Connected Systems Accelerate Solution Delivery, Reduce IT Costs by

By Frederick Young,2014-12-02 10:57
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Connected Systems Accelerate Solution Delivery, Reduce IT Costs by

     Connected Systems Accelerate Solution

    Delivery, Reduce IT Costs by 40 Percent

     Overview ―Executive management was excited by a 40 percent

    Country or Region: United States reduction in IT costs, and even more excited about the Industry: Construction

    new business capabilities that we can deliver.‖

    Customer Profile Chris Stockley, Chief Information Officer, Skanska USA Building Parsippany, New Jerseybased Skanska USA Building is the third largest con-

    struction company in the United States, with approximately 4,100 employees. After building contractor Skanska USA Building merged its numerous wholly owned subsidiaries into a single company Business Situation

    Skanska needed to integrate its core operating under the Skanska brand, it still had more than a dozen business applications and make data core business applications. Using a service-oriented architecture, available to users when working offline.

     the company is making the information in those applications Solution available to employees, customers, and partners through an Skanska implemented a service-oriented

    architecture that extends the data in its enterprisewide portal. Skanska‘s use of Microsoft? software to many business systems for both online and connect people, systems, and processes has yielded several offline access through a single, enterprise-

    wide portal. benefits including improved collaboration and access to infor- mation, 40 percent reduction in IT costs, and rapid time-to-market Benefits

    ; Improved employee productivity and return on investment for new IT projects. Just as important, the ; Better access to information company‘s connected environment is helping bring about a change ; Improved collaboration

    ; Accelerated time-to-market and return in culture, enabling people to work more closely together toward a on investment common set of performance goals. ; 40 percent reduction in annual IT costs

    Situation Solution ―With Microsoft Skanska USA Building, a business unit of Skanska USA Building implemented a flexible, software, we can Sweden-based Skanska AB, is a leading connected solution platform through the use provider of construction services. Head-of Microsoft? .NETconnected software. With achieve a far greater quartered in Parsippany, New Jersey, the that foundation, the company is rapidly level of software reuse, company is the third largest contractor in delivering new solutions that provide the United States. Skanska USA Building information to the people who need it in the instead of building each has approximately 4,100 employees and form that makes it most useful. Employees new solution from generates approximately U.S.$4 billion in can collaborate more closely with customers annual revenues. and work more productively, and manage-scratch.‖ ment is able to better monitor company Chris Stockley, Chief Information Officer, In 2003, Skanska USA merged its numerous performance and make business decisions. Skanska USA Building wholly owned subsidiaries across the United

    States into a single company. As part of the In building its connected solution platform effort, the company consolidated more than and new solutions, Skanska used: 100 applications to just over a dozen.

    Although the 10-month project significantly ; Microsoft Windows Server? 2003 oper-

    reduced IT costs, the company‘s IT group still ating system, the foundation of Microsoft faced a challenge common to most large Windows Server System? integrated server

    companies. software, which provides a set of infra-

     structure services on which all other ―We still had more than a dozen core systems solution components rely.

    and needed a way to integrate them quickly

    and economically,‖ says Chris Stockley, Chief ; Microsoft BizTalk? Server 2004, which

    Information Officer for Skanska USA Building. facilitates integration among core business ―We prefer to buy instead of build, such as systems and orchestrates movement of we‘ve done with our core business systems, data in and out of those systems in support but there are many business-specific needs of tailored, user-centric solutions. that third-party applications can‘t meet. For

    those, we need to be able to combine the ; Microsoft SQL Server? 2000, including its data in our core systems and extend it to Reporting Services and Analysis Services users through custom solutions that support features, which Skanska uses to flexibly specific business processes.‖ and cost-effectively deliver business

     intelligence across the enterprise. Skanska also needed a way to make those

    custom solutions accessible to its distributed ; Microsoft Office SharePoint? Portal Server

    work force, 75 percent of which work at job 2003, which provides tools that facilitate locations that may not always have Internet collaboration and a single launching point access. ―We could have 2,000 active job for enterprise applications and reports. sites at any one time, 30 of which move each

    day,‖ says Stockley. ―Not only do we need ; Microsoft Office InfoPath? 2003

    connected IT solutions, but we also need a information-gathering program, which way for people to make use of them even helps Skanska rapidly deploy new end-user when connectivity isn‘t readily available.‖ applications that work in both online and

     offline modes.

    ; Microsoft Visual Studio? .NET 2003 devel-business processesagain exposed for reuse ―Business content on opment system and the .NET Framework, as Web services. For example, when an our SharePoint Portal which provide an integrated development employee updates his or her contact data environment and unified programming on the company‘s intranet site, the Web page Server site outweighs IT model for building Web sites, Web services, passes that information to BizTalk Server content by a ratio of 10 and smart client applications. through a Web service interface. BizTalk

     Server then determines which back-end to 1, which is evidence ―With Microsoft software, we can achieve a systems must be updated and calls the Web of its usefulness and far greater level of software reuse, instead of service interfaces into each of those systems. building each new solution from scratch,‖ user-friendliness.‖ says Stockley. ―The Windows? [operating Connected Applications Allen Emerick, Director of IT, Applications and system] platform gives us a flexible tool set After building the Web services to integrate Integration, Skanska USA Building for integration and business process auto-the common service layer with back-end mation, a user interface for the rapid devel-systems and deploying BizTalk Server to opment of new user-centric solutions, and a orchestrate the interactions among those common reporting and business intelligence systems, Skanska USA Building began to environment that can service the entire reuse that common solution platform to enterprise.‖ deliver new business solutions. Three such

     solutions are the Project Status Report/ Service-Oriented Architecture Construction Work in Progress (PSR/CWIP), At the core of the Skanska USA Building Executive Scorecard, and Safety Report Card connected enterprise is a service-oriented applications.

    architecture, in which the company‘s core

    business applications are exposed through PSR/CWIP. With many different project Web servicesapplication components that management applications, it had been can be accessed programmatically using challenging for Skanska USA to gather and standard Web protocols. Business applica-integrate information on the financial per-tions that are exposed in that way include: formance of construction projects. In the past,

     project status reports were completed in any ; JD Edwards for enterprise resource of the different systems used by various planning and financials. locations, ranging from custom applications

     ? spreadsheet software. to Microsoft Excel

    ; Prolog for project management and The data was forwarded and rekeyed into accounting. another Excel spreadsheet that also included

     information from the company‘s JD Edwards

    ; Timberline for estimating and other financial system. It was a highly manual preconstruction activities. process that was prone to data entry errors,

     and there was no way to do trending or ; SalesLogix for customer relationship analysis on historical data.


     With the new PSR/CWIP solution, project ; Remedy for IT help desk. managers in the field are presented with an

     InfoPath 2003 form that resembles the Integration and business process automation spreadsheets used in the past, except that are handled by BizTalk Server 2004, which the form is prepopulated with data from JD coordinates movement of data in and out of Edwards and the previous month‘s PSR/CWIP back-end systems in support of higher-level report. The project manager reviews the

    numbers on the form, makes any necessary user can complete the form in the field. Upon ―InfoPath has adjustments, attaches supporting documents, returning to a location with Internet access, significantly reduced and saves the form. The PSR/CWIP solution the user saves the form back to the portal for was developed by a team of four people in six processing. The solution was developed in a the effort required to weeks and is used by 900 employees who few weeks and is now used by roughly 150 collect and manage work in project management and project employees to input and manage safety-accounting. related data (with reports made available information. Reports to all employees). that used to take weeks Executive Scorecard. After consolidating its

    businesses, Skanska USA needed to track Centralized Reporting to produce now can be business performance consistently across the In addition to using a centralized reporting delivered in minutes.‖ organization. In the past, each subsidiary had environment for its new connected solutions, its own set of financial measures for deter-such as those described above, Skanska USA Chris Stockley, Chief Information Officer, mining the health of the organization. Moving has moved reporting and analytics for its core Skanska USA Building forward, it was critical that the entire com-business applications outside those systems, pany use the same indicators to monitor and again using a layered approach to facilitate drive performanceand that senior manage-software reuse and easily create reports that ment be able to quickly identify problem combine data from the different applications. areas and take corrective action. Implemented using SQL Server 2000 Report-

     ing Services and Analysis Services, the Using SharePoint Portal Server 2003, SQL abstraction of reporting and analytics from Server 2000 Analysis Services, and the core business applications reduces report Microsoft Office Solution Accelerator for maintenance costs, facilitates delivery of all Business Scorecards, Skanska built a Web-reports through a single common interface, based solution that provides a consistent set and decreases the cost of replacing a core of performance measurements across the business applicationalong with the impact

    enterprise. Executives see color-coded of such change on the organization. graphical indicators that help them identify

    problem areas at a glance, and can intuitively ―By abstracting reporting and analytics into a drill down into the data behind those indica-separate layer, we can develop and deliver tors to determine what actions must be taken. reports independent of applications,‖ says Developed in four weeks, the Executive Allen Emerick, Director of IT, Applications Scorecard is used by about 70 executives and Integration, for Skanska USA Building. across the company. ―Reports are delivered in a consistent way

     and look the same regardless of where the Safety Report Card. In the past, the proc-data resides, and applications can be esses for collecting safety-related data on the swapped out without having to rewrite the job site varied from location to location, reports in a new environment. We just change which prohibited Skanska from aggregating, data sources in the reporting layer, and we‘re

    comparing, and performing trend analysis on done. Also, with Reporting Services and that information. The company‘s new Safety Analysis Services, users can access reports Report Card solution uses the same tech-and other business analytics through nologies and architecture as the PSR/CWIP Microsoft Excel, enabling people to analyze, solution, except that employees use Tablet chart, or graph the data in a report in any way PCs to access the InfoPath forms. The user they desire.‖

    retrieves a form while connected and saves

    it on the Tablet PC; after disconnecting, the

User-centric Portals bids for projects, and provide a way for ―The typical solution Users access all reports and business vendors to manage their own contact data. development cycle is applications through a companywide portal

    based on SharePoint Portal Server, which ―Business content on our SharePoint Portal measured in weeks supports dedicated subportals for different Server site outweighs IT content by a ratio of instead of months.‖ categories of internal and external users. 10 to 1, which is evidence of its usefulness

     and user-friendliness,‖ says Emerick. ―With Allen Emerick, Director of IT, Applications and Employee portal. The the portal solution that we have in place, Integration, Skanska USA Building employee portal, which provides online each business group can manage its own meeting workspaces and facilitates docu-user base and content.‖

    ment collaboration, enables users to easily find and share information across formal Benefits

    business lines or within informal working The Skanska USA connected enterprise has

    groups. The portal also provides a common yielded several benefits including improved

    launching point for all business applications productivity, better access to information,

    and stronger collaboration. In addition, the and reports, ensuring that employees can

    company‘s consolidation of its core business easily find the tools and information they

    systems and adoption of a service-oriented need.

    architecture has resulted in a strong return

    on investment for new IT solutions and Executive portal. The executive portal pro-

    substantially lower IT costs. vides a workspace in which upper manage-

     ment can collaborate and share documents.

    Improved Employee Productivity It also provides a launching point for the

    Solutions such as Project Status Report/ Executive Scorecard solution.

    Construction Work in Progress and Safety

    Report Card have improved employee Customer portal. Skanska recently began

    productivity by reducing the time spent deploying dedicated portals for several of its

    collecting, aggregating, managing, and customers. Through the portals, employees

    reporting information. The offline capabilities and customers can share documents, cal-

    provided by Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003 endars, project photos, and contact lists. The

    extend those solutions to areas where con-portals also provide links to applications that

    nectivity is not available, helping employees are used jointly by employees and customers,

    remain productive regardless of location. such as Prolog for project management and

     Primavera Project Planner for scheduling.

    ―InfoPath has significantly reduced the effort ―Many application vendors provide portals,

    required to collect and manage information,‖ but they‘re usually limited to that one

    says Stockley. ―Reports that used to take application,‖ says Emerick. ―With SharePoint

    weeks to produce now can be delivered in Portal Server, we can deliver a user experi-

    minutes. We expect the PSR/CWIP solution ence that spans all core business

    alone to save $300,000 per year in timesav-applications.‖

    ings alone, and perhaps another $200,000

    per year through an improved ability to audit.‖ Vendor portal. In the fourth quarter of 2005,

     Skanska USA plans to add a portal for sub-

    Better Access to Information contractor prequalification and qualification.

    Although harder to quantify, the company‘s The portal will be used to make vendors

    new connected applications also are deliv-aware of new projects, allow them to submit

    ering a strong return on investment through

    improved access to information across the check-in/check-out capabilities provided by ―SharePoint Portal enterprise. By enabling data to be collected in the portal to eliminate the confusion that can

    a consistent format, that information can be occur when a document is passed around Server has become the stored and analyzed more easily, helping through e-mail. After sites are created, busi-standard for sales team optimize business performance. ness groups are empowered to manage them

     on their own. collaboration.… We can ―Solutions like PSR/CWIP are exactly what we

    attribute several large need for construction project accounting,‖ ―SharePoint Portal Server has become the

    says Leo Sinicin, Corporate Director, Project standard for sales team collaboration,‖ says winsaround $700 Accounting, for Skanska USA Building. ―We‘ve Emerick. ―It streamlines information sharing million in businessto tried to build solutions like it in the past, but and has allowed us to move on new business

    the technology wasn‘t flexible and agile opportunities more efficiently than in the past. our ability to collaborate enough to meet the unique needs of our We can attribute several large winsaround

    more effectively and industry. Now we have a solution that meets $700 million in businessto our ability to

    our needs today and is flexible to adapt to the collaborate more effectively and respond respond faster than the changes in our business. The solution has faster than the competition can.‖

    competition.‖ been invaluable to our accounting team in

    managing our project performance and Rapid Return on Investment Allen Emerick, Director of IT, Applications and profitability.‖ Through its connected IT solution platform, Integration, Skanska USA Building Skanska can deliver new business solutions Similarly, the Executive Scorecard solution rapidly and cost-effectively, resulting in a

     provides improved access to information for strong return on investment for new solutions.

    Skanska upper management, who no longer The PSR/CWIP solution, which will deliver an

    must examine lengthy reports to determine expected $500,000 annual return, took six

    where attention is needed. Instead, they can weeks to build at a cost of $65,000. Similarly,

    discern where the business may not be per-the Executive Scorecard was built for

    forming as expected at a glance, and can $50,000, and the first version of the Safety

    easily get to the numbers behind the score-Report card solution cost roughly $5,000.

    card‘s graphical indicators to determine

    which actions are required. ―We‘re writing new applications faster than

     business units can deploy them,‖ says

    Improved Collaboration Emerick. ―The typical solution development

    The company‘s portal solution helps employ-cycle is measured in weeks instead of

    ees collaborate with each other and with cus-months. Moreover, InfoPath forms can be

    tomers more effectively. A key beneficiary is created by junior-level developers, allowing

    the Skanska sales organization, which was more senior developers to work on broader-

    one of the first groups in the company to impact enhancements.‖

    adopt SharePoint team sites.

     $9 Million IT Cost Savings

    The sites greatly reduce the time spent Along with new business capabilities, the

    searching for information, providing each company‘s IT consolidation and standard-

    sales group with a single place to find and ization on Microsoft technology for all new

    share documents and files. Users no longer projects has delivered significant bottom-line

    need to worry about mapped network drives returns. In 2002, before the consolidation

    or folders, which were arranged differently on effort started, the company had a $22 million

    a server in Boston than they were in Atlanta. IT budget. As of June 2005, with an IT

    Users rely on version history and document environment that is more agile and flexible

than it was in the past, Skanska USA has an ―I attribute a large part annual IT budget of $13 milliona savings of of the $9 million in IT more than 40 percent.

     cost savings that we‘ve ―I attribute a large part of the $9 million in IT realized to our use of cost savings that we‘ve realized to our use of Microsoft technology,‖ says Stockley. ―By Microsoft technology.‖ standardizing on the Windows platform and Chris Stockley, Chief Information Officer, using its capabilities to build a connected Skanska USA Building enterprise, we‘re simply able to do more with lessnot just keeping up with the demands of the business but proactively delivering new value. Executive management was excited by a 40 percent reduction in IT costs, and even more excited about the new business capa-bilities that we can deliver.‖

    According to Stockley, the intangible results of the IT group‘s work over the past three years are just as impressive as the more concrete savings. ―A connected enterprise helps support the behaviors we want, such as improved collaboration and the ability to keep everyone working to the same set of perfor-mance goals,‖ says Stockley. ―It‘s amazing how quick and agile Microsoft software has helped us become. We now can more easily accommodate business-driven change.‖

    The next section of this document describes the technical architecture of the solution and the challenges faced in building it.

Architecture Synopsis

    The architecture of the Skanska USA con-Within the portal environment, Skanska nected enterprise is shown in Figure 1. makes extensive use of Microsoft Office

     InfoPath 2003 forms for input and data Presentation Layer capture. Here‘s how the process works for The presentation layer is based on Microsoft the Project Status Report/Construction Work Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003, which in Progress solution:

    provides a common launching point for

    access to information, documents, reports, 1. A project manager opens a new PSR/CWIP and applications. Some tools on the portal, form by clicking a button on a portal page. such as the one that employees use to An XML document that describes the form manage their own contact information, are stored in a SharePoint Portal Server form implemented as Web Parts that run within library—is downloaded to the user‘s Web the SharePoint Portal Server environment. browser, which passes the document to Other Web-based applications that are InfoPath.

    accessed through the portal are hosted on a

    separate, dedicated Web server, with a Page 2. The user enters a job number or can do a Viewer Web Part used to embed the appli-lookup by clicking a button on the form, in cations in the portal‘s pages. which case InfoPath makes a Web service

    call to retrieve the desired information.

    3. After a job number is entered, InfoPath

    makes two Web service calls to pre-

    populate the form with data from the JD

    Edwards system and the previous month‘s

    PSR/CWIP report.

    4. The project manager fills out the form,

    adjusts the prepopulated values as

    necessary, and attaches any supporting

    documentation. Validation properties built

    into the form check the data entered and

    ensure that all fields are populated.

    5. When finished, the project manager clicks

    Save. InfoPath saves the XML document

    back to a second form library, and the

    portal sends an e-mail notification and link

    to the document to the project accounting


    6. After a project accountant inspects and

    approves the numbers, he or she submits

    the XML document to a third form library.

    7. Microsoft BizTalk Server 2004 picks up accelerate solution development, including the XML document from the form library, those for caching, configuration, data access, parses it, validates the data, and loads it and exception logging.

    into a Microsoft SQL Server 2000 data-

    base for analysis and reporting. ―The application blocks provided by Microsoft

     were extremely useful,‖ says Emerick. ―They If needed, users can disconnect after step 3 saved us weeks of programming, virtually and complete step 4 while offline. Upon cutting our work in half.‖

    completing the form and returning to a

    location with connectivity, the process Integration Layer

    continues with step 5. BizTalk Server accesses the company‘s core

     business applications through a centralized Business Logic and Workflow Layer integration layer, which exposes the data in The business logic and workflow layer of the each application through one or more Web company‘s service-oriented architecture is services. The Web services, in turn, rely on

    database calls to move information in and based on BizTalk Server 2004, which orches-

    out of the various back-end systems. One trates interactions with back-end systems in

    exception is the JD Edwards system, which support of various business processes.

    BizTalk Server both exposes orchestrations BizTalk Server accesses through an that define business processes as Web ser-application-level connector.

    vices and calls Web services from within

    those orchestrationsthe latter being lower-Reporting and Analysis Layer

    level Web services that are used to expose The reporting and analysis layer of the the data in each back-end system. Data that company‘s solution platform is based on passes through the layer is validated within SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services and BizTalk Server pipelines. Analysis Services. Users click a link on the

     portal to access a report, and Reporting ―BizTalk Server is the ‗brain‘ or ‗traffic cop‘ of Services renders the reports as HTML for our architecture,‖ says Emerick. ―We diagram viewing in the user‘s Web browser.

    ? drawing and a process using Microsoft Visio

    diagramming software, which helps people Built-in features of Reporting Services allow on the business side get involved, and then users to save reports as Adobe Acrobat files import the Visio file into BizTalk Server to or import data into Microsoft Excel for further create the orchestrations.‖ analysis. Online analytical processing (OLAP)

     functionalityused by the Executive Score-All code that runs within the business logic card solutionis based on a relational OLAP layer is written in the C# programming design in which only aggregates and meas-language using the Microsoft Visual ures reside within the OLAP cubes, which Studio .NET development system, and runs point to data stored in a relational database. on the .NET Frameworkan integral The OLAP cubes are accessed through Excel component of the Windows operating system PivotTable? dynamic views or an Excel Web that provides a programming model and Part that runs within the SharePoint Portal runtime for building Web sites, Web services, Server environment.

    and smart client applications. Skanska

    developers made extensive use of prebuilt Database Layer

    application blocks provided by Microsoft as A SQL Server relational database stores part of its patterns and practices guidance to documents saved on the portal and data

    collected with InfoPath forms. Skanska USA engaged Microsoft Services to help evaluate the company‘s database environment after the consolidation of business applications, and the two parties defined a new logical architecture. Skanska then deployed the physical architecture, which consists of two server computers in an active/active cluster, each server running two instances of SQL Server. One database instance supports the portal and applications, and the other three instances support various line-of-business applications.

Technical Challenges

    In designing its solution platform, Skanska had to address two key business require-ments: enabling employees to remain productive when working offline, and ensuring that the work done in that offline environment can be synchronized with the company‘s corporate data stores from any location with an Internet connectionfor

    example, a customer‘s office—instead of

    requiring a complex virtual private network connection.

Skanska addressed the first requirement

    offline productivitythrough the use of

    InfoPath forms, which can be downloaded when connectivity is available, populated offline, and saved back to the portal when the user returns to a location with connectivity. To address the second requirement, Skanska chose Web services over direct database calls to facilitate connectivity between remote users and the company‘s corporate data stores over any Internet connection.

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