Bricks, bytes and the move to digital project working

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project information

It is well recognised that compared to other major industries, construction is slow adopting new systems and processes to support better ways of winning and delivering project work

Nearly three years on from the UK government BIM mandate, the drive to digital construction has been more of a splutter than a sprint. We have witnessed polarised adoption, with larger tier one contractors and consultants leading the charge and the regional SMEs that account for some 80%-plus of industry output being left in the wake of change.

Where is your business on the digital adoption curve, and do you know what good looks like?

Project information chaos = increased risk

Focusing specifically on project information management and collaboration, the last two decades have seen the industry move from paper to data, driving the adoption of management systems to support document control. Regrettably, many of these adopted systems are project or departmental ‘point’ solutions, resulting in the creation of knowledge and information silos. Documents, models, and data are filed on network shares, local hard drives, shared via email and Dropbox in a very informal way. Information quickly becomes uncoordinated and finding the latest and approved information is a challenge. In our recent survey1, 33% of respondents said their organisations had wrongly issued information or accessed out-of-date drawings on a project.

Buy cheap, pay twice

At face value, certain solutions like email and Dropbox look desirable as they are readily accessible or even free. However, these solutions typically only address a slim set of requirements, ie sharing files. They may get the job done, but corporately, where is the secure audit trail, the providence of creation and distribution? What happens if an individual leaves and they have used their own personal Dropbox account for that major highways job (described as critical national infrastructure with heightened information security needs, by the way.)? If something goes wrong in the future, you could be open to legal challenges, with loss of reputation and the subsequent impact being the main concern for many organisations.2

There’s also the hidden costs involved – the costs of on-premise file servers and additional network storage for all those large, data-rich models you may need to retain, the outsourced IT costs, or the time costs of searching across multiple systems and silos every day to answer simple project queries.

The rise of the Common Data Environment

Companies are being pulled by clients to rethink delivery and handover of project information. Often, this becomes the catalyst to working in a commercial and collaborative environment that encourages teams to work together, enabling the client to get closely involved from the start. This demands that a more formal and standardised approach to managing project information is followed.

Common Data Environment (CDE) solutions will fast-track your digital journey by providing a turnkey answer for project information management – communicating, capturing, computing and securely collaborating on your projects and programmes.

No matter what size your organisation, a single, secure source for trusted information will enable quicker, better informed decisions and well coordinate projects.

Data – the new digital gold

If we are struggling with document filing and collaboration processes now, how will businesses cope with the delivery to clients of project data deliverables? The prize at the end of the rainbow is bountiful for contractors, subcontractors and consultants that get ‘data management’. The marginal efficiencies to be gained are significant if you can curate, capture and process information quickly and accurately. You can adjudicate opportunities and respond to tenders more quickly, mobile projects faster and ensure client information and data needs are clearly communicated to the project team and supply chain resulting in ‘right first time’ verified information handovers. Ultimately, at project completion, not only will you be able to deliver the physical asset but also a differentiated service of delivering its digital twin as well.

Going digital – the first step on your journey

When planning for change, businesses should consider the whole journey. While upfront cost may be an important decision factor, you should consider availability, performance and ‘ease of use’ – a low score against any of these could result in poor adoption.

Taking the first steps – either within your business or on a small pilot project – is achievable for any company. Invest in a solution that supports all project information management and collaboration needs – from a simple project folder capability (like Dropbox) for smaller works projects through to a workflow-driven, BIM Level 2-compliant CDE. Doing this ensures project teams become confident in the use of a single system, knowledge is recycled and clients build trust in your digital delivery abilities.

A safe pair of hands

At GroupBC, two decades of solution design and delivery to many of the UK’s leading contractors, consultants and owner-operator clients makes us a trusted adviser and safe pair of hands to work with. As a UK based company with UK support, hosting and backup you can be assured that systems are security compliant, and our team is available and accessible. More notably, our solution is available in three licence editions, enabling you to seamlessly migrate as your digital working ambition grows.

To learn more about how GroupBC can support your digital journey, watch our recorded webinar Digital Transformation: A Progressive and Phased Approach with Paul Shillcock, principal adviser, Operam, to gain practical insights from Paul’s experience of supporting organisations to take a progressive and phased approach to successfully embracing digital technologies or contact us to discuss how we can help you with progressing your project information management capabilities.

1 & 2 GroupBC/Eque2 BIM Opportunity for BIM research June 2018.

Please note: this is a commercial profile

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