About the Client
The client is a leading building contractor in the US Midwest. The client maintains one of the largest construction work forces in the market, and its commitment to excellence has helped earn several industry awards, including the American Subcontractors Association’s “General Contractor of the Year” and numerous APEX awards for excellence in construction.
Silicus had already performed software engineering services for the client in the past, and this time the client wanted Silicus to help build an application to manage the process of commissioning a building.
The building commissioning process is usually conducted by collecting and verifying building related information manually at various phases of construction. Information is collected, verified and approved by a team of individuals (with a role hierarchy) belonging to the Construction General Contractor for final presentment to the property owner.
The overhead involved in collaborating to collect, verify and approve this information led the client to believe that a centralized collaborative system would help in improving the process efficiency and accuracy while creating a systematic and formal hand-off to the property owner. This in turn would create competitive advantage for the Client
The Business ROI and past experience with Silicus in developing business applications led the client to commence the engagement.
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Silicus used a conventional waterfall methodology for the project across its US and offshore development center.
First, the functional requirements along with use cases and user interface prototypes were developed including application’s functionality, mobility requirements and business process logic.
Given the distributed nature of construction business between the field site and the company’s main offices, the software developed needed to consider application usage through devices other than PC’s, such as mobile handheld devices or tablet PC’s. The technical design and architectural recommendations put forward by Silicus took the above into consideration and Silicus engineers proposed a mobile based as well as PC based application architecture. After the core development was completed, rapid testing and build cycles were completed.
The functional modules developed by Silicus covered the major business processes encountered in building commissioning, including:
- Definition of Building Components
- Managing checklists associated with Building Components
- Definition of Construction Phases
- User hierarchy and access administration
- Definition of Jobs per Construction Project
- Definition of Job Team
- Setup of Collaboration Workflow by Project
- Document Management for MS Office Documents
- Check In/Out of Building components by individuals for inspection
C#, ASP.NET, Java Script
Visual studio 2003
Windows Tablet PC
Crystal Reports 9
Improved Productivity For Construction Personnel
Earlier, the client would use excel sheets for maintaining building commissioning data, that needed to be shared with all stake holders over email in case of any changes done by one specific user
A web based application allowed users to better collaborate during building construction and commissioning, work on site using Tablet PC’s and synchronize whatever changes were made with the application to be shared with the rest of the users.
Synchronization Architecture For Field Use
The application was also designed for a Tablet PC so inspections and verifications of Building components could be completed at field locations.
Using the check In/Out process, users can lock/unlock building components while connected to the network. Mobile users are allowed to complete field activities and synchronize when they are back in the office. Disconnected users use a local web-client on the Tablet PC.
Briefcase Functionality For Information Hand-Off
The briefcase functionality allows the user to generate a dump of the documents for a job. The user selects a number of documents in the document manager screen and selects to generate a briefcase.
The application generates a zip file, stores it in an accessible FTP location and sends a mail to the user with the link for the zip. The briefcase HTML file shows an offline replica of the system hierarchy and displays the documents checked out by the user.