In its first year of business, 4Projects’ Australian distributor ProjectCollaboration.com.au has gone from start-up to supporting a Au$10bn mining project.
Launched in May 2012 by former Aconex and Teambinder executive Milton Walters (post), Melbourne-based ProjectCollaboration has won some significant projects in Australia and in south-east Asia during its first year of operation. As a reseller of UK-based (now US-owned) SaaS construction collaboration vendor 4Projects, it has increased customer options in the region, winning work against indigenous competitors, and apparently benefitting from both 4Projects’ ongoing BIM development and from the heightened product and customer focus of its US parent, construction ERP vendor Viewpoint.
I had an update from ProjectCollaboration MD Milton Walters this morning, and he said their consultancy-led marketing strategy had paid off:
“We are very happy where we are right now. We’re winning hearts and minds with our consultative manner, talking with customers who have identified shortfalls in current collaboration systems, while recognising that no single system will resolve all their problems.”
The company has attracted interest from customers in the Australian mining sector in particular, with several early wins. However, a highlight of the business’s first year was securing a contract with Roy Hill Holdings to support a Au$10bn iron ore mine in Western Australia – a win that has significantly raised the company’s profile, and helped dispel any notion that Australian customers will only buy Australian solutions. Another major win came in January, when ProjectCollaboration heard it had secured a contract to support the Au$700m (SGD$900m) Terminal 4 project at Singapore’s Changi Airport. Maintaining a good mix of projects is important to Milton as, in his view, the Australian mining sector appears to be slowing down.
ProjectCollaboration’s early successes as a software distributive business has also attracted interest from other international SaaS vendors offering complementary services that want to establish a foothold in Australasia, but Milton was in no rush to add new partners: “We have a strong offering with 4Projects and a stable flow of work to keep our team fully occupied,” he said (the firm now employs ten people).
Milton recently returned to the UK to attend a 4Projects user conference in Durham and believes the company’s acquisition by Viewpoint has done nothing but good:
“We have always been able to differentiate 4Projects from rival solutions by stressing its enterprise-level multi-project capabilities, its user-friendly hierarchical folders-style view of project information, and its workflow tools. However, while it’s early days for BIM in Australia, 4Projects’ investment in BIM innovation is interesting our prospects, and the Viewpoint deal has also been beneficial.
“In particular, Viewpoint has already helped 4Projects focus on product development and it is very focused on the customer user experience. This fits with our approach too – we are committed to delivering excellent customer service.”
Milton remains tight-lipped when it comes to talking about competitors in the region. Yet his business is clearly making inroads despite the apparent slowdown in the mining sector. From doing its first product demonstration in May 2012, it has already achieved some of the objectives (a diverse portfolio of major wins, plus regional projects outside Australasia) he set for the business when we spoke last August. And he thinks the Viewpoint relationship locally (the US company also operates in Australia; Scott Haladay – son of Coaxis CEO Jay Haladay – manages Viewpoint’s Melbourne office) will further help ProjectCollaboration consolidate its place in the region’s market.
In other (Australian) news…
Update (24 April 2014) – Last week, 15 April 2014, Aconex announced that Roy Hill Holdings had selected its platform to support the construction and operation of Roy Hill, one of Australia’s largest integrated iron ore mining, rail and port projects, located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
This appears to be the same project previously claimed by Project Collaboration for 4Projects, but my friends at Aconex “wouldn’t comment on a competitive situation” other than to say they were “very happy to have Roy Hill on Aconex.” Similarly, 4Projects were tight-lipped about it when I raised it with them in Newcastle on Tuesday, only saying the Project Collaboration relationship was “in transition” (post).