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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Lifecycle Solutions for Capital Project Management from Skire
by Susan Smith
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The company Skire has been around since 1998, when it was founded by ex-Bechtel executives focused on capital project management. The company’s vision was to deliver full lifecycle, owner focused solutions in the form of Unifier, an integrated workplace, project portfolio management software.
Unifier offers a full host of modular functionality that delivers on the lifecycle from facility planning, project planning and prioritization on through project execution, design construction and then into the operations phase of that asset. The core offering includes robust document management, project cost control, schedule control, etc. and that is all delivered on a very flexible business process automation framework. Configurability is key to this product and is delivered through an associated configuration product called uDesigner. Clients can use the graphical uDesigner tool to configure their forms and workflows and load them into Unifier.
According to John Leet, director of marketing at Skire, their clients are typically large owners of Fortune 1000 organizations and leading public sector agencies at the federal, state and local levels. The product is horizontal across various verticals such as chemical, oil and gas, commercial construction, and universities. An example is Kaiser Permanente, which is managing a $37 million program. Universities and other public sector clients use the product for cost control, forecasts, as well as important project funding and funding management. “The core of the product is in assimilating all that cost information and CAD file based information, while adhering to common processes and standards.”
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What differentiates Unifier from other products on the market? “Configurability is probably key,” said Leet. “Within Unifier, you take a simple process such as RFI. Most applications deliver that in a fairly predefined way as far as what content is on that RFI and what process it goes through to be resolved. With Unifier, you can automate virtually any process and our clients don’t have to come back to us to configure the application. That is done through an easy to use and flexible tool, whether it be a process that has a few steps or many. It doesn’t matter how complex you need to configure these workflows for your given process. It’s really minimizing total cost of operation for our clients by allowing them the ability to do that configuration without hiring programming resources.”
The latest release of Unifier, 8.7, came out in late May and includes an “enhanced, powerful and sophisticated Document Manager, which delivers configuration capabilities.” Document management, business process and resource management, cost and schedule controls are all in one unified application. Customers can configure folder and document attributes for use in the Document Manager, which allows them to tailor Unifier to attach relevant documents directly from within the Document Manager and associate them with their file based information.
Unifier 8.7 has an open web services interface. It was developed in Java E2EE and it is database independent, but used primarily on Oracle or SQL Server. Since a lot of cost data comes in from an ERP, the product has those integration interfaces which allow it to be tied in at the enterprise level. “All you need is a web browser to access the software any time anywhere,” said Leet.
Unifier 8.7 focuses on greatly extending the relation between that business process and document management side. “Going from a CAD file, you can have an instant view back to any other references, such as what RFIs reference that document, submittals, or any other record within the system,” noted Leet. In addition, there is more robust search capability for metadata around a document as well as within a document.
As far as building information modeling (BIM) is concerned, Leet said that their client base has not yet made a strong move toward BIM. “Within our application we work actively on the document and file based information and metadata around a document as well as cost data and schedule data, so it’s very well positioned to support that transfer over to BIM where you’re working at the design data level.”
Although Unifier does include schedule management and scheduling tools within the application, most client implementations involve schedule data from Primavera or Microsoft Project, as clients want to stay with what’s familiar to them.
Farkas Berkowitz & Company and Bentley Systems, Incorporated reported the conclusions reached during their recent Sixth Annual Harnessing Information Technology Workshop held in Washington, D.C. Participants in this invitation-only event included 60 chief information officers (CIOs) from the ENR Top 200 Design Firms, who gathered to discuss "Strategies to Improve Economic Productivity."
During their roundtable discussions, the CIOs concluded that:
-- Information technology (IT) is viewed as an enabler of increased sales and a driver for collaboration, productivity improvements, knowledge retention, recruitment, and other business functions.
-- IT ranks among the top three investments of design engineering firms and has a place at the corporate strategic table.
-- IT rollout rates in firms are currently limited by knowledge transfer rates.
-- Training has become a key requirement for IT investment success and consequent productivity gains.
-- Collaboration and security are equally essential to a firm's viability.
A water and wastewater system operated by CH2M HILL OMI for the city of Rio Rancho, N.M., has earned the New Mexico Environment Department Occupational Health and Safety Bureau's highest designation for workplace safety -- the "Zia Star" status in its Voluntary Protection Program.
TRIRIGA(R), the global leader in Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) for facilities, real estate, and operations management, announced the "Funniest Facility Find" contest. The winning entries will receive $500.
Facility and real estate managers can enter the contest until October 1st, 2007 at http://www.tririga.com/IWMS/facilityfind_IFMA.jsp. The winners will be announced at IFMA World Workplace 2007 in New Orleans and at CoreNet Global Summit in Atlanta. The winners and winning stories will also be published on TRIRIGA's website and IFMA's FM Today online section
AVEVA announced that industry veteran Rob Glasier has been promoted to Executive Vice President effective July 2, 2007, and will serve as the Head of The Americas for AVEVA; where he will be responsible for all of AVEVA's software and services business across all the Process, Power, Marine and related industries in the Americas region.
Dirtworks, PC, was awarded the 2007 Honor Award for Excellence in Landscape Architecture from the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) and the AIA-Committee on Architecture for Education for the Courtyard and Outdoor Learning Environment for Natural Sciences at Keene State College.
The Keene State College Science Center Courtyard, the heart of the new Science Center, demonstrates the successful contribution landscape architecture can make - in teaching and learning, promoting social connectedness, supporting community, and providing natural habitats. Enclosed on four sides by a dynamic, three-story brick and glass building, the courtyard is aesthetically pleasing, functional, and responsive to the college's commitment to service learning. Nature is more accessible, more exciting, and real to both students and community members as they enjoy the serendipity of discovery in this intellectually-engaging, sensory-rich garden. It is a place for education, relaxation, and reflection and where kids find science "cool."