Pepper Construction relies on Oracle and partner technology to successfully deliver award-winning project

November 1, 2021 | 8 minute read
Janet Poses
Product Marketing Director
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In 2018, Oracle assembled industry leaders and partners to develop a space dedicated to defining the future of the engineering and construction (E&C), utilities, communications, and other industries through technology: The Oracle Industries Innovation Lab.

A recent ambitious construction project greatly expanded the facility from a modest outdoor space to a multi-story enclosed lab and auditorium, and enabled Oracle teams to put themselves in their customers’ shoes as the project owner and users of their own solutions.

“It was a unique opportunity for real-world product feedback, creating a direct link between the project team and our product development teams,” says Joe DelRossi, Industry and Customer Innovation Global Director, Oracle Construction and Engineering.

Collaboration between Pepper Construction and Oracle

Pepper Construction, a Chicago-based family-owned builder that ranks No. 76 on the Engineering News-Record list of the top 400 contractors, was selected to deliver the Oracle Industries Innovation Lab project. Pepper welcomed the opportunity to use the Oracle Construction and Engineering suite of solutions, as well as Lab partner solutions, to deliver the award-winning project.

Throughout the project, a true partnership formed between Pepper and Oracle. “The Oracle team was right there with us throughout the project, ensuring the technology was implemented to achieve success,” says Jennifer Suerth, Pepper’s vice president, technical services.

“The Oracle team was right there with us throughout the project, ensuring the technology was implemented to achieve success."

-Jennifer Suerth, Vice President, Technical Services, Pepper Construction

Unifying cross-organization teams

Pepper brought all project contributors together by using Oracle cloud collaboration solutions within the Oracle Smart Construction Platform, including Oracle Primavera Cloud Service, Oracle Aconex, and Oracle Textura Payment Management. And while having the right technology is key, Pepper’s Suerth points out that tools can’t be successful without the right people.

“The transparency and partnership achieved on this project foreshadows the future of construction.“

Alignment across scope, schedule, and cost

Pepper and Oracle implemented solutions to manage all aspects of the project: schedule, cost, scope, and quality. 

Planning and scheduling were managed on Oracle Primavera Cloud, which enabled Pepper to unify its CPM and task schedules to synchronize the office and field. Workflows across project organizations—including submittals, RFIs, design reviews, and change management—were run through Oracle Aconex, speeding review cycles and providing full transparency into the status of those workflows.

Oracle Textura Payment Management streamlined and automated invoicing and payments while effectively handling compliance management. “The level of transparency and partnership on the lab project was amazing,” said Suerth. “Strong relationships were formed.”

System adoption was easily achieved across the project team, as the value to both individuals and the project was evident. There was also significant focus on integrating systems to eliminate information silos and disjointed processes.

One project schedule to manage the critical path and field tasks

Pepper implemented Oracle Primavera Cloud, the newest member of Oracle Primavera planning and scheduling family. “Oracle Primavera Cloud has a familiar scheduling interface. It’s easy to use and the team was up and running after just a couple of one-hour meetings,” says Jorge Almazo, Pepper project manager.

Unifying the CPM and task scheduling into a single, central project schedule allowed Pepper to run its pull-planning sessions virtually instead of meeting in the same room. These sessions took less time, and it was easy for all needed participants—often 15 or 16 individuals—to attend.

The Oracle solution also eliminated the time-consuming and error-prone process of capturing field task information from whiteboards and sticky notes and manually entering it into the schedule. Once planning sessions were finished, the synchronization between the CPM and field task schedules ensured that everyone had the information they needed immediately, avoiding previous delays of up to a day.

Those in the field consistently operated with up-to-date and complete information to eliminate surprises and prevent potential delays.

Using Oracle’s scheduling solution, the Pepper team achieved a 70 percent increase in completing tasks planned on time.

The solution’s scenario planning functionality enables teams to quickly and easily assess the schedule and cost implications of various options, all while keeping the approved schedule intact. The resulting proposals can then be brought into Oracle Aconex to manage the review and approval cycles, ensuring that all critical data and decision-making activity is part of the final project record.

As owners maintain and potentially retrofit assets, they benefit from not only knowing what decisions were made, but also why.  

Data management, ownership, and access

Pepper rolled out Oracle Aconex as the project’s common data environment to manage all communication, documents, workflows, and field processes. Oracle Aconex connected teams to drive collaboration and keep activities on track, and it ultimately provided a complete project record to Oracle Real Estate & Facilities, the project owner.

Oracle Real Estate & Facilities will benefit from valuable insight into what decisions were made and why. This data is especially valuable when building similar projects and during retrofits.

Data quality, ownership and access from the project is critical and can impact an owner’s costs for decades.

“Massive amounts of money can be saved by eliminating the need for each organization to manage project data in their own systems in addition to maintaining the project system. The challenge of information sitting in email inboxes or on individual hard drives is also eliminated. This approach is very forward thinking for construction, and Oracle is trailblazing a new process for managing data,“ says Pepper’s Almazo.

The connected project team was able to securely collaborate on a shared platform, improving both visibility and control. “The Oracle Aconex search engine is top notch,” says Suerth.

The metadata-driven organizational structure of the Oracle solution helps ensure there are no duplicate documents and also vastly improves information access. “Unlike basic file-sharing applications, we don’t need to know title or folder names to find what we need,” says Almazo.

Suerth added that she has a cross-project role and can check in on multiple projects at all times. “With Oracle Aconex I can easily find what I need at least 25 percent faster than on projects without the Oracle system,” says Suerth.

“With Oracle Aconex I can easily find what I need at least 25 percent faster than on projects without the Oracle system."

-Jennifer Suerth, Vice President, Technical Services, Pepper Construction

Effective field management leads to 50 percent faster inspection processes

Oracle Aconex Field supported Pepper in performing pre-commissioning activities, including equipment startup inspection checklists, which were updated via the Oracle Aconex mobile app. Oracle Aconex Field inspection checklists facilitated a 50% savings in time to record the inspections and issue them to subcontractors.

“Pepper was able to shave time during equipment start-up and log the information in real time while the information was fresh. In addition, any start-up problems that arose could be logged, pictures added, and tracked in an efficient way for future follow-up,” says Dan Kaepplinger, MEP coordinator for Pepper.

Collaborative payment management in the cloud

To ensure fast and accurate subcontractor payment and compliance adherence, Pepper used Oracle Textura Payment Management Cloud Service. The collaboration solution boosted efficiency and visibility, and limited risk by automating payment and compliance processes, including lien waiver management, across all subcontractors.

The streamlined collection of the subcontractor pay applications and associated waivers within Oracle Textura Payment Management ensures invoices are received and paid on time.

“The Oracle payment solution is a great tool to keep the owner billings and funding on schedule, which improves the cash flow and reduces the risk for all parties involved in the project,” says Kelly Hampton, project accounting manager, Pepper.

Pepper saved time on payment application processing, and their subcontractors benefited from swifter and easier invoicing. In addition, subcontractors were notified immediately about any issues with their payment applications and were paid faster via electronic payment.

There were no payment-related disagreements or schedule delays, so relationships were strengthened. "I would prefer if more GCs would use Oracle Textura," says a subcontractor who worked on the Oracle Lab project.

Pepper achieved great results using Oracle Textura Payment Management

Subcontractor invoice submission Under a day
Subcontractor invoices needing resubmission Under 1%
Subcontractor invoice approvals Sped from over 13 days to under 2 days, a 85% improvement
Subcontractor payments An average of 2 weeks faster, a 25% to 50% improvement
Payment application processing time 50% faster
Payment cycle One week faster

Using Oracle Textura Payment Management, as soon as we are paid by the owner we can pay our subcontractors. There is no delay,” says Almazo.

Managing change doesn’t have to stay the same

The industry is constantly working to reduce and streamline changes. Pepper was able to achieve both goals using solutions within the Oracle Smart Construction Platform.

The trio of Oracle Primavera Cloud Service, Oracle Aconex, and Oracle Textura Payment Management allowed Pepper to connect the full project team early on, including sharing access to the building models.

Importantly, involving participants up front enabled informed decisions before construction, which reduced changes and costly rework. As an example, projects have seen a 20% decrease in change orders and RFIs from using Oracle Aconex Model Coordination to collaborate with the owner and across the project team.

Changes that did occur were managed more efficiently using Oracle Aconex workflows, which can link to associated documentation and scenarios created within Oracle Primavera Cloud. Reviewers see tradeoffs and implications of changes to project costs and schedules so they can make prompt, informed decisions.

For change order billing, Oracle Textura Payment Management has automated safeguards to ensure pay applications are not submitted until a change order has been approved in the accounting system.

Read our recent Innovation Lab case study to find out how Spot, the AI robot, scanned the entire project, capturing a level of data never previously available.

Learn more about the Innovation Lab.

Oracle Construction and Engineering, the global leader in construction management software and project portfolio management solutions, helps you connect your teams, processes, and data; empower better decision-making; and synchronize activities 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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Janet Poses

Product Marketing Director

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