Analysis

Software helps contractor streamline operations

6 December 2018 | By BIM+ staff

National housebuilder and contractor Seddon has carried out major review of its management systems over the past two years with the help of software developer Elecosoft.

Seddon technical manager Michael Crawford led the task group set up to explore the company’s needs. He explains: “We already used Elecosoft’s Powerproject as our planning software of choice across the business. However, although project managers reported their progress, there was no real consistency from business unit to business unit as to how they did it.”

Seddon wanted the ability to generate a fully linked programme – one which showed everything from the time it was awarded a contract, onwards. The aim was to ensure that everyone involved had the accurate and approved information they needed, when they needed it.

“We asked Elecosoft to come up with a proposal, and their recommendation was to use Powerproject Enterprise,” says Crawford.

Once the approach and development costs were signed off at board level, Seddon’s project team coordinated with Elecosoft’s consultants to agree in more detail how to take each step in understanding how goals could be met and piloting the changes. 

This collaborative team of client and Elecosoft consultants and developers spent eight months developing the systems. The goals became clearer as they understood what the platform could deliver. Crawford says: “Powerproject Enterprise would allow people to access and work on the same project in tandem with others, while one person kept control and oversight. All these people could work interactively and independently, without having to go into an email environment.”

The result was OneProgramme, which was designed to bring together people with responsibilities for design, commercial, materials, plant and production. This also generated a mobile app based on Site Progress Mobile, a companion app to Powerproject, so it could integrate, and would work for the site teams, and make it simpler for them to report progress on fortnightly basis. 

A major goal was to ensure information from across the business could be connected, often for the first time. OneProgramme has helped to move away from disconnected data to a single, integrated version of the truth.

The project was rolled out on new projects from 2018, and the learnings have continued. Individual roles are trained in slightly different ways, with some individual training documents and video guides.  “Success has varied between people, due to differences in their ability to take ownership and willingness to change their way of working – it may take another 6-12 months to get this completely ingrained,” says Crawford.

OneProgramme is now well underway and Seddon is confident that the proof will be seen clearly when it delivers the first projects managed start to finish with this philosophy, programme platform and inclusive process. 

“In the next two to three years, we plan to invest on making the IT systems a lot more connected, focusing on collaboration. The aim is to achieve a working environment that is Paperless, Agile, Visible and Efficient – known as PAVE. To achieve this aim, The One Programme will connect with other systems throughout the project lifecycle, collating and interpreting data through live dashboards to help us make more accurate predictions - such as early identification of key package procurement impacting on project completion.

“Our Common Data Environment provides Seddon with a host for information, which can be accessed from anywhere, including on the cloud to support our paperless and agile vision. The data being generated can be used in conjunction with 3D models to analyse accurate programme periods and improve understanding of interfaces, all of which is a very exciting development.”

The company is now looking towards expansion into its house-building division. It will work with Elecosoft again to develop customised templates to suit the specialised and more repetitive nature of this area.