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Insights and best practices for construction management technology and project delivery

How Dick Anderson Construction Digitizes and Integrates CPM and Lean Construction Scheduling

Janet Poses
Sr. Marketing Manager

Dick Anderson Construction (DAC) is a general contractor/construction management company that has operated throughout the Western US for more than 40 years. The company prides itself on its exceptional performance, primarily attributed to their customer-centric approach to the construction process.

DAC also ensures its employees have the resources—including technology—and the experience to meet the specific challenges presented by the sectors it serves, namely: commercial, civil, industrial, high-end residential, and energy. DAC recently adopted Oracle Primavera Cloud as one of their key systems for project scheduling and have already achieved significant results they can be proud of.

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Oracle Primavera Cloud impact at Dick Anderson Construction

-    Real-time visibility and coordination between office and field with integrated CPM and Lean scheduling
-    Nearly 20% time savings for project managers developing look-aheads
-    Standardized scheduling processes across teams
-    Reduced schedule-related bottlenecks

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The general contractor’s impressive results stem from implementing three key strategies to maximize the benefits of Oracle Primavera Cloud.

1.    Central management and rollout

Traditionally, a project manager creates their own teams and processes on each project. Project managers in construction often use a wide array of different tools because the industry is project-centric.

The benefit of this strategy is an ability to address project specific needs, but the downside is the time, cost, and risk of reinventing the wheel for each project.

Overseeing multiple projects is very challenging as it is. With each project managed differently, this fragmented approach often minimizes opportunities to implement best practices from project to project. However, DAC understands the value of standardization.

The construction company put Steven Costle, DAC’s training and initiative coordinator, in a central role to develop scheduling training, best practices, and create project templates for each line of business. As a result, DAC has leveraged Oracle Primavera Cloud to standardize their company-wide scheduling processes while still meeting their project specific needs.

2.    Optimizing and integrating the Critical Path Method (CPM) and Lean Scheduling for breakthrough results

DAC did not only use Oracle Primavera Cloud as a new tool to manage their existing processes when they implemented the software. The company also wanted to advance their initiative to implement Lean construction practices in the field.

Costle and his team recognized that the ease-of-use and cloud-based access by the whole team would allow DAC to not only speed up how they managed their planning and scheduling processes, but also help them consider how they could optimize their other project management related processes.

For instance, DAC applies Lean construction principles to further improve their project delivery. As part of their Lean initiative, DAC recognized the value of a digital tool that would integrate their CPM schedule with their Lean process.

Lean + Oracle Primavera Cloud

DAC is piloting this integration within Oracle Primavera Cloud, and “[s]o far, the results have been very encouraging,” says Costle. Real-time tracking of percent planned completion for tasks, and insights into the number of commitments kept or missed by subcontractors, are two specific examples of how Oracle Primavera Cloud has helped DAC better implement their Lean philosophy on projects.

A recent Dodge Data & Analytics Owner Satisfaction & Project Performance study 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.*

With Oracle Primavera Cloud, construction firms can see a holistic view of the project—i.e., “both the long-view analytics needed 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”, by incorporating CPM and Lean scheduling methodologies together into a single platform.**

This is exactly what Oracle Primavera Cloud has done for Dick Anderson Construction in the early stages of adopting the software. DAC is optimistic about their future because of the benefits they have already experienced while using this tool.

3.    Driving adoption to achieve exceptional results

Organizations cannot gain the potential benefits from solutions like Oracle Primavera Cloud without strong user adoption—much like the initial hurdles and consistent effort it takes to get into shape. Fortunately, DAC has set up a centralized structure to manage roll-out, provide training and templates, and make adoption easy for the users and their projects.

Once users have been trained by Costle or one of his team members, he directs the users to the online training center within Oracle Primavera Cloud. Costle also credits DAC’s success in strong user adoption to this resource, stating, “The Oracle Primavera Cloud training center is the main reason we can get people up and running in an hour or so."

The training center helps team members review the tutorials on their own time, at their own pace, and encourages them to practice using the program. The combination of the “Dick Anderson Construction Quick Start Guide” Costle and his team developed, along with the Oracle Primavera Cloud Training Center, has encouraged the DAC team to independently use the system quickly and easily.

DAC uses the tutorial videos in the training center as a key resource to learn about existing and new Oracle Primavera Cloud functionality. The construction company is also thrilled with the software’s user interface and ease-of-use.
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“User adoption is great. It has a familiar interface. User feedback is that Oracle Primavera Cloud is much easier to use than previous solutions. And, of course, the real driver of adoption is that when a product makes it easier for us to do our jobs, we use it."

-Steven Costle, Training and Initiative Coordinator, Dick Anderson Construction
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DAC can now plan more efficiently using the advanced planning and scheduling features provided in Oracle Primavera Cloud. For example, DAC Project Engineer, Jamie Ketch, the scheduler on a large hotel project, uses the scenario planning feature of Oracle Primavera Cloud Professional to gain visibility into potential impacts when developing recovery plans.

“The scenario planning feature is awesome,” says Ketch, who notes that the system is intuitive. “The transition from Oracle’s Primavera P6 EPPM to Oracle Primavera Cloud was very easy.”

As a result of these efficiencies, the entire buying process can be improved by reallocating time that may have previously been spent on cumbersome scheduling processes to focusing on negotiating contract details and ordering materials. Rush charges, expedited fees, and idle labor caused by material delays can also be reduced and mitigated with proper planning and scheduling in Oracle Primavera Cloud.

Benefits to the project manager, superintendent, and the overall project

In the past, the project managers at DAC owned the schedule management, and the superintendents consumed this information, often relying on manual reports and three-week look ahead schedules for project delivery planning. Today, DAC’s superintendents have real-time visibility into the CPM schedule while digitizing the planning and scheduling of Lean tasks with their subcontractors using Oracle Primavera Cloud.

Superintendents can more easily create and use three-week and six-week look-aheads on Oracle Primavera Cloud and use pull planning while maintaining visibility further out in the project. This level of planning helps superintendents validate the CPM schedule and provide valuable feedback to the scheduler / on-site project engineer and has also been a key factor in the recent success of a major hotel project in Montana.

Always up-to-date

As a result of this integration, project managers are always up-to-date, without needing to maintain the schedule as much as they previously did or be involved with the task planning that occurs on the job site. Project managers can also quickly create longer term look-ahead schedules themselves thanks to their continuous access to the cloud-based system.

Shifting some of the responsibility for updating the schedule to the field where the work is taking place, coupled with these Lean scheduling features, can save project managers up to 1.5 hours every week—almost 20% of a work day. Project managers can apply this time savings towards more proactive, forward-looking activities.

Reduced bottlenecks

Consequently, DAC has started to see a reduction in scheduling related bottlenecks between project engineers, superintendents, and project managers as well as a significant increase in onsite collaboration with subcontractors.  

The look-ahead schedules also take less time to format because of the layout templates DAC has created. These schedules can be printed on-demand or automatically scheduled to be delivered on a regular cadence.

Superintendents can provide real-time information to subcontractors in just a few minutes using Oracle Primavera Cloud’s standard view layouts to quickly display the weekly, two-week, three-week, and six-week look-ahead schedules for upcoming activities, with greater visibility into next key milestone.

Oracle Primavera Cloud allows DAC to create their look-aheads more efficiently. Superintendents can focus more of their time on weekly work planning sessions with their subcontractors and the interrelationship between subcontractor tasks in their look ahead schedules.

Efficiencies of standardizing on Oracle Primavera Cloud

Working in the engineering and construction (E&C) industry means adeptly moving from project to project. These projects are often very fast paced. It is fascinating to hear about the wide variety of projects in different locations that project managers and engineers have worked on.

However, the downside can be the startup time ramping up on for a new project with new team members, tools, and processes.

This project startup process is only one of the areas where DAC has improved project delivery with Oracle Primavera Cloud. DAC has increased consistency across multiple projects, and reduced the need to provide additional training on new tools for different projects, by standardizing their scheduling processes on Oracle Primavera Cloud.

Training also takes less time than it did in the past. The basic overview training takes about half the time on Oracle Primavera Cloud that it took with their previous solution.

Staff can be up and running after just a one-hour “quick start training” on Oracle Primavera Cloud. Thanks to these efficiencies, Dick Anderson Construction’s project teams are launching projects much faster and more smoothly with the help of Oracle Primavera Cloud.

Improved management oversight

DAC can run detailed projects reports, as well as cross-project reporting, because of the standardization in Oracle Primavera Cloud. The company can compare projects side-by-side to identify what is going well, and what is not, before focusing on addressing the specific challenges of any projects that may need more attention to get back on track.

DAC can also build on the successes of the projects that are going well. This level of detailed reporting greatly improves the efficiency of their project delivery across the board.

The company’s improved oversight has also helped drive adoption. Management can see who is using the scheduling program and how much time is being spent in the application. As their roll-out continues, DAC can take advantage of dashboards to capitalize on the advantages of aggregate reporting.

Industry disruptors

Overall, Dick Anderson Construction is committed to being on the leading edge of the construction industry across the Western United States by attracting and retaining some of the best people. The company is always on the lookout for ways to disrupt the industry in a positive way.

Using Oracle Primavera Cloud as their essential scheduling tool has helped with these initiatives while also accelerating various other improvements, such as advancing their Lean philosophy in the field. The future of scheduling is bright at Dick Anderson Construction. As Costle says, “this is only the beginning.”

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Oracle Construction and Engineering, the global leader in construction management software and project portfolio management solutions, helps you connect your teams, processes, and data across the project and asset lifecycle. Drive efficiency and control in project delivery with proven solutions for project controls, construction scheduling, portfolio management, BIM/CDE, construction payment management, and more.


* https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2016/12/21/1003184/0/en/Lean-projects-are-three-times-more-likely-to-complete-ahead-of-schedule-according-to-Dodge-Data-Analytics-research.html

** https://blogs.oracle.com/construction-engineering/blending-lean-and-cpm-scheduling-for-a-competitive-advantage

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