Apr 23 2014

Corecon signs up B4 Consulting as reseller

Corecon signs up B4 Consulting as reseller. Partnerships are key for SaaS vendors, but you need the right partner.

Corecon logoCalifornia, US-based SaaS project management software vendor Corecon has signed up B4 Consulting as a reseller. The application, primarily sold to US general contractors, subcontractors, developers, and engineering and professional services firms, will be bundled by B4 Consulting with its SAP Business One offering to “create a highly affordable web-based, end-to-end solution”. Klaus Schottenhamel, president and CEO of B4 Consulting, says:

“Our industry experience tells us that small and mid-sized construction companies desperately need affordable and innovative end-to-end project management solutions. Partnering with Corecon, we will address those needs by delivering the industry’s only cloud-based suite of construction software integrated with a comprehensive back office system. Our collaboration with Corecon is a real game-changer for the construction industry as we are addressing a pent-up demand for affordable innovation with a proven cloud-based solution.”

B4 Consulting will bundle Corecon capabilities with the finance and accounting functionality of SAP Business One. The SAP Business One solution powered by Corecon creates a single platform for all business operations, eliminating redundancies, streamlining operations, and providing instant and comprehensive real-time reporting.

My view

Having spent an afternoon in Newcastle yesterday with people from Viewpoint Construction Software, the Portland, Oregon-based provider of construction ERP solutions, and its UK-based subsidiary 4Projects, I think they would dispute Mr Schottenhamel’s assertion that they offer the only cloud-based construction software integrated with a back office system. Particularly following the acquisition earlier this year of Maxwell Systems, Viewpoint has a strong offering to small and mid-sized construction businesses, and with Andy Ward now applying his SaaS expertise across the Viewpoint group its cloud-based software services are certain to expand.

I have been watching several SaaS vendors’ partnering programmes, and identifying the right partner with complementary expertise but also an understanding of SaaS and of collaboration is clearly vital. Conject made little headway when it partnered with Sage in north America; Asite struggled to win work through its involvement with the ReproMAX network; and Aconex partnered in 2011 with Calgary-based Tidefall Software, which no longer seems to be operating. On the other hand, 4Projects raised its profile in Australasia through its partnership with Melbourne-based Project Collaboration (post), though this arrangement now seems to be “in transition” (see yesterday’s post); and Newforma established itself in Australia through its association with SmartSoftware.

I know some SaaS vendors are actively seeking new partners to expand their global reach. Surveying data capture and asset management vendor Kykloud, for example, recently began marketing in Australasia, and Ed Bartlett told me yesterday that they are eyeing opportunities in other regions. (I would be interested to hear from would-be resellers who think they have the right mix of complementary skills, services and market reach).

Permanent link to this article: http://www.extranetevolution.com/2014/04/corecon-signs-up-b4-consulting-as-reseller/

Apr 22 2014

think project! achieves ISO27001 certification

Thinkproject-logoAs I have, over the years, noted ISO27001 certification achievements for Conject (February 2006), Cadweb (April 2007), Aconex (December 2011), and Kykloud (August 2013), among others, it seems only fair to mark a similar milestone for Munich, Germany-based SaaS construction collaboration technology provider think project!. It has just announced achievement of the information security certification, based on comprehensive, independent examination of all security-related aspects of its IT and business processes, as well as its technology infrastructure.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.extranetevolution.com/2014/04/think-project-achieves-iso27001-certification/

Apr 22 2014

Bain Capital pays US$230M for stake in 4Projects parent Viewpoint

viewpointcs-logoHot news from Portland, Oregon is an announcement that US investment firm Bain Capital has made an investment of around US$230 million in Viewpoint Construction Software, the parent (since February 2013) of Newcastle, UK-based SaaS construction collaboration software vendor 4Projects.

The deal sees Bain buy out two previous institutional investors, Updata Partners and TA Associates, but apart from changes to the institutional investors on the board, there will be little management change. Jay Haladay, Viewpoint’s chairman and CEO, will continue in his current role as will all members of the company’s executive and management team.

Fuelled by previous investments and acquisitions, the company’s revenue has grown from around $19 million in 2009 to a forecast of $140 million this year. Coverage in the US press (see, for example, The Oregonian, New York Times, Portland Business Journal) suggests the investment  may postpone a potential initial public offering  (IPO) for a few years, and gives Viewpoint the resources to buy other businesses, hire more employees (4Projects Newcastle HQ has space on the current 4th floor, while the 3rd is currently vacant) and expand overseas (as well as 4Projects in the UK, it also has a mature construction ERP-focused business based in Melbourne Australia, but its relationship with Australian partner Project Collaboration – post – is, I was told, “in transition”; I understand that the 4Projects solution will be sold as Viewpoint for Collaboration in Australasia by a directly employed sales team instead).

The Bain announcement  coincided with a visit by me to 4Projects’ Newcastle head office (post) and I talked to Viewpoint VP of strategy and corporate development Matt Harris about the deal. He told me Bain had researched the Viewpoint capabilities in detail, identifying its collaboration and BIM capabilities as strong points and cross-checking these with key Viewpoint and 4Projects customers. Earlier this year, the company acquired US-based AEC SME estimating and ERP vendor Maxwell Systems (post).

Viewpoint currently has 700 employees developing and supporting financial compliance, project management, project collaboration, estimating, mobile, content management and Building Information Modelling (BIM) software for construction industry professionals.

[Disclosure: I have undertaken past consultancy projects for 4Projects. On this occasion, 4Projects purchased three pints of beer for me in a nice pub close to their Newcastle HQ.)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.extranetevolution.com/2014/04/bain-capital-pays-us230m-for-stake-in-4projects-parent-viewpoint/

Apr 15 2014

Newforma extends mobile and cloud functionality

Newforma, once mainly known for its on-premise project information management, is extending its mobile and cloud construction collaboration offerings.

Newforma-logoNew Hampshire, US-based construction software vendor Newforma has today announced three new mobile apps, plus an update to an existing app, to improve on-site project information management for users of its on-premise Newforma Project Center (release 10.2) and its Newforma Project Cloud solution (as mentioned in my February 2014 update).

Newforma TasksNewforma Mobile apps

The new apps, which I previewed last week with director of product marketing Dave Wagner and Michael DeSouza, director of product design, reflect a shift from activity-centric tools to ones that span the process of data capture and review. They new tools are:

  • Newforma Tasks app (top right), which provides an interactive dashboard for assigning, reviewing, and updating project quality control tasks, such as work-to-complete and punch lists (aka defects management).
  • Newforma CaptureNewforma Capture app (right), which provides a single place for capturing project data, including text, photos (with markup) and metadata, as the user walks the site. By default, the app stores data locally until it is uploaded, enabling faster, more continuous data capture (more urgent items can also be uploaded immediately if required and if connectivity is available)
  • Newforma Project Email, which provides instant access – similar to the Newforma Windows client – to emails that team members have filed using Newforma Project Center.

Tasks and Capture are both available for iOS devices, with Android versions planned for later this year; Project Email is already available on both iOS and Android. Meanwhile, a new version of the (currently iPad-only) Newforma Plans app now allows users to create and locate field notes, punch list items, and action items on relevant drawings.

Create Link in Newforma PlansLast week’s preview let me see how quickly Plans could be rendered on an iPad, with a “treasure map” thumbnail giving context to any action items or markups that might have been created. Coloured pins help identify different items according to their status; a ‘Favorites’ feature allows users to create personalised lists of sheets that they use frequently, while – for cross-team use – a ‘hyperlink’ feature can be used to build relationships between different drawings for rapid access and cross-referencing (interestingly, adding hyperlinks is only available on the iPad, not on the desktop view).

New Project Cloud functionality

Since its acquisition of Attolist nearly two years ago, Newforma has been building more SaaS capability into its product suite, particularly to support users who may not be using the on-premise applications, and to support users of its field management mobile apps. In short, it is building a suite that provides a ‘single version of the truth’ for project users, helping eliminate duplication and data entry errors.

QCScreenShotAlongside Communications, Document Management and Construction Admin, a new tab has been added at the top of the browser-based tool to cover Quality Control processes (eg: punchlists, work-to-complete, non-compliance items, inspections) while the usability of the overall user interface has also been improved. Foremost among the improvements is a ‘spatial index’ activity centre which allows an administrator to define particular project spaces, making it easier for users to locate quality control tasks such as work-to-complete or non-compliance items.

Newforma Chief Executive Officer Ian Howell said the Newforma Project Cloud updates are just the latest in a roadmap of extended improvements to the overall Newforma PIM solution:

“Newforma Project Cloud provides project hosting in the cloud, where everyone on the project team can access RFIs, submittals, plans, and other key project information from a single source. Many customers have told us they’re slashing their submittals review cycles in half using Newforma Project Cloud. Now, with new capabilities for field management, the quality control aspects of the construction phase of project delivery can benefit from similar performance improvements.”

(If you are attending this year’s BIMShowLive in Manchester, UK, 23-24 April, Newforma is exhibiting on stand GS16.)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.extranetevolution.com/2014/04/newforma-extends-mobile-and-cloud-funtionality/

Apr 10 2014

Conject Group revenues reach €20M

Germany’s ILM SaaS specialist Conject Group grows revenues 14% in 2013 to reach €20M (£16.6m) milestone.

ConjectMunich, Germany-based SaaS construction and real estate software vendor Conject has announced that it grew its revenues 14% to €20 million [£16.6m or $27.6m] in 2013. It also achieved some €25 million [£21m or $34m] in new orders. New customers included retailers Karstadt and ECE, manufacturer Caterpillar, and highways organisation E-Plus in Germany, Unicredit Bank, the ÖAMTC and the Post Office in Austria, the new FIFA 2018 stadiums in Russia, and – in the UK – London Heathrow Airport (Conject is being used by the team working on Terminal 2) and Birmingham City Council. I am told the group is profitable (“the focus is on increasing profitability”), but the group does not release specific profit numbers.

Ralf Haendl, group CEO, said:

Ralf Händl“The healthy growth of all regions in 2013 shows that the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) sector is recovering well worldwide, and that CONJECT strategy of growth through acquisition and internal investment is solving the collaboration needs of clients. In 2014 we will continue providing a comprehensive ILM offering especially the extension of our worldwide, location and time zone independent service as well as the extension of our portfolio through acquisition and partnership. We will focus on meeting industry needs including for mobile apps, SaaS and BIM solutions.”

The revenue growth keeps Conject comfortably ahead of its fellow Munich-based AEC SaaS technology vendor think project!, which grew its revenues 17% to €17.2m in the same period.

‘Hub’ growth strategy

Steve CooperI asked UK MD Steve Cooper about the results and he highlighted the expansion in infrastructure-related work: “In the late 2000s, I’d say 90% of our work related to buildings, but it’s now about 50%, with the other 50% associated with airports, highways, bridges and utilities,” he said. This expansion is not just in the UK, but in other regional markets; Steve highlighted orders in 2013 in New Zealand from energy and water clients (eg: Meridian and Watercare). He had also noticed a sharp upturn in the Middle East: “orders in Dubai were up 100% on the previous year” (Jumeirah Village was a recent project win there).

However, as a group, Australasia and the Middle East are not what Steve described as “hub markets”. Its key hubs are currently all in Europe: Germany, the UK and France, and from each of these hubs various satellite operations – Russia and Singapore, for example – are being developed with a view to them becoming hubs in due course. Conject has long experience of the Russian market through its work for clients Lendlease and Mace (it is working with the latter on a major urban development project in St Petersburg, for example), and while its southeast Asian operation is more recent, Steve said it is “growing rapidly”. The group will not be speculatively investing in new markets, he said.

BIM for ILM

Continuing to position itself as a provider of Infrastructure Lifecycle Management (ILM) services (it was using the term when I first interviewed company staff in 2009), Conject says it is expanding its portfolio of SaaS tools, mobile apps (it acquired French mobile business Wapp6 in late 2013 – post) and support for building information modelling (BIM).

It will also be starting a ‘soft launch’ in the UK of its SaaS FM application during Q2 of 2014 with a formal launch of the toolset in Q3.

A similar timescale is associated with the roll-out of its BIM capabilities, where the group is keen to differentiate itself by adopting an asset-focused perspective to BIM in line with its ILM ethos. Steve told me Conject has joined BuildingSMART and remains active on the BIM Technologies Alliance, and he attended a recent meeting hosted by BIM Task Group chairman Mark Bew where the UK’s journey beyond 2016 ‘Level 2′ towards ‘Level 3′ BIM was discussed. While many industry folk are focused mainly on BIM for design and construction (see his recent Conject blog post), Steve feels Conject’s ILM approach fits well with asset-centric approaches such as ‘Soft Landings’ and the long-term reuse of data throughout the operational life of a built asset.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.extranetevolution.com/2014/04/conject-group-revenues-reach-e20m/

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