The Right Project Information Management System Starts With Asking The Right Questions.
Project information management (PIM) in the AEC is chaotic but it doesn’t have to be. With multiple teams and systems at play, compounded by an increasingly remote workforce, getting a handle on all the information that’s being generated and shared can overwhelm even the most seasoned construction professional.
Manually keeping tabs on your necessary data in spreadsheets is clunky, inefficient, and puts your organization at risk. It’s no wonder many teams have started turning to software for help. Unfortunately, because of the number of systems in play, users are now faced with the problem of software silos, which also puts you, your project, and your organization at risk. If you really hope to calm the chaos, you can’t add to the noise. Instead, step back and start considering solutions that allow your existing platforms to work better together.
To lead you on this journey of introspection, we’ve put together eight questions you should ask to adopt a truly successful construction project information management strategy.
Where’s The Leak?
While AEC firms share common project information management pain points, each organization has unique challenges based on specific disciplines and the combination of systems they use to collaborate on and drive project processes. To implement a successful project information management strategy, you must first know what you’re working with. Start by taking an inventory of the systems you currently use and look for areas that result in leakages of time and information. Are you or other team members spending a lot of time on data entry? Are you forgetting where documents are saved or wondering if you’re working from authoritative copies? If the answer’s yes, then you have leaks to address. Once you know where they are, you can develop goals and initiatives to plug them up.
What’s Your Desired End State?
Establishing a Project Information Management strategy can drive incredible results – once you know what you’re solving for. Your project information management system is not your end goal. Rather, it should be viewed as the map that will help get you to your desired destination. Consider your goals for the next quarter or what you hope to accomplish in the next year. Do you hope to:
- Have greater control over your content?
- Reduce risk of litigation?
- Improve project efficiency?
- Eliminate re-work and other costly mistakes?
- Decrease the number of RFIs on any given project?
- Promote collaboration across design and build teams?
- All of the above?
Great. Once you have settled on your specific goals, you can then start to think about how a project information management strategy will help you get to your desired end state.
Do You Have Buy-In?
Change management is tough for any organization. Period. It can be particularly difficult when you’re trying to change long-established routines and processes in pursuit of a better project information management strategy. Team buy-in is essential to ensure wide-spread adoption and long-term success. Asking your team what they need to overcome the challenges they face daily and then showing them how a proposed solution matches up against their feedback will go a long way to offset any resistance they may have to change.
In our experience, organizations are more likely to achieve wide-spread adoption and long-term success when they choose a project information management strategy that works with the systems and software they’re used to using everyday – like BIM 360, Procore, Autodesk Construction Cloud, Bluebeam, and SharePoint. Incremental change can actually strengthen the backbone of your team. Be mindful and realistic when it comes to what your professionals can take on.
What Can Be Automated?
In Procore’s recent global survey, Construction: The Next Five Years, industry respondents noted they are most excited for the emergence of new and innovative technology, followed by the faster adoption of existing technologies within the industry. Innovation is allowing the industry to work smarter, not harder and automation has been a game changer.
Companies that have adopted technology that utilizes automation are not only able to empower their employees to do higher-level work, but they also significantly reduce their overall risk while improving accuracy. As you continue on your project information management journey, think through the manual processes you and your team are currently responsible for. Which ones can (and should) be automated? Removing the manual effort currently used to orchestrate many of your day-to-day functions, will quickly result in incredible efficiency gains across your organization. Furthermore, by automating how you connect, secure, and sync data – you’ll gain the peace of mind of knowing that all the information you need is at your fingertips and reinforced by a proven system of governance.
Can You Search Content Across Platforms?
The ability to search for your content and data whenever, wherever is an essential driver to any project information management strategy. Research from multiple sources has found that construction professionals waste as much as 35 percent of their time searching for content or dealing with issues related to working with incorrect or outdated content. Your solution should address this problem head on to ensure that content essential to your project is always up-to-date and easily accessible – regardless of where it originated. A project information management system that utilizes synchronization through an automated workflow protects all parties involved on the project by reducing risk associated with disputes and rework.
Can You Easily Transmit, Store, and Secure Project Information?
Not all the systems you use on a project are going to “play nice” with others. In fact, you could even equate the process of transferring and storing sensitive information across each stage of the construction project’s life cycle to the “wild, wild west.”
What you need is a new sheriff in town. By which we mean a platform that uses role-based security to align permissions across different systems. Your project management sheriff should also have the ability to allow pre-determined levels of access to new members when its warranted, as well as the ability to change roles, permissions, and even restrict access universally with the flip of a switch. The merits of a role-based, security-first approach to integration across systems provides the cross-platform workflows necessary to limit human error and prevent loss of property.
John Wayne would be proud.
Will Your Company Remain Agile?
Common Data Environments (CDEs) have helped bring awareness to the challenges those in the construction and infrastructure industries face regularly. The need for greater efficiency, collaboration and security across design and build teams has been a huge hurdle to overcome. Unfortunately, for many teams, a disconnect remains. Here’s three things we know for sure.
1) Different teams across different specialties prefer to work with different tools.
2) Advancements in technology, especially those related to construction tech, show no signs of slowing down.
3) The need to empower employees, promote collaboration, and ensure organizational security will only grow stronger as time goes on.
CDEs, by design, show preference to a specific platform while only allowing strictly governed access of other platforms. An Integrated Data Environment (or IDE) solution, on the other hand, takes accessibility and collaboration to the next level and makes way for the ongoing evolution of technology, collaboration, and security in the AEC/O space. An IDE, most importantly, empowers professionals across design and build teams because it doesn’t require members to change where or how they work. Rather, it promotes a process over platform solution that is more likely to be adopted and, therefore, more likely to be successful.
Where To Go to Learn More About Modern Project Information Management And The IDE?
The ProjectReady team spends a lot of time speaking to AEC/O professionals to learn about the problems they are facing. Fueled by these conversations, our developers get to work to address the problems these real people in the field are facing every day. Our goal is to eliminate the mess and headaches you’re facing daily to make your life, your workflow, and your next project easier. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you develop your own project information management strategy, give me a call at 201.790.6390 or send a message to email@example.com
By Kelly Doyle, COO, ProjectReady
December 6, 2021