction and the Critical Path Method (CPM) empowers organizations to deliver these requirements.  A Divided Front Firms today seek solutions to help them more consistently deliver projects on time and within, or under, budget to optimize customer satisfaction and margin potential. Lean methodologies increasingly factor into the mix, and for good reason, because they focus on optimizing value with fewer resources and can save an average of 10% on total project cost, according to the Lean Construction Institute. Simply embracing Lean does not guarantee these impressive results, though. Firms need to effectively implement the approach. However, tools are scarce and those that exist often require considerable manual effort and support only portions of the Lean methodology.  With the rise of Lean in construction, we’ve seen many in the industry adopt an either/or approach to construction management methodologies – aligning with either the CPM camp or the Lean Construction contingent. Both approaches have proven merits. Limiting adoption to one or the other, however, inherently means that organizations are leaving important opportunities for improving performance on the table. Firms that can successfully harness the power of both approaches stand to gain a significant competitive and operational advantage.  It Takes Two It’s time to bridge the divide between Lean Construction and CPM.  The key is digitizing and simplifying Lean to optimize its impact while providing an integrated platform where Lean and CPM can coexist, thrive, complement each other – and deliver compounded benefits. To learn more about the combined power of Lean and CPM, register for an on-demand webcast.. 

Vital signs are strong today in the construction industry, but that doesn’t mean things are easy or success is guaranteed. Project owners demand faster builds; skilled trade resources are increasingly...

Public Infrastructure

Public Infrastructure Needs, Funding Challenges Drive Better Approach to Capital Improvement Programs

Oracle Construction and Engineering recently announced the launch of the Capital Improvement Program solution, which helps public entities and other organizations better plan, prioritize, and manage their infrastructure project budgets and improve decision making. In the following interview, Brian Saldutti, who is director of industry strategy for Oracle Construction and Engineering, discusses the genesis of the new cloud solution and how it can help public entities navigate a critical time for public infrastructure.    What drove the development of the Capital Improvement Program solution? Basically, we set out to deliver a cloud service that is purpose-built to address the significant operational challenges around capital planning, especially for midsize public entities where these processes – the planning, prioritization, ongoing monitoring, etc. - historically have been disjointed and difficult to perform. Many midsize public agencies – be they cities, counties, transit authorities, utilities, or a host of other agencies – are still using a hodge-podge of disparate and aging systems for capital program management. For example, they may have financial systems for tracking project accounting but they lack the ability to make rational, data-driven decisions about capital needs and priorities. They also in many cases are operating with reduced staff, and the staff they do have is spending a lot of time on lower-value, data-intensive administrative tasks. In addition, there’s a great deal of redundant effort taking place across disconnected departments, whose data is managed in separate silos. And forget about any ability to react to change; it’s hard enough to pull this data together on an annual basis. How is the current landscape for public infrastructure programs contributing to the challenges? There certainly are significant macro issues at work here, too. Many stem from the financial crisis that took hold a decade ago. Lots of municipalities have been hit hard. Budgets have been reduced, forcing agencies to get much more rigorous in their decision making and find ways to do more with less. The reality is, a lot of crucial projects just didn’t get done, and the backlog has kept increasing. Cleary, this issue of aging infrastructure is not going away, and we’ve seen a heightened focus on that issue that we don’t expect to diminish. There also is the growing issue of alternative funding mechanisms for public projects – public-private partnerships, or P3s, for example. But many public agencies, burdened with cumbersome internal processes, are limited in their ability to explore new creative ways to partner with the private sector. Building relationships with private investors requires systems that foster transparency and open collaboration. So that’s a key challenge. In addition, rating agencies have been increasing scrutiny of the capital improvement programs at public entities, and any concerns about management rigor or credibility can limit their ability to borrow. Taken together, these factors present some significant obstacles to the capital planning process for public entities – and, at the end of the day, this really put their credibility is at risk. We’re talking about elected or appointed officials who answer to a lot of stakeholders, and they in many cases are struggling to deliver to the expectations of their constituents. So how are public entities working to overcome these challenges? For one, the public sector increasingly is looking to identify and embrace best practices around long-term capital planning. That has meant taking cues from the private sector and seeking ways to standardize and centralize their processes, both to increase efficiency and to enable data-driven decision making. So this shift toward best practice and the emergence of commonalities in managing long-range capital plans was a real guiding light for us in developing tools to help that evolution along. In essence, what our Capital Improvement Program solution does is break down the departmental silos that have long hindered public agency capital planning activities. We can streamline and standardize activities by centralizing the data, processes, and players within a collaborative environment. We then overlay a number of planning, prioritizing, and reporting tools that provide the agility and that level of rigor public entities need to make credible resource allocation decisions using their data. What are the benefits of doing this in the cloud? This solution is built on our Oracle Prime cloud project success platform. As with other Prime tools and the rest of our cloud offerings, we see the potential for a substantial reduction in total cost of ownership and an acceleration in the speed of deployment. With the cloud, we can dramatically reduce time to value – getting customers ramped up and eliminating a lot of the technical headaches, both at implementation and from ongoing maintenance. And it’s easier to take advantage of product enhancements as soon as they are released. In essence, the cloud environment makes it easy to enable real collaboration around a ‘single version of the truth’ for all users – and to deliver the analytics needed to inform better decisions about capital planning. That’s the key promise of this offering. Learn more about how Oracle Construction and Engineering’s Capital Improvement Program can help organizations maximize their capital spend.  

Oracle Construction and Engineering recently announced the launch of the Capital Improvement Program solution, which helps public entities and other organizations better plan, prioritize, and manage...

Payment Management

Solving the Slow Payment Problem in Construction with Supply Chain Finance

As most supplier companies can attest, payment terms are lengthening across virtually all industries as buyers look to make the best use of their working capital. That’s certainly true in construction, where the trend toward longer payment terms by project owners is especially challenging for the subcontractors who perform the work on projects. But a new breed of technology-enabled supply chain finance (SCF) programs are helping the construction industry come to grips with this problem. The working capital challenge for construction subcontractors is multi-faceted and stems from factors beyond the trend in payment terms, including traditional industry financial processes and an increasingly unfavorable credit/financing landscape for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Because of the traditionally long and uncertain payment waiting periods for construction subcontractors, their expenses for project work, such as payroll and materials, are outlaid long before payment is received for that work. Pay-when-paid and pay-if-paid clauses in construction further complicate payment timing challenges. This situation creates cash flow difficulties that can dramatically impact working capital management for subcontractors. Lengthening payment cycles have far-reaching effects. Subcontractors, already facing an increasingly difficult lending environment, could be pushed toward expensive, short-term funding options to cover their working capital gap – with financing costs often then included in subcontractors’ bids for work. In addition, there’s the increased risk of subcontractor default resulting from an inability to effectively manage working capital. It’s worth noting that such risk tends to increase in periods of economic recovery or growth, as the ready availability of work can prompt subcontractors to take on more business than they can support. So what’s the answer? One promising solution involves taking a cue from numerous other industries and turning to supply chain finance as a way to optimize working capital management for all stakeholders in the construction payment process. Supply Chain Finance in Construction Many sectors, from aerospace to consumer packaged goods, for years have leveraged SCF techniques to address many of the same issues that complicate financial management for construction subcontractors. In simple terms, SCF enables buyers of goods and services (in construction, the general contractors) to maintain or enhance their own working capital while also improving the working capital position and cash flow of their suppliers (i.e., subcontractors) through accelerated payment. In a construction SCF program, a general contractor works with a third-party funder to arrange payment of subcontractors’ approved invoices on a specified date. Subcontractors who elect to participate receive their payments at an agreed upon time – and much earlier than they otherwise would be paid – in exchange for a modest fee. Once the owner provides funding for the invoice payments, the general contractor repays the funding source. Fig. 1: Supply chain finance process flow By enabling faster, predictable payments, SCF programs can be a source of cost-effective working capital that can improve cash flow and reduce financial strain for subcontractors. In addition, the use of SCF techniques in construction can strengthen subcontractor balance sheets in another way. Unlike bank loans, accelerated payments are not debt and thus won’t add to financial liabilities. This benefit can enable growth and diminish the risk of capital challenges impacting a subcontractor’s ability to complete work – and the general contractor’s ability to deliver a problem-free project on time/budget. Subcontractors have welcomed such programs, noting a range of business benefits.  We earlier noted that SCF seems like an obvious solution to working capital challenges in construction. Why, then, has SCF not previously taken hold in the industry? The answer, in large part, is risk. The third-party funding entities that make SCF programs possible have shied away from construction due largely to the industry’s historically complex (multistep/multiparty), opaque and inefficient payment processes, and litigious nature. Critical Role of Technology Technology, however, has changed that. The development of robust payment management solutions has transformed construction payment processes in ways that allay the concerns of SCF funders. With the right technology, processes become efficient, standardized and transparent. Importantly, with this change invoices become “clean” fundable assets that SCF providers can be sure are free of liens, opening the industry to a new source of much-needed innovation – and funds. Major players in the construction industry have begun to recognize the power of supply chain finance. Turner Construction, the largest commercial builder in the United States, launched an SCF program that is supported by technology from Oracle Construction and Engineering. In addition, national builder Alston Construction and South Florida-based construction firm KAST Construction are among the companies that have recently joined Turner in launching programs of their own. Executives from these general contractors recently spoke at Oracle Industry Connect, describing the benefits of SCF programs to their organizations and to their subcontractors. The upward creep in payment terms and the challenging traditional finance environment show no signs of letting up. Given that, there is opportunity for forward-thinking leaders to embrace supply chain finance programs and unlock significant business and competitive benefits for all construction project participants.     This post was authored by David Kelly, who is vice president of client services for Oracle Construction and Engineering.  

As most supplier companies can attest, payment terms are lengthening across virtually all industries as buyers look to make the best use of their working capital. That’s certainly true...

Construction Project Management

Oracle Construction and Engineering Unveils Lean Scheduling, Other Innovations in Oracle Prime Projects Cloud Service

New Lean Construction and Capital Improvement Program capabilities enhance comprehensive, cloud-based project success platform Oracle Construction and Engineering has unveiled the latest innovations to Oracle Prime Projects Cloud Service. Announced March 20 at Oracle Industry Connect in Orlando, Fla., the new Oracle Prime Projects capabilities, Oracle Lean Scheduling Solution and Oracle Capital Improvement Program Solution, deliver new project execution and capital planning features to Oracle Construction and Engineering’s suite of cloud solutions. Oracle Prime Projects enables users to manage all aspects of the project lifecycle from ideation to execution to delivery. By providing real-time visibility into project cost, schedules, risk, and performance information, Oracle Prime Projects empowers stakeholders to make better decisions and deliver better outcomes across all stages of the project lifecycle. The cloud suite is mobile ready, offers built-in analytics, and features robust workflows and social tools to enable rich, real-time collaboration on mission-critical activities. Oracle Lean Scheduling Solution Oracle Lean Scheduling is a unique,-purpose-built cloud solution that integrates both critical path method (CPM) and Lean scheduling methods into a single, integrated engineering and construction production system. The solution simplifies the scheduling processes required to bridge the gap between CPM master schedulers and last planners, connecting the field office with the enterprise. The solution also breaks down similar silos in product manufacturing, connecting processes and data in an integrated system to optimize engineer-to-order and other complex manufacturing methods. Oracle Lean Scheduling is built to complement the power of Oracle’s industry-leading Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management platform, offering unmatched coordination, commitment, and community for engineering and construction projects, programs, and enterprises. Learn more about the benefits of combining Lean and CPM scheduling here.  Oracle Capital Improvement Program Solution (Oracle CIP) With a growing backlog of infrastructure demands and shrinking budgets, many public entities struggle to decide where to allocate scarce resources for the greatest impact. Oracle Capital Improvement Program leverages cloud architecture to help eliminate data silos and facilitate collaborative tasks across departments, improving enterprise decision making for customers such as cities, counties, airports, and school districts. Robust workflows and reporting capabilities enable organizations to automate, integrate and simplify steps in their multi-year portfolio planning and budgeting process. These process improvements help public entities better identify, prioritize, and plan their capital portfolios in a transparent, credible, and coordinated manner. “Oracle Prime Projects provides organizations of any size with an easy-to-use, integrated cloud platform to manage the myriad complex processes associated with planning, building, and operating critical assets,” said Mike Sicilia, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Construction and Engineering. “These latest innovations address key customer challenges and enhance the power of the Oracle Prime Projects platform to deliver superior outcomes in the cloud.”

New Lean Construction and Capital Improvement Program capabilities enhance comprehensive, cloud-based project success platform Oracle Construction and Engineering has unveiled the latest innovations to...

Customer Success

Oracle Industry Connect – Construction and Engineering Day Two Report

Day two of Oracle Industry Connect kicked off with a keynote presentation by Oracle Executive Vice President-Global Business Units Bob Weiler, who discussed the mission and evolution of the event and led a series of panel discussions on trends and innovations with Oracle industries leaders. Weiler noted that the core mission of Oracle Industry Connect remains to bring together industry participants with deep domain expertise. Such connections, he noted, facilitate rich peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and enable problem solving across common challenges. As such, the vast majority of sessions are customer-led. In addition, the event’s content continues to develop as the core challenges of industry verticals evolve, shift, and converge, creating a growing need to look across industries for solutions. In addition, Weiler said that as organizations look for new ways to address their business challenges, they increasingly are looking at how to move their business processes to the cloud.  During a panel discussion on the journey to the cloud, Oracle Construction and Engineering Senior Vice President and General Manager Mike Sicilia said that Construction and Engineering is seeing an acceleration in clients embracing the cloud, with such users growing four times faster than on-premise users. He also noted that Oracle’s 2016 acquisition of cloud solution provider Textura has helped Oracle Construction and Engineering address a significant issue for its clients – both builders and owners – by improving outcomes in construction payment management. The process and financial inefficiencies and the risks inherent in traditional construction payment processes are a critical challenge in an industry that generally operates with low margins, Sicilia said. Faster Payments Bring Competitive Advantages In a session titled “Supply Chain Finance in Construction: Solving the Working Capital Challenge,” three general contractor clients of the Oracle Textura Payment Management Cloud Service discussed the subcontractor early payment capability of that technology – and how it benefits both general contractors and subcontractors. Mike Bruynesteyn, treasurer and vice president-strategic finance for Turner Construction Co., explained the challenge for subcontractors. Under the construction industry's traditional financial processes, subcontractors often face long and unpredictable gaps between invoicing and payment. While awaiting payment, they still have to pay for materials, labor and other project expenses, and funding this gap can be challenging and expensive. The challenging financing environment for small and medium-sized enterprises further complicates matters.  “As a result, their balance sheets are stretched, and that’s not a healthy position for our partners, who are the subcontractors,” Bruynesteyn said. He noted that in essence subcontractors are “being asked to actually finance projects,” despite in many cases being the value chain members least able to do so. “This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for our industry,” he said, adding that the supply chain finance concept provides a solution to this problem. The early payment capability of the Textura Payment Management solution enables general contractors to use third-party funding to offer subcontractors the option to be paid earlier—as soon as a few days after invoice approval. The key is leveraging supply chain finance techniques to reduce subcontractor payment waiting times and provide known payment timing.  Benefits to subcontractors include improved cash flow and working capital management. This can help strengthen balance sheets and reduce financial risk, among other improvements. “What it’s all about, frankly, is helping your subcontractors,” said Adam Nickerson, chief financial officer of Alston Construction.  General contractors, meanwhile, can benefit from stronger relationships with subcontractors and competitive differentiation as a preferred partner, the panelists said.  Offering early payment “has become a real competitive advantage when we’re out there bidding work,” Nickerson said. Roger Whitman, chief financial officer of KAST Construction, said that as a result of the early payment program, “we have more subcontractors in our pool that are looking to bid on projects…and the (subcontractors) are giving us better pricing than they do to our competitors.” Hear from several subcontractors discussing the benefits they have realized. Getting Implementations off the Ground As any inveterate traveler knows, sometimes your journey takes a little longer than planned. During an afternoon presentation, Keith Usher, manager of project management office, City and County of Denver, discussed Denver International Airport’s slightly bumpy initial efforts to roll out a technology solution – and how he eventually helped get things up to cruising altitude. Usher explained that after implementing Oracle’s Primavera Unifier solution in 2014, the airport encountered some change management and user engagement challenges that were slowing the realization of benefits. To get the effort on track, Usher was tapped to lead the implementation. Following an initial assessment of the challenges, Usher initiated a reset of sorts, upgrading to a newer version of Unifier and relaunching with a new environment and implementation strategy. He brought in Oracle consulting services to help define requirements and objectives and to develop a roadmap. “We broke it down into very small, very manageable pieces for moving forward,” he said. In addition, the implementation group recruited a variety of roles to handle acceptance testing, which yielded valuable insights. Subsequent leadership changes accelerated the ramp up, bringing support for putting all projects into Unifier.   Read more about how Oracle is helping airports manage their capital projects here. Wednesday also featured several other customer-led sessions, an engrossing presentation from legendary journalist Tom Brokaw, and a host of social activities.  Read the highlights from day one here.

Day two of Oracle Industry Connect kicked off with a keynote presentation by Oracle Executive Vice President-Global Business Units Bob Weiler, who discussed the mission and evolution of the event and...

Customer Success

Oracle Industry Connect – Construction and Engineering Day One Report

Day one of the Construction and Engineering program at Oracle Industry Connect is a wrap. The first full day featured a variety of insightful presentations on such topics as how organizations can improve forecasting, best practices in technology implementation, and the benefits of moving to the cloud.  And for those intrepid enough to rise well before the Sun, there was even yoga. Oracle Construction and Engineering Senior Vice President and General Manager Mike Sicilia opened Tuesday’s General Session with some sobering statistics about project performance the construction and engineering industry – as well optimism about how technology is driving better outcomes.  McKinsey research shows that only 53% of projects are completed within margins, while an even smaller percentage – 49% – are delivered on time, Sicilia said, adding that some 85% of engineering and construction firms operate with single-digit margins. These issues stem in large part from inefficient and ineffective planning and execution at various stages of the project lifecycle. In response to these challenges, Oracle Construction and Engineering is dedicated to delivering a project success platform that will enable improvements in project execution and decision making, Sicila said.  The art (and the science) of sound decision making was central to the discussion led by General Session speaker Dr. Philip Tetlock, who is Annenberg University Professor, University of Pennsylvania and author of “Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction.” In his engaging talk, Tetlock examined psychological barriers to making precise predictions as well as how organizations can leverage statistical analysis and “the wisdom of the crowd” to surmount those obstacles and improve forecast accuracy. SaaS Benefits Following the General Session presentation, Oracle Construction and Engineering customers took part in an interactive panel discussion about their adoption of cloud-based technology. Three key themes ran throughout this discussion: Companies increasingly recognize that technology isn’t their core competency and they want to hand over as much as possible to the experts because it’s cheaper, more secure, and they get new functionality sooner Cloud technology is helping companies use capital more judiciously by reducing IT costs and increasing overall resource capacity Cloud platforms that enable collaboration make it easier to deliver problems sooner and drive better outcomes for clients and stakeholders  In discussing his organization’s move to the cloud, John Hartman, Director of CH2M Hill, said that the accelerated availability of enhancements is a key benefit, nothing that faster access “helps us to provide value all the way to our client.” Watch the entire panel discussion on demand. Upgrading Change and Cost Controls In another presentation, Tarkan Yuksel and Christopher P. O'Grady of Burns & McDonnell discussed their organization’s business case and roadmap for implementing Oracle’s Primavera Unifier. Yuksel, who is principal and project controls department manager for the leading construction program management firm, explained that after using Oracle Primavera Contract Management successfully for several years to help manage large projects and programs, Burns & McDonnell upgraded to Unifier in 2015. The engineering, architecture, and construction management company had determined that it needed an even more robust and configurable software solution to support its service model. Yuksel explained that, for program management, the key is to bring people, process, and software to a client, enabling Burns & McDonnell to effectively blend in with the client’s delivery methods. “I go to one client this week it is a completely different environment from the client I go to the next week,” he said. “We become the client in a lot of ways. As part of that, we bring with us all the resources and the software that we are using,” said O’Grady, business technology services – project consulting director. He noted that his organization uses several Oracle solutions, including Primavera P6 and Primavera Risk Analysis. The company needed to be able to scale to manage multiple projects in a multitenant environment as wel l as to manage across multiple complex client programs. “Unifier is awesome – I can create amazing solutions all the time,” O’Grady said. The presenters also discussed their implementation plan, offering recommendations to ensure a successful rollout. These included involving sponsors and technical experts early in the process, keeping processes as simple as possible at first, and investing in in-house expertise.     Powering Up in the Cloud Later in the day, Zoran Dabic of Alectra Utilities Corporation, discussed how moving project management to the cloud is benefiting the family of energy companies.  Alectra distributes electricity to nearly one million customers in Ontario. It was formed out of the February consolidation of four utilities, including Horizon Utilities, where Dabic had been manager of project controls. Dabic, who is now director of program delivery for Alectra, explained that last year Horizon decided to move its instance of Oracle’s Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Project Management from on-premises to Oracle’s cloud environment. Drivers of that decision included that the Project Controls Office’s portfolio would grow from 500 to more than 2,000 projects as a result of the merger, as well as a desire to reduce the burden on IT and other internal resources, and to scale usage as needed.  In addition, the change has enabled the utility to more easily implement upgrades and take advantage of additional capabilities, including analytics. “Adding analytics really helped us to learn from each project.” In addition, using P6 in the cloud delivered change management simplicity and potential cost savings ahead of the merger. “Finalizing this as a solution before we even completed the merger was a big win,” he said. Watch the entire presentation on demand. Day one of Oracle Industry Connect featured several other client-led sessions as well as presentations by Oracle Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd and Bob Weiler, executive vice president of Global Business Units for Oracle. We’ll share longer write-ups of other sessions in the near future, so watch this space. And be sure to follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/OracleEPPM for even more from Oracle Industry Connect.

Day one of the Construction and Engineering program at Oracle Industry Connect is a wrap. The first full day featured a variety of insightful presentations on such topics as how organizations...

Buildings and Facilities

How Oracle Overcame Its Own Facilities Management Challenges

Organizations today face a host of evolving operational challenges in the area of facilities management. These include the need to make decisions on how to plan and deploy limited resources, to minimize the risk and impact of asset outages and failures, and to limit energy consumption and implement sustainable practices. And while these objectives are common to organizations of virtually all shapes and sizes, facilities management challenges become ever more complex as an organization's portfolio grows. Just ask Oracle. Oracle, whose facilities portfolio includes around 600 buildings representing 25 million square feet of space, at any time has more than $1 billion in facilities projects in the works. Managing operations at that scale requires extraordinary visibility, coordination, control, and standardization. In a two-part video series, Amy Aves, senior director of global real estate operations at Oracle, joins members of the Oracle Construction and Engineering strategy team for a tour of Oracle's Redwood City, Calif., headquarters—and a wide-ranging discussion of how Oracle manages its portfolio of facilities. Watch part one, "Trends, Challenges in Real Estate and Facilities Management," to learn about the challenges Oracle faced in managing a vast and growing footprint—and stay tuned for the sequel. In part two, "How Oracle Overcame Its Facilities Management Challenges," Aves discusses Oracle's own journey to identify and implement the optimal technology solution across its enterprise. As part of that discussion, she explains why the Primavera Unifier Facilities and Asset Lifecycle Management solution covered all the bases.

Organizations today face a host of evolving operational challenges in the area of facilities management. These include the need to make decisions on how to plan and deploy limited resources, to...

Construction Project Management

Downer Group Sees Big Upside from Project Management Overhaul

Downer Group, a $7 billion engineering, construction, and maintenance company, a few years ago realized that its growth-by-acquisition strategy had a cost beyond what it had spent on the deals themselves. In a Forbes article about Downer, Chief Planner Douglas Marr explains that a series of acquisitions over the years had led to "a siloed approach to our project management methodology." In 2012, Downer launched an organization-wide centralization and standardization effort to address that challenge. Central to this initiative was the company's move to embrace enterprise project portfolio management. Downer, the article notes, has around 20,000 employees in Australia and New Zealand, with customers ranging from very large companies—Rio Tinto and Bechtel, for example—to smaller industrial plans performing maintenance. Downer's initiative included establishing a project management office to help drive process standardization and efficiency across the company's distributed operations, and moving to a single enterprise ERP system, Oracle's JD Edwards 9.1. In addition, the company introduced a single project management system, Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management, in part because, "more and more of our customers (were) requesting that we use Primavera P6," Marr says. Related: Project Portfolio Management for Construction and Engineering The full article is well worth a read and is packed with detail about Downer's journey, implementation approach, and the benefits the company realized (including some unexpected ones). Some of the more interesting aspects covered include: Rollout steps—and the rationale behind them How Downer used "the business model of every drug dealer on the planet" to drive engagement with the technology The approach to culture change for its project managers What the company's managers like about their new world

Downer Group, a $7 billion engineering, construction, and maintenance company, a few years ago realized that its growth-by-acquisition strategy had a cost beyond what it had spent on the deals...

Payment Management

Early Payment Option Helps Construction Subcontractors Improve Cash Flow

In construction, cash flow is a key challenge for subcontractors. Under the industry's traditional financial processes, subcontractors often face long and unpredictable gaps between invoicing and payment. While awaiting payment, they still have to pay for materials, labor and other project expenses, and funding this gap can be challenging—and expensive. The challenging financing environment for small and medium-sized enterprises further complicates matters. The Oracle Textura Payment Management Cloud Service provides an innovative solution to this problem. Designed specifically to tackle the construction industry's unique payment challenges, the solution enables general contractors to use third-party funding to offer subcontractors the option to be paid earlier—as soon as a few days after invoice approval. The key is leveraging supply chain finance techniques to reduce subcontractor payment waiting times and provide known payment timing. This, in turn, improves cash flow and the management of working capital. Subcontractors say that participation has provided faster payment, improved cash forecasting, and made it easier to take advantage of their suppliers' own early-pay discounts. Here's just a sampling of what subcontractors have to say about the benefits of general contractor-offered early payment programs: "With quick and predictable payment, we don't have to take on the risk that comes with borrowing to fund our materials costs," said Bob Pollock, president of commercial flooring company Continental Interiors. "The program has improved our cash flow tremendously! Receiving payment so quickly after submitting an invoice is very significant for our business, helping support our growth and continued success," said Leigh Ann Barga, controller at Delaware Glass & Mirror. "We're getting paid significantly faster, I don't have to wonder when a payment will arrive, and taking advantage of the early payment option is less expensive than using credit," said Ron Montbleau, President/Owner of woodwork and custom furniture makers Montbleau & Associates. "We're very happy with the early payment program! We're getting paid much sooner when using the program, and knowing when a payment will arrive makes it easier for us to manage our cash flow," said Debbie Kolhagen, financial controller at civil and structural engineering contractor Haines Gipson & Associates Inc. "The program brings much needed consistency into the payment process. We're getting paid much faster with EPP, and knowing the date of payment really helps us manage our cash flow," said Matt Wilcher of National Coating Restorations, a contractor specializing in commercial painting and coating. "Not holding up cash flow is huge in this business…it's is a win-win for everybody," said Cindy Pitts, co-owner of excavation contractor F & P Construction. She noted F & P has been able to receive payment 45 to 60 days sooner when electing for early payment compared with the timing in its projects generally. "Accurate cash forecasting and budgeting are important, and the program is a big help by providing certainty around payment timing," said Cindy Bucci, Controller at Detroit Spectrum Painters. "As a small business owner I wear many hats, so I welcome the ease of participating in the program. Enrollment was simple, and now we're getting paid quite a bit faster, which helps our cash flow," said Warren Weaver, Owner of Weaver Construction. Offering early payment to subcontractors via Textura Payment Management also delivers benefits to general contractors in the form of competitive advantages, reduced risk of subcontractor default, and stronger subcontractor relationships. Read our white paper to learn more about supply chain finance programs in construction, and click here to find out more about how Oracle Textura Payment Management can improve payment outcomes for construction subcontractors and general contractors alike.

In construction, cash flow is a key challenge for subcontractors. Under the industry's traditional financial processes, subcontractors often face long and unpredictable gaps between invoicing and...

Construction Project Management

Combining Lean Construction and CPM Scheduling for Greater Efficiency

In the following interview, Mark Jenkins, director of product strategy for Oracle Construction and Engineering, discusses the benefits to construction firms of using a combination of critical path method (CPM) scheduling and Lean Construction techniques, and he explores how Oracle is enabling organizations to fully integrate these approaches. Q: What's behind the growing interest in Lean construction methods? A: Lean construction offers methods for significantly increasing efficiency in building activities through what I would term "high-frequency collaboration." It also provides the level of detail that construction workers in the field need for near-term production planning. Unfortunately, Lean Construction processes have historically been highly manual—post-it notes on a whiteboard—and have been disconnected from the master schedule created by CPM, the traditional approach to creating and managing schedules. Q: Given that disconnect, do construction companies typically opt for one or the other? A: Ideally, companies will embrace both approaches, because CPM and Lean Construction entail different levels of detail and benefit different communities in different ways. Professional planners and schedulers use CPM to create a long-term view. By contrast, Lean Construction is intended to bring predictability and agility to what's happening short term in the field. Both are important, but historically they haven't been integrated. Q: What's been the challenge in bringing these two approaches together? A: Innovative companies have been trying to run both approaches in parallel for years, but they've struggled in integrating the unique process and data aspects of each. This has prevented organizations from breaking down project overview summaries into finer and finer levels of detail. Ultimately, that requires an integrated data set. Q: What's Oracle's answer to this challenge? A: Oracle has created Oracle Prime Lean Scheduling, a cloud-based solution that's engineered to bring together the processes and data associated with lean and CPM, respectively. Oracle Prime Lean Scheduling works directly with Oracle's Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management. Existing Primavera P6 customers can use Oracle Prime Lean Scheduling to easily create an integrated lean construction and CPM platform. No other tool does that today. Q: What benefits do construction companies see from combining these two solutions? A: Blending these approaches gives them the best of both worlds: the predictive, long-view analytics that show when projects will be completed, along with the detailed, production planning perspective that field teams need to get there—all in one place. To learn more about the benefits of integrating Lean Construction practices and CPM scheduling, visit https://www.oracle.com/applications/primavera/solutions/lean-scheduling/index.html.

In the following interview, Mark Jenkins, director of product strategy for Oracle Construction and Engineering, discusses the benefits to construction firms of using a combination of critical path...

Public Infrastructure

How Airports Successfully Manage Expansion, Revitalization Projects

Airports are a catalyst for economic growth for many regions throughout the world. The significance of such facilities is reflected in the nearly $598 billion dedicated to capital investments for airport infrastructure projects globally as of last year, according to the CAPA Centre for Aviation. Critical to the success of such projects is the careful coordination of the planning, investment, construction, and maintenance needed to build and sustain such operations. Airport projects are complex, multiyear undertakings that involve numerous consultants, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers. The owner's project team must manage large numbers of commercial agreements, along with ongoing changes, progress measurements, and other administrative challenges. Without full traceability, final invoicing may be disputed and even delayed, causing cash flow concerns for project stakeholders. Strong financial governance also must be maintained to manage the risk of potential corrupt practices. Delays can also hit reputations, and if work has to be carried out around an airport's day-to-day flight operations, there is zero opportunity for interruptions.  A new Oracle white paper, "Successful Airports Rely on Infrastructure Lifecycle Management," details trends affecting airport projects globally, as well as revealing best practices and exploring how the right enterprise project portfolio management (EPPM) system can help ensure the success of these complex undertakings. Best practices focus on three key phases of airport projects. Planning: Determine what to build and where to build it. Included in this step is prioritizing the hundreds, if not thousands, of interlocking programs associated with the project Building: To ensure that budgets and schedules are met, this step coordinates the delivery of people, materials, and change management requests Operation: This phase focuses on optimizing the maintenance and operation of the airport so it delivers promised benefits over several decades Leading EPPM platforms help project managers coordinate the activities of investors, owners, prime contractors, and subcontractors, as well as providing real-time visibility into the status of projects.  The Oracle Primavera Airports Solution helps owners and operators manage assets end to end, providing visibility into how any planned downtime/upgrades of one asset will impact the entire portfolio. The solution creates a unified view of all airport construction projects and operations, bringing together data from multiple sources, including existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. This approach allows managers to align their projects with the airport master plan and to choose which investments to make, prioritize their delivery against competing projects, and work within the constraints of existing budgets and legacy assets.  Read the white paper, "Successful Airports Rely on Infrastructure Lifecycle Management," to learn more about the best practices and opportunities associated with complex airport projects.

Airports are a catalyst for economic growth for many regions throughout the world. The significance of such facilities is reflected in the nearly $598 billion dedicated to capital investments for...

Public Infrastructure

Smart Cities, Other Major Programmes Face Unique Project Management Challenges

Global urbanisation is occurring on a massive scale, and with large-scale smart city projects harnessing the power of technology like never before, there is an added layer of complexity for project managers. Smart Cities represent a huge market, and the primary drivers of this growth are population increases in urban areas as well as significant investments in infrastructure in many developing regions. The Global Construction 2030 report highlights the huge scale of the major projects industry—an industry that is predicted to grow by 85% over the next 40 years. In a recent webcast, experts from Oracle Construction and Engineering, PwC, and the University of Oxford discussed some of the core challenges in major program management, as well how those challenges can be overcome. The webcast, "7 Challenges of Major Programme Management," is now available on demand. Let's look at some the key takeaways from the wide-ranging discussion. Scope and Scale Gerard Newman, a partner at PwC, suggested that it is helpful to think about major programmes not simply as a project, but as analogous to running a major public corporation with multiple stakeholders. Even medium-sized projects fundamentally need a system that provides everyone involved with a single version of the truth. Large-scale projects undoubtedly need a system that can answer fundamental questions throughout the project lifecycle and that encompass every aspect, such as: which projects need investment; what's the rationale; what's the projected return on investment; is there comparative benchmarking, and how does real-time performance stack up? Such systems also can improve project controls across all the fragmented value chain partners. Yasser Mahmud, vice president of industry strategy for Oracle Construction and Engineering, discussed how important upfront portfolio management is for large scale programmes. He notes that if organizations make the wrong decisions in the beginning, it won't matter how good their execution is. Stakeholder Management Just as in Newman's Plc. analogy, major programmes often have complex stakeholder arrangements—from local interest groups to residents, governments, and investors. The ability to engage with a wider stakeholder group is a strength for programme managers, particularly at a leadership level. Dr. Paul Chapman of SaÏd Business School, University of Oxford, remarked that having visibility into what's happening right now—and modeling what will happen - sits at the heart of stakeholder engagement. As a consequence, he said, it's vital to create a dashboard that collates and presents relevant programme data in a digestible way. Chapman offers another consideration: the management of various stakeholder messages, highlighting that the benefits of infrastructure projects are not evenly distributed to the wider community. Communicating these staggered benefits is critical to the success of smart city projects, as is addressing the hurdles which will be faced by citizens affected by such a project. Capacity and Capability Management A major programme is typically made up of lots of parties, contractors and sometimes hundreds of subcontractors, which presents a significant management challenge. Such programmes often depend on specialist contractors who, because they don't always work with people who have previous experience of managing such organizations, aren't always optimally utilised. In order to ensure the right people are executing such a project in the best way, Oxford's Chapman noted that what is needed as "a combination of leadership, technical, and people skills." PwC's Newman highlighted some of the sophisticated tools used to help manage project controls, including some of the back office systems. Estimating Costs and Benefits Historically, many major programmes have been poorly managed and are systemically over budget, with research showing that only 1 in 10 delivers the benefits scoped out at the start, on time and on budget. Major programmes typically do something that has not been done before or has not been done in that way before, which in itself makes it difficult to plan timelines and budgets in advance. However, in response to how better cope with upfront expectations, Oracle's Mahmud advised project managers to turn to any available relevant past experience. Understanding the detail in historical precedents will help in working out how much contingency is needed in order to get a better handle on overall project costs. Project management systems can also have a considerable impact on reducing overspend, providing greater visibility into which costing decisions are being made - and why. Governance Unlike in a large company, major programmes have no legislative framework or the equivalent legal rules and regulations around reporting, transparency, and disclosure. As a result, getting comparative information on a programme that is prepared to the right standard can be quite difficult. This hurdle is magnified when you consider one of the challenge of scale. On the point of governance, PwC's Newman introduced the idea of ‘hard' and ‘soft' aspects. To undertake effective governance, even simply to identify what you're governing, an organization typically needs reliable and accurate reporting and information, as well as the supporting systems in back offices. The ‘softer' aspect is how you enact or propel the governance process, which is driven by leadership and behaviors. The group outlined several additional key areas of challenge. Listen to the full 30 minute webcast for insights into those and how they can be overcome.

Global urbanisation is occurring on a massive scale, and with large-scale smart city projects harnessing the power of technology like never before, there is an added layer of complexity for project...

Construction Project Management

How Lean Construction Principles and Critical Path Methods Enhance One Another

Construction contractors increasingly are turning to Lean Construction principles in conjunction with critical path method scheduling in an effort to drive new efficiencies and savings into their project delivery processes. In such a combined approach, Lean Last Planner methods can add important workflow, crew size, location, and resource information to keep the CPM schedule properly updated and help drive on-time completion. During a recent webinar, hosted by Engineering News-Record, presenters discussed their organizations' own Lean journeys, the improvements resulting from embracing that approach, and the implications for schedule and activity management. Rob Sepanek, responsible for centralized planning and scheduling at architecture and construction firm The Beck Group, characterized Last Planner as a philosophy by which projects can be designed and constructed in a team atmosphere, using planning tools to implement a more predicable workflow. Such an approach, he said, also creates a culture of accountability, which he noted is a key goal for Beck Group. At Beck Group, the Last Planner system ensures that the organization can identify bad news early and get information—good or bad—flowing to the right people to enable them to make the right decisions as soon as possible. He also noted that everyone on the project team is involved in this activity and that all stakeholders must be engaged—and held accountable—to meet their commitments and ensure successful outcomes. Benefits of the Last Planner system include improved communication among the trades and much greater control of the schedule, he said, though he noted the importance of ensuring that CPM and Last Planner schedules stay synchronized—and collaborative. Walter Terry, vice president of project planning for development and construction company Skanska USA Building, described his organization's Lean journey, noting that its core Lean objectives are to: Eliminate waste Clearly specify value from the perspective of the final customer Map the process that gets that customer the value and eliminate waste from it Allow the customer to pull: control production so that the company only makes what is needed, when needed—then make it fast and efficiently Create a culture of continuous improvement Skanska learned that Lean Construction can be done within the framework of a CPM schedule—and that lean processes will actually change the critical path. In addition, Lean principles and continuous improvement will open up opportunities that CPM scheduling does not typically reveal. The preferred situation, he said, is having the right level of visibility into the very detailed planning from Last Planner as well as the overall critical path. View the webinar to learn more, including the benefits Skanska USA realizes from Lean, as well as the lessons Beck learned in implementing Last Planner—and how it is now able to measure subcontractor success. John Livengood, president, AACE International and managing director, Navigant, also presented. Richard Korman, deputy editor of ENR, moderated the event.

Construction contractors increasingly are turning to Lean Construction principles in conjunction with critical path method scheduling in an effort to drive new efficiencies and savings into their...

Public Infrastructure

Keys to Keeping Rail Infrastructure Projects on Track

For decades, many global economies have been tied directly to advances in railway infrastructure. Today, rail is poised to impact local and regional economic growth to an even greater extent, due to an expected increase in urbanization, passenger numbers, and freight volumes. According to McKinsey Global Institute research, global rail investment between 2013 and 2030 will need to reach $4.5 trillion to meet these demands.  For owners, operators, construction companies, and engineers, selecting and delivering successful rail projects will require strong governance, clear return on investment, and close attention to staying on time and on budget. Complicating such efforts is the inherent complexity of such projects, which entail a diverse set of infrastructure areas with multiple interrelationships. And complexity will only increase as stakeholders increasingly rely on digital networks for analyzing infrastructure performance, managing predictive maintenance, and integrating rail into smart city initiatives.  A new discussion paper from Oracle Construction and Engineering offers solutions to this situation, examining how to equip all stakeholders—from public investors to individual delivery teams—with the keys to success across the entire project lifecycle.  The white paper explores why close management of rail project budgets and schedules, while important, is only part of the equation, and it offers insights into how stakeholders can align these areas with the project's overall vision. The key is real-time visibility across tens of thousands of activities. Such visibility is critical to enforcing proper governance, and also enables distributed project teams to anticipate, identify, and correct potential issues as quickly as possible.  Readers will also learn how best practices, underpinned by technology, help project partners to integrate Internet of Things and other digital innovations into traditional engineering requirements. For more insights on IoT and rail project execution generally, read the full white paper, "Delivering Rail Infrastructure with Real-Time Project Portfolio Management."

For decades, many global economies have been tied directly to advances in railway infrastructure. Today, rail is poised to impact local and regional economic growth to an even greater extent, due to...

Trends and Insights

Construction Firms Turning to Technology, Cloud to Tackle Key Challenges: Aberdeen Report

Lack of visibility across multiple projects is a major challenge for construction firms, according to new research from Aberdeen Group. Nearly half (45%) of the architecture, engineering and construction firms Aberdeen surveyed for a new report cited this lack of visibility as a key challenge, with other top challenges identified including a lack of available resources and increasing risk exposure across project portfolios. Many of the current challenges in construction, Aberdeen notes, relate to a dearth of information needed to make informed decisions, in many cases due to a lack of adequate project reporting. In its report, "Managing Financial Risk in Construction Projects through Cloud Technology: Keep Costs Low and Improve Profits," Aberdeen also details the top project-specific challenges for construction firms, with several reflecting the same themes of decision-making and resource management. The most common challenge was a lack of alignment between project plans and resource scheduling, cited by 51% of respondents. That was followed by a need to use project resources more effectively, cited by 37%, and contention for limited resources by 31%. In response to these and other key challenges, leading firms in the construction sector are turning to a variety of what Aberdeen terms "technology enablers," such as project costing, scheduling, document management, and contract management tools. For example, Aberdeen notes that 89% of leader firms have implemented a costing solution, while only 64% of followers have done so. The report's authors also examine the use of cloud solutions among construction firms, noting that such solutions greatly improve access to important project data, which increases visibility and enables better decision making. Key benefits of such solutions, Aberdeen notes, include: Having all project information stored in a central repository Providing central visibility into resource workload across projects Providing real-time visibility into all project milestone and schedule status—and into information for all organizational stakeholders Aberdeen also notes that organizations that have implemented a cloud project management platform perform better in several key performance indicators, including time-to-decision improvements, percentage of employees that exceed performance metrics, and project delivery metrics. Read the full report here and find out how your organization lines up—and how you can address the key challenges for the construction sector.

Lack of visibility across multiple projects is a major challenge for construction firms, according to new research from Aberdeen Group. Nearly half (45%) of the architecture, engineering...

Energy and Resources

Transforming the Efficiency of Maintenance Programs

STOs are significant events, especially with commodity price volatility forcing companies to run their assets faster and harder. I see that the International Energy Agency is forecasting a global outlay of $450bn on refineries alone between 2011 and 2035. In a report from the Aberdeen Group, I also read that 68% of organizations still don’t deliver STOs to time and budget, 95% of the time. With lost revenue from shutdowns potentially topping $1m a day, the scale of major maintenance events means that poorly planned shutdowns can quickly turn into chaotic events involving a workforce of thousands. But how can you take more control and deliver planned, predictable outcomes? In my experience there needs to be more emphasis on fully understanding the scope of the event, including its daily cost, lead times, the resources needed and contractor requirements, as well as the ability to efficiently manage changes during the event. I think improvements in a few critical areas can transform the efficiency of a STO event and drive down cost. Controlling scope Some of the biggest challenges are around defining, agreeing and managing STO scope. I frequently see budgets and schedules blown away because the initial scope was not been clearly captured and signed off by all stakeholders, but most importantly frozen at a known point so it can be clearly managed & controlled. Many companies are looking to technology to help them in this area and with a platform like Oracle Primavera, they benefit from automated processes with standardised forms that allow all scope to be captured thru integration with an EAM solution or direct, managed as the scope item is built out by various stakeholders thru to prioritisation and optimisation, where scope is challenged and finally approved as the frozen scope for that STO event. Optimizing schedule and resource Ensuring that schedule and resource are optimized in the pre-work phase helps to avoid many issues later on, but it’s still common to see resource clashes, late material deliveries and poor equipment utilization as a result of inadequate planning. Keeping the execution window to a minimum is key to reducing production losses, yet many companies fail to factor-in long lead times for materials or define a critical path for deploying contractors. Timings and resourcing requirements also change as the project progresses and the best performers are able to continually review and update their plans with accurate information. EAM tools don’t have the capabilities to optimize either schedule or resource, which is where a platform such as Primavera comes in. The companies I work with are able to sync information between their EPPM and EAM systems to improve supply chain and materials management on an on-going basis. Automating processes and document control The accuracy and visibility of project information is a focus in many of my conversations about STOs, especially the importance of standardized, automated processes. The Economist Intelligence Unit reports that standardization can deliver a 15% reduction in project completion time, and our own data shows that an individual’s efficiency can be improved by up to 20% when documents are readily accessible by the whole project team. With Primavera platform customers use automated processes to provide a clear and consistent view of information across all project stakeholders. This supports greater collaboration with suppliers and contractors and ensures that critical decisions are based on up-to-date, accurate information. It also allows customers to capture, store and route all project documentation through an automated workflow, which accelerates approval processes and ensure compliance with best practice. Streamlining delivery and simplifying reporting Mobile technology is a disruption but also a source of enhanced efficiency and I see it playing a very prominent role in the future in the execution phase of an STO event. Such technology moving forward can also play an important role in enabling companies to quickly capture the status, emergent work and notify field delays etc whilst enabling all stakeholders access to this near real time data. This allows them to adjust schedules, re-prioritize tasks and re-plan work according to up-to-date, on-the-ground information. Analytics from the same information also provides accurate management reports and the insights needed to make well-informed decisions, on an hour by hour day by day basis not weekly etc Controlling cost & change Given the magnitude of most STOs, I’m often surprised by the inadequacy of on-the-job cost control processes. I frequently see costs being assessed after an event, rather than on an on-going basis during the life of a project. And this invariably results in increased exposure to risk and an overspend bombshell. By ensuring increased visibility of costs to all stakeholders at every stage of the event it allows them to continually evaluate and control. And by providing governance and standardization cost are managed across ever event in the same way. Failure of change management processes can also push maintenance programs off the rails. With many organizations, I find that scope change and the outcomes of discovery works are poorly captured and communicated, if at all. Often, they’re only highlighted in post-project review meetings, when everyone’s trying to work out the cause of the cost and schedule overrun. This is an area where technology can add real value through process standardisation and automation. I consistently see the benefits in companies that have adopted Primavera – mainly because of the increased visibility it offers across the team. Change requests can be simply captured and shared using an approval workflow to ensure appropriate governance, and the results of discovery / emergent work can be logged and quickly assessed for cost and viability. Critical information is also recorded in templates, which enables companies to revisit previous challenges and apply what they learned before to current issues. Improving STO efficiency to increase margin Wrapping up, STOs are critical events in the asset lifecycle but often underperform. While any asset downtime equals lost production revenue, schedule and budget overruns also impact on the bottom line. Here I’ve discussed some of the ways to remove cost and risk from maintenance operations, and how a platform like Primavera can support more robust project management processes that improve efficiency and ultimately, margin. Note: For those organizations looking for a complete configured solution to support the above you may want to take a look at the Accenture Turnaround Lifecyle solution (ATLS). This post was authored by Geoff Roberts, Director, Energy Strategy, Oracle Construction and Engineering

STOs are significant events, especially with commodity price volatility forcing companies to run their assets faster and harder. I see that the International Energy Agency is forecasting a...

Payment Management

How to Drive Efficiency and Mitigate Risk in Payment Processes

Payment management in the construction industry has long been plagued by disjointed, paper- laden and manual processes. Inefficient and costly, this unwieldy traditional approach also exposes project participants to potentially damaging risks. To address this problem, Oracle Construction and Engineering is now offering the Oracle Textura Payment Management Cloud Service. Part of Oracle’s recent acquisition of Textura, the cloud collaboration solution improves payment outcomes for general contractors, subcontractors, and project owners/developers. The solution streamlines and automates payment management by digitally integrating key activities—including billing, lien waiver collection, progress claims, statutory declarations, sub-tier waivers, compliance management and electronic payments—into collaborative online workflows. Benefits include increased efficiency, greater visibility, enhanced control, and improved cash flow. Hear several general contractor clients discuss their success stories here. Lien Waiver Improvements Oracle Textura Payment Management facilitates the secure, digital exchange of lien waivers for payment. Contractors can easily track all lien waivers, including sub-tier lien waivers, to gain full visibility into these critical documents. General contractors can communicate real-time status to all parties, and automated payment holds prevent payments if appropriate waivers have not been received. Oracle Textura Payment Management integrates with most major enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to ensure a seamless flow of data across financial systems to optimize payment processes. The integration automates data exchange and eliminates the manual import and export of information between systems for contracts, change orders, compliance status, invoices, payments, and draw documents. The solution also enables general contractors to offer optional early payments to subcontractors in exchange for a modest fee. By accelerating payments and providing predictable payment timing, the cloud application addresses critical cash flow and working capital challenges for subcontractors. Download a white paper to learn more about payment challenges in construction and how Oracle Textura Payment Management can help.

Payment management in the construction industry has long been plagued by disjointed, paper- laden and manual processes. Inefficient and costly, this unwieldy traditional approach also exposes project...

Public Infrastructure

Key Challenges Facing Major Programs

For the past few weeks the Oracle Construction and Engineering Global Business Unit has been focused on shedding some light on the challenges and opportunities in large infrastructure programs. Aside from the multiple efficiencies that can be gained through smarter, standardized digital management platforms and contract tools for example, there are working approaches and considerations that can ease these major program pressures. On December 13th, Oracle is hosting a webcast to discuss some of the issues impacting the smooth delivery of major infrastructure and smart city programs being funded all over the globe – to help eliminate wastage and deliver results. Yasser Mahmud, Vice President Industry Strategy at Oracle recently addressed this current wastage in large infrastructure projects, saying , “There is a significant amount of infrastructure spend occurring globally - about five trillion plus dollars a year based on PWC’s numbers - and there is a significant amount of room for improvement both from a productivity perspective and capital efficiency perspective - it is estimated that roughly about 40 cents of every US dollar spent on infrastructure projects is waste.” The webcast, "7 challenges of major programs," will explore the state of the industry today, individually tackling challenges ranging from scale to cost overruns and governance. It builds on some of the themes discussed at a recent event, Oxford Major Program Management Conference, themed ‘Legacy of Major Programs: Making Good on our Promises’ hosted at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, which we will also be exploring further over the coming weeks. To bring some new perspectives to the discussion on the seven challenges facing major programs, Oracle will be joined at the webcast by experts from PwC and Oxford University’s Centre for Major Program Management. Registrants will get the chance to hear from: Yasser Mahmud, Vice President Industry Strategy - Oracle Gerard Newman, Partner - PwC Dr. Paul Chapman, Fellow - SaÏd Business School, University of Oxford To hear about the 7 challenges facing major programs directly from industry experts, tune into the webcast on the 13th December at 2PM GMT. Register for the event today. Listen in and join the discussion using #majorprogrammes This post was authored by Werner Maritz, director, public sector and infrastructure strategy, Oracle Construction and Engineering

For the past few weeks the Oracle Construction and Engineering Global Business Unit has been focused on shedding some light on the challenges and opportunities in large infrastructure programs. Aside...

Trends and Insights

Next Stop: Project Excellence

Like any journey – whether on a road trip or on the road to success – it’s important to keep an eye on the final destination or end goal no matter how many times the GPS course corrects. The journey to process excellence (PEX) is no different. Whether it’s keeping up with agile new competitors, cutting costs, or just staying on top of ever-changing regulations, process improvement (PI) plays a key role in an organization’s journey to success. But PI isn’t solely about making big changes; it’s also about making lots of small and necessary ones. Because of that, it’s often easy to lose sight of where each individual improvement fits into the big picture. To be successful, every project needs to align with the business’s strategic goals. An organization can spend hundreds of hours improving internal efficiency, but if the biggest success factor is delivering stronger, more satisfying customer experiences, the company’s efforts may miss the mark no matter how well they’re executed. It’s essential for organizations to measure and improve their processes against targets that align with the strategy in mind. However, Harvard Business Review found that less than 15 percent of companies make it a regular practice to go back and compare the business’s results with the strategic plans set in place for the prior year. As such, it is increasingly important on this journey to PEX that organizations keep business strategy top of mind right from the beginning and throughout each step of the trip while considering every proposed investment in terms of how it will help to achieve the strategic goal. Once the project is moving forward in the right direction toward achieving these goals, the next step is keeping a vigilant eye on them to ensure they deliver or exceed intended outcomes and that all projects in progress remain aligned to the business goals that they were created to help achieve. Even if PI initiatives start out with the best intentions, PI projects with many moving parts can quickly go off plan if the designated team doesn’t have the tools required to manage them properly. And, often, only a small percent of team members (less than 10%t) are even fully aware of what the organization’s end goal is, making it difficult to help drive the project in the right direction in the first place. To help organizations cross the finish line and to align process change with the right business strategy, they need the necessary tools and technology behind them that assigns roles for each initiative, identifies any problems or setbacks, and keeps all stakeholders on the same page throughout and after the process. Many organizations are turning toward project portfolio management (PPM) platforms to help them keep track of multiple, complex PEX projects and initiatives and manage all of them in a single, central repository. And, the platform’s value doesn’t end when the project is completed. It enables team members to continuously keep track of project results, empowering organizations to identify and measure the real impact of PI to make a stronger business case for the next project. Whether organizations take the road less traveled or the fast lane to meet their targets, by using tools that keep them execution-oriented, they’re able to constantly improve their processes with the strategy in mind. To learn more about perfecting the process of PI, stay tuned for more blogs in our series and check out our Best Practice Guide. This post was authored by Mike Metcalf of Oracle

Like any journey – whether on a road trip or on the road to success – it’s important to keep an eye on the final destination or end goal no matter how many times the GPS course corrects. The journey...

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