Toowoomba-based construction firm McNab implemented conject construction management software to meet sustainability goals on a prestigious project.

The University of Queensland’s new ‘Global Change Institute Living Building’ will be one of the first Green Star projects in Australia to receive 6 stars for both design and as-built, and utilises cutting edge architecture and engineering for sustainable design and construction.

According to philanthropist Graeme Wood who donated $15 million towards the building project, the A$30 million project will ‘prove that it is possible to design and manage a building which achieves net zero energy and water usage’.

McNab, which had recently completed the first two 4-star design rated industrial projects was awarded the contract to construct the building in November of 2011. McNab implemented a series of construction management modules from conject to manage the construction process and present vital project documentation to the Green Building Council of Australia.

Supplied and supported in Australia by Zavanti Property and Construction Software , these cloud-based applications are helping McNab staff and other stakeholders control costs, manage contracts and ensure compliance with the Green Building Council’s strict sustainability requirements. conject has received CarbonNeutral certification for their SaaS solutions.

Mark Jewell, senior project manager for McNab explains that they were aware project documentation would be a major component of the job due to the added complexities of the Green Star certification with the Green Building Council requiring comprehensive reporting at the completion of the project before they could approve the rating. Given the complexity of the project, McNab made the strategic decision to incorporate contract, document and drawing management solutions to help them manage the project and assemble the necessary documentation at its conclusion.

McNab chose conject’s project management solution based on its functionality, ease-of-use, support from Zavanti and pricing.

The availability of the conject software as a SaaS solution ensured there were no additional overheads on McNab’s IT staff. Apart from standardising their browsers to the latest common version of Internet Explorer, and configuring Jewell’s iPad to run conject using a free app, the implementation had no extra hardware or software costs.

Zavanti, which supports the conject solution in Australia and New Zealand, provided initial training and advice on setting up the requisite database structures.

According to Doug Harrison, CEO of Zavanti, conject is pre-configured to receive, index and store almost every document, communication, report and contract associated with any project. Zavanti worked with Mark and his team initially to define the various types of files McNab would be utilising, configured relevant processes and trained key people within the organisation to take ‘ownership’ of the solution. These people now work with sub-contractors and clients to exchange documents, review comments and all other project communications through the system.

The project is currently underway with approximately 120 people logging into the system on a daily basis. As the project progresses, this figure will grow to more than 300 sub-contractors, mechanical and electrical engineers, funders, architects, project managers, McNab staff and others.

Jewell observes that conject is very good at capturing comments and mark-ups on drawings, allowing them to zoom into areas of interest on a drawing, see what comments and/or changes have been made and then act upon the information. This particular aspect helps maintain transparency across all aspects of the project.

Jewell believes the conject solution will pay for itself once all the special components required for the 6-star certification are documented. Without conject’s reporting capabilities, it might take two to three people up to six weeks to collate and organise all the necessary documentation at the conclusion of the project, as against a single person needing about two weeks on conject to pull it all together, says Jewell.

While this by itself would provide the ROI, all other benefits such as transparency, streamlined business processes and faster interim reports will be a bonus.

Jewell adds that conject will provide a competitive advantage when bidding on future projects with similar levels of complexity. conject provides a whole new level of transparency and management for major projects with every drawing, modification, documentation and pertinent communication recorded, stored, indexed and made available for immediate recall.

Key business benefits delivered by conject for McNab:

  • Competitive advantage on future projects
  • Reduced post-project reporting from >720 man-hours to <80
  • Transparency via centralised repository for all documents, drawings, contracts and communications
  • SaaS model reduces upfront costs and eliminates any additional hardware/software expenditure and IT support
  • Hosting services provided by Zavanti
  • Technical support, training and service provided by Zavanti