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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Trimble Acquires e-Builder to Accelerate Industry Transformation

 
February 8th, 2018 by Susan Smith

This week Trimble announced its acquisition of privately-held e-Builder, an SaaS-based construction program management solution for capital program owners and program management firms. While very often we might wonder what a company’s end goals are regarding an acquisition, e-Builder extends Trimble’s ability to accelerate industry transformation by providing an integrated project delivery solution for owners, program managers and contractors across the design, construct and operate lifecycle. e-Builder is a foremost survivor of the construction software management boom of many years ago.

The e-Builder business will be reported as part of the Buildings and Infrastructure Segment.

Jon Fingland, general manager of Collaboration Solutions for Trimble, responds to questions from AECCafe Voice regarding Trimble’s acquisition of e-Builder this week:

AECCafe Voice: What do you mean by “transformative construction technology?”

There’s a tremendous potential for business transformation in the construction industry. By combining e-Builder’s owner-centric project information system with Trimble’s focus on constructible data for architecture, engineering and construction, we see a real opportunity to positively impact productivity and control.

Both Trimble and e-Builder have been transformation agents in the markets we’ve served. Together, we have the opportunity accelerate the adoption of technologies that create value for our customers. We’re able to extend the value of data starting from past construction project performance, into capital planning through to design, procurement and then hand it to the facility and asset management teams for operations and maintenance. We envision standardization across all projects for the owner, regardless of specific contractors, engineers and other trade partners selected for the project.  This approach is distinctly different from the traditional project-by-project approach so prevalent in our industry.

AECCafe Voice: Have you been implementing Trimble technologies with e-Builder prior to this acquisition?

As two major players in construction technology, Trimble and e-Builder have worked on a lot of the same projects, with both teams representing our own constituents in the process. Our customers have been tapping into the information produced by our solutions concurrently, without our help in streamlining the process. Now we can focus on improving and accelerating that information flow. For example, a large owner of healthcare facilities who is using e-Builder has contractors using Trimble solutions who are summarizing project performance data. This delivers visibility and transparency into project cost and changes for both owner and contractor.

AECCafe Voice: What led Trimble to want to acquire it over other similar technologies?

e-Builder is the predominate provider of construction program management software in the cloud. Their solutions are currently used to manage more than $300 billion of construction project value on over 200,000 projects from some of the most influential owners in North America. The e-Builder solution is uniquely designed to measure and manage every step of the capital project delivery process including planning, design, procurement, construction and operations. We believe that connecting the dots between construction and capital project management is key to leveraging data and intelligence gained through plan-design-construct workflows. e-Builder’s solutions and its organization provide a very solid platform for making that happen.

AECCafe Voice: How does the acquisition change how the two technologies work together?

We anticipate that the combined solution portfolio will accelerate the integration of field operations with enterprise needs, enabling game-changing productivity gains. The tangible benefits include:

  • Increased visibility and trust between owner and contractor
  • Improved fidelity and precision by connecting field and enterprise
  • Faster progress payments through connections between contractor progress and the owner’s accounting system
  • Integrated workflows between owner, contractors, and specialty contractors
  • Collaborative workspaces for interaction with the constructible building information model

In the past, data silos and disconnected spreadsheets impeded the way stakeholders worked together to build facilities and critical infrastructure. With Trimble’s acquisition of e-Builder, we can now bridge the gap between contractor and owner by creating logical connections between the information that contractors need to accelerate project delivery with the controls an owner needs to ensure quality and budget. We see opportunities to deliver more contractor capabilities to the cloud which will help produce better project outcomes.

AECCafe Voice: Will new products be developed around the marriage of these two technologies?

While we are not at liberty to share plans for future product development, it’s safe to say that we do expect the convergence of these technologies to create valuable opportunities for the entire industry benefiting contractors, owners and designers. There’s a tremendous potential for meaningful improvements to the construction process through more thorough utilization of technology and construction data.

AECCafe Voice: What Trimble products will be involved with e-Builder technology?

Among the many opportunities before us, the most tangible include Trimble ProjectSight and CrewSight. These cloud-based solutions improve daily productivity among working teams through better collaboration and communication on the project, as well as Lean scheduling for heightened team efficiency.

We continue to see great promise for cloud-based offerings. The biggest value of all this construction data is about getting the insights to the right person, in the right organization, precisely at the right time whether they are in an office or in the field. e-Builder has solved many of the problems that owners face by connecting multiple A/Es and contractors with their enterprise systems such as accounting, procurement and asset management. Trimble continues to offer ways to get the constructible model into the field for contractors to build from. Now we’ll be working together to speed up cycle times for people in the field to get their questions answered, complete their task and get paid fast.

AECCafe Voice: Is the user interface and file format the same or similar, and/or will the integration of the two be achieved in the Cloud?

As mentioned above, It’s is all about the data. We plan to integrate Trimble’s constructible data and e-Builder’s capital projects data. Naturally, the cloud will be key to enable our clients to access their data easily and seamlessly while removing the historic requirements of tying up valuable IT resources to support the users. Well before the acquisition was completed, we heard of clients who are leveraging solutions from Trimble and e-Builder to streamline processes and produce value for both contractor and owner. Collaborating on building information models, taking designs into the field through mobile technology, and sharing costs and administering changes are all areas where information will be shared using cloud-based technology. 

AECCafe Voice: What is a typical workflow for a user of Trimble and e-Builder together?

To achieve maximum value, we have to consider the entire end-to-end workflow which means breaking through silos and connecting dataflows that are beyond the reach of a contractor. Let’s take for instance the progress payment process. Our combined solution will offer contractors the ability to manage the cost of their project and measure their progress. As they submit a progress payment application to the owner, our combined solution will streamline and automate the process of validating the progress has been made, route it for appropriate approvals within the contractor and the owner, send the approved payment instructions to owner’s accounting solution and have the funds wired directly to the contractor. What used to take a cycle measured in months can now be accomplished in days and in some cases, hours.

Why is this important and a win for both parties? Contractors can reduce overhead and reduce carrying cost by getting paid quickly for the progress they have earned. Owners win by earning a reputation in the market as a fast-pay owner and can see lowered costs on future projects. Both organizations win because the focus of their efforts can be about project progress and problem-solving and not have their attention tied up in chasing down receivables and re-quantifying construction put in place.

 

 

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Categories: 2D, AEC, AEC training, apps, architecture, BIM, building information modeling, Cloud, collaboration, construction, engineering, infrastructure, integrated project delivery, plant design, project management, site planning, Trimble

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