Saturday, October 31, 2020


CCS aims to be part of India’s growth process



With over 14,000 users in more than 50 countries including many of the world’s largest companies, Construction Computer Software (CCS), has contributed to dedicated software solutions like Candy and BuildSmart which have been used profitably across various construction and infrastructure projects in India and globally.  PETER CHENEY, JOINT MANAGING DIRECTOR, CCS GROUP, who was recently in Mumbai for a company event, responded to SHRIKANT RAO’s queries on the prospects of his firm to contribute to India’s development going forward



BuildSmart and Candy are being touted as the world’s most powerful construction software. Could you expand on that?

We have spent the last 35 years developing a process around the construction industry. We come out of the construction industry and have been at pains to integrate all of the processes that make up the entire chain in one set of software. That is critically important I think. You cannot join the dots if you don’t have the means to do so. So when you are building the application and you want to arrive at a direct answer you got to have all of the tools in place. Now I know that is an expensive statement to make but the idea is what we are trying to say in our experience we are the only software system that puts all of elements in place so that you can make a value call on your project at any point in time. Lots of systems do that but the timing is a major issue. We have solved the timing issue so that is why we believe it is the most powerful construction system because we have solved that vexing question how do we manage and monitor what we are doing when inherently books of accounts have a different timing process to management, so we put the two together.



Give us an overview of the global market for your products?

We have established offices now in the east as far as we can go in places like Australasia. Interestingly enough we have now also opened up an office in the USA. And the model in the United States is somewhat different in that it works out of blueprints or drawings. It doesn’t work using the British method of measurement. They produce a list of items to be performed from a blue print. What we have done is that we are introducing the heavy highway industry to the concept of first principle of resource costing, something which is quite foreign to them. In the interaction that we have had with the United States over the last four years now the general reaction is ‘that is the right way to do things’. So they asked us: how are you going to do this? So what we have done is we have attracted the services of a company called Construction Estimating Institute (CEI) based in Sarasota who will assist us in training estimators in the use of first principle resource costing which is a different mind-set. So it is a different approach to the same problem which will give them the right results. We have been getting really good feedback from the institutions and the construction companies we are dealing with in the United States. Hopefully we can get a marriage between the way the United States do their estimates and the way British world does its estimates and there is a good compromise between them. So we are going to be working very hard with contracting organisations starting in Florida and then moving up into the rest of the country. We have to be very careful that we don’t walk into the US thinking we are going to take over the estimating and cost management approach. We are going to be a little more subdued than that but that’s terribly exciting. In the eastern world in Australia, the Philippines, we are making large inroads because they use the British method and they have been sort of left on their own for a long time now. So we are finding a lot of buy in from Philippines, Singapore and Hong Kong and we are getting very busy there and that part of the business is handled by two of our offices in Australia and we are starting to build that functionality as well. It’s a long process. We are getting very busy there.



It’s interesting you spoke of the complexity of the US market with a difference in the methodology involved. How do you compare that market with India which is at the other extreme?

What we have found certainly in India is willingness and a readiness to imbibe new technology. You know what India is and its approach to technology is very refreshing, so there is no natural resistance to new technology or new methodology which is slightly different in the United States. In the United States, the approach is – its got to be simpler, quicker, faster and cheaper, that’s what they want. So the approach in the United States would be disruptive. We are saying we have disruptive technology, we can slide in under what you are doing, we can do it much quicker, cheaper, faster all of those things. The approach in India is slightly different. You have very smart people in India that want to run with you. The Indian market understands that the use of the technology is just the tool to get to the desired result and offer that control. In the Australian markets, you have to be very careful as they are less inclined to disruptions. They say, ‘I have a lot of things to do’, and they all tend to work in silos.



So you are saying there is a willingness to experiment here?

Oh very much so. The Indian market understands technology and its advantages. Bengaluru is just one big technology hub so it is not a strange concept.



2016 is inflection point for India. Since the NDA government came into power one and half years ago it has made plans for the delivery of construction and infrastructure projects. How is CCS looking to contribute to the developments?

Well we are hoping to get our message across which is that we can give you the mechanism and the tools to effectively manage processes which up to now has eluded a lot of organisations around the world. In almost every organisation we visit we see the same set of problems. Construction is very complex. We want to enable the contracting fraternity to have the set of tools in order to manage what we hope is literally floodgates to development. For you to grow to 7.9 percent which is the projected growth figures, that’s gigantic taken the size of the country. So we have to be a part of that process.



So would you characterise Candy as a disruptive technology for India?

If you are to look at what we are doing as disruptive, then yes, absolutely! Why is that? Well traditionally, companies have used traditional software – nothing wrong with that – but if you do it differently you are going to get to the right result. Unfortunately if you do it traditionally, you are going to have to make some changes along the way. You are going to have massage the data, prepare it differently, you are going to have to do a lot of work to get to that result. Do they normally get to that result very soon? But if you do it correctly, if you use a system designed to do it correctly, you get there almost instantly without doing additional work. So it is disruptive.



What in your experience is the success percentage of your projects around the world? Can you mention cases where companies have used your solutions profitably?

Well, the MEP project in Abu Dhabi is just one instance. They were asked to make a variation to the project. If they didn’t have the upstream control they would have procured the materials they required to make the change and would not have realised that they would have lost $80 million. We have a testimonial to that effect. Having the system they could stop their procurement because our procurement process looks at exactly what is happening on the project. So the procurement process picked this up and said hey wait a minute. You can’t do this. There is no budget for this. If you are to do this you will over spend. Believe it or not that project would have gone overboard by an additional $80 million.



What is the extent of empathy in the Indian construction with respect to acceptance for your products?

I think it’s a giant leap for a companies like Patel Engineering or Capacite Infraprojects to take the decision – it is all about confidence. What we are saying to them is, ‘Dear Mr Potential Client we want you to stop doing what you are doing, all of those procedures, processes that you have been using for 30-40 years and to do it the way we suggest that you do. If I were the Managing Director of some construction company I would tell say you are absolutely mad. For them to actually take that leap and do it the way we have suggested and produce some really good information I think they are really courageous. They do understand the role of technology and how it can assist them. Undoubtedly we have a very powerful message which we would like to reach to the right people, so it’s all good.



What would you like to see on the ground and what is your outlook for the future?

We would like to see a bigger organisation obviously expanding its reach. We need to get to a stage where we can firmly establish CCS in India and build it from the ground up. You have hugely talented human resources. The point is you have actually got it all. We just need to nurture the process in such a way that we can expand. I think we are going to be here for a long time. We are going to increase our footprint, so yes we are very positive.

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