Driving Digital Adoption in the Middle East with Khansaheb

Founded in 1935, Khansaheb is one of the leading and longest serving construction and facilities management companies in the United Arab Emirates. Over its 88-year journey, the company has played a key role in the development of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and delivered several of the country’s iconic projects. From the construction of Sharjah airport to the Mall of Emirates, Khansaheb has played a key role in building modern Dubai.  

Still operating as a family-run business, Khansaheb’s services and areas of expertise have expanded significantly. The company’s divisions now include investments, property management and a lifestyle division alongside their construction services. 

Project excellence leading to repeat business

With a strong focus on excellent project delivery, Khansaheb’s impressive growth story has been fuelled by the company’s success at acquiring repeat business.  In the construction market, Khansaheb’s commitment to delivering on time and on budget is what has set them apart from their competition. But how exactly do you deliver excellence in an increasingly competitive landscape driven by price?  

“Diversifying our business offering has helped us build on our reputation in the marketplace,” explains Duncan Payne, Group Support Services Manager at Khansaheb.  “We act as a one-stop-shop for many of our clients when it comes to the construction expertise they need. From joinery services to MEP, it’s not common for one business to offer this full suite of services in the UAE,” reflects Duncan.

Creating information flow

In 2017, Khansaheb began digitalising many areas of their business. The team started by introducing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in the business. This platform was cloud-based, and the use of the technology made the availability of information easy connecting many of their business operations, teams and departments more seamlessly.

But, when it came to construction on site, manual and paper-based workflows were the norm. Project teams traditionally designed using 2D drawings, leaving room for misinterpretation and error between project collaborators.

These are errors that, as projects progress, can become increasingly costly for timelines and budgets. This siloed process also meant drawings could only be reviewed one at a time, leading to pre-construction delays.

Project visibility

The visibility of the health of projects was very difficult to gauge. Team members who needed to report on project progress – like site managers and engineers – would spend a large proportion of their time chasing subcontractors for updates by phone.

“From a project management perspective, working in this way was challenging and getting accurate information on the status of individual issues was incredibly time consuming,” reflects Mitch Leeming, Project Manager for Khansaheb.

For Khansaheb, making the decision to establish a common data environment that would connect the business and support site-based processes was easy. “All other areas of our business have been digitised so it made much more sense to do this with our operational teams,” says Duncan.

Technology to create cohesion

Khansaheb underpinned all of their construction operations by implementing building information modelling (BIM) and introducing the Autodesk Construction Cloud as their unified construction management software platform for connecting teams, workflows and data.

 “Moving to Autodesk Build has changed our ways of working,” says Mitch. “All of our project data is in one place, and each team’s work can be accessed and shared from a single location. This means our team members and collaborators have unprecedented visibility of their processes.”

Cultivating change

For Khansaheb to remain as the market leader when it comes to digital adoption, this meant the team needed to focus on helping their people change their mindset. But changing attitudes to technology doesn’t come without its own set of unique challenges. And for an area of the world that is not as technically advanced when it comes to digital construction processes, Khansaheb have drawn on their network of internal change champions to help guide resistant colleagues.

“The biggest impact I have seen is the way operational site teams have embraced the new ways of working. Some of our longest serving team members now use their tablets and smart devices on site – all of which enable richer conversations and improved decision-making,” says Duncan.

Benefits in abundance

For Khansaheb, the time savings by introducing digital construction workflows have been immediately apparent. By accurately constructing each stage of the project virtually, and avoiding duplication or incorrect drafts being used, many of the disruptions team members previously faced have been eradicated.  “Less rework, fewer revisions and less need for corrections ultimately result in projects meeting their schedules,” reflects Mitch.

And turning our attention to the feature that has been most impactful for the Khansaheb team: “It has most definitely been the issues management functionality,” states Mitch.  “It’s extremely useful for tracking project progress. You can see at a glance who is responsible for a task at any given time. As a project manager, being able to view all the outstanding issues on a task and how quickly they are being resolved is invaluable.”

In fact, this functionality has been so useful that the Khansaheb team spends less time following up on issues. Previously, around 10-15% of engineers’ time would be spent following up with subcontractors for updates, whereas with Autodesk Build it’s possible to assign responsibility and due dates for individual fixes.

And for MEP contractor Shyam Sanker, reducing bureaucracy and the time it takes to resolve an item means team members can focus on value-adding activity more.  “We’re addressing queries in a more accountable way meaning we can get any issues fixed quicker too,” says Shyam.

Transforming the future

Khansaheb is a landmark example in the UAE of how digital transformation and adoption can transform the industry and its efficiency at large. It’s no secret that construction productivity has lagged for many years – and for an emerging market like the UAE, building the right foundations for digital construction processes means growth can continue.

“Above all, technology has given our people more time to build – and to build better,” – Duncan Payne, Group Support Services Manager at Khansaheb.




Mohammad Abou Assali

Senior Customer Success Manager, Autodesk