Jul 10 2018

Finalcad expands into civils

French SaaS construction solution developer Finalcad is expanding internationally, and reaching beyond conventional building projects into civil engineering projects.

Finalcad logo 2018French SaaS construction project management solution provider Finalcad has been expanding internationally, its marketing director Aurélien Blaha told me this week. Moreover, almost exactly three years since the business first began to reach outside of its native France market, Finalcad has also expanded the reach of its application beyond a focus on conventional buildings to cover linear civil engineering projects – in particular, roads and rail schemes.

International growth

Aurélien Blaha“We now have a roughly 50:50 split between Europe and southeast Asia,” Blaha said. Singapore was the French company’s first overseas office, and now has 15-20 people, and the company has just opened a Japan office in Tokyo. “We are dealing with the international arms of several major contractors, predominantly based in Japan, Korea and China [examples include Shimizu, Fujita, Takenaka and Kajima], and they are very open to new technologies to help them monitor their projects across the region. Asia is growing very fast for us.” In June 2018, the company opened a hosting facility in Tokyo to serve its southeast Asian customers; it also has hosting facilities in the US and in Frankfurt, Germany.

In mainland Europe, France and the UK remain strong markets for the firm, which identified the digital transformation opportunities arising from BIM adoption in the UK in 2016, when it then exhibited at the Ecobuild show in London. “Other strong markets for us include Belgium, Switzerland, and – in particular – Spain, where we have opened an office in Madrid. We already had some projects in Spanish-speaking Latin America, and are now seeing strong interest in Spain itself. The market there is quite dynamic.”

Civil engineering expansion

Finalcad has also expanded beyond its original focus on buildings to cover infrastructure projects, and in particular to provide progress monitoring tools and workflows to infrastructure project teams. This covers both new-build assets and refurbishment of existing assets – “around 80% of Finalcad usage on roads, for example, relates to small capital value projects relating to existing roads; some of our users refer to Finalcad as a ‘WhatsApp for Roads’,” says Blaha. The company recently announced deals with French infrastructure group RATP, the roadworks business unit of Eiffage Group, and the Trans-Sumatra Toll Road mega-project of Indonesian contractor PT PP.

Finalcad on tabletRail projects are another area where Finalcad is being deployed – again to cover both new works and repairs to existing track and stations. Using the Finalcad Live mobile app (available on iOS and Android) on GPS-enabled mobile devices, users can capture details including geolocation data. French state-owned public transport operator RATP (which also operates some transport routes in London) is a customer in this sector.

The energy sector, including nuclear, is another area where Finalcad customers are expanding use of the platform, though the business hasn’t yet developed toolsets to support some types of linear or distributed energy infrastructure (for example, power distribution grids or offshore wind farms). And in south America, Finalcad also has some natural resources clients, including a mining customer operating in Peru.

From field to enterprise

This expansion into support for infrastructure is partly a reflection of the demand by customers for field-based tools, says Blaha.

“Many of our customers are general contractors, and 85% of their users want information in the field. They also want to collaborate with their subcontractors, and most of these are highly mobile small-to-medium-sized businesses. It makes sense for them to have information readily available on a mobile platform.”

Finalcad’s business model was initially solely based on per-project licensing – “This encourages adoption and use of the application down the supply chain,” – and the company now has over 200,000 direct users of the solution, with another 800,000 included in email distribution of reports and notifications from the platform. However, as adoption has extended across multiple projects, customers are now able to purchase the solution via enterprise agreements (Eiffage is a recent example).

Blaha says enterprise adoption has also grown in parallel with digital transformation of the whole design-to-construction process. “Digital maturity has evolved,” he says. “Users initially wanted to collaborate on design information – now they want to see how design information is being applied in the field, and gather as-built data. We are also having more conversations with senior executives about how they can reuse data across their businesses too.”

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/07/finalcad-expands-into-civils/

Jul 02 2018

Concord and T-Con

In June 2017, US-based Concord Project Technologies launched its cloud-based collaboration platform T-CON aimed at EPCs and owners in the energy and petrochemical markets.

Concord logoI was recently asked about a collaboration business called Concord, and had to confess I had not heard of them. My contact referred me to Concord Project Technologies, a Palo Alto, California, US-based business that was founded by Olfa Hamdi in early 2017. According to its website it specialises in project information integration implementation of advanced work packaging (AWP) for construction projects. Its core platform, T-CON, is described as “a powerful, cloud-based, API-friendly Digital Platform purpose-built for complex capital projects,” and its target market appears to be owners and engineering, procurement and construction contractors (EPCs) working in the energy and petrochemical sectors.

Originally from Tunisia, Hamdi studied in France (at the Ecole Centrale de Lille) and then did a construction engineering and project management masters at the University of Texas in Austin, graduating in 2013. During this masters, she wrote a thesis on Advanced Work Packaging, and in 2013, she founded the Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) Institute to further define a disciplined approach to capital project management. In 2014, she met ‘agile IT’ specialist Khalil Aissaoui (now Concord Project Technologies’ CTO). After identifying strong overlaps between construction and software project management, Hamdi asked Aissaoui to help her create a platform for construction project delivery. 

In the meantime, in 2015, Hamdi assembled a team of experienced capital projects experts, technologists, data scientists, and researchers. They reviewed software programs currently used by capital project managers (including for collaboration, data management, engineering, and analytics), compared these to solutions in the information technology space, and looked at application of agile concepts and methods in various industries. They perceived there was a technology gap in the capital projects market and started to develop T-CON using  a global team of developers located in Tunisia, France, Brazil, Bulgaria and India.

T-CON

According to the company’s website, T-CON (launched in June 2017) is a cloud-based platform that supports collaboration between stakeholders involved in capital project supply chains, “from project initiation and planning through field execution, to decommissioning and start-up and ultimately project closure.” It enables AWP techniques, and supports the creation, development and assurance of “non-engineering semantic information created to support the design and field implementation work defined in the various work packages.”

The platform is described as “people-centered,” facilitating seamless flows of information using innovative algorithms, big data, and artificial intelligence to create connections between essential project components and key people, even when they speak different technical languages and subscribe to different contracting backgrounds. The company claims: “No more interoperability issues. No more communication silos.”

However, the technology is seemingly not deployed off-the-shelf:

“The T-CON™ team has developed an integrated roadmap for digital transformation and cloud migration, purpose-built for your capital project organization and supporting more communication and collaboration between your IT and project teams.” 

Concord says it helps established capital projects organisations “build their cloud migration protocols for in-house project delivery capabilities by designing and implementing their transition to the Capital Projects Cloud using a proprietary operating system supporting a custom-built knowledge architecture and powered by a big-data infrastructure.” (phew!)

While the company clearly has some core technological capabilities – T-CON, an ‘integrated Collaboration Standard’ (iCS), and a real-time field productivity and safety monitoring system (TRT) – each implementation is bespoke to the customer organisation, with Concord forming an ‘Entreprise Transformation & Innovation Alliance (ETIA)’ to manage the process.

Advanced work packaging

For me, mention of AWP immediately summons Bentley Systems to mind. At successive annual Year in Infrastructure conferences, it has promoted its advanced work packaging capabilities, delivered primarlily through its ConstructSim work package server and planner products and through its ProjectWise design integration and worksite products. I also recall some discussion of AWP in presentations from Fiatech at COMIT events that I’ve attended – and some of the same people have been involved in conversations about “lean construction” and detailed work planning and interface management (see my recent posts on VisiLean and Aphex, for example).

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/07/concord-and-t-con/

Jun 20 2018

Bentley goes 4D, buys Synchro

Bentley has acquired Synchro to add 4D BIM capabilties to its product portfolio, ‘broadening’ its ProjectWise offerings.

Synchro logoThe US’s Bentley Systems has today (20 June 2018) announced the acquisition of 40-strong UK-based 4D BIM pioneer Synchro Software (for an undisclosed amount). The deal, according to Bentley, “broadens Bentley’s ProjectWise construction offerings.”

Bentley logo 2017Bentley’s portfolio already included ConstructSim, a 4D construction modelling application used in project delivery of industrial plants. Synchro takes the 4D capability wider. Synchro has been deployed to support construction planning, scheduling, and project management strategies across a wider variety of projects, with clients including London’s Crossrail. According to Bentley, Synchro “incorporates other construction variables (human, materials, equipment, falseworks, and space) for safe, reliable, and predictable project delivery performance.” End users will be able to compare construction strategy alternatives—even in early stages of design and bid processes—and to evaluate the feasibility and efficiency of different scenarios.

Bentley says it will incorporate Synchro’s 4D construction modelling through the ProjectWise CDE (it refers to a ‘connected data environment’, rather than the more widely – at least in the UK – common data environment; in October 2017, ProjectWise appeared past the tipping point in its transition from on-premise to being the cloud-based centre of an ‘ecosystem’ of cloud services). As a result, it claims infrastructure project delivery will benefit from “unprecedented digital workflow advancements”. Steve Jolley, Bentley’s VP for construction, says: “for infrastructure projects, integrating Synchro’s 4D construction modelling completes the reach of our ProjectWise CDE.

Crossrail’s Malcolm Taylor says:

“Using 4D models to plan helped speed up the project teams’ understanding of what we needed to do and when. They could also tease out conflicts that were not normally apparent from regular Gantt charts and drawings. Using the 4D model for construction progress also manages payment expectations as it allows teams to readily agree on what’s completed and accepted—as well as producing an excellent as-built record for the future maintainer.”

Bentley Systems’ CEO Greg Bentley describes Synchro as “leading the adoption of 4D construction modelling” for significant projects worldwide. He says extending digital workflows and superseding disconnected planning and scheduling will offer “enormous and immediate” benefits.

My reaction

TomDengenis - CEO of SynchroI have followed Synchro’s development from the mid 2000s, when CEO Tom Dengenis, right, left SaaS construction collaboration technology developer Asite to lead Synchro as it grew and raised funds in 2007. I met Dengenis at another software vendor’s event in 2017, and earlier this month I noted Synchro’s tie-up with Denmark’s GenieBelt (I am not sure how that will survive the Bentley deal).

The deal will immediately excite industry watchers who welcomed the acquisition (announced in December 2017, completed three months ago, in March 2018) of SaaS collaboration technology vendor Aconex by Oracle, provider of the Primavera scheduling toolset and Textura construction payment management platform. We now have at least two major AEC software vendors with strong 4D capabilities alongside design authoring, while Trimble (after its April 2018 deal to buy Viewpoint) and RIB also seek to play in the 5D cost control space.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/06/bentley-goes-4d-buys-synchro/

Jun 20 2018

Asite revenues up 18% in 2017

UK construction collaboration SaaS developer Asite increased its revenues 18% in the year to 30 June 2017, according to its latest report and accounts. 

Asite logo 2012London, UK-based construction collaboration Software-as-a-Service developer Asite increased its revenues 18% in the year to 30 June 2017. According to its latest report and accounts, the group received £7.150m in revenues (up from 2016‘s £6.047m) – at today’s rates, that’s around US$9.42m or €8.16m.

The 18% revenue growth lags behind the 31% growth reported by Aconex in August 2017 (both globally and in its UK operation, though this was boosted by contributions from Aconex Services, the former Conject UK business – post). At its May 2018 customer summit, UK rival Viewpoint claimed that its 2017 EMEA revenues were up 21%.

collaboration vendors revenues to 2017

In 2016, Asite shouted about a 31% jump in profitability. The figure fell 26% in 2017 to £0.733m – around US$0.970m or €0.84m – down from 2016’s £0.993m, and a first dip in Asite profitability since 2010 during the last recession. According to the report, the decrease was due to investments in Asite personnel across all regions to support future growth plans. The company has opened a new office in Hong Kong, and it also highlighted the March 2018 launch of its New Dawn release of Adoddle.

The sophisticated but intensely competitive UK market still accounts for 76.5% of Asite’s global revenues (down from 78% the previous year). Revenues were up in every other region, with North America (at £0.541m) now second biggest in revenue terms, just head of the company’s Australasian operation (£0.522m). Asite’s European operation generated £0.324m.

At the year-end, Asite’s total headcount was 242, up from 227 in 2016. The mainly India-based technical team is now 205-strong. The remainder are made up of professional services (15), sales and account management (10), and finance and administration (12).

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/06/asite-revenues-up-18-in-2017/

Jun 20 2018

Aconex (UK) grew 31% in 2017

Aconex logo 2014Now that the Australian-based but internationally operating construction collaboration SaaS vendor Aconex is owned by Oracle it may seem strange to be revisiting its regional financial performance in Europe in the year to 30 June 2017. However, it is useful as a yardstick for the performance of other SaaS construction collaboration vendors, and an indication of the health of the market in general (the business reported separately to the UK-based operations of Conject [see previous post] – acquired by Aconex in March 2016).

Filed at Companies House in May 2018, the report and accounts for Aconex (UK) Limited for the year ending 30 June 2017 show that the business earned revenues of £5.486m (c. US$7.22m or €6.26m), up 31% on the company’s 2016 performance (though this may reflect the impact of customer revenues gained from the UK Conject operation, and that boost is likely to continue as more former Conject customers make the transition to Aconex). For the same period, it reported an operating loss of £100k, compared to a £410k profit in 2016.

The revenues were derived from the UK (£2.231m), from the rest of Europe (£1.635m), and from Africa (including an operation in Algeria now in liquidation) and the rest of the world (£1.613m), with growth reported across all three geographic sectors: of 34%, 54% and 10% respectively.

Update (29 June 2018) – An email from Oracle says: “As of June 1, 2018, the business of Aconex (UK) Limited will be performed by Oracle Corporation UK Limited.”

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/06/aconex-uk-grew-31-in-2017/

Jun 20 2018

Aconex’s Conject business reported £1.3m profit

Aconex logo 2014Aconex Services Limited – the UK-based business formerly known as Conject Limited, and before that BIW – had a profitable first year of operation as part of the international SaaS construction collaboration technology group Aconex (the Anglo-German Conject group was acquired by Aconex in March 2016).

In a financial report filed at Companies House in April 2018, the Woking, Surrey-based company reported revenues of £4.902m – or about US$6.45m or €5.59m – in the year to 30 June 2017. The figures are down on those reported for the last full year, to 31 December 2015 (post), when the company generated revenues of nearly £6.4m before altering its reporting cycles to align with Aconex group practices. The revenue drop is also to be expected as the business was operating in tandem with Aconex (UK) Limited, and starting the process of transitioning customers from the Conject system to Aconex applications. The report says:

“Across the company’s markets the organisation continued to grow its client base, and secured a number of new enterprise and programme engagements via its sister company, Aconex (UK) Ltd. Many of our existing clients extended their commitment to us by signing new enterprise agreements.”

The company’s headcount dropped from 61 to 47 (presumably due to post-acquisition rationalisation), resulting in lower operational expenses. However, the healthy EBITDA profit of £1.275m is largely due to inclusion in ‘other operating income’ of a £2.2m figure for “transfer pricing income” (I am not an accountant, but I think this relates to intra-group payments to Conject for provision of services to Aconex).

 

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/06/aconexs-conject-business-reported-1-3m-profit/

Jun 19 2018

Salesforce and construction – much more than CRM

Like several other software giants, Salesforce is exploring opportunities in the construction sector – and looking to develop construction-specific offerings, not just to sell more CRM seats.

Salesforce logoAt the invitation of Andrew Bowles (a long-time industry contact – he worked at what is today GroupBC from 2003 to 2012), I attended the inaugural meeting of the Salesforce Construction Council, held in London on 7 June 2018.

Building out the Salesforce proposition

Since its 1999 foundation by Marc Benioff, Salesforce has become one of the world’s leading providers of cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) software. It has capitalised upon growing corporate acceptance of Software-as-a-Service tools over the past 19 years, and also expanded its portfolio through acquisitions and internal development of new products and services. Today, its offerings include:

  • An advanced Platform-as-a-Service (Lightning) upon which customers’ developers can build their own applications (desktop and mobile) that can either run standalone or fully integrated with Salesforce’s main applications
  • AppExchange – an online application marketplace for third-party applications running on the Lightning platform
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities – branded ‘Einstein’ – that can analyse and make predictions based on data collected by customers, from conventional CRM data through to social media data streams, data generated by image recognition – we saw an interesting drone example – and even Internet of Things (IoT) signals.

Embracing digital technology

Andrew Bowles addressing Salesforce Construction CouncilBowles and his colleagues (including representatives from partner businesses) briefly explained these technologies to a construction industry audience including several existing customers of Salesforce. They highlighted the industry’s productivity challenges and its widespread continued reliance on creating and then sharing conventional documents, drawings and spreadsheets via email. As a company, Salesforce practices what it preaches when it comes to investing in its workforce – its own experiences show that businesses that invest in their employees outperform those that don’t, attracting better people, retaining them longer, and helping them be more productive.

Yes, we often embrace consumer technologies enthusiastically in our personal lives, but hesitate when it comes to deploying the same types of platforms at work. Concerns about security and trust are often used to justify delaying their deployment in the construction world. Overcome such resistance and there can be powerful opportunities to enhance productivity. Salesforce shared several examples.

Salesforce in action

First, a Salesforce partner, Israeli startup BuilderEdge, demonstrated a Salesforce-based solution that could automate numerous project team processes when organisations deploy repeatable and reusable components in their construction projects, and automatically adjust schedules, budgets, quantities, etc, accordingly.

BuilderEdge reusing building information I talked to one of the presenters, Avi Kaye, afterwards, and we identified there is a strong need to educate traditional construction organisations to rethink their near-bespoke approaches to every project. Offsite and design for manufacture and assembly, DfMA, techniques are increasingly advocated as ‘disruptions’ that could capitalise upon BIM and so improve industry productivity, but many industry professionals tend to start projects almost from scratch.

Second, we heard from Glenigan, which provides construction industry business information services. It had developed a proof of concept with Salesforce to explore how Glenigan’s historical bid data held in Salesforce and/or in Glenigan might be explored using artificial intelligence (“augmented intelligence”) and machine learning to help businesses identify critical success factors in work-winning.

East Sussex Highways customer portalThe third example was closer to Salesforce’s CRM heartland, and underlined that successful delivery of services to end-users requires businesses to be responsive to customers’ needs. East Sussex Highways’ Salesforce-powered portal, operated by Jacobs (formerly CH2M), efficiently captures users’ concerns relating to physical assets (around 30,000 defects per annum), manages its employees’ workflows, and has cut complaints by over 80%.

The final two examples were from residential property. First, we heard a Salesforce partner (London-based CloudShift) explain how its Salesforce-based platform had helped a property developer turn sales prospects into customers, while also efficiently managing on-site snagging processes. Then we heard how not-for-profit social housing organisations were working with Salesforce.org (the social enterprise arm of Salesforce) to streamline facilities management works relating to their physical estates and to build successful community initiatives with residents.

Towards a more customer-oriented industry

As expected, in a highly competitive low-margin sector, there was some keen interest in Glenigan’s example of more targeted work-winning. But I also felt that the construction industry’s ongoing digital transformations …

  • from being document-centric to data-centric
  • from being adversarial and silo-based to collaborative and integrated
  • from lowest-price to best whole life value, and
  • from being focused on project delivery to thinking whole asset life-cycle

… could all be accelerated by more connected approaches, accompanied by some market education. As construction digitally transforms, it will embrace more connected business processes, and will be devising, creating, operating, maintaining and updating built assets that are themselves more connected.

Future citizens will be living and working in smart buildings, many of them located in smart cities, with sensors and other devices constantly streaming data to help users make informed real-time decisions. In such a social, economic and technological ecosystem, the industry currently known as construction cannot solely be concerned about designing and building new assets. It will have to consider the constantly changing needs of its customers and of their stakeholders as they interact with systems of both new and existing assets – and this will heighten the need for technologies that will help businesses be more responsive and more productive.

[Disclosure: I was paid by Salesforce to attend the event. Tweets from the day were shared using the #constructforce hashtag, and I produced a white paper based on the day’s presentations.]

 

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/06/salesforce-and-construction-much-more-than-crm/

Jun 18 2018

Tenderfield targets SMEs

North Sydney, Australia-based SaaS construction software business Tenderfield has gone from initial concept to live support of over 10,000 users in less than three years.

Tenderfield logoCo-founder Jason Kamha started out labouring on construction projects before doing a construction management degree and working as an estimator and contracts manager. He identified that many small to medium-sized businesses had similar needs when it came to bidding for projects and then managing those projects, and so decided to establish a Software-as-a-Service business to service those needs. With some angel investor backing, he grew a small team (now 15-strong) and in 18 months developed the Tenderfield solution, launched in early 2017.

Tenderfield - Tender ManagementKamha describes the Tenderfield platform as comprising four pillars: tendering and bid management (Bid.it), project document management (Plan.it), subcontractor collaboration (Sub.it), and project management (Build.it). One of the business’s strongpoints, he says, is its construction lead network. “Tenderfield is not just about project delivery, we create an ecosystem which connects businesses to new opportunities, with registered users able to receive notifications of tender opportunities for free.” Depending on the functionality required, pricing-wise, paid-for packages start from Au$24 [c. £13.40, €15.30 or US$18.10] per user per month, with no limits on data storage or number of projects.

Tenderfield PlanviewerThe project management toolset now includes 14 tools (and growing) covering tasks including defects and non-conformance reporting, email tracking, meeting minutes, project instructions, purchase orders, requests for information, safety notices and site diary. Collaboration on designs is managed through a 2D PDF ‘planviewer’ tool (building information modelling, BIM, is not yet a customer need, Kamha said).

Jason Kamha - Tenderfield co-founderTenderfield’s user base has grown to over 10,000 users, with most of its customers comprising small businesses: “While competitors like Aconex target the top end of town, the bigger firms and projects, a typical Tenderfield customer will be a medium-size contractor with around 15-30 users and might be working on around ten projects at any one time,” Kamha, right, says. “Many work in the residential, commercial and retail new build and fit-out sectors, and we’ve managed about Au$2bn [c. £1.1bn] worth of work on the platform so far.” Registered users can invite new users to access project-related information and collaborate on the platform for free, and ‘smart’ emails can also be sent from the system to non-users inviting them to collaborate.

The platform is hosted by Amazon Web Services and has been developed as a responsive web-based toolset that can be easily accessed across all devices. Tenderfield has also attracted customers in the US and Canada (an AWS instance provides regional hosting in north America).

It is still early days for the business, but Kamha said revenues have been “doubling every six months.” A factor in the platform’s growth has been its easy adoption – “users can set up an account and be starting their first project in minutes” – in contrast with rival systems where direct sales and training inputs are required to get new customers up and running.

The business has won awards, including a recent Merit Award at the Australian Information Industry Association iAwards, an Australian awards programme for innovation in the digital economy. Kamha’s industry contacts as well as website and social media contacts have also raised the profile and helped secure some early adoption of Tenderfield, he said. “One thing that has been really successful has been taking a coffee truck to our project sites. We can show the Tenderfield lead network to subcontractors, and do some training on tablets – and the guys really appreciate the free coffee.”

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/06/tenderfield-targets-smes/

Jun 07 2018

GenieBelt and Synchro team up

Integration between Synchro Software and GenieBelt will improve the connection of site-based processes to building information modelling (BIM) – and vice versa.

Synchro logoAnglo-US construction software provider Synchro Software and Copenhagen, Denmark-based GenieBelt have agreed to enter into a Proof of Concept (PoC) integrating Synchro’s 4D Virtual Planning and Construction software platform with GenieBelt’s real-time project management and mobile site reporting tool. Both companies want construction to become a modern, technology-driven, efficient industry, eliminating unnecessary waste and cost.

GenieBelt logoThe PoC aims to connect the 4D construction  model in the Synchro platform and project plan data with GenieBelt – automatically via APIs – to allow instant onsite registration of progress, reporting, questions, marks, tagging and pictures to flow via GenieBelt back to the 4D platform.

Such integration between the visual model, real-time project management and onsite communication will provide real-time updates to the project’s schedule and BIM model, ensuring continuous overview and insights into actual project progress. It will also help enrich the model and project information with data.

Ulrik Branner - Geniebelt CEOTom Dengenis, CEO of Synchro, and Ulrik Branner, CEO of GenieBelt (right), both regard this PoC as the next trajectory in delivering transparency and accountability to the industry, paving the road for data continuity all the way from the design phase over construction to facility management and maintenance.

“Partnering with industry experts in forward thinking organisations who have a passion to lead the way to change will provide the digital backbone required to significantly change the way we manage construction projects today and in the future,” says Branner.

TomDengenis - CEO of Synchro“We are excited to be collaborating with GenieBelt, who are as passionate about driving change in the construction industry as we are. The combination of our 4D digital construction platform and the real-time updates provided by GenieBelt will enable significant process and business improvements,” says Tom Dengenis.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/06/geniebelt-and-synchro-team-up/

May 24 2018

CEMAR acquired by Think Project!

Germany’s think project! has added construction contract change management to its product portfolio, acquiring the UK’s leading exponent, CEMAR.

Thinkproject-logoMunich, Germany-based SaaS construction collaboration technology provider think project! has made its first UK acquisition, buying Gloucester-based construction contract change management specialist CEMAR (for an undisclosed amount).

CEMAR’s cloud-based solution helps teams manage contract-driven workflows and supports NEC (New Engineering Contracts) and FIDIC (International Federation of Consulting Engineers) contracts, among others. CEMAR customers include Highways England, Nuclear New Build, ITER, BAE Systems, Heathrow Airport, Network Rail and Sellafield.

The CEMAR back story

CEMAR logoCEMAR was founded in 2005 and initially developed traditional on-premise software, switching to a Software-as-a-Service model a few years later as it competed against SaaS collaboration vendors including 4Projects (now Viewpoint), Conject and Aconex (now merged and part of Oracle) and Asite, plus some UK-based NEC3 specialists including Sypro and MPS. For a time, contract workflow management became a fiercely contested battleground among the ‘extranet’ vendors, but their interest gradually cooled as building information modelling (BIM) took centre stage from 2011 onwards.

However, as they stepped back, CEMAR stepped up. The company has grown rapidly, enjoying year-on-year double-digit revenue growth. It generated around £3m in the year to 30 April 2017, and last September (CEMAR sticks to its NEC expertise) director and COO Nick Woodrow told me it expected revenues to grow 50% to around £4.5m. The business also more than tripled its employee headcount in two years. CEMAR’s leadership comprises civil engineers and contract consultants, one a member of the NEC4 drafting team.

The business’s strength in supporting the NEC contract suite saw it make significant inroads in UK water and infrastructure, and in higher education. The company targeted UK prospects in the so-called 6 H’s (HS2, Hinkley, Heathrow, Highways, Housing and Heritage), and was excited about new NEC4 workflows, and about accelerating international interest in the NEC suite. Importantly, though, the CEMAR solution is “contract-agnostic” – it can and does also support FIDIC and other contract forms.

CEMAR also had a working relationship with UK-based common data environment vendor GroupBC. At the latter’s September 2017 user conference Woodrow described how the two solutions complemented each other. A BC-CEMAR Connector had been developed as an optional module for the GroupBC platform.

Acquisition rationale

Thomas Bachmaier and Ben Walker, London, 22 May 2018When I talked exclusively to think project! CEO Thomas Bachmaier (above left, with CEMAR CEO Ben Walker) about the deal earlier this week in London, he highlighted FIDIC as one of the contracts most widely used by its customers in continental Europe. While the think project! platform did support some contract processes, he said, it was not as sophisticated in its capabilities as CEMAR. Its capabilities complemented Think Project! and this is what attracted them to the deal.

The acquisition is the latest of a recent series that has seen think project! expand beyond its central European heartland. It acquired 60% of France’s Lascom AEC in September 2015 (rebranded in June 2017), established a joint venture with Madrid-based ProjectCenter in September 2016, while also acquiring domestic competitor Conetics in October 2016.

The company has also expanded its technologies to support customers demanding BIM capabilities (July 2015) – a market that is now growing quickly in Germany and other mainland Europe markets, Bachmaier said – and expanded its board, adding a UK-based non-executive director, Laing O’Rourke CIO Gareth Burton, and a new MD and FD, Ralf Grüßhaber. The company has been backed by TA Associates, a leading global growth private equity firm, since January 2017.

Think project! says CEMAR will retain its own brand (annotated to show it as part of the think project! group); its contract management solution will complement its parent group’s product offerings. CEMAR’s contract management solution will be offered to think project! customers and markets, while CEMAR customers will benefit from think project! technologies, such as BIM and mobile solutions.

Bachmaier says:

Thomas Bachmaier“Entering the UK market with CEMAR is a major cornerstone in our international growth strategy. This acquisition provides think project! with the opportunity to acquire major UK and international customers, while adding a leading contract management solution to our product portfolio. We are very pleased to welcome CEMAR to think project! and are confident they will contribute significantly to the Group’s continued growth.”

Ben Walker, CEO of CEMAR says:

Ben Walker, CEMAR CEO“We are delighted to become part of the think project! Group. CEMAR will benefit from the experience and structures of think project’s international project business, as well as from synergies in our complementary technologies. Our joining forces has created a strong partnership for digital transformation that will further support our customers in the UK and internationally.”

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