After the Fall

Wynn Resorts places bet on Web tools to manage $1.6 billion casino project.

In Las Vegas, where the gambling odds seem to favor the house, few people have hit the jackpot as often as Stephen Wynn, the former chairman of Mirage Resorts Inc. For example, Wynn sold the Mirage in May 2000 to MGM Grand Inc. for $6.4 billion.

However, when Wynns new company, Wynn Resorts, began designing its first hotel and casino, the estimated $1.6 billion Le Reve, even the legendary entrepreneurs company was not willing to risk a project implosion. So Wynn Design and Development LLC, the design arm of Wynn Resorts, bet on a Web-based project management system that lets potential contractors and suppliers not only view architectural drawings, design data and requests for proposal but also securely submit bids. The company said it hopes the system will significantly cut administrative overhead costs and help Wynn Resorts open Le Reve on schedule in 2004.

"We were looking for a way to integrate all the interior design specifications and purchasing requirements and put it all online so that we could have efficiency," said Todd Nisbet, executive vice president of Wynn Design and Le Reves project manager, in Las Vegas.

Just as IT has struggled for years with hardware asset management, it has been difficult for companies involved in large projects to track business assets and bids. And that goes not just for enterprises involved in large construction projects. Experts say organizations needing to track large amounts of paper documents and design specifications, such as those involved in CAD or CAM as well as aerospace technology, aviation and hospitality, could also benefit greatly from the online automation of manual processes.

In moving project management online, Wynn Design is following two strategies. In the short term, providing access to architectural designs and drawings reduces the time and cost involved in making document copies for the thousands of vendors bidding on Le Reve contracts.

In the long term, Wynn Design sees business asset management and online bidding processes as ways to significantly increase the number of quality bids on everything from cement mixers to the fabric used to cover chairs. And by automating the bidding process, the company hopes to benefit from increased efficiency and accuracy.

The opening of Le Reve—French for The Dream—is still years away. Construction on the site of the former Desert Inn began in December with the implosion of the resorts tower. Le Reve will have 45 floors, 2,455 luxury rooms and a 4-acre lake.

With hundreds of restaurant and retail space designers, architects, environment engineers, interior designers and Wynns own employees needing access to design documents, Nisbet had a recipe for total chaos.

Nisbet decided the answer was to integrate all the interior design specifications and purchasing requirements to create a database that could be queried by all authorized partners and that could be repurposed over and over again for reordering, maintenance or operations as the construction of Le Reve progressed.

Rather than building the database himself, Nisbet decided an application service provider was his best bet. Wynn Design chose Tririga Intelligent Business Systems from Tririga Inc., in Las Vegas, which provides a Web-based system that manages design collaboration and specifications, automates procurement, and even enables Nisbet to analyze big-picture costs. A Compaq Computer Corp. server at the Le Reve construction site connects via two DS-3 fiber-optic lines to a data center owned and operated by Tririga. All the information and specifications from Wynn are deposited in an Oracle Corp. Oracle8i database running on True 64 Unix on Compaq hardware.

To access the specifications and bidding database, users must get approval from Wynn Design and employ a user name and password for authentication. Wynn Design authorizes employees to use Web browsers to access information via a portal. Suppliers and designers that wish to bid on Wynn contracts must receive an invitation before they can obtain access. All connections are secured with 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer encryption.

The Tririga applications present Wynns bidding information as contract forms. Prospective suppliers submit bids by filling out the forms online. Once a vendor is chosen, the system will automatically roll the winning proposals data straight into a purchase order generated by Wynns accounting software from Timberline Software Corp., in Beaverton, Ore.

When the online project management system goes into full production later this year, it should save Wynn plenty of administrative overhead. In the past, Wynn administrative employees spent 80 percent of their time using word processors to retype complicated design contracts every time a bid was accepted. The integration with Wynns accounting system will eliminate the need for much of that work.

"We are trying to build a lavish destination resort in the grand tradition of Las Vegas," Nisbet said. "Wed like to see the odds in our favor."