Construction Information Technology Blog

So what is e-Procurement?

Posted by Dave Robertson on Jul 28, 2014 12:00:00 PM

Like so many things it depends who you ask. For some it refers to the entire workflow from the moment a need is identified through to the final payment and warranty administration for a service or item. Others describe it as online sourcing and purchasing of items from a catalogue. Wikipedia says: “E-procurement (electronic procurement, sometimes also known as supplier exchange) is the business-to-business or business-to-consumer or business-to-government purchase and sale of supplies, work, and services through the Internet as well as other information and networking systems, such as electronic data interchange and enterprise resource planning.

Elements of e-procurement include request for information, request for proposal, request for quotation, RFx (the previous three together), and eRFx (software for managing RFx projects).

Purchase-to-pay, often abbreviated to P2P and also called req to cheque, refers to the business processes that cover activities of requesting (requisitioning), purchasing, receiving, paying for and accounting for goods and services. Also commonly referred to as procure-to-pay.

In this Blog the term e-Procurement is used to describe the workflows that relate to the external (Vendor and Contractor) facing processes required to purchase goods, services or construction over the internet.

e-procurement

In this very simplified description of the procurement process, the externally facing activities (elements 4, 5, 6) and the interface (element 3 and 7) between those and the internally facing activities are the areas that our software and services streamline.

Topics: Online bidding, Electronic document management, E-procurement

Cloud Computing in the Public Sector

Posted by Dave Robertson on Aug 20, 2013 7:00:00 AM

In our previous post Cloud computing in 2013, we have clearly established that the cloud is gaining popularity in the business world. This brings us to the next question: What about the Public sector? How far along is cloud adoption in governments around the world? Unsurprisingly, cloud computing has been implemented in various countries since 2009. Some of the leading countries are the United States of America, Japan, and United Kingdom.

The CIO Council report states that in September 2009, the US government announced the Federal Government's Cloud Computing Initiative, aiming to greatly reduce waste, increase efficiency, and lower operating costs. At the same time, Market Research Media also reported that the U.S. government launched Apps.gov, a portal dedicated to cloud computing applications for government agencies.  Vivek Kundra, U.S. Chief Information Officer described it as "an online storefront for federal agencies to quickly browse and purchase cloud-based IT services, for productivity, collaboration, and efficiency." He further stated that cloud computing is the next generation of IT in which data and applications will be housed centrally and accessible anywhere and anytime by various devices.

Meanwhile, according to an article by the IEEE Computer Society and cloudbook.net, Japan announced its Kasumigaseki Cloud in May 2009, which aims to greatly reduce cost while improving integration and collaboration amongst its various ministries. It is scheduled to be completed by 2015. The name Kasumigaseki (as explained in this article) is the name of an area where most government buildings are located in Tokyo, but the literal meaning of kasumigaseki is "fog's gate".

In early 2010, the UK government introduced the G-cloud government infrastructure, an online catalogue containing details of cloud services available for the UK public sector, much like the U.S. Apps.gov website. The G-cloud official site also listed reducing costs and increasing flexibility as some of its aims in adopting the cloud technology.

cloud public sector

Today, there are countless research papers and reports on various countries' government adoption of cloud computing. KPMG and Frost & Sullivan both wrote more in-depth reports around this topic. Although the cloud is not yet a dominating standard, most developed countries with sufficient infrastructure are at some level of cloud adoption while formulating their long-term national strategy. Thus, cloud computing has established itself as the next logical step in both the public and private sector of the IT industry.

Topics: Electronic document management, Cloud computing

Is Construction ready for electronic procurement?

Posted by Dave Robertson on Dec 21, 2012 7:00:00 AM

That was the key question posed to a group of industry experts participating in a panel discussion at the Construct Canada conference on November 29th, 2012.

Gordon Stratford, director of design for HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm said, “We should just get over it and get into electronic procurement and do it well because it has the capabilities, if done well, to have a lot more checks and balances than the manual way does.

Stephen Bauld, President of Purchasing Consultants International stated that true e-procurement, picking up and submitting the document electronically, is going to be a game changer and has the ability to remove geographic barriers.

Regular readers of this blog will know that we are strong advocates for the use of electronic procurement systems to streamline and remove risks from the bidding process. To read complete coverage of the panel discussion and see a video prepared by the Daily Commercial News on the event follow this link.

eprocurement construction

Topics: Construction documents, Electronic document management, Construction industry

Infinite Source continues to Innovate

Posted by Dave Robertson on Aug 15, 2012 5:00:00 AM

Infinite Source Systems Corp. is launching its latest innovative service today. Our years of experience delivering high quality online services combined with our ability to deliver practical, user friendly innovation have resulted in a new industry leading service called i.s. on demand. It is a low cost, secure subscription based document control and bid management system that is expected to quickly replace ftp sites and brown envelopes as the industry standard for sharing information and submitting bids.

Since 1997 our technology solutions have been used to manage and control the project documents for tens of thousands of projects delivering huge cost savings and efficiencies. In 2010 we began delivering bid management solutions and since then our technology has been used to receive thousands of bid submissions eliminating the need for the physical production and transportation of bids to a closing location. i.s. on demand takes the best of these two solutions and combines them in an innovative and highly competitive new service. Users simply sign up and start using it.

i.s. on demand

The service is offered directly to anyone wanting to use it at infinitesource.com or through a growing network of distributors throughout North America and New Zealand. At a price point of $10 per month or $100 per year for unlimited use of the system to manage documents and receive bids it offers unparalleled value. There is much more innovation in the Infinite Source pipeline and subscribers will benefit from our continuous efforts to provide the best possible solutions at the best possible price.

Topics: Online bidding, Company announcements, Electronic document management

Construction Technology Outlook 2012

Posted by Dave Robertson on Dec 13, 2011 6:30:00 AM

As we draw near the end of 2011, there are many predictions around the IT industry trend for 2012. The recently published "Nucleus Research Top Ten Predictions 2012" places emphasis on the rise of cloud computing (prediction #2). According to the article, cloud computing was proven to be nearly five times more productive than the traditional development in 2011. Furthermore, the article also states, “When companies do have money to spend, their two main choices are technology and people. A recent Nucleus survey found technology is winning hands down, with 50 percent of US companies planning to increase their technology spend in 2012 [Nucleus Research l106, Nucleus 2012 IT spending survey, September 2011].” Thus, many firms will look into increasing their productivity via technology adoption next year.

Another 2012 outlook by M/C Partners published in the TechJournal South titled “Top ten communications, tech, and media industry trends for 2012” also acknowledges the emerging enterprise adoption of cloud-based services (prediction #2). Consequently, this will “drive demand for network-based managed services that will provide critical monitoring and management of application and service performance across LANs, MANs, WANs and the public Internet.

IT predictions 2012

So the trend is clear. Businesses are moving towards cloud computing to take advantage of its many benefits including increased productivity, cost savings, accountability and sustainability. In today’s construction industry, online document control, online planroom, and online bidding are examples of cloud computing technologies that are increasingly adopted.

Topics: Online bidding, Electronic document management, Construction industry, Online planroom

Green Construction at the Bidding Phase

Posted by Dave Robertson on Nov 21, 2011 8:17:00 AM

A few years ago most bidders would not have pictured themselves submitting their construction bids online in a paperless environment. It represents a major change from decades of travelling to closings, faxing bid amendments, last minute decisions and all the drama that comes with it. Today, this green construction technology has finally arrived. Online bid submission has the double benefit of being a sustainable process along with the benefits of substantially improved efficiency. Supported with a complete document management system and audit trail, it ensures a complete record of who saw what documents and when. This combination greatly reduces the risk of costly bid related errors or omissions.

A great example of an early adopter of this technology is the city of Prince George in British Columbia, Canada. It leads the way in the electronic tendering of capital projects closing many of the projects that have utilized the recently introduced Owner Bid Management and Bid Submission applications within BidCentral. green construction technologyBidCentral is powered by PlanSource and is a suite of services that was designed specifically for the construction industry and is modeled after the processes that have long been accepted as industry standards. The City of Prince George procurement team and the bidders involved in the bidding process gave BidCentral very positive reviews and recognized it as the new construction procurement standard (view video).

Earlier this month, BidCentral was honoured with the presentation of the TechGREEN Award by the Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of British Columbia. The TechGREEN Award winners are recognized for their contribution to a 'green' economy and sustainable society.  >" target="_blank">Click here to read the news release >>

Topics: Environmental impact, Online bidding, Electronic document management, Construction industry

Is it better to lead or follow?

Posted by Dave Robertson on Sep 1, 2011 7:32:00 AM

There are a lot of companies selling technology services to the construction industry. Reading their websites often yield pitches like; “New”, “Innovative”, “Unique”, “Industry Leading”, and so on. In truth, a number of these companies are simply executing a ‘close follower’ business strategy. Few of them were actually at the leading edge of innovation in developing the core concepts and proving the markets for these new services or products. They may well however, be very good at picking up on a positive trend and taking advantage of it. Despite the patent laws, there is no rule in business that says the innovator is the only person or entity that can take advantage of their innovation or ideas.

This is on my mind as our company goes through the tedious and expensive process of patenting some of our company’s latest innovative work. We can protect our particular implementation but nuanced implementation of our concepts and ideas will inevitably come to market. We know this as we have observed others over the years whose feature set seem remarkably similar to what we offered … a few years ago.

construction technology leaderThere is no surprise, shock or dismay on our part when we see this manifest itself in the market. In many ways it is satisfying to know that we actually have an excellent track record of reading, understanding and implementing what the market needs and wants. Our clients benefit from having several years more of additional efficiency or new revenues as a result of working with our technologies. In our case when faced with the questions of whether to lead or follow the answer is clear … we choose to be leaders!

 

 

 

Topics: Electronic document management, Construction industry, Construction software

A whole lotta shakin goin on

Posted by Dave Robertson on Aug 9, 2011 6:55:00 AM

Lately, I have been doing a lot of traveling and meeting with a wide range of companies involved in the construction information technology sector.

This is a sector that barely existed 10 years ago, now it is expanding and changing very quickly. It is not a surprise that this is happening as construction is the largest single industry in the world and represents huge business opportunities. The surprise is how long it has taken to get to this stage.

construction information technology worldWhen we deployed our first application over the Internet in 1997 ( now more elegantly described as cloud computing) there were many onlookers questioning why on earth we thought the Internet would have any place in moving and working with construction documents. Today it is well along in the transition to being the industry standard. Two key factors are driving this exciting transition. The current economic conditions are forcing companies to look for business efficiencies and an overall change in the trust level within the management community that the Internet is a safe and sensible tool to rely on, even for core business processes.

We recently merged our USA operations with Barryhund Administrators, a great new partner who were, like us, one of the pioneers in this sector of the construction industry. We are excited about the synergies and collective depth of experience we will be bringing to this dynamic and fast growing sector. As the industry moves into the Internet 'cloud' we will be there continuing to help lead the way.

Topics: Electronic document management, Construction industry, Online planroom

A Planroom is a Planroom is a Planroom

Posted by Dave Robertson on Jun 27, 2011 6:00:00 AM

Everybody knows what a planroom is whether you call it a planroom, plansroom or plan room. It is a central repository where prospective bidders go to access documents and information for construction project opportunities. Groups of Contractors through Construction Associations and Builders Exchanges that they established were the historical originators of the practice of using planrooms some 100 or so years ago. Over the years some private enterprises got into the business and built up substantial physical infrastructure across North America to service this market.

In the marketplace today there are many players in the planroom business. This is particularly true since the major transition to working with digital files has taken place. The new players include software companies with new digital services, reprographic firms who are working to maintain a share of the printing market they have serviced for many years, FTP and other file management services as well as printer and scanner manufacturers. They’re everywhere!

planroom technology solutionsThe critical thing to consider when evaluating what your business is going to do to respond to the changes in the planroom business is to make sure that the solution you select doesn’t simply replace the traditional paper workflow with a digital one. Rather it is essential that you look for technology solutions that can improve the workflow, reduce your overall costs and effort and not the least solutions that reduce the inherent risks in the process. There are few things less productive than winning a contract and then entering into claims battles with Subs and Suppliers over what is actually included in the contract. Having the right technology can help you make sure you get better, more complete bids along with an ironclad audit trail that ensures the claims battles are avoided.

Topics: Electronic document management, Risk management, Online planroom

The Impact of the Internet on Bidding Practices in the Construction Industry

Posted by Dave Robertson on Apr 21, 2011 9:34:00 AM

I think we have moved beyond the conversations about whether the Internet is going to change some of the long standing practices in the construction industry. It wasn’t that long ago that Invitations to Bid had to be faxed, rolls of drawings had to be couriered out, addenda had to be faxed and ultimately a detailed bid submission including bid bonds and attachments had to be placed in an envelope, sealed and driven across town to be submitted before time ran out. All of that can now be done faster, easier and with less risk of errors over the internet. This is a prime example of the wave of change sweeping the industry.

It is a fair question to wonder how quickly this is all happening. A recent report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit called “Digital Economy Rankings – Beyond E-readiness” takes a close look at that question. The study takes a much broader view of the world than my narrow interest in the construction industry but is none the less interesting. One of the conclusions of the report is that “ ... the digital economy rankings demonstrate that there are many ways to harness the power of the Internet to improve economic prospects and the lives of people.” Referring back to the scenario described above it is clear that this is absolutely true for the construction sector. New technologies are revolutionizing long standing practices.


digital world

One of the more fascinating statements made is that “Innovative digital practices and applications are arguably being conceived and put in practice in the emerging world faster than in the developed world. Simply put, there are no alternatives but to become “more digital” with whatever assets are available.” To me, this reinforces what we see in practice. People and companies don’t want to change their practices when the status quo is an option. If there is no option they are more likely to adopt the innovation. Just think how much further ahead we could be if we had the same attitude towards new technology.

Topics: Online bidding, Electronic document management, Construction bidding, Construction industry