With more than 15 subsidiaries under its tool belt, Tutor Perini Corporation is one of the world’s largest construction companies. But, it also understands that when acquiring different companies, each has its own way of doing things. “It’s not right, it’s not wrong—it’s just different,” says Scott Ryan, senior vice president and general counsel of the company’s building group.
Of course, the company—divided into three groups, including civil and specialty contractors along with the building group—also realizes that in order to maximize efficiency, a certain amount of standardization is necessary. Ryan is currently heading up the
efforts toward uniformity for the building group’s five subsidiaries.
“From an upper-management perspective, it allows us to quickly understand the status of our projects within the different companies countrywide,” he says. This makes it easier for Tutor Perini to identify areas that need closer attention and to spot issues before they become larger problems.
The effort also allows the company to move an employee between companies as different projects come up. “They are going to be familiar with the systems, the vernacular is going to be the same, the computer systems will be the same, and the reporting requirements will be the same, so that person will be able to contribute to the project immediately,” Ryan says.
Here’s a look at the steps he and Tutor Perini are taking to bring the subsidiaries in line.
Getting everyone on the same systems, from accounting to project management to scheduling, is a big part of the integration process for each of the new companies that Tutor Perini acquires. Because it was “kind of a mixed bag,” Ryan says of the platforms the various companies had previously used and the extent to which they leveraged those systems, Tutor Perini has been working to standardize its software programs and the processes related to those programs so that each of its subsidiaries uses them in a similar fashion. This will help integrate workflow processes and create a shared vernacular.
With JD Edwards as the standard accounting platform, Prolog as the project-management control platform, and Primavera as the system for scheduling, “all new projects are now being rolled out with the corporate baseline systems,” Ryan says.
The Challenges of Training
Old habits always die hard, so training and retraining are big parts of Tutor Perini’s integration process. “You have people who have been doing things the same way for 20, 30 years,” Ryan says. “Teaching an old dog new tricks is always difficult.”
Teaching people new software platforms such as Prolog has been particularly tough. “It’s a new system, so they have to learn how to use it compared to the system they have been using for 10–15 years,” Ryan says.
Along with web-based training programs and an internal training effort, one of Tutor Perini’s most fruitful initiatives for teaching newly acquired staff members has been pairing them up in with company veterans. “We had a pretty good mix of folks on projects from different companies: long-time employees on projects with people from the new companies,” Ryan says. “So, those people were mentors to those coming from the newer companies.”
Ryan himself kicked off a new training program in April where he traveled to the newer companies in Tutor Perini’s building group to conduct seminars on topics such as contract controls and project-management controls. He wanted “to make sure that everyone is hearing how we expect projects to be managed from the same source,” he says.
“Getting out there and shaking their hands,” Ryan adds, has also helped him build relationships and move the standardization process forward with greater ease.
With the building group more than halfway through the process of getting its companies on the same page, Ryan sees its strength as a technical one. “I think we do a pretty good job leveraging technology to help people be more efficient and execute their job functions,” he says.