In this episode of HxGN Radio, we talked with EcoSys CEO Javier Sloninsky about project controls and moving the EcoSys User Conference to HxGN LIVE. To listen to more HxGN Radio episodes, visit our channels on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher.
Welcome to HxGN Radio. This is your host Veronica Miller. In this episode of HxGN Radio I’m here with EcoSys CEO, Javier Sloninsky about project controls and moving the EcoSys user conference over to HxGN LIVE. EcoSys is the leading provider of enterprise project controls software. It recently joined the Hexagon family when they were acquired by Intergraph Process Power and Marine this past Fall. The company helps organizations worldwide plan and manage project portfolios, control project costs and improve project performance. In today’s episode we’re going to talk with Javier about the role EcoSys will play this year in HxGN LIVE’s upcoming international conference.
VM: Thank you for joining us today.
JS: Thanks Veronica, glad to be here.
VM: Let’s get started. Can you tell our listeners about EcoSys?
JS: Sure. So EcoSys is a software company that helps organizations gain visibility into project performance. So we assist organizations both at the strategic level – where executives and key stakeholders and other members of the organization help determine what the key initiatives are that are going to help drive an organization’s strategy forward. Then we go all the way from this initial look at what initiatives are going to be part of our project selection and our capital programs, and we take it all the way down to the tactical execution of the project. So the EcoSys technology is, at a high-level, enterprise project controls software, but it really helps an organization execute its strategy all across the enterprise. So when we look at project controls, what project controls assists organizations to do, is to really combine a number of disciplines to improve project delivery and cost performance. EcoSys EPC, which is the name of the technology platform which stands for enterprise planning and controls, aids this mission in a few different ways. Number 1) By standardizing project controls best practices for core functions like budgeting, forecasting, change management, capital planning, workforce planning and earned value management; 2) through project data integration from other software systems, such as scheduling, accounting/ERP and time sheets; and 3) built in business intelligence style reporting for real-time information to guide decision making. Because of all the really core value that this technology adds for our customers, we’ve gained over 300 clients around the world since we started back in 2000, and we have the largest user adoption in the project controls industry. Traditionally this type of functionality has been handled by either Excel spreadsheets or homegrown systems.
VM: Now I mentioned before in the introduction you’re the CEO at EcoSys. Can you tell us a little bit more about your role and a day in the life?
Yeah. So what I do at EcoSys is I help lead a group of over 125 professionals in project controls, and these are either folks that develop our technology, that work with customers to help really assess and strategize on how our technology can help solve their problems. We have professional services people that serve as consultants that assist these organizations once they decide what type of functionality they want to utilize within our software. And I typically just go around to different places and help different organizations and different industries to understand the value of project controls. I cofounded the company in 2000 with my cofounder, Christen Bergerud, who is our Executive Vice President of Strategy. We were among the original designers and developers of what is now known as Primavera P6, this is the standard for enterprise project scheduling that today is owned by Oracle. We moved on back over 16 years ago to form EcoSys because there’s a huge gap in the marketplace for an enterprise business application that looked at all aspects of project controls either focusing on cost, progress, performance. Looking at essentially not just how we’ve done in the past but how we can look ahead, and how we can project into the future so that we can make the right decisions and ensure that our projects execute as efficiently and effectively as possible.
VM: … and you’ve grown exponentially since founding this company 15 years ago so much that EcoSys was acquired by Intergraph PP&M this past Fall. Can you tell us about how you believe joining Hexagon will bring greater value to current and future clients?
JS: Sure. So since we became part of Intergraph back in the 4th quarter of 2015, we’ve already seen a huge benefit from being part of the leading organization in engineering and plant design software which has really been Intergraph PP&M, and also looked at Hexagon’s larger value add across really a number of industries and really assisting engineering, procurement and construction processes. So what we’ve noticed already is that we’ve gotten much better access to other organizations that haven’t yet been exposed to EcoSys and that’s made them quite open to leveraging our technology right away, but more importantly there’s the ability to provide the industry more innovative solutions that bring to the forefront very important industry trends like 3D modeling and visualization. So now we’re adding our component which is really the measurement and management of projects with the actual development of deliverables for projects using 3D and other visualization technologies. So now we’re seeing that growth is ready to really go into the stratosphere.
VM: Going off of the technology, and what you’ve developed at EcoSys, and how you are now part of Hexagon. What are the types of projects that you’ve already been involved in, and how is your technology been a factor in the clients of Intergraph PP&M, as well as the rest of the Hexagon family?
JS: Sure. So what we’ve seen, first of all there’s a very strong customer overlap to begin with so a lot of the world’s leading engineering and EPC firms, as well as the big owner operators in the energy sector like utilities, those types of large capital project industries, were already both users of Intergraph and EcoSys technologies, . Or perhaps there’s an organization that just used EcoSys for certain projects, but now that we are part of Intergraph and Hexagon and they already had a much bigger commitment to the parent companies that they now have decided to go ahead and make a larger commitment to EcoSys across their enterprise. So we’ve seen that already start to happen much faster than we are used to in the past. We think that’s absolutely important for a few reasons. The main reason is for our customers. They get more value out of our tools the more that they standardize those tools across the organization. So the fact that we’re part of a bigger organization, and we have a great synergy with all of the tools helps accelerate that is a huge win for our customers. The other thing we’re looking at is direct integrations between EcoSys tools and a lot of the Intergraph products like SmartPlant Enterprise and SmartPlant Materials. We look at very specific test points. These are touch points that even before we were one company we had joint customers, as I mentioned, that wanted to have these technologies integrate seamlessly. Now we’ve been able to really take that to the next level, to prepackage it better because we’re one company and it’s easier to share information and then make those touch points much more seamless. So that’s been a huge benefit. As we move forward, the overall goal for us in terms of project control is to get more visual, more real-time, more automated, and I think the combination of tools allows that to happen. So some of the companies that we work very closely with on developing a joint strategy for how you combine engineering tools, like the Intergraph toolset and EcoSys tools are companies like Bechtel and WorleyParsons, and we’re privileged to be able to help drive the direction of the industry forward along with such great partners like them.
VM: Speaking of joint partners and integrating with these other companies, why did you choose to move EcoSys’ annual conference this year to coincide with HxGN LIVE?
JS: Yeah. That’s a great follow up Veronica. It really has a lot to do with that synergy that I talked about, a lot of the same customers, a lot of the same leadership, a lot of the CIO’s that come from these organizations are interested in both technologies and how they work together. So we’re able to get a broader audience for broader technologies because obviously HxGN LIVE is a much larger event with a lot of interesting trends being highlighted in to the future. So we feel that that’s a benefit to our existing customer base that wants to come and join our typical user conference sessions, but it’s also obviously a huge benefit for us to be able to get exposed to all these new customers. So EcoSys, as an independent company, has done 5 annual user conferences up until now. This will be our 6th. So we will be able to really benefit from the quality of what Hexagon has put together. In addition to very great presentations by our customers within our conference, as well some of the experts within our company that are subject matter experts and let them speak about the industry trends, and how to apply technology to help solve issues and address big challenges in the industry today. So we know that HxGN LIVE attendees seem to have indicated quite a bit of interest in project controls, and we’re seeing that across broader industries events, as well. So we expect this conference to be a huge success.
VM: And for our listeners that are getting ready to attend the conference, what are some of the topics that they can look forward to that you guys will cover?
JS: Yeah. So that’s a great question. So what I think that’s interesting and I’ll get to the case studies part probably a little but later, but first let’s focus on EcoSys topics. We look at those challenges that I mentioned that are encountered globally today when you’re executing large capital projects, right? So there are obviously economic trends, there’s change in the marketplace, there’s globalization of projects, and how to become more efficient and effective. So we look at how to apply best practices in project controls, which include things like advanced cost forecasting, better workforce planning, and addresses questions like how do you use analytics? How do you use good key performance indicators and visual, graphical reporting to improve your decision making and do things like scenario analysis? So it’s really geared to our audiences. One is our existing customers that may be familiar with some of the functionality that EcoSys might already provide, but may not realize that we do a lot of other things and, of course, prospective customers that our looking to see how we can help address challenges that they have across their entire project portfolio and life cycle.
VM: People can check out our session catalog to see when you guys will be demoing different solutions. Are you guys also going to be making any major announcements during the conference or anything for our users to look forward to?
JS: Absolutely. Well first, we will certainly make some announcements but probably the highlight for me and I think a lot of the attendees, are going to be these great customer case studies. So these are large organizations that execute projects include companies like Enbridge, a big pipeline company, headquartered in Canada, Ontario Power Generation and a large EPC firm, CH2M that are going to be really talking about how they’ve helped implement organizational improvements with EcoSys. So for me that’s very exciting and our customers usually benefit from those quite a bit. So as a company though we will have some look into the future. We will be making some announcements about some of the direction our technology is going. One thing that we are extremely excited about, and we’ve talked about it in past conferences, but we’re now going to be showing sort of the latest versions of our mobile applications. So we’ve developed a very, very robust mobile technology platform that allows really bringing a lot of the work and project controls out to the field and helping automate and make things easier to use and getting information more current. So we are very excited to demonstrate a lot of the newest developments of our mobile applications and I think our customers are going to really benefit from that as well. The other aspect of new announcements in the technology side will be for contract management, and so contract management is an area that is very closely aligned and adjacent to a lot of the core project controls functionality that we’ve supported for many years. So really due to an overwhelming customer demand we’ve developed a contract management module with a lot of the out-of-the-box processes and workflows that help the contract management portion and discipline within project controls really improve what they’re doing. So we’re going to be demonstrating a lot of that so clients can learn quite a bit about it. So we’re really looking forward to it.
VM: And a lot of this technology is going to be showcased in The Zone. So conference attendees can stop over to your booth and interact and ask questions from experienced users?
JS: Yeah and actually that’s one of the other great benefits of being combined with the HxGN LIVE conference is that The Zone is obviously a large area where all the conference attendees can come and better understand our technology. So we’ll have people giving live demonstrations. We’ll be showing how our current technology works, how the mobile applications that I talked about will work, and also we’ll be educating everyone on how we integrate with the SmartPlant tools. So I think anyone who stops by is going to get a lot out of a short visit.
VM: Great and we’re looking forward to having you guys featured at the conference this year. Is there anything else you’d like to tell our listeners about HxGN LIVE?
JS: No. We’re really excited to be a part of HxGN LIVE this year. I think the setting in Anaheim is great, and I know there are also some fun events around the site of that. So we’re looking forward to being there ourselves, and we’re excited that our customers get to attend this year too.
VM: Absolutely. Well thank you so much for taking the time today, Javier and we really thank you for being our guest.
JS: Thank you Veronica. It was a pleasure.
To our listeners, you can learn more about EcoSys at the upcoming HxGN LIVE conference at HxGNlive.com. Make sure to tune in to more episodes about HxGN Radio on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher Radio. Thanks for listening.