How unified schedule data helps keep construction projects on track

Halikos Group chose Oracle Aconex to help keep office and field teams in sync.

Rick Bell | March 14, 2024

Construction is nothing new to the citizens of Darwin in Australia’s sprawling Northern Territory. Since its founding in the early 1800s, the city has been leveled by cyclones and destroyed by repeated bombings during World War II.

Yet determined residents continually rebuilt their community—oftentimes from the ground up. Today, Darwin remains an Australian city on the rise with dozens of construction projects on the horizon and a skyline likely to change significantly in the coming years.

Playing a key role in Darwin’s growth as a development-focused town and emblematic of the region’s “Territory Strong” motto, Halikos Group is a fiercely loyal Northern Territory-owned and operated construction company. With humble beginnings in 1987 as a contract and roofing business, Halikos built its reputation over the past 30-plus years as a construction industry leader, developing across multiple industries committed to employing, investing, and building the local community.

Halikos has several high-profile construction projects underway, and chief among them is the Charles Darwin University Education and Community Precinct Project in the Darwin Central Business District. As the project commenced last year, it was clear that rigor and process around document control—specifically workflow and workflow reviews—would be essential to a smooth and predictable project lifecycle.

Previously, most Halikos processes around tracking document reviews was done manually and maintained in Excel spreadsheets, while team documents were sent via email and ZIP files. The vast amount of documentation that comes with a D&C contract was a headache to manage and required constant attention to track the flow of information.

“There’s constant delay with manual input, so you have to continually check back on the status of everything, which took significant resources to track all of the documents that were out there,” says Jay Mcneice, assistant project manager for Halikos. “We weren’t working in real time. The delay took significant resources to sort through and find the status rather than having a digitalized system that did that for us.”

Smooth implementation

Having worked with Oracle Aconex project management software for seven years at a previous company, Mcneice knew its value to manage end-to-end processes and build collaboration. He championed the solution’s use at Halikos, and it was initially implemented in early 2022 for the Darwin University project. The Oracle Aconex value already is clear.

“We're managing an array of subcontractor documentation; the Oracle Aconex system offers a platform where it's easy for subcontractors to submit their documentation to us for a structured review process,” Mcneice says. “One of the biggest reasons why we selected Oracle Aconex was to manage the document control process—particularly subcontracted documentation and track the status of those reviews, from the initial transmittal through each step of the approval process.”

In terms of the document-control process, we looked at a few solutions on the market and each offered parts of what Oracle Aconex offered, but no single system offered the full, complete package in terms of how we would like to see our systems and processes work. Oracle Aconex is best aligned with how we want to do things here to run a document-control system.”

Jay Mcneice Assistant Project Manager, Halikos

Tony Leben, senior consultant-professional services with Oracle Construction and Engineering, agreed that coming from a Tier 1 construction company that used Oracle Aconex enhanced Mcneice’s familiarity with the system’s configuration to make quick decisions regarding various set-up functions. Even when encountering “new” functionalities such as mail form fields, Mcneice could envision its application and chose to implement it on several mail types for specific project processes.

“The client was able to turn around the review and sign off on the project settings report in good time, which meant that the project was ready to go live within two weeks,” Leben says.

By including additional consulting days in its agreement, Leben also ran valuable training sessions for the project team and answered key process-related questions including bulk migration of documents from the previous system. There was a sense of immediacy to implement Oracle Aconex once the university project was underway. Document flow was growing daily, and previous processes were already unmanageable. Oracle Aconex was the logical choice, Mcneice says.

The immediate time frame increases the need for transparency over the process. Seeing exactly where a document is in the process, the real-time feedback Oracle Aconex provides as soon as it's passed along, allows Mcneice and his team to confidently know that it's moved to the next party in minutes, not days.

Oracle Aconex’s data ownership model remains a huge component for building confidence and transparency, he adds. Previous systems caused some hesitation. A system owner at the click of a button potentially could see everything including commercially confidential information, which can limit trust of the system and create hesitation to upload certain sensitive information into that environment.

“The fact that everyone has a similar environment they operate in, and the data access protocols of Oracle Aconex are some of the biggest benefits,” Mcneice says. “Knowing how it functions and what people can and can't see, things like progress claims, is something we're able to manage as opposed to having to be a bit wary about where that information is shared. What’s also important is how the processes have been set up: They're logical, they make sense, and they work. That's the big thing for us.”

Why Halikos chose Oracle Aconex

Mcneice’s familiarity with Oracle Aconex helped in the decision making but the solution has clearly offered multiple benefits.

“In terms of the document-control process, we looked at a few solutions on the market and each offered parts of what Oracle Aconex offered, but no single system offered the full, complete package in terms of how we would like to see our systems and processes work,” Mcneice says. “Oracle Aconex is best aligned with how we want to do things here to run a document-control system.”

Mcneice predicts that Oracle Aconex will become a standard operating process at Halikos. As something of an Oracle Aconex guru, Mcneice has been involved in training some of the younger employees. He’s also watching others across Halikos grow into using Oracle Aconex.

For onsite staff who aren’t as computer-oriented, the Oracle Aconex UI is a lot smoother and cleaner than other project management software systems, Mcneice notes. Competitors try to do too much, but it just creates confusion and users become confused and frustrated.

“Oracle Aconex is simple to use, its UI is friendly, clean, and easy, which makes a huge difference while still doing everything we need it to,” Mcneice says.

‘Subbies’ adapt to Oracle Aconex

Many international subcontractors working with Halikos already are familiar with Oracle Aconex. About half of the local “subbies” also know its value, and for those new to the solution, the uptake has been positive given its ease of use, he says.

“Subcontractors say they’re happy to see Oracle Aconex come online,” Mcneice says. “It eliminates the confusion with where documents are sitting in the workflow process––making their life a lot easier, keeping everyone accountable, and we've all got more time to actually focus on building.”

The unalterable audit trail, where nothing can be removed or deleted from the system, provides transparency and accountability––which is extremely important to the Halikos team. There is certainty that if they say something on Oracle Aconex, it can't be misconstrued or altered.

That is incredibly important given the contractual nature of construction and holding people accountable, particularly with tight timeframes and programs that operate like clockwork. “For the subbies and the consultants, it provides accountability for everyone,” he says. “People come and go in construction. It's not like if someone leaves the organization, you've potentially lost thousands of emails and the correspondence chain has disappeared. In Oracle Aconex it's all there, it's transparent, you can see it within your organization and it's time stamped. “That's a huge win for us.”

Rick Bell is a senior content marketing manager