Case Study

Building a New Paradigm: Balfour Beatty is Construction’s Digital Revolutionary

Balfour Beatty: Digital Transformation with Strategic Partners AWS + Procore

The Challenge

Founded in 1909, Balfour Beatty is a construction heavyweight whose projects continue to set the standard for excellence and innovation. In the 21st century, the construction giant’s ongoing expansion into an increasingly competitive and modernised marketplace reached a tipping point that tested—and found—the limits of paper-based construction processes at scale.

The Solution

Procore’s scalable cloud-based construction management platform aggregates, organises and clarifies project data in a collaborative virtual space that puts everyone on the same page. Add to that Amazon Web Services’ cloud solution, and you get real-time project data, decision-making fluidity and actionable project analytics. Digital processes keep Balfour Beatty nimble and innovative while lowering risk across the portfolio.

The Results

“Procore provides the technological capabilities for our teams and projects, and AWS complemented Procore by providing the cloud service. The combination of the two has helped our ability to access information and have sightlines to KPIs, and an understanding of the health of our projects.”

Kasey Bevans

Senior VP and CIO

Balfour Beatty’s World-Changing Portfolio

Kasey Bevans is Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Balfour Beatty; a 100 year-old construction titan whose growth and progress parallel that of the 20th Century itself. Balfour Beatty U.S. is known for works of great beauty, complexity and scale. Their achievements reside all along the human continuum—from the meditative stillness of the Pentagon Memorial, to the sprawling I-635 East improvement in Dallas. Balfour Beatty’s work, for all its scope, is always in the service of people.

CIO Bevans is explaining the construction giant’s move from a "paper-based" to a "digital and cloud-based" construction management model. "Our main objectives were to build smarter and more efficiently. We wanted to reduce risk in any way we could—and of course to improve the margins in our industry. We wanted to deliver more predicted outcomes." These varied objectives are joined by a common element—information. The term predicted outcomes speaks directly to construction’s aversion to surprises. The larger the project, and steeper the risk attached to misinformation and poor communication.

Low angle view of Balfour Beatty marquee

The Risk Inherent in Paper-Based Construction

Balfour Beatty’s reasons for moving away from paper came down to managing—and productively channeling—the blizzard of vital information typical of a modern project. "There are so many people involved with the construction process," Bevans explains," and so much information being exchanged throughout the project life cycle; little inefficiencies aggregate into larger ones. Worse—it can become a risk when information gets lost. It’s a simple fact that when you have clear, collaborative access to information, it helps eliminate the risk and build confidence in process, and project momentum."

One of Balfour Beatty’s strategic moves toward digitising their processes was a partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS). "We selected Amazon Web Services as our cloud service provider," Bevans explains, "because we knew they were one of the leading players in that industry. AWS is a mature product with a variety of service offerings. We found out that AWS is technology-agnostic. No matter what systems or tools or technology we were working with, AWS integrated with it."

"AWS was an option, to complete what we were trying to accomplish. Procore provides the technological capabilities for our teams and projects, and AWS complemented Procore by providing the cloud service. The combination of the two has helped our ability to access information and have sightlines to KPIs, and an understanding of the health of our projects.

Digitising the construction management process sounds complicated, but is in fact a search for simplicity itself. The worrying storm of project paperwork is reduced to a single project information repository, highly organised, intuitive and accessible to all. When everyone is in the same virtual space looking at the same information—the same drawings, RFIs, submittals and everything else—the challenge of "communicating" that information goes away, because the information is commonly accessible. The outcome? Project players are able to doubly focus on the work. Bevans describes Balfour Beatty’s result. "Going digital enables everyone—our employees and all the stakeholders involved—to have more time to spend on value-added tasks. It brings with it clarity and confidence, because everyone is working off the same information, and in real time. There's less likelihood of building off the wrong documents, specs and data."

Balfour Beatty marquee at night

Answers Where and When You Need Them––In the Field

For Balfour Beatty, the goals of digitising were very clear. "Our objective was to increase our margins and improve predicted outcomes," Bevans explains. "Procore helped build our confidence." Bevans’ stated objectives are joined by a common element; information. The larger the project, the steeper the risk attached to misinformation and poor communications. As to the specific collaborative advantages of digital? Jeff Pistor—Balfour Beatty’s Director of Innovation and Technology—chuckles.

"That’s a popular term these days. ‘Oh, we're collaborative now.’ The human race has always been collaborative," he says. "We’ve always had conversations. We’ve always had information exchanges. What’s changed is how we collaborate. We do it differently now thanks to the digital arena. These days, the geographic spread between the worksite and the various personae—the architects, engineers, the owners—can be huge, everyone located in different places. They’re not sitting in the next building across the way." Even when what’s needed is actually just "across the way," time spent simply conveying information adds up. Pistor illustrates with a familiar scene.

"I love the classic example of a speciality contractor stopping a site manager on the worksite with a question. To get the answer, the site manager heads back to the worksite trailer, pulls the plans out and gets the answer the contractor needs. Now, the site manager goes back out there to the contractor and delivers that answer." Pistor shakes his head. "This is all valid process in its way, of course. The same thing happens today—but the whole transaction happens there in the field. The speciality contractor pulls the drawing up right there, getting the information on his tablet or smartphone." Pistor smiles. "That's the change taking place on the digitised worksite. And it's huge."

back view of Balfour Beatty marquee

Building at the Speed of Information

Today construction is viewed as an information-fueled enterprise in which project data is as central to success as the build’s materials and labour. A construction project of any size is a real-world structure built upon—and maintained over time—through a highly organised storehouse of actionable project information. It’s about clarity and common access to a single source of truth in real time.

Balfour Beatty Senior Project Manager Tony Kuria puts it this way. "Why work with a cloud-based solution? Because time is money. Essentially, if I can put up a building in 18 months instead of 24 months, the client is happy, the head contractor is happy, and we can get to the next job. It's a win-win for everybody. So the faster we get information, all that comes together and conglomerates to deliver the building. Without the help of cloud-based construction management platforms, it would be very hard to put that together."

A digital construction management solution is about immediate access to needed information, and the integrity of that information. Balfour Beatty’s century of progress is built on integrity, and there came a moment when the construction company recognised the benefits of a new digitised project management paradigm. How does a history-making builder like Balfour Beatty zero in on a solution for their changing needs? The same way they approach building multi-story buildings: purity of purpose and exacting scrutiny of the details.

"Procore built a platform for people in construction," Bevans says simply. "When I talk to people from Procore they are familiar with construction. Procore is not just a technology company scanning the market and adding a new niche to their portfolio of products." A construction company as historically unstoppable as Balfour Beatty owes its reputation to a purity of purpose, and a refusal to stand down when a task seems plainly impossible. As Kasey Bevans helps lead Balfour Beatty into a digitised new era, it doesn’t hurt to join forces with a robust project management solution.

"It's always good to work with a company who knows what the job is like on the ground," Bevans says. "Procore understands what we're trying to achieve and accomplish. If we bring up an issue, with Procore it’s ‘Yeah, we'll figure that out. We'll make it happen.’ We're a global company, our global footprint is expanding all the time, every day—and so is Procore. We had a goal, we had a vision, and we needed a product that would help us achieve it. Procore has assisted in bringing this vision to life."

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