Mail Manager, the email management solution developed by Arup, now part of Ideagen, is proud to launch our annual AEC Project Management research report
This research aims to discover the project management and collaboration challenges facing businesses globally in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industries. The report explores how businesses manage project information, where they store it and how they go about retrieving data to chase payments and when facing legal disputes. The report also provides insight into how the industry has bounced back following the Covid-19 pandemic which affected project management processes.
This year’s study surveyed 507 AEC leaders from businesses around the world, with the majority of respondents coming from the United Kingdom and the United States. All respondents hold leadership and management roles at their businesses, including CEOs, CFOS, CCOs, presidents, directors and owners, as well as BIM managers, project managers, heads of IT and IT managers. The anonymous responses were collected between January and April 2022.
What did the AEC Project Management Research Report show?
The research clearly highlights that disputes are continuing to disrupt AEC businesses but less than half of respondents file important information to central locations, leaving information accessibility and visibility a major challenge. This is particularly poignant with good document management and records management being key to dispute resolution or litigation success.
Most respondents have experienced some form of dispute in the last 12 months, with a huge spike across the industry compared to this time last year. Unfortunately, it has become increasingly clear that despite this increase in disputes, AEC firms are not managing their information effectively to protect themselves in court.
“The working world has continued to change in the last 12 months, which is reflected in the AEC industry’s evolving priorities. This time last year, we saw a huge shift to remote working which saw an increased need for effective collaboration tools, however, this year it appears that hybrid working is the new normal in the industry,” said Stuart Rowe VP of collaboration strategy at Mail Manager, part of Ideagen.
“Our research has found that the majority of project correspondence remains in email inboxes, which means it is difficult for people to locate and retrieve project information when they need it. This is a huge concern as most project scope changes reside in email inboxes. Failing to properly manage all information and records also prevents a Golden Thread, or a Single Source of Truth, across projects and businesses.”
Email remains king in AEC project management
Email remains the most-used collaboration tool for project correspondence in the AEC. Four-fifths of respondents reported that the majority of their project correspondence is via email. Furthermore, only one-fifth of respondents use email for project correspondence less than 50% of the time.
When asked about their business’s reliance on email, only 28% of people surveyed say they are not more reliant on email than they were 12 months ago. Email is particularly important to project scope changes, with 47% of this information sitting in email and 43% residing within formal documents.
One in two AEC businesses can’t easily access their project correspondence
Most respondents (87%) are at least “slightly concerned” about their project information not being readily available and visible. Plus, over half of the survey respondents (57%) are either “concerned” or “very concerned” about not being able to discover project information. These concerns are highlighted by people increasingly needing to locate information from past projects. In fact, just over half of respondents (51%) said that they regularly need to find information from historic projects.
One-third of AEC businesses lose critical project information with staff turnover
Less than half of respondents (44%) require employees to file all project-related emails into a central location, with 15% of respondents indicating that no emails are filed across the business. This opens firms up to huge risks relating to information management. As well as this, one in three businesses do not require their staff to file their emails when people leave the business, so this information is lost.
Disputes have been rife in the past 12 months
In 2021, almost two-thirds of our respondents (63%) reported experiencing some kind of dispute in the business. This year, that number rose to 78% of respondents experiencing a dispute. Only 22% of respondents have not been involved in a dispute in the past 12 months. Project scope changes (24%), payment issues (22%) and timelines (20%) were the leading causes.
What do these findings mean for the industry?
One thing has become clear from the research: our new hybrid working world has had a significant impact on how AEC organisations operate. Facilitating hybrid working has become a key priority and AEC firms are clearly looking to digitise.
However, legal disputes and employee concerns over a lack of information visibility continue to increase as businesses fail to deploy tools which will allow them to find their documents and information quickly and efficiently.
The AEC industry has a long way to go in adapting its information processes. With employees working in hybrid environments, email remains a vital collaboration tool that businesses still struggle to get the best out of. This means important project information gets locked in email inboxes, employees spend hours looking for data and documents, or information goes missing completely.
If you’d like to see how you can increase your information visibility and protect your business, download a free trial of Mail Manager.
If you’re interested in reading the full research report, visit our website.
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