JE Dunn Construction Company needed a way to share financial data, construction and design documents, and detailed project information with employees, subcontractors, architects, and project owners. Based on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010,
JE Dunn Construction Company’s new collaboration solution—called the Dunn Dashboard—is helping all stakeholders across hundreds of projects work together more effectively and efficiently, leading to less rework and lower costs.
Founded in 1924, JE Dunn Construction Company began as a small, family-run residential contractor in Kansas City, Missouri. In 2011, it was ranked the twelfth largest general building company in the United States, with 20 offices and approximate annual
revenues of US$1.9 billion.
JE Dunn’s nationwide presence is the result of five major acquisitions since 1990. In 2008, the company began an 18-month effort to standardize its processes and procedures as a means of maximizing efficiency and establishing companywide best practices.
JE Dunn completed the initiative in March 2010, positioning it to effectively endure the pending national economic downturn.
||As of July 2012, we have 145 project sites hosted on SharePoint Server, representing more than $1 billion in construction projects, thousands of internal and external users, and more than 140,000 shared files.
| Patrick Miller
Vice President – Director of Application Development,
JE Dunn Construction Company
Although collaboration with key stakeholders on construction projects was already a hallmark at JE Dunn, the company desired the means to more effectively deliver key project information, including project management and accounting data. Providing easy, real-time
access to all key project data for all project stakeholders—including subcontractors, architects, consultants, and building owners—would enable better, more efficient decision making throughout the project life cycle.
JE Dunn’s search for an integrated collaboration solution led it to Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. “Based on our research, SharePoint Server 2010 was the only solution capable of meeting all of our needs,” says John Jacobs, Chief Information Officer
at JE Dunn. “The only question was whether it could integrate with CMiC, our Oracle-based project management and accounting ERP [enterprise resource planning] system.”
Following a proof of concept to confirm that Business Connectivity Services in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 could facilitate bidirectional integration with CMiC, JE Dunn engaged Microsoft Partner Network member Aptillon, Inc. to help build its new solution.
A few months later, the data in CMiC, along with all key project documents, was available through individual project websites—called Dunn Dashboards. Support for external users was added in January 2012, giving all stakeholders real-time collaboration tools
and access to all key project data.
All key applications and data can be accessed centrally through the Dunn Dashboard. “We have integrated systems to enable the automatic provisioning of a new project website when the project is setup in CMiC,” says Patrick Miller, Vice President – Director
of Application Development at JE Dunn Construction Company. “All sites share the same look, feel, and navigation structure, so owners, architects, and subcontractors involved in more than one project will always know exactly where to find what they need. As
of July 2012, we have 145 project sites hosted on SharePoint Server, representing more than $1 billion in construction projects, several thousand internal and external users, and more than 140,000 shared files.”
One such project is the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) / Oregon University System (OUS) building in Portland, Oregon, a $210 million project for JE Dunn. The project’s Dunn Dashboard receives 40 to 45 unique visitors a day out of a user base
that includes 134 individuals at 42 subcontractors; 56 people at four architectural firms; 41 people representing the project’s owners; and 45 JE Dunn field and office personnel. “The use of SharePoint with Bluebeam [PDF software for digital document review
and markup] for document control is superior to anything we have used in the past,” says Doug Garland, Assistant Project Manager at Day CPM, owner’s representative on the project.
From an infrastructure perspective, the company’s new collaboration solution resides on front-end servers running SharePoint Server 2010 and the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system, both of which are supported by a high-availability database cluster
running Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 data management software. JE Dunn employees at job sites use laptops or tablet PCs running the Windows 7 Professional operating system, Microsoft Office Professional 2010, and Microsoft SharePoint Workspace 2010, which
synchronizes changes to shared files in the background for offline access.
|The Dunn Dashboard for JE Dunn’s Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) /
Oregon University System (OUS) project is used by 134 individuals at 42 subcontractors;
56 people at four architectural firms; 41 people representing the project’s owners; and 45
JE Dunn field and office personnel.
Today, all stakeholders on JE Dunn construction projects have easy access to all project-related data and documents, along with the ability to easily collaborate. Key benefits include:
24-hour, controlled, role-based access. All project stakeholders now have a single website that enables them to both consume and contribute information. Project administrators control access down to the folder and file type, with full visibility
into who accessed or uploaded which information and when.
Powerful, flexible alerts. Each user can set his or her own alerts, such as every time a new request for information is issued, when a certain document is updated, or when the content of a specific folder is updated. Users can also choose
weekly alerts—for example, opting for a comprehensive list of everything that has changed over the past seven days, which is sent every Tuesday morning.
Less rework. Improved information-sharing will reduce rework, leading to significant cost savings. “When all project stakeholders—most importantly, all field employees—have real-time access to a fully coordinated set of the latest documents,
the result is less rework,” says Casey Hunter, OHSU/OUS Project Superintendent at JE Dunn Construction Company. “Although difficult to quantify, the impact of avoiding rework by doing things correctly and efficiently the first time is significant.”
Streamlined document distribution. JE Dunn no longer sends out hundreds of sets of printed documents that must then be maintained. The company estimates that it would have incurred an additional $500,000 in material and labor costs related
to document distribution on the OHSU/OUS project alone if traditional project collaboration methods were used. ”The Dunn Dashboard is a great tool for collaboration on many levels between owner, architect, contractor, and subcontractors,” says Dustin Liljehorn,
Project Executive at JE Dunn Construction Company. “It allows many team members to view and share information in a paperless environment.”
New capabilities for subcontractors. Subcontractors have real-time access to new information and tools, including budget status, change orders, compliance information, and payroll apps. As a result, they can get paid faster and no longer
need to wait for a printed report or pick up the phone whenever they have a question.
Streamlined collaboration for architects. Architects and design consultants now can share and solicit feedback on designs and design changes in real time—while continuing to use established tools, such as Autodesk Navisworks and Revit, to
own and manage their work. “The Dunn Dashboard expedites the construction process and increases efficiency and productivity due to easy access to all construction documents,” says Jesse Figgins, staff member at SERA Architects, one of the architectural firms
for the OHSU/OUS project.
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Improved visibility and lower costs for owners. Project owners no longer need to wait for monthly reports. They now have real-time visibility into their investments, including schedule status, budget status, and progress photos, and will
realize significant cost savings through reduced rework and improved document distribution.
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