Oracle Aconex helps Taronga Zoo upgrade to expand its conservation efforts

December 7, 2020 | 6 minute read
Janet Poses
Product Marketing Director
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Taronga Zoo Sydney, one of Australia’s most iconic wildlife parks, is located on the Sydney Harbor shores. Opened over a century ago, the zoo is home to over 350 species of animals and is supported by 400 employees.

Taronga Zoo is committed to wildlife conservation—both in Australia and around the world—and is actively involved in breed and release programs, habitat recovery, and the rehabilitation and release of injured or orphaned wildlife.

Taronga’s sites have transformed over the past five years with a focus on creating highly immersive and engaging learning experiences that inspire guests to act as conservation champions. Taronga continues to evolve and stay at the forefront of animal care and welfare, thanks to these developments.

The organization also provides guest experiences to inspire behavior change that will positively impact wildlife.

These developments include new habitats and substantial infrastructure upgrades, such as: water treatment and recycling systems, mechanical systems, electrical and solar farms, roads, and wharf and communication networks.

Over the past five years, True Swain, director of capital works at Taronga Zoo, and his team have managed AU $210 million (close to US $145 million) of capital projects delivered across multi brownfield sites.

Improving operational efficiency

Swain saw an opportunity to improve operational efficiency when he joined the zoo about five years ago. He understood the value of a standardized central system to improve quality, support governance, and reduce the zoo’s risk in its development and construction projects.  

Swain turned to Oracle Aconex, a familiar and proven system he had used in the past, including the system’s construction project controls functionality, to support the zoo’s aggressive development and construction program.

Taronga Zoo’s significant accomplishments

Monthly forecasting Sped process from 8-12 hours to just one hour while improving accuracy
Raising POs Cut time from 35-40 minutes to 15 minutes max across 30-50 POs/month (~10 hours)
Accessing POs ERP Removed one day wait time through integration with Oracle Aconex Connected Cost
PO data entry and reconciliation Eliminated 10-20 minutes across 30-50 POs/month (~10 hours) by integrating Oracle Aconex Connected Cost with ERP
Goods receipt information access Removed data lag of a few weeks up to a month through systems integration
Payment approval management Reduced 30-45 mins per approval, a 50% improvement
Vendor payments Sped from a week to a few days across 79 invoices monthly
Time between invoice receipt to ready to pay Decreased from a week to just 1.5 days, a 60% improvement
Invoice reconciliation Reduced from 45-60 minutes to 10-15 minutes each month across 79 invoices, over a 75% improvement


Visibility and trust

Management and the teams working on the projects now have visibility across all of Taronga’s projects that are consistently managed on one central integrated construction project management platform. Comparing project-to-project performance is easy, there is a complete and accessible record for each project, and the team’s overall confidence has greatly improved.


“The CFO has more confidence in the numbers coming from our department since implementing Oracle Aconex and the integration between Oracle Aconex Connected Cost and Taronga’s central finance system."

True Swain, Director of Capital Works, Taronga Zoo


Improved governance to reduce the zoo’s risk

Prior to adopting Oracle Aconex, construction document management was a big challenge. Documents were easily lost or deleted, and team members wasted considerable time searching through inboxes for documents or drawings.

Additionally, errors could happen when someone was inadvertently working from an older version of a drawing or document. Sharing documents and drawings was also a challenge with file size constraints and non-secure sharing sites.

Taronga Zoo now easily manages their document and revision control through Oracle Aconex in a collaborative manner. No more time is wasted searching through inboxes or losing information if someone leaves the team.

All team members are assured they are working from the correct versions thanks to a full document history. This improved governance saves time and reduces risk for the zoo by decreasing disputes and rework.

A standard forecasting tool: Improving confidence in numbers and decision making

It is essential for the organization and leaders like Swain to have systems that can automate and consolidate forecasting across their projects—particularly given the large number of individual projects the zoo manages.

Swain is experienced with the portfolio level capabilities of Oracle Aconex. His team implemented best practices in cost management, forecasting, and reporting thanks to their leader’s experience with Oracle Aconex.

Swain’s team understood how effectively managing project controls can dramatically impact project success.

Cost and forecasting were separate before implementing Oracle Aconex Connect Cost, resulting in inconsistent forecasting. Swain used to spend 8-12 hours rolling up and reconciling data across 50+ jobs every other month.

Unfortunately, due to inconsistent and disconnected processes, even after all his effort, he still didn’t have full confidence in the forecasts.

Now, it just takes one hour to check program dates across projects using Oracle Aconex Connected Cost to manage project controls. Further, the data is always current and consistent.

Streamlined purchase order management helps professionals plan and analyze

Taronga’s purchase order process was paper-based and part of an older SAP system when Swain joined the organization. Hard copies of each PO were hand delivered to the approvers and purchasing team for signatures before the PO information was hand typed into both SAP and Oracle Aconex Connect Cost.

Swain transitioned the zoo from a manual paper-based process to a highly integrated and automated system by integrating their ERP with Oracle Aconex Connected Cost. His team accomplished this integration by collaborating with Oracle and third-party integrators and leveraging the open APIs in Oracle Aconex.

Taronga now raises their POs in SAP since adopting Oracle Aconex Connected Cost and integrating the Oracle system with their ERP. Online POs are reviewed and approved via preconfigured workflows before they are automatically uploaded into the Oracle system.

The organization saves about 30 minutes each time they raise a PO. What used to take 35-40 minutes per PO now takes just 15 minutes or less.

Taronga also saves a day that used to be spent waiting for access to the PO via SAP due to integrated systems. In addition, the facility saves 5-10 minutes entering the PO into Oracle Aconex and another 5-10 minutes on reconciliation between 30-50 POs per month.

Automated goods receipt and payments to increase confidence and speedy disbursements

What’s more, there is no data lag thanks to the facility’s integrated systems to manage goods receipts. Taronga is assured that the information is available in the Oracle solution in real time for SAP-managed processes, providing visibility into project level commits and spends.

In the past, the information availabille could have lagged from a couple of weeks up to a month, making it harder to pay on time and increasing the risk of reconciliation issues.

Payments were also managed manually prior to integrating Oracle Aconex Connected Cost with the facility’s ERP system. Invoices were approved via manual signatures and walked to the purchasing department to process before entering the information into the Oracle system.

Now, the automated process is 50% faster, cutting back from 1-1.5 hours to just 30-45 minutes.

In addition, the time it takes to pay vendors across 79 invoices per month has decreased from a week to just a few days. The interval between invoice receipt and being ready for payment is now about 1.5 days instead of at least one week. Reconciliation takes 10-15 minutes instead of 45-60 minutes.

Overall, the organization has more confidence in budgeting and spend levels and can pay vendors faster using construction project controls software.

Defect tracking in Oracle Aconex Field to support the zoo’s stringent safety protocols

As you can imagine, quality and safety are of the utmost importance for Taronga and the close to 4,500 animals and humans living and working there. The zoo relies on Oracle Aconex Field for a clear, tracked, and accurate list of defects, making it faster and easier to close out the individual issues and overall contracts.

There is greater accountability and no time wasted re-inspecting defects and finding that the required work is not yet done. The Taronga team saves several days reviewing and checking spreadsheets as well as several days checking the status of inspection items onsite.

Standardization to optimize benefits

Taronga could not have reached even a fraction of their accomplishments if they had not standardized on processes and systems across their projects and project supply chain. As an owner, the facility has specified the use of Oracle Aconex construction project delivery software in all their contracts and across all their contractors.  

The standardization reduces needed training, supports project-to-project movement of the zoo’s employees and contractors, and provides program and portfolio level oversight.

Taronga began evaluating additional IT spend to integrate systems and update their ERP system. The facility hired a third-party IT consultant to conduct an independent review of their systems and their associated ROI.

The results of the evaluation validated the facility’s investment in Oracle Aconex and encouraged Swain and his team to continue expanding their system.

Learn more about Oracle Aconex and Aconex Connected Cost.

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.

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