20 March 2019

Table of Contents for Construction & Project Management Software





Interaction - Kalyan V, Co Founder & Ravi M. CTO N

We are confident of a robust growth in the upcoming future

 

 

Nadhi Information Technologies Pvt Ltd., a company incubated from the IIT Madras Research Park, is Chennai based enterprise software and solutions company developing analytics based, mobile enabled, collaborative decision support solutions for capital projects. In an exclusive interview with CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES, KALYAN VAIDYANATHAN, CO-FOUNDER & CEO, (KV) and  RAVI MUNDOLI, CTO, NADHI INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES (RM) speak about the latest technology trends, and the business drivers, USP of the product and the outlook for the industry

 

 

 

 

 

 

Briefly give us an overview of the CONSTRUCTION & PROJECT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE industry, the latest technology trends, and the business drivers?

 

KV : In the last 3-4 years, we have seen a perceptible shift towards automation and digitization in the capital projects space. This is driven partly by real needs on the ground, rooted in the desire for faster project delivery and an increased focus on improving profitability by optimizing costs.

 

Some of the tangible benefits or advantages that project managers seek include:

to be in control of the project and have time to course correct before projects go south to have real time access to project KPIs and metrics on schedule, cost, quality, safety, sustainability etc. by collating information from multiple silos into one platform to have enough insights through analytics of past performance and make decisions to avoid delays due to poor coordination to have end-to-end visibility over all facets of projects from engineering to procurement to construction, especially with a view to understand future (time and cost) impact of current (in)decisions and to have seamless coordination, collaboration, and communication across internal and external stakeholders, needless to say with as much mobility as can be achieved

 

 

RM : But drive is also in response to the overall winds of digitization that are blowing in the enterprise world. In a sense, one could say there is a “professional envy” at how other industries are leveraging digital technologies to improve top and bottom lines, and leaders are asking themselves the question, “Why not in construction?”

 

 

We find that senior management personnel particularly are keen to explore and evaluate solutions which strengthen them in the above ways, and are increasingly motivated to make their organizations also get attuned towards them.

 

As far as technology trends go, needless to say all the latest “buzzwords” have entered this space as well. Mobility is a non-negotiable now, all the large companies are looking to digitize their various business processes. Interest in analytics is picking up and a lot of clients are looking to use past performance data to predict future trends. We are also seeing a surge in things such as IoT enabled project management, 3D visualization, AR/VR for site coordination etc. More and more, clients are getting comfortable with cloud deployments of solutions for project controls, implying that the old days of standalone desktop based systems and spreadsheets are definitely over.

 

 

KV : Finally, no discussion on technology today is complete today without at least a passing reference to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine language (ML)! I think that construction is trying to come to grips with exactly what industry problems may be amenable to these exciting new techniques, and everyone is trying to “pluck the low hanging fruit” in areas such as image recognition, safety etc. This is something that is likely to play out and “settle down” in the next two years, once we’re past the “hype cycle”.

 

 

 

Briefly talk about your main software solution, its applicability to various areas of construction, infrastructure and real estate, and its advantage to users?

 

KV : We have two areas of focus at Nadhi. On the technology side, we develop and deliver nPulseTM, our integrated project controls solution that allows for mobile data collection, for integrated project information analysis and real time decision support for the engineering and infrastructure projects industry. We also provide Lean Construction consulting services where we help clients institutionalize collaborative planning processes and improve the productivity of their processes (whether it be actual construction or even in areas such as design and procurement) through proven, quantitative methods. These two strengths complement each other when we deliver solutions to our clients making us trusted partners for our clients to realize improved operational efficiency in delivering projects.

 

 

As a company that is incubated from the Civil Engineering department at IIT Madras, Chennai, we are an R&D-led company that is continuously looking to innovate solutions for construction technology automation and push the boundary on construction technology solutions.

 

 

RM : nPulseTM is a platform for integrated project controls. It has been designed and built from the ground up for the infrastructure, construction and real estate industry. It is a decision support platform that is mobile enabled is sector agnostic in that it has been applied with equal success to a variety of different projects including residential and commercial real estate, roads, railways, power plant, bridges, marine facilities, power transmission etc. The key benefits it provides clients are:

 

 

Integration and seamless collaboration across different areas of the project such as schedule management, cost/revenue management, document management, issue management, quality control, snag list management, checklists and claims processes.

 

 

It automates many processes and workflows, reducing the manual burden on project stuff. Reports and alerts are automatically generated, customizable dashboards and KPIs are delivered right to the client It makes the data collection at the “last mile” at the sites easier via mobile apps, spreadsheets etc.

 

 

It bi-directionally integrates with all ERP systems and scheduling systems and increases the value of investments in existing legacy systems while providing a strong platform for digitized project controls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are the USP’s of your productsVis-à-vis competition?

 

KV : nPulseTM is unique in that rather than treat the project as a number of “silos” of information, it looks at the project as a whole and is geared towards maximizing efficiency of the whole delivery process. While it has very deep capabilities in each of the functional areas it addresses, the true strength comes out in the cross-linking and interdependencies across different areas.

 

 

RM : For example, with nPulseTM, a team member may update an agenda item related to say design that is assigned to her from her mobile phone while watching TV at home, and in real time that update will reflect in the project’s overall schedule and the appropriate responsible people will be notified. Or a site engineer can update progress onsite that will be linked to biometric attendance of labor to understand actual productivity and see if that is a lead indicator into time (or cost) overrun in a project. Through such interlinking and insights, the solution allows decision makers to move from a reactive mode of project monitoring to a proactive mode of project controls based on lead indicators into project performance.

 

 

 

Tell us of the role played by your software in bringing time cost and time overruns in projects with examples from some projects?

 

KV : nPulseTM has a proven record of delivering quantifiable benefits to clients across different projects and functions. With an active install base of more than 250 projects spread across 9 time zones and 2 continents across India, Middle East, Africa, and South East Asia, nPulseTM is now becoming a solution of choice to a number of owners and EPC contractors looking to deliver projects reliably and within controls. We like to say that our sun rises on the faraway island of Borneo, where a project in the Malaysian state of Sarawak is monitored using nPulseTM. It sets many hours later, after crossing Asia and Africa, on a Moroccan peninsula jutting into the Atlantic.

 

 

RM : All these translate directly into time savings on the overall project timeline and therefore cost savings as well. This above pattern is starting to repeat across multiple enterprise customers. We are becoming digitization partners to a lot of the capital project owners, real estate developers, and EPC contractors across the country.

 

 

 

What are the business opportunities being sought by your company in construction/ infrastructure and real estate space and the strategies to market your products?  

 

KV : As a fast-growing tech company, we are always on the lookout to expand our footprint as well as our client base. To that end, on the one hand, we look to go deepen the engagements with our existing clients. Since nPulseTM brings to the table multiple features and benefits, we are able to convince clients who adopted it for a subset of functions to expand the engagement by increasing the number of projects and/or increasing the modules under use. The fact that the technology is not limited to specific functions such as scheduling, document management, handover management, safety and/or quality management etc. but brings all these and much more under one roof so to speak helps us gain mindshare. Our ability to continuously innovate and add further capabilities further makes this deepening of engagements with clients possible.

 

RM : On the other hand, we are engaged in reaching out to newer organizations primarily via two channels. One is word of mouth and references from existing clients and the other is through participation in industry events and fora where we have a certain credibility as an organization focused on infrastructure and real estate with a proven team and track record. Based on the efforts put in the past to developing partnerships with channel partners who are willing to sell nPulseTM and develop a consulting practice around it, we are now working on several engagements that are partner led implementations. We now have multiple such partnerships in India, Middle East, and South East Asia. We will look to strengthen this channel based selling model and further encourage means to have more partners join the Nadhi family. This year, we are planning to devote more time and effort to digital marketing and increasing our online presence.

 

 

 

Could you talk of the challenges associated with convincing clients of the efficacy and profitability of software solutions and services offered by firms such as yours?

KV :  What we are finding nowadays is that it is not too difficult to convince clients about the value proposition of technology like nPulseTM. There aren’t too many people out there who will dispute the need for better technology and solutions in this industry. And with the maturity of the nPulseTM solution, clients are quick to recognize its value proposition and ease of deployment strengths.  That being said, the real challenge is perhaps in convincing them that their organizations can absorb and use the technology meaningfully.

 

RM :  We recognize that change management is absolutely critical in ensuring adoption and realizing returns on tech investments. Our role is not merely confined to providing the clients access to the technology and training and walking away; we are fully engaged with the client on their adoption journey and make sure that we not only bring the technology, but also put in place a robust process to ensure stickiness and adoption. In this regard, we really leverage the experience of our team in various industries and organizations such as i2 Technologies, SAP, TCS etc.

 

 

 

What are the main challenges to your industry and what are your strategies to overcome them and expand market share?

 

KV : From the construction/infrastructure perspective the global “macro” challenges remain the usual – political and economic uncertainty arising from the changes and policies in the US, Europe and closer home in India. There is not too much one can do combat those, other than continue to offer clients value at a reasonable price even during macroeconomic troughs. Once we move beyond that, the challenges become more tractable. Ensuring adoption and assuring customer referencibility by delighting client users is the tried and tested way forward. Nothing succeeds like success and we feel that momentum is really on our side. In order to take our growth to the next level, we are also seriously looking at “inorganic” growth options via debt and/or equity.

 

 

 

Could you talk of any new products you are planning to launch and their advantages?

 

RM : This year we got to introduce a lot of new capabilities that further enhances the value proposition of the nPulseTM solution. Our quality control module has been received very favorably by the market and we are looking to deepen its capabilities in the upcoming year. Our subcontractor module to integrate sub-contractor costing to client BOQ revenue again is seeing a lot of interest from large EPC organizations that is looking to understand cost and revenue linkages in real time. Also, our gang productivity module to track labor productivity at the gang level and understand its implications to time and cost deviations is also seeing a lot of interest from contractors.

 

 

For this year, we have some more exciting enhancements planned. Our R&D in the area of BIM and IoT and trials with beta customers are being well received and we are looking to rollout some of these capabilities to the wider market. As before, we would rather surprise the audience during the premiere rather than tell all in the trailer, so to speak! So, watch this space!! And look for us at trade shows and industry conferences for a preview.

 

 

 

Future outlook for the industry and from a company perspective

KV : This past year was good for us. Markets had recovered from the slowdown experienced from the previous financial year of GST, RERA, and demonetization. We have been able to sign a number of enterprise engagements and have built a healthy pipeline going into the 2019-20 financial year. That combined with the additional solutions we are looking to rollout and the global market outlook, we are confident of robust growth in the upcoming future.