The portal, called ProjectFirst, will be launched on 1 January 2001. Before then, the three construction partners will each run trials by project managing selected projects using the portal.
Before being approached by San Francisco-based Bidcom, the three firms were talking to a number of possible e-business partners.
EC Harris chairman Richard Clare said: “Its [Bidcom’s] client list is superb and it is very attractive to be part of its operations. By being involved with Bidcom we show that we are investing in best value.”
Bidcom says it offers a complete project management service for construction, engineering and property. It already provides e-commerce services to several Fortune 500 companies.
The three UK partners have seconded staff to work on the portal, and Clare said EC Harris had made a significant financial contribution.
Claire said the site will have a big effect on EC Harris’ operations. “Our IT department will be very involved but this is something that goes right across the company. It will give the whole picture of our projects. One of our partners has worked on nothing else since May. This is going to be a major working tool.”
Wates Construction managing director Rod Bennion said the portal would reduce the firm’s exposure to financial risk, reduce project costs and ensure projects were completed on time.
Chief executive of Bidcom, Tom Dengenis, said the collective value of the joint venture far exceeded the sum of its parts. He said: “Bidcom has partnered with some of the most respected companies in the consulting, construction and development industries to implement and help promote the Bidcom platform across the UK.”
The Bidcom move comes after a flurry of portal launches. Materials giant Hanson recently teamed up with Heidelberger, Lafarge and RMC to trade materials on-line, and Amec, Balfour Beatty, Bovis Lend Lease, Kvaerner and Laing have linked up on the Arrideo site for contractors. Two other portals for trading materials have also been launched.