Thursday Jun 09, 2016

2: PLAN – planning across four levels of smart city

Written by: Werner Maritz, Director Public Sector and Infrastructure Strategy

Paris, 1852. Emperor Napoleon III has just commissioned Haussmann’s bold remodeling of Paris, marking the birth of one of the most famous and radical modern city planning projects. Between 1853 and 1927 Haussmann’s renovation transformed the space within the city – replacing overcrowded streets with wide boulevards and green space. Haussmann ushered in an era of modern city planning – imposing regulations on building façades, public parks, sewers and water works, city facilities, and public monuments that would meet the demands of a growing metropolis.

Fast forward 160 years and attention has turned to the opportunities of Smart Cities.

The success of a smart city project relies on the commitment of all stakeholders and economic support - whether it’s public or private – to see the project through to completion. That’s why half the battle of getting such a project off the ground is to plan thoroughly. When presenting a convincing, workable case for a smart initiative, you need to win over the hearts, minds and wallets of supporters.

 To give a project the best chance of winning funding it’s important to consider all four layers of a smart city and how they will run alongside each other. Planning must consider how every layer of the smart city project will be technologically supported, how the people involved will be kept informed and how they can offer robust controls and deliver ROI.

 4 layers:

  • The user layer (all stakeholders)
  • The service layer (what’s offered by a smart city)
  • The infrastructure layer (the network supporting the deployment of smart services)
  • The data layer (securing and harvesting all the information gathered)

The EU has even laid out a formal overview of the funding options for smart city projects up to 2020. It includes thematic objectives for smart cities seeking support, from low-carbon initiatives to social inclusivity projects, which can be useful when examining what your city or project wants to achieve.

 A truly smart plan – be it for an online public service or a manufacturer’s fully automated cooling system – needs to complement existing urban facilities and planning processes. In the same way, urban planning regulations will have to evolve to accommodate the often complicated architecture of a smart city project.

 For example, when Milton Keynes in the UK wanted to implement super-fast broadband, it was discovered that the main hurdle was the existing phone network where the cables have a high aluminum content rather than the required copper. This was a major and costly implementation hurdle discovered during the network build, which should have been identified earlier.

 In such a competitive market it’s also a huge bonus when projects can engage all stakeholders in a single vision, with a comprehensive information center that can give multiple parties visibility of real-time project progress and problems.

Planners need to demonstrate how the project will be managed, how risks will be mitigated and ultimately how a project will deliver ROI. The more real-time information stakeholders can access the better – it helps keep everyone informed but also helps a smart city project integrate with more traditional urban infrastructure plans.

Oracle Primavera’s SMART City Projects solution helps cities manage these challenges using modern collaborative, social and mobile tools, backed with disciplined project management and analytical applications at the core. To find out more, visit our discussion paper on minimizing waste in smart city project planning and execution: here: https://goo.gl/ZtWQNv

Monday Mar 07, 2016

Two Worlds Colliding

By: Krista Lambert, Director, Engineering & Construction Strategy, Oracle Primavera

Bringing together the best of both worlds

Site foremen are formidable people. You don’t want to feel the force of their frustration. When someone else’s mistake plays havoc with their plans or makes them miss deadlines, it can create unbearable situations.

But you can avoid frustrating your foremen with short interval planning. It’s a technique used in Lean Construction, designed to flush inefficiency out of the system. The technique relies on frequent and open collaboration on the job. The idea is that short-term plans are created daily to adapt to changing circumstances, ensuring employees are not left scratching their heads with nothing to do.

But it has its shortcomings.

It could miss important dependencies in the project which, if ignored, could delay completion. Since the 1940s the critical path method has been developed to seek out these dependencies, showing project managers where to focus their energies if they want to avoid being late.

And yet the critical path method is often set against short interval planning as if project managers and planners must pick one method or the other to succeed. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

The tools and technologies to bring the two approaches together – and get the best from both – are available today. The reality is that an open approach can help you stay in touch with the project whatever is thrown at you at any stage of the project giving you greater control.

To discover more, read our latest business brief.

Thursday Jan 14, 2016

When The Unexpected Strikes

By: Krista Lambert, Director, Engineering & Construction Strategy, Oracle Primavera

Tales of the Unexpected

Expect the unexpected. That’s a mantra every construction manager could do with heeding. But it’s easier said than done. The one thing we don’t want is the unexpected.

The bigger the project the harder it seems to keep it on track. In the US, the Big Dig, which involved rerouting and tunnelling Boston’s Central Artery to the heart of the city centre, was set to be finished by 1998. In December 2007 the project was finally finished, with a cost overrun of 190 percent at $14.6 billion, much of which was attributed to unexpected changes.

Such is the complexity of these mega-projects it’s tempting to think that overruns and cost inflation are inevitable. Certainly change is unavoidable in a project of this scale and length. But how you manage change, can make a big difference.

Preparing for change

In a recent Economist Intelligence Unit survey of 300 executives in asset-intensive industries like construction, more than 60 percent blamed unexpected change for at least half of all project overruns. More than half of respondents rank their organizations as average or below average at anticipating change (55 percent), measuring the impact of change after its implemented (55 percent) and making contingency plans to accommodate potential change (51 percent).

There is clearly room for improvement. The question is, what can be done about it? Enterprise project portfolio management software can now track and aggregate all sorts of data vital to complex projects. This helps project managers map out “what if” scenarios to assess the impact of possible changes before they happen, and figure out how much to invest in mitigating these risks. Data can be shared with all internal and external stakeholders. It can also be extracted and integrated from ERP, finance and other enterprise systems.

Managing change has always been tough, but now there are tools to help. Ignoring them could simply lead to digging a bigger hole.

To discover more, read our latest business brief.

Tuesday Dec 08, 2015

The Risks of ‘Word of Mouth’

By: Garrett Harley, Director, Engineering & Construction Strategy, Oracle Primavera

Where’s Bob?

When a kitchen appliance isn’t behaving as it should, it’s best to consult the manual. That’s if you can find it. In the digital, searchable, online world, it is easy to forget how much valuable information is hidden away. Until someone really needs it.

Multiply this problem by thousands and the difficulties in the maintenance of large capital assets become clear. Information needed by maintenance engineers might be in the architect’s drawings, the engineer’s calculations or in any documents from thousands of suppliers. It might be in the notepad of Bob, who heads up electrical engineering, his team made some changes to the set-up of the security schematics. Where is he? And where is the information?

The problem is that it might even have been mentioned in any number of project meetings and even the handover meetings between the construction contractors and the owner-operators. But where was the information captured?

With many different specialists (Bob#1, Bob#2, Bob#3, etc) working on a single capital asset, information gets stuck behind ‘tribal’ boundaries and sits in silos. Bob’s scenario is all too frequent and the complexity throughout the project lifecycle is magnified.

A lack of clear, consolidated, searchable data on components, materials and construction techniques can making maintaining buildings highly inefficient. It also creates a risk of the building being poorly maintained. Mistakes here lead to costly reactive work further down the road. It’s not a good place to be.

But there are better ways to manage the hand-over of large-scale capital assets. There are tools available that allow the main contractors to capture all the data in a coherent but flexible workflow. With so many people involved in a large project, keeping track of all the adjustments – it can make maintenance a lot easier, creating massive savings in the lifetime cost of the asset and more to the point – fewer ‘where’s Bob’ moments.

To discover more, read our latest business brief.

Wednesday Nov 11, 2015

Stop Wasting My Time

By: Krista Lambert, Director, Engineering & Construction Strategy, Oracle Primavera

Make better bids, win better work

The average engineering and construction firm only wins one in every four bids for capital asset projects. For a $1 billion company, that’s around $75 million wasted on failed bids every year.

The industry has always worked this way, and some executives will justify the waste as a cost of doing business. But there is another way of looking at it.

Given the costs, it’s no surprise that engineering and construction businesses are picky about the jobs they bid for. The question is, whether they can target more profitable work, improve their chances of winning each bid, or launch more bids with fewer resources? The answer is they can do all three.

Unlocking the value of knowledge

In geographically dispersed businesses, bids are managed autonomously by local teams. Valuable experience and knowledge is often lost to the rest of the organization. This might be based on analysis of opportunities in the marketplace, costings for materials, researching the supply base or understanding a potential client’s wants and needs. There’s a huge opportunity to pool this knowledge across the organization and improve bid quality while lowering cost.

Currently, too many organizations are comfortable with a lack of collaboration which leads to errors and omissions, increasing costs and lowering the chances of success. But tools exist that can ensure data is shared throughout the organization, and readily available to anyone who needs it. And when you’re bidding for new jobs, knowledge is not only power. It’s also profit.

To discover more, read our latest business brief.

Wednesday Feb 04, 2015

Visualization and the Digital Project

written By Garrett Harley, Director, Engineering & Construction Strategy, Oracle

5D virtual construction will transform the construction industry

 Redesign should take place on the computer, not on the construction site.

 5D virtual construction modeling, or 5D BIM (short for building information modeling) enables the various participants of a construction project—from designers and contractors to owners—to visualize and display the entire construction progress sequentially over time, factoring in a critical component: actual and forecasted costs. It has the potential to vastly transform the delivery of projects large and small.

 Here’s how BIM technology has progressed through the years:

3D: Three-dimensional design modeling that enables project visualizations, walkthroughs, clash detection, and item scheduling

4D: 3D modeling plus time, linking the project schedules: resources, tasks, etc.

5D: 4D plus cost, integrating design with estimating, scheduling, and costing

 Leveraging the data available in the 3D BIM model, 5D BIM optimizes construction project management, enabling project team members to visualize the progression of construction activities and the associated costs. Beyond the ability to maximize physical and constructability constraints, 5D virtual construction gives companies the ability to better manage budgets and forecasted expenditures. Understanding construction sequencing can help prevent problems related to constructability and optimize cash flow within the framework of construction sequencing.

 In today’s environment, many E&C companies and some owners have begun to adapt and adopt 5D into their work processes. Recent surveys predict that 100 percent of owners and 80 percent of contractors will use BIM in some way in 2014.

 Currently, there is no standard definition of BIM and many partial or incomplete solutions. Dual standards have been developed by different organizations such as the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) by the buildingSMART allianceTM and ISO 15926. The number of developers in the BIM space has also grown creating integration issues.

For visualization to drive projects from concept to completion and into operations and maintenance, developers must extend current BIM capabilities. Users need mapping and display capabilities between the embedded construction schedule and the 3D model. They need easy, effective ways to verify clearances, identify design incompatibilities, and detect clash or collision points.

 All construction contractors are currently investing in standalone, specialized niche technology, so now is the time to bring those niche technologies together in an interoperable environment.

 For more information on BIM, read the whitepaper: “Leverage 4D Building Information Modeling (BIM) to Help Meet the Challenges of Infrastructure Growth”

Wednesday Jan 21, 2015

Is your company ready to successfully execute a business transformation?

Intelligent Utility – January 18, 2015

Author: Guy Barlow, Director of Industry Strategy, Oracle Primavera

For companies that don’t want merely to succeed in the utilities industry but to lead, continual business transformation is a must. It appears, however, that actually achieving this transformation is also one of their most vexing challenges. New research from Oracle Primavera and Forbes, “Making the Change: Planning, Executing and Measuring a Successful Business Transformation,” shows that while the ability to execute transformation is critical to remaining relevant, nearly half of the 534 executives surveyed---from a number of different industries, including utilities---say their organization is only somewhat or not at all ready to successfully execute a business transformation today.

Continual business transformation is crucial for companies to stay ahead of emerging players and maintain a competitive edge. From bringing new offerings to market to embarking on major capital expenditures, business transformation can take countless forms. Many utility companies, however, are struggling with their transformation efforts. Despite strong agreement that business transformation is fundamental to success, 48% of total executives surveyed say their organization is only somewhat or not at all prepared to successfully execute a business transformation today.

Beyond the preparation, it’s the execution of the business transformation initiatives and projects that make or break its success. The most often cited cause for failure in the rollout of a business transformation initiative is inefficient execution (41%), followed by resource and budget constraints (35%). Additionally, top reasons for successful initiatives include support from leadership (51%) and strong, competent execution (48%).

When it comes to tools needed to ensure successful business transformation, respondents from utility companies say that having a summary of all costs associated with transformation initiatives is the single most critical capability (55%). More than half of utility industry respondents (55%) cite inefficient execution as the top reason for transformation failure while noting that the top reason for transformation success is support from leadership (48%). And, those who have successfully implemented transformation initiatives in the last three years say that business transformation met their expectations (47%).

Transformational change in utilities is needed. Given, among other factors, the volatility of commodity pricing, heightened regulatory scrutiny and diminishing talent, boards and executives realize the need for a step-change in their business. And it often depends on the successful planning and execution of strategic initiatives – that is, projects. (…)

Read the complete article here.

Tuesday Jan 13, 2015

The New Face of Project Management: Are Specialized PMOs and Mobile Tech the Future?

PM World Journal - January 2015

Author:  Mike Sicilia, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Oracle Primavera

The face of project management is changing. Economic fluctuation, evolving risk, and increasingly stringent regulations are creating new challenges for project managers. To meet these challenges and ensure the success of diverse projects across the enterprise, organizations must consider new and innovative methodologies and approaches that can inject innovation into processes.

Illuminating these realities, Oracle recently brought together a group of business leaders who revealed insight into two evolving areas: the role of project management offices (PMOs) and the increasing real-time reach of mobile technology. The Enterprise Project Portfolio Management (EPPM) Board – a steering group of senior executives, academics, and industry experts that looks at how C-level executives can successfully prioritize and manage the project portfolio – raised questions over the long-term value of PMOs and the way mobile technology can transform project management.

Read the complete article here.

Monday Dec 08, 2014

Litmus Test: 86% of Large Enterprises See the Value of Business Transformation, Yet Nearly Half Are Not Fully Ready to Execute

Author: Mike Sicilia, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Oracle Primavera

 Today, “business as usual” simply does not, and will not, suffice for large enterprises seeking success. New competition is emerging, existing competitors are upping their game, and the legislative regulation is challenging organizations to reach new levels of transparency. The landscape is dynamic, and for those businesses that strive not simply to compete, but to win, the need for business transformation is urgent. However, while the majority of executives agree that business transformation is vital to maintain a competitive edge, nearly half (48%) are only somewhat or not at all prepared to successfully execute a business transformation today.

 Oracle, in partnership with Forbes Insights, explored what drives business transformation initiatives both internally and externally for a company, and what determines the success or failure of such initiatives in the study, “Making the Change: Planning, Executing and Measuring a Successful Business Transformation .

[Read More]

Monday Jul 14, 2014

Managing Change on Engineering & Construction Projects

By Krista Lambert, Engineering and Construction Strategy Director, Oracle

As the saying goes: change happens. But the recent report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Building in Change: Project Construction in Asset-Intensive Industries revealed that for engineering and construction projects, change is not only inevitable, it creates its own set of challenges. According to the report:

  • More than 60% of survey respondents blame unexpected change for at least one-half of all project overruns.
  • 55% of the executives surveyed consider their companies as average or below at anticipating change.

Clearly, both owners and EPC firms feel that they could vastly improve their ability to manage change. An enterprise-wide project management system not only provides greater visibility and insight into changes, but also improves communication across organizational boundaries, so you can quickly adapt to cost overruns, scope and schedule and quality impacts. To find out more, read the article Critical Components to Effective Project Execution in the latest issue of Construction Connection.

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