Building on Success


Laying the Foundation
The goal—a very ambitious one—was to integrate the Primavera solution across the company to build unified processes and increase the accuracy and availability of information. “It’s one thing to standardize on a project in terms of processes and technology, and another thing entirely to extrapolate and expand to the level of an enterprise,” says Sappé.

However, that enterprise-level integration was vital for getting the real-time information flow the company needed to manage risk effectively. “The traditional construction company has one enterprise application, and that’s the accounting system,” says Pressley. “The problem is that once something is invoiced and billed, it’s already happened. You don’t have the time or the information to make decisions—it’s already too late.”

This reality led Hill CEO Irvin Richter to realize that IT was a way to differentiate his company from the competition. He tapped Mike Patrisco as CIO in 2007 to build and implement a plan that took advantage of this opportunity.

As part of that plan, IT professionals at Hill took advantage of Primavera’s Web-enabled solutions to implement their enterprise system. By moving the existing Primavera applications onto Web-based portals using software-as-a-service delivery, the company made standard tools and systems accessible to globally scattered projects. “It allows us to utilize tablet PCs and remote tools to get systems out to the project people who need access and gives everybody access to the same information,” says Patrisco.

Hill implemented Oracle’s Primavera Contract Management, as well as Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management and Primavera Risk Analysis, across its project management workforce and integrated the applications via a dashboard that aggregates information up to senior management. The effect has been far reaching, allowing the company to streamline workflow processes and complex construction management tasks, all while allowing executives visibility down to individual project levels.

“Primavera has enhanced our management procedures and stepped up our workflow processes across the board. Now, our project managers focus on their projects, and executives have the visibility they need to monitor progress for the duration,” says Pressley. “Executives can start seeing current metrics and forecasts and know how they’re going to perform this quarter or for the year.”

Primavera at Work
If Palm Jumeirah gave the first inkling of the Primavera solutions’ value, Hill’s integrated technology approach helped the company strike gold with the construction of the Comcast Center in Philadelphia—a US$400 million initiative that produced the tallest building in the city. Designed by architect Robert A.M. Stern and structural engineer Thornton Tomasetti, the Comcast Center includes 1.25 million square feet of office space and 40,000 square feet of retail space. The structure is hardly run-of-the-mill, containing not only an eye-catching winter garden but also a four-story sky garden that soars more than 700 feet above the public area.

The project also had an aggressive timeline—two years from start to finish.

The integrated IT strategy paid off: the Primavera Contract Management solution tracked costs for 25 major organizations working on the project, and the team utilized the collaborative Web-based environment to act quickly and accurately on items such as Requests for Information (RFIs), submittals, and change orders. The solution enabled Hill to make all payments on time, while watching the actual and pending costs of contracts and the project as a whole.

For example, Njeri Ngaara, a project manager on the Comcast Center project, remembers the installation of the largest 4-millimeter LED screen in the world—a 2,100-square-foot video wall that cost US$20 million to build. The Primavera system allowed Ngaara’s team to track the subproject from sourcing to completion, keeping Ngaara herself informed about the status of the budget. “We always knew exactly where we were in terms of costs, and we could be proactive rather than reactive,” she recalls. “It tracked actual and projected costs—the information was invaluable.”

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