Many Systems, One Source of Truth: Laying a Foundation for Construction Collaboration

July 15, 2019 | 4 minute read
Janet Poses
Product Marketing Director
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The first time I saw a professional hockey game, a referee called a “high sticking” penalty when a player hit an opponent in the face with his stick.

I thought, “Okay, apparently this sort of thing is standard.” If the foul has a name, it’s a normal and expected part of the game.

Similarly, altercations are commonplace in construction. We have dispute language in every contract, armies of lawyers specializing in construction disputes, and contingency funds earmarked for dispute resolution.

Minimizing disputes

What if disputes became more of an exception than a rule? How much time and money could be saved in this $10+ trillion global industry?* The level of potential efficiency improvements could fund critically needed infrastructure projects.

Different versions of the truth are one of the leading causes of disputes. This may be caused by various parties maintaining misaligned records, or perhaps different versions of a drawing or specification. If the causes can be identified, so can the solution.

Five steps to achieving one source of truth

  1. Current situation analysis

As they say, you can’t move forward if you don’t know where you are. An in-depth analysis is the first step. Here are some questions to ask and answer as you go through this process.

  • How do you work?
  • What are your process needs? 
  • What current systems are you using?
  • Where are your gaps?
  • Do you have areas of double entry?
  • To create reports or dashboards are you manually pulling data from multiple systems?
  • How do your corporate and project systems interface? What are your unique constraints?
  1.  Evaluating and selecting “open systems”

Achieving one source of truth requires all systems to come together. If you are using a closed or proprietary system, “your” data isn’t truly yours. You can’t best utilize data if it’s stuck in a system and can’t be exported, integrated, or analyzed in conjunction with other data.

Your evaluation checklist:

  1. How can APIs be used with the system?
  2. Are there built-in adapters?
  3. Are common industry standards supported?
  4. Do the solutions you are evaluating offer pre-built adapters?
  5. What is the data format?
  6. How is data exported?
  7. How are others using the system and what results are they achieving?
  8. What is the breadth of functionality offered?
  9. Is the system flexible enough to meet the needs of each of your projects?
  10. Does the vendor have the company stability and resources to grow along with the industry?

Austin-Webcor Joint Venture

For example, project teams currently working on the San Francisco airport reconstruction project are using open, project-wide systems they can all access regardless of what company they work for.

Oracle Aconex manages all project information and communication across the Austin-Webcor JV. Oracle’s Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management addresses the planning and scheduling and Oracle Textura Payment Management Cloud Service handles invoicing and payments.

The owner, SFO, has standardized on Primavera Unifier for one consistent system of record across large and small projects - as well as ongoing operations and maintenance.

These systems all use open collaborative frameworks, which break down organizational barriers and support the success of the project team. Read about some of their award winning achievements.

  1. Connecting open systems

Historically, this step has been the most complex and lacks clear direction. Fortunately, modernized tools are changing that. Experts in the space and industry leaders are benefiting from implementing proven solutions.

Faithful + Gould’s “Dynamic Insight” solution automates data extraction, analysis, and dashboarding from any open system. Faithful + Gould delivered impressive results by using their tools with Oracle Aconex, Primavera Unifier, and Primavera P6: 99% faster report creation and 1.5 times faster data analysis on schedule performance. Read more about Faithful + Gould’s results .

Industry solutions providers also offer “connectors”. For example Oracle’s Project Integration Framework (PIF) offers built-in adapters to the Primavera suite of products including Primavera Unifier, Primavera P6, and Instantis. These adapters enable integrations with any Oracle and external systems, including ERP.

  1. Define your end goal

Remember to begin with the end in mind. Define what information you need and and how you want to use that information to improve your projects and business. Focus on your goals and don’t be concerned with constraints - particularly from the past. You may be surprised by what’s possible today.

For example, Hawkins Construction standardized on Oracle Aconex and used APIs to integrate with their business intelligence systems. They completed an integrated view across their projects, monitored and compared health, and can make the necessary changes to improve the efficiency of their entire portfolio of projects. Read about Hawkins' accomplishments.

  1. Changing the project environment

All organizations on a project must be on the same page. Using common project-wide systems collaboratively and transparently is key to avoiding disputes and improving efficiencies. It’s often helpful to specify system usage in the contract.

However, choosing the right organizations and creating an incentive structure to support collaboration and overall project success is even more powerful. Each organization wins when the project succeeds, and visa versa.

ALEC Engineering and Contracting

During a recent webinar, ALEC Engineering and Contracting shared how the project environment is an integral part of their success. Sean McQue, director of operations with ALEC, explained that a project environment is analogous to a fish tank.

“To have a successful environment in a fish tank, the water must be right for the fish, the correct plants must be used, air must be added, the appropriate mix of fish must be present, and there must be a way to monitor the health of the tank.”

Similarly, a successful project requires the right expertise, organizational structure, contract style, and tools. Fish tank owners and project owners alike must carefully set up their respective environments in order to thrive.

ALEC strives to achieve these seven attributes on their projects: cooperative, productive, efficient, professional, collaborative (non-confrontational), interactive, motivating. ALEC implemented Oracle Aconex as a solution to support this open and collaborative environment.

Read more in the webinar summary, “Six Steps to Megaproject Success.”

Download our playbook, How to Harness Big Data to Drive Performance Across Your Project Portfolio to learn more about how open systems support data collection and insights.

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Explore how you can deliver project success with Oracle Construction and Engineering.

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Janet Poses

Product Marketing Director

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