Graham sorts between tools and toys because the size, scope and complexity of projects drive innovation.
The company dubbed its thoughtful approach “Innovation with Purpose.”
“It’s rooted in the fact that construction isn’t a high-margin, high-profit business,” said Matt Gramblicka, Graham’s vice president of IT and enterprise applications. “Everything we do has to be profitable. It must make us better at construction, keep people safe, or bring benefits to customers. It really limits what you can do. You want to make sure that with every dollar you can spend, you’re recouping valuable dollars and improving yourself for the next opportunity.
Gramblicka is currently applying the philosophy to a major rebuild of Graham’s computing core. It centers around an advanced version of Graham’s SAP enterprise resource planning software combined with the InEight industry solution, which form the core of the company’s Next Generation (TNG) toolkit, a suite of systems and front-line process that will change the way Graham carries out its projects. .
The design of the solution for TNG started in 2018 and from June 2022 the complete solution will be ready for the pilot.
Graham’s original toolkit was developed in-house about 20 years ago. It was based on the concept that any data entered by any source at any point in the construction cycle would become common across all tools, offices and departments for the life of the project and beyond, forming a common reusable knowledge base.
The integrated nature of Toolbox was intended to overcome siled departments in the construction industry using multiple datasets and presentation tools with chronic duplications and errors.
“There was no app designed specifically for the construction we were in — mostly vertical buildings and infrastructure and some industrial,” Gramblicka said. “With our growth curve, we needed something more robust for complex projects.”
Over the past 20 years, Graham has grown from about $200 million a year in business to nearly $4 billion. It has also extended to other types of work, including vertical, hydraulic, infrastructure, industrial, service, maintenance and operation.
“Projects are more complex, there are more risks and more stakeholders, so collaboration and access to information are really essential. Having a web-accessible connected platform allows us to have all games on the same playbook,” Gramblicka said.
He noted that Graham focuses on repeat customers who are looking for value rather than price and encourages early involvement from entrepreneurs.
Graham chose InEight because it was the most connected solution that would lead to the greatest integration throughout the construction lifecycle.
Gramblicka added that Graham provided input to the InEight team as they developed the software that could improve it for the rest of the construction industry.
“The hope and goal is that it will benefit others in the construction industry,” Gramblicka said. “Some might say it’s giving the secret sauce, but if other partners have good tools and quality, if we ever do a joint venture with them, it’s an easier transition.”
TNG’s vision is to follow a project with a digital model available to all stakeholders, from design and construction, to operation and maintenance.
“Every area — especially estimation, security and quality control tracking — will progress,” Gramblicka said.
TNG aims to maximize consistency across the North American organization of 24 offices and more than 2,200 people.
According to Graham, enterprise-wide efficiency and effectiveness improvements as processes and methods of execution become fully repeatable allow employees to be redeployed seamlessly between divisions and between geographic locations.
Gramblicky said Graham has deployed elements of the new solution, but is looking for a project to drive the entire process through the build cycle.
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