There is a good case study on the use of ‘extranet’ technologies (aka construction collaboration technologies) in the latest issue of UK industry weekly Building magazine. Getting Won Over, by Stephen Kennett, details the experiences of UK-based property developer Hammerson, supported by Gleeds Collaboration Services, in using the collaboration platform from BIW Technologies [my employer].
Hammerson’s previous experiences with project extranets had been ‘patchy’, not least because of people’s resistance to new technology. However, major new mixed-use projects involving multi-national, multi-disciplinary teams could not be supported by using email, so it focused on making a success of the implementation process rather than the technology itself.
Echoing my own previous observations on the subject (here, for instance), Gleeds’ Peter Dampier says: “It’s 20% about the technology and 80% about getting people to use it and getting the processes right”.
I like the use of key performance indicators to gauge how the platform is being used:
“A ‘wall of shame’ is generated of everyone who has a user name and password but hasn’t logged on to the system. At the end of the month those on the “wall” are asked to explain why they aren’t using the system. …
“The next phase will continue to gather information on things such as the number of documents rejected for having the wrong naming format, but it will also be extended to areas such as the length of time needed to approve drawings and submit revisions and changing the status of drawings.”
Gleeds also surveyed users opinions of the system, and the main gripe has been over speed (ie: nothing to do with the software, simply a reflection of many organisations’ inadequate ICT infrastructure):
“The system is totally reliant on the IT infrastructure in the office that is being used,” says Gleeds’ Jasper Singh. “A lot of companies still see email as the main reason for having telecoms, the internet is still seen as secondary and they don’t dedicate enough bandwidth to it.” But armed with the feedback Gleeds is now giving advice to the supply chain on how speed can be improved.