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Gordian’s Bill Pollak Sits Down with David Yarkin to Discuss the Power of Data in the Public Sector, Adapting to Virtual Solution, and More.

Gordian, the world’s leading provider of facility and construction cost data, software and expertise, began as an idea 30 years ago: construction projects can be planned and procured quickly and cost-effectively without sacrificing quality.  

While founder Harry Mellon was serving as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Corps of Engineers – including being responsible for the facilities at all of NATO's bases in Europe - he was frustrated that each repetitive repair maintenance and alteration project had to be awarded through its own bid process. Precious time and taxpayer dollars were being wasted. There had to be a better way.  

That steadfast belief became Job Order Contracting (JOC). Rather than conducting individual solicitations for each project, JOC is an Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) construction delivery method that allows many projects to be completed through a competitively-awarded contract. Job Order Contracts are awarded in compliance with the owner’s competitive bidding requirements, and Unit Prices using localized labor, material and equipment costs are established up front, adding a level of efficiency, agility, and supplier accountability to construction projects that just isn’t possible when bids are awarded on an individual basis.  

As the public procurement landscape has evolved over the past 30 years, Gordian has been able to adapt its offering to best serve governments, schools, and communities. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Gordian President Bill Pollak to unpack how the company has been able to adapt to the nation’s changing needs: 

A dataset and software built for problem-solving 

Gordian is a facilities and construction cost data, software and services company. They do not dig holes or pave roads; their extensive construction cost data helps connect clients with supplier partners that will help them reach their construction goals at a competitive price. Their secret sauce? Their datasets get better with every project.  

“Each client has their own goals and is asking us for different things,” says Bill. “Our data is updated with every project. The more clients we serve, the better it gets.”  

The evolving nature of the data and software uniquely positions Gordian to solve complex problems.  

JOC-enabled agility speeds up disaster response times 

In the early days of the company, Gordian primarily serviced routine repair, maintenance, and alteration projects (RMAs). But as the years went on, it became clear that JOC made Gordian particularly agile for other project types, too. Unit price contracts made it possible to scope new projects in a matter of days without sacrificing process or paying premiums.  

This means Gordian clients can respond extremely quickly when disaster strikes. Bill shares one recent example when they supported Arizona’s Department of Transportation after a storm washed out a road: 

“It was the only road that led to a series of Native American towns. Without that road, emergency vehicles couldn't get up to those towns,” Bill recalls. “Within a matter of days, equipment was mustered. People were on site, the road was opened and then the work got done to remediate the flash flood and the storm damage. It was enormous pride on the part of my team for being able to participate in that.” 

That pride was evident in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, too. When it became clear back in March that there would not be enough hospital beds to accommodate the sick, the City of Chicago decided to turn 1.2 million square feet at McCormick Place Convention Center into a field hospital. JOC contractors were used to get that work done and get it done quickly.  

Quickly building new datasets to support evolving needs 

As Gordian notices a shift in public sector priorities, they work quickly to build relevant datasets to best serve their clients. One example of this has been the increased need for a healthy buildings dataset for higher education facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“Over the last several years we have built a full dataset around green buildings,” says Bill. “We’re now seeing the beginnings of a ‘healthy buildings’ approach and working quickly to build a dataset that includes indoor air quality, air handlers, and more to allow for safe in-person instruction.  

While higher education facilities may have been the first to adopt the healthy buildings approach mid-pandemic, Gordian continues to add to the dataset in preparation for 2021 and beyond. As public sector buildings welcome back employees and visitors, the data will be ready to support their healthy building needs. 


Developing new ways to support clients virtually 

Prior to the pandemic, an in-person facilities condition assessment (FCA) was a critical step in the project scoping process. Since March 2020, more and more clients are restricting visitors to protect the health of their team members, clients, and students.  

Gordian recognized the need to create a virtual option for their clients and responded quickly. Their reinvented approach to strategic capital planning allows clients to meet prioritized needs in less than half the time of a traditional FCA and with more flexibility.  

While some in-person business will return once there is a vaccine, Bill believes this virtual option is here to stay long-term.  

“We have learned that we can provide high-quality assessments for our clients virtually,” says Bill. “The new strategic planning solution helps us serve our clients faster and more cost-effectively, which is critical to our mission.” 

Looking ahead to 2021 

Gordian is thrilled to be rolling out a new solution to clients in 2021: artificial intelligence (AI).  

“The advantage of having been in this business for 30 years is we have a ton of data in our systems around job proposals, construction, cost estimates,” says Bill. “We know as much as anybody I would suggest in North America about what a good proposal looks like.” 

The new AI enhancements will use the decades of data to help build unique proposals and scopes of work more efficiently. Gordian takes the privilege of helping their clients better serve our communities very seriously. At the end of this milestone year, the company has new innovative solutions, advanced software upgrades and a better equipped workforce than ever before. In 2021, Gordian is looking forward to ringing in new opportunities to empower customers to overcome their business challenges by delivering critical data, innovative technology and extraordinary services. 

To learn more about Gordian, visit: www.gordian.com 

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