Skanska BA Finaldoc - Online Collaboration Tools Are Helping

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Skanska BA Finaldoc - Online Collaboration Tools Are Helping ...

    Building the Business

    Online Collaboration Tools Are Helping Skanska USA Building

    Respond More Effectively to Sales Opportunities

    by Scott Barton

    Parsippany, New

    Jerseybased Skanska Nisan Gertz‘s first major sale in his new job was the construction management deal USA Building is the third

    for a major medical center, worth more than U.S.$100 million to Skanska USA largest construction

    company in the United Building. Not only did Gertz take the business away from the competition, but he did

    States, with so after entering the contest late and winning the job in just two weeksmuch less approximately 4,100

    employees. than the instead of the eight to ten weeks that it usually takes to win a project. His

    advantage: the ability to collaborate effortlessly with other Skanska employees

    across the country, regardless of geographic or organizational boundaries.

    In Gertz‘s business, where many qualified Is Gertz a former software developer who ended

    companies compete for each building project, up in the sales department? Not quite. Although

    deals traditionally are won more often because he personally maintains a Web site for each

    of relationships than because of information sales opportunity, Gertz knows nothing about

    technology, which often remains in the back Web development. Instead, his ability to find,

    office. However, those times are changing. share, and publish information on the Web is

    Gertz recently won several large deals because standard among Skanska sales employees

    of his ability to use the Internet as a collabora-delivered through the company‘s Web portal as

    tion and sales tool. part of a companywide strategy to empower

    each salesperson and thus maximize his or her ―As a construction management company, we‘re contribution to the bottom line. information brokers above all else,‖ says Gertz.

     ―The ability to control that information instead

    of letting it control us is a big competitive


    If Gertz‘s experience is an indicator, the may go to several companies. Gertz Skanska strategy for empowering must respond with a proposal that can be employees is proving successful. In the hundreds of pages long, the creation of past two years, Gertz has increased which requires the effort of project man-Skanska‘s healthcare-related business in agers, construction superintendents, and his territory from $35 million in 2004 to technical writers, as well as people with more than $650 million in 2006. specialized medical expertise. The Sales Process In the past, coordinating the efforts of so

    many people in different locations took a Gertz, an architect by training, joined good deal of time and energy, typically Skanska in 2004 after a decade spe-requiring the dissemination of large vol-cializing in healthcare-related projects at umes of paper as input was collected and a nationwide firm. He works in Skanska‘s drafts of the proposal were distributed for New York and New Jersey sales offices review. Whenever changes were made, where, as Senior Director of Business the resulting delay was a few additional Development, he splits his time between days as the numerous pages of each business strategy and key sales opportu-proposal were printed, bound, and nities in the New York, New Jersey, and shipped via overnight delivery. Connecticut area.

    Gertz had witnessed this problem at his In his sales role, Gertz must both identify previous job. ―It was really hard to pull key opportunities and work to win those together people from all over the country deals. His industry contacts help him stay to work with the same focus,‖ he recalls. well informed of new building projects,

    with the challenge being in how well he

    can respond to those opportunities.

    ―Skanska is a national company and the

    people I need to work with are scattered

    all over the country,‖ says Gertz. ―For

    each opportunity, I need to quickly

    assemble a team, bring them up to speed,

    and manage the sales process. The

    window of opportunity can be as short as

    a few weeks, so we need to be able to

    work together like we‘re all in the same


    For most opportunities, the sales process

    typically begins when the client sends out

    a Request for Proposal, or RFP, which

    ―People would sit for hours waiting for for Skanska USA Building. ―None of new information, while the clock kept those systems could talk to each other, ticking closer to the deadline. Back then, which made it difficult to standardize I wasn‘t a direct part of the process. This business processes and measure time, though, those same challenges business performance consistently were a direct threat to my own success across the organization.‖

    and the success of the company.‖ Over the next year, Skanska USA An Empowered Work Force Building consolidated to just over a

    dozen common business applications, Fortunately for Gertz, others at Skanska standardizing on Microsoft? software as a had already solved his problem. common technology platform. The 10-Skanska‘s Enterprise Portal enables month project reduced annual IT costs by employees, partners, and clients to easily more than 40 percent, but the company‘s share information throughout all phases IT group still needed a way to make the of the construction life cycle. By enabling new business applications accessible to people to collaborate in an impromptu the highly distributed work force, 75 per-manner regardless of location, the portal cent of whom reside at job locations that is helping Gertz respond better to new may not always have Internet access. opportunities and build Skanska‘s

    healthcare-related business in his region. ―We have up to 2,000 active job sites at

    any one time, 30 of which move each At Skanska, the portal is not an isolated day,‖ says Emerick. ―Not only did we example of a successful technology need connected business applications, initiative. Rather, it is part of a pervasive but we also needed a way to make those focus on operating as a single, integrated applications useful to people when business at all levels of the organization. connectivity isn‘t readily available.‖ But it wasn‘t always that way.

     The story dates back to 2003, when

    Skanska USA Building merged its

    dozens of wholly owned subsidiaries

    across the United States into a single

    business. After the merger, the company

    had more than 100 business applications,

    with people in different geographies

    using different systems for the same


    ―A few years ago, we had just about one

    of everything,‖ says Allen Emerick,

    Director of Applications and Integration

    The answer to that challenge came in aged by staffers at another office. ―When the form of Microsoft SharePoint? I called to ask them to send me the file Products and Technologies, which on a disk, their reply was ‗just go to our Skanska is using as a standard entry SharePoint site and download it,‘‖ recalls point to its business systems. Today, Gertz. ―At the time, I never knew we had people across the company use a that kind of capability.‖

    SharePoint-based portal to access and As soon as he began using the portal, manage informationfrom executives Gertz recognized that it was what he who use graphical scorecards to monitor needed for his own efforts. A day after business performance to construction asking Skanska IT to create a site for him, supervisors who use mobile Tablet PCs it was ready, and he began to upload all to download blueprints and upload safety of the data that he had been collecting reports. for his current sales effort. Once they were accustomed to using the ―I had been gathering all kinds of portal, people began to adopt its built-in information for monthseverything collaboration tools. Among the early from satellite photos to an MP3 file of adopters were members of the com-a radio talk-show presentation on the pany‘s sales force, who found the portal project,‖ says Gertz. ―I uploaded it all to an ideal way to share information and the portal in a few hours, after which it collaborate on proposals, presentations, was immediately available to people and other components of the sales across the country.‖ process.

    The portal site became Gertz‘s virtual ―Through primarily grass-roots adoption, war room over the next two months, Microsoft SharePoint technology has helping him produce what many at rapidly become the standard for col-Skanska consider one of the best laboration, especially for the sales team,‖ proposals to come out of the company. says Emerick. ―It streamlines information

    sharing and has allowed us to move on

    new business opportunities more effi-

    ciently. We can attribute several large

    wins to our ability to collaborate more

    effectively and respond faster.‖

    The Right Tool for the Job

    Gertz‘s initial exposure to one of the

    collaborative Web sites came after a few

     months on the job, when he needed an

    RFP for a project that was being man-

    Continued Momentum ―It was amazing how people all over the

    country came together and worked as one,‖ Most recently, the ability to share says Gertz. ―Even though we never met in information and collaborate in real time person to work on this project, everyone helped Gertz win the construction man-was on the same page when the time agement deal for medical center in New came to deliver our proposal to the client.‖ Jersey, a project valued at more than The Start of a Winning Trend $100 million.

    Although Gertz didn‘t win that first deal, ―We entered the bidding late and had two things began to change when he weeks to come up with a proposal,‖ says received a tip from a contact about Gertz. ―We had received hundreds of another multimillion-dollar hospital drawings from the architect and would renovation project in Connecticut. Gertz have lost days had we tried to distribute managed to get on to a shortlist of four them by more traditional means.‖

    potential companies. The odds, however, Instead, Gertz uploaded the drawings to were stacked against him. the portal and introduced everyone to the ―We were up against three other firms, opportunity the same day. Two weeks two of which were more connected to the later, he had a finished proposal and was client,‖ says Gertz. ―At the time, our ready for the interview.

    healthcare-related experience in ―In the interview, we told the client ‗we Connecticut was minimal.‖ already have your drawings online and Fortunately for Gertz, one of the hospi-can make them available to the entire tal‘s biggest concerns was finding a way project team immediately,‘‖ recalls Gertz. to share information among its construc-―We were awarded the project two weeks tion partners in real time. ―They had a ago, since which time we‘ve made an great relationship with an architectural additional five to six weeks‘ worth of firm in Texas and didn‘t want to be progress.‖

    penalized by the distance,‖ says Gertz. ―When we showed them our portal, they

    asked us back for a second interview just

    to talk about our technology. Later that

    day, they told us we had won the project

    due to our ability to help them manage


    The Connecticut hospital project is now

    in the construction phase, with several

    companies using the same portal site to

    manage and share information.

    Although the ability to easily share information is helping Gertz be more effective, it is Skanska‘s ability to cost-

    effectively scale that benefit across the company that‘s making a real contribu-

    tion to the bottom line. More than 7,500 Skanska employees, clients, and part-ners enjoy the same capabilities

    delivered through more than 1,200 individual collaboration Web sites hosted on the company‘s main portal.

    For many employees, the portal is ben-efiting their personal lives as well as their job performance. ―One of the reasons I left my last job was all the travel,‖ says Gertz. ―Today, I can stay in New Jersey

    and still work across other offices, and can spend nights at home with my family instead of in a hotel room. My work life today is made easier because of access to a virtual network of people and infor-mation, and the technology at my dis-posal helps me to be more successful. It‘s that simple.‖

    Learn more about Skanska

    USA Building at:

    This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Document published: March 2007

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