Effective communication can be a problem when construction companies work on large, complex projects. E-mail is one of the easiest ways to communicate, but it can be ineffective if the person you're contacting receives a few hundred e-mails a day. This was the case for Dave Corcoran, project director from Canadian-based Graham Construction and Engineering, Calgary, Alberta, who received 13,000 e-mails in one month.

After being granted the $432 million expansion of the Kelowna and Vernon Hospitals in British Columbia, Graham knew he needed a communication solution—especially because this was the province's largest public-private partnership (PPP) hospital development to date.

It was understood there was high risk of scrutiny and financial penalties related to delays or compliance issues because of the large amount of stakeholders, documentation, tight deadlines, and strict regulations. The complexity of the project had Graham looking for a streamlined solution for the communication process and ensure participants had received and read communications. Graham wanted a third-party online collaboration platform capable of capturing all project information while staying secure.

“On large projects, the amount of communication is massive. To be successful, we need to control the flow of information and track how each document is handled,” says Eric Wilden, Graham's director of major healthcare facilities.

Aconex, a provider of online collaboration and project management solutions for the construction industry, became Graham's choice. It had the capability of maintaining a real-time electronic record that cannot be deleted, transfer unlimited amounts of data at high speeds, and back up everything in a secure secondary data center to protect against loss. Also, documents could be delivered to individuals immediately, with notifications sent along the chain of command for tracking purposes. People working on the project became comfortable with the system through free, unlimited training sessions. The company also monitored and provided project updates, which notified the project director of any compliance issues, allowing problems to be solved before they escalated.

Construction is ahead of schedule and on budget for both Kelowna General and Vernon Jubilee Hospitals.
Chris Noakes Construction is ahead of schedule and on budget for both Kelowna General and Vernon Jubilee Hospitals.

Graham was able to use the system as a process watchdog, keeping the stakeholders informed and aiding the document controllers and project assistants with efficiently tracking the progress documents and correspondence. Corcoran was relieved that his inbox went from a few hundred to two or three messages a day, allowing him to focus on the more important emails.

“When we can control the schedule, we can control costs. Aconex delivers the right information exactly when and where we need it, and drives a timely response. It has become a critical tool for reducing time frames, which is a key competitive advantage in this industry,” says Wilden.

It proved to be the right system for this complex job. Construction is ahead of schedule and on budget for both hospitals. Kelowna General Hospital is expected to finish in August of 2012, and the anticipated completion of Vernon Jubilee Hospital is May 2011.

“Integrity, commitment, and reliability are the basic cornerstones of our business. This project management system gave us a competitive advantage by making it possible for us to do the job better, faster, and more accurately,” says Wilden. Aconex. 888-522-6639. www.aconex.com.