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Case Study: John Paul Construction

paul construction

Background

John Paul Construction is a leading building and civil engineering contractor with a long-standing reputation for integrity, professionalism, innovation and excellence. The company is headquartered in Dublin with regional offices in Cork, London and Riyadh and was recently named 2016 Contractor of the year at the KPMG / Irish Independent Property Excellence Awards.

When standing in the company’s headquarters in Dundrum you get an immediate sense of quality in every aspect of the organisation’s activities along with a deep sense of historical awareness of the foundations that have been built upon for over 60 years. Amongst the numerous awards for excellence and pledges to Health & Safety and Corporate Responsibility there is a teak framed photograph of the company’s founders, John Paul and Tommy Simington who established the business in 1949.

A Company with a proud history looking forward with a vision to always provide clients with “the best construction experience they have encountered to date in their business”.

The Challenge

IT in construction has evolved to be a strategic element in delivering projects efficiently, within budget and on time.
Jim McDonnell, IT Manager, has an extensive technology brief to manage.

In addition to general business and finance applications, he has developed and supports myriad applications that are core to construction projects. These include a variety of best of breed applications that he has had integrated and melded to reflect John Paul Construction’s specific needs. Jim is very proactive in sharing his knowledge and experience of IT in the construction industry with his appreciative peers. “Information Technology is not as competitive in construction as other industries as we see a shift towards a more inclusive culture, especially with the increase in adoption of BIM” he says, “so we have formal user groups organised by CITA for Irish construction companies to meet periodically to share ideas and discuss best practice.”

A refreshing approach in a world where it so often seems that commercial organisations seek to drive competitive advantage in every aspect of business affairs and shy away from co-operation.

Portacabin offices, often comprising two storeys, enable an on-site fully functioning administrative and construction support environment for the duration of projects that often last for one or more years.

Jim appreciates the value of IT in supporting the on time efficient and safe delivery of major projects, “Downtime,” he suggests, “costs money. I do all that I can to ensure that the technology we deliver on site does not cause delays. Network and IT outages are not acceptable and I do everything within my power to ensure that we do not fail to deliver against the high targets that I set for IT service delivery.”

Construction sites, by their very nature, are not the most welcoming places for communications providers. As well as underground cables being liable to being severed, IT facilities are subject to being moved as the project develops and offices are relocated. Add to this that it is almost invariably the case that the project will not facilitate long-term contractual commitments to avail of the keenest prices and it becomes obvious delivering corporate communications facilities for the life-time of any given project is indeed a challenge.

The Solution

Airfibre has enjoyed a working partnership with John Paul Construction for many years over which time it has worked to tailor a commercial package that operates well for both parties.
There are two novel aspects to the contractual arrangements, the first being that there is no specified contract term length, which gives John Paul Construction the commercial flexibility to cancel contracts at very short notice.

The second, and probably more important element to the contract is a fixed fee repair charge that recognises the difficulties encountered with construction sites and on-site cabled infrastructure. Where a fault is not of Airfibre’s making (e.g., a cable is cut as a result of construction work, Line of Sight for the radio is obstructed by changes on site, etc.) a single one off nominal charge is made for attending site and rectifying the issue.

“There have been many instances over the years,” commented Jim, “where we have had to call Airfibre to site to fix cable breaks, move radios and even replace hardware that became full of dust. Having a fixed fee for these call outs, which are not of Airfibre’s making but simply as a result of the environment in which we are working, gives comfort in the knowledge that rapid repairs are possible without punitive charges.”

The connectivity that Airfibre supplies is equivalent to a leased line circuit from Eir or BT. There is zero contention and circuits are fully symmetrical. “This is important to us,” continued Mr McDonnell, “as our sites feature fully functioning offices in all aspects of construction, not least of which the management of drawings and design updates that typically require very large file transfers – in such circumstances we need to be able to upload files from site just as fast as we are able to download them.”

The primary aspect of the relationship that John Paul Construction enjoys with Airfibre is partnership. Commenting on this, Jim said, “Things go wrong, and even if not of our own doing, Airfibre has proven to be open, honest and proactive when dealing with issues that arise from time-to-time. It has often been the case that Airfibre will call us to report a network or power issue and, on the occasion that we get to them first, there is never any denial and we are kept informed about any path towards resolution with updates as appropriate. This is invaluable, as it allows me to interface with the business in the knowledge that action is being taken to resolve issues with the confidence that resolution will never be longer than necessary”.

Summary

John Paul Construction has commissioned Airfibre to provide connectivity for a number of prestigious construction contracts including, The National Gallery, Alcon Laboratories (Cork) and the Trinity City Hotel.
Both companies continue to work on the partnership in the interests of each other as well as for the benefit of John Paul Construction’s clients and commercial contract partners.