Technology and project management software has a critical role as Australia delivers a massive pipeline of infrastructure work, an industry leader says.

In a written response to questions from Sourceable, Oracle Construction and Engineering Spokesperson: Callan Mantell said the construction sector faces challenges as it prepares to deliver an unprecedented level of work on public infrastructure projects.

In addition to skill and resource availability along with the need to bring projects to construction without compromising planning and design, Mantell says an important challenge involves project selection and the need to balance ‘shovel-readiness’ against the economic payoff associated with each project.

To manage this, he says the right technology including scheduling and project management software can help to determine the projects which are most suitable.

Technology can also help to plan the most valuable projects and bring them to construction sooner.

Indeed, Mantell says that shovel readiness from a technological viewpoint should be a precursor in determining which projects move forward.

“Many of the issues that result in projects going off the rails can be attributed to the industry needing to move more quickly,” Mantell said.

“Within all levels of government and the industry itself, technological ‘shovel-readiness’ should be a pre-requisite for identifying which projects are best to move forward and in determining whether organisations have the capability to maintain accountability and visibility to manage stimulus funds and successfully deliver.”

Mantell’s comments come as Australia’s building sector prepares for an upsurge in infrastructure work.

In its recent forecast, BIS Oxford Economics said it expected the overall dollar value of construction work done on civil and engineering construction projects throughout Australia to surge from $88.7 billion in 2019/20 to almost $120 billion by 2022/23.

This is expected to put renewed pressure on resources and costs.

As this happens, technology are highlighting the potential of project management software to help manage projects and mitigate project risk.

Typically delivered via cloud-based services, construction project management software platforms aim to facilitate project management, coordination and control by connecting teams, processes and data across projects.

In the case of Oracle Construction and Engineering, the firm’s Aconex, Primavera and Textura delivers a life-cycle suite of cloud solutions aims to help project managers and contractors to:

  • Plan projects and track and manage progress.
  • Control contracts, change, cost and project risk via a shared platform.
  • Connect design and construction teams and better manage documents, correspondence and models through a common data environment.
  • Better and more efficiently manage subcontractor payments, invoicing and compliance.

When combined with the right people and processes, Mantell says technology and project management software can help contractors to demonstrate their level of preparedness to deliver upon the work by enabling efficient and effective execution, governance and project reporting.

This will help to promote confidence among project owners that project outcomes, budgets and timeframes will be delivered upon.

For contractors themselves, technology when combined with the right people and processes can help to improve cost control and reduce the likelihood of overruns.

Mantell, digital transformation has gathered pace since COVID and has facilitated remote work and continued productivity during shutdowns or limited onsite resource pools.

To improve project visibility and speed of action, meanwhile, organisations have standardized technologies across project divisions.

Generally, Mantell says those who had invested in resources prior to COVID have been better able to respond to the challenge which the pandemic brought.

He says technological adoption and readiness can help organisations to capitalise on opportunities from the unprecedented level of government spend.

“From my perspective, the Government will seek to award work where they can see the projects will yield the most value and the work will be well performed: less overrun, costs well managed, quality assured, safety the key priority, etc,” Mantell said.

“Evidence from previous governmental stimulus spending suggests that most, if not all, stimulus spending will come with strict success criteria, in addition to the standard value for money requirements.

“There is a focus on stimulating the community and local economy. In my view, speed of return on investment, adoption of green credentials, improving diversity and inclusion, and swift cash-flow through to small and midsized business that form the supply chain would be top of mind in the contractor selection process.

“Further, organisations that have invested in and standardised on portfolio, program, project, and delivery technologies would be better positioned to meet strict stimulus funding conditions than those who have not.”