Building in Booming China

17 Aug, 2006 By: Michelle Nicolson

Chinese construction industry benefits from joint venture to introduce native-language enterprise project management software for capital projects.

China is the world's fastest-growing country in terms of construction, and there's no end in sight. China's economic growth is driving a variety of capital works projects including residential and commercial property, transportation, environmental protection and energy -- not to mention projects surrounding the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 Shanghai Expo that will put the country in the world's spotlight.

The Chinese government has mandated that the country's AEC companies incorporate modernization and standardization in all construction processes. After China entered the World Trade Organization in 2001, Chinese AEC firms needed to complete construction projects using the same international project management practices that other countries employ.

All these factors have created an opportunity for AEC software developers. One such company, Meridian Systems, took advantage of this growth environment by jointly developing a Chinese version of its enterprise project management software with ProjectAIMS, its authorized reseller in Shanghai. Launched in December 2002, the Chinese version of Meridian Systems' Prolog project management software is designed to optimize capital projects, programs and facilities for AEC firms by automating day-to-day tasks and processes from project design to close-out.

"Without question, more organizations in China realize that IT [information technology] is an essential accelerator in evolving project management practices from good to great," comments T.S. Wong, CEO of ProjectAIMS.

Shanghai Hong Kong Metro Construction Management
AEC firms in China have already discovered the benefits. SHKMCM (Shanghai Hong Kong Metro Construction Management) reports that it implemented Prolog in May 2003 to enable communication and collaboration on the railway transportation Shensong Line Phase I Project (L9) in Shanghai. Almost 40 design institutions, supervision companies, agencies, civil engineers and electrical and mechanical contractors were involved in the construction process. The massive volume of project information and correspondence included engineering drawings, red title documents, engineering business contact lists, RFIs (requests for information), submittals, meeting minutes and more. As of July 2006, the company has stored more than 40,000 project correspondence items and thousands of drawings (including different versions) in the system.

SHKMCM's customized folder structure in displays in the Prolog enterprise project management system from Meridian Systems, helping the company maintain a paper trail and manage project documents.

SHKMCM found Prolog improved productivity and created continuity and efficiency with its project controls. "By standardizing our project management, our personnel are more productive, which contributes to revenue growth," says Henry Young, deputy chief project manager at SHKMCM. "The outcome is more effective project management. Now our managers are using their time to manage projects rather than look for missing pieces of information. By using Chinese Prolog, we can handle more with less effort."

SHKMCM has discovered other benefits including less paper consumption and significant time reductions: the average time for approving a change order went from four weeks to two weeks, and preparing the consolidation reports was reduced from three days to less than 15 minutes.

"Our work is very dynamic and is the result of many people entering pieces of information every day over the course of every contracts," Young explains. "The ease of being able to quickly look at our projects in Prolog to get an accurate picture is something we previously lacked. By managing our tasks and issues in the system, we know where we are at any given point in time."

CISDI Engineering
CISDI Engineering has successively undertaken the design for more than 200 steel enterprises and other industrial enterprises in 30 provinces, municipalities and regions throughout China. The firm's primary goal in adopting Prolog in September 2005 was to streamline contract management and improve project budget and cost management.

CISDI's Prolog Cost Control module enables the company to track all cost changes from initiation to confirmation stages, enabling automatic updates to the budget.

The company discovered that the Prolog Cost Control module allowed it to complete projects on time, within budget and to the required quality standards, according to Wong. Having real-time access to project data gave its project teams a better view into engineering project status and helped them to respond to customers more quickly, ultimately enhancing company profitability.

CISDI's management team reports that project managers now have access to timely, accurate and comprehensive cost information. The software also saves the company time in preparing regular or ad-hoc reports for budget and cost, contract payments, cash flow projection and other financial documents.

Wong believes these types of benefits help Chinese AEC firms compete globally. "Chinese Prolog customers are surprised to see that applying Prolog in their projects does not just increase their effectiveness and efficiency, but more importantly brings their project management capabilities to a new level," he says. "These companies are able to make better decisions by having a timely and accurate picture of a project or program."

About the Author: Michelle Nicolson

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