These are extraordinary times. Government and private sector institutions are issuing guidelines intended to keep people out of close quarters, the better to slow the spread of the virus as physical distancing, self-isolation, self-quarantine, and other measures gain traction around the globe.
Global focus on the spread of the illness is coupled with a deep preoccupation—the idea of an economic slowdown; a fear that productivity—everywhere—will grind to a halt. Commerce doesn’t anchor the human condition, but it is the workaday lifeblood that feeds and shelters and sustains the individual, and the individual is—of course—all of us.
The situation is fluid and dynamic; we are navigating uncharted waters. We have a lot to do—socially and medically—to get past the complexities and challenges of the unfolding crisis. It’s going to require all of us to come together like never before—to boldly and innovatively pool our efforts, gather our collective strength—even as contingencies force us physically apart in ways to which we’re totally unaccustomed.
The construction industry has been uniquely impacted. In our industry, collaboration has always been a hallmark—and this moment may indeed be a test of how far that central construction ethos can take us.
Hope and Momentum
It’s no secret that construction management has undergone, and is still undergoing, a cloud-based, digital revolution. Technological advances have made communication and collaboration between field and office seamless and instantaneous, in ways we couldn’t have foreseen a mere decade ago.
Critical project documentation that used to live in reams of bound paper or document-stuffed filing cabinets has been organized, clarified, and digitized. This consolidated project info is then deposited into a cloud-based common area accessible from anywhere in the world, and by any and all project players—24 hours a day. That is, wherever the project owner may be relative to the actual jobsite, she has an uninterrupted real-time, hands-on view of project detail. Call it productivity from afar.
Social and Productive Distancing
This cloud is the project’s common workspace and information repository, and therefore the bridge that firmly joins the physical project to any remote location you can imagine. In practice this means permissions-based access to the single set of plans, inspections, observations, the daily log, submittals, financials; all the data that drives the progress of the build. This dynamic information is presented in digital crystal clarity through a shared platform viewable from anyplace, at any distance and at any time.
In this cloud, a general contractor or specialty contractor, in separate remote locations, may walk through the project’s exactingly detailed virtual model, looking for—and solving for— coordination issues before a single brick is laid. They can accomplish this in separate rooms miles away from the build, and in the wee hours of the morning, if need be.
In this cloud, the project owner may remotely visit the site, view the plans, pore over real-time project progress data, issue directives, and look at evolving labor costs. Digital contracts, invoice and change order approvals––all approval transactions can be done remotely, even those that require a signature.
Construction’s ongoing digital revolution brings other news. While the present need to practice physical distancing may mean reducing the number of people on the jobsite itself, this doesn’t have to mean a halt to the build’s progress. Cloud-based construction management offers thorough, virtual visibility into the project that is not diminished by distance or time of day—a granular, holistic, and literally transparent oversight.
This capacity for uninterrupted, actionable project insight is central to the new and evolving construction environment. Additionally, in chaotic financial times, construction project owners and the contractors reporting to them need to be more financially aligned than ever. Digital invoices, change orders, and signatures ensure not only that the right things are getting done, but that everyone is being paid as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Tomorrow and the Day After
The current global situation is fluid, the public health emergency dynamic and in search of solutions. Who can say what urban planning and design legacies may emerge from this historical moment? Rapid decision-making, informed capital commitment, ability to turn corners quickly and capably––these will be determining factors. The construction project owners, already looking ahead at the challenges of accommodating dynamic global population demographics, will need more than projections to avoid a misstep and emerge with future-forward positive outcomes. In the meantime, we are urgently supporting our customers and their desire to accelerate the build of new facilities and retool existing infrastructure to increase the production capacity to respond to the needs of this global crisis.
In times of uncertainty, with recession and market devaluation looming threateningly on the sidelines, margins matter more than ever. Uninterrupted, even remote, visibility of project data is the key. Access to deep project data is not just a guarantor of project momentum—real-time, dynamic information is the armor protecting capital investment.
Hospital occupancy trends, work-from-home cycles, rental unit size and layout—these changing trends will need to be addressed with agility and as little waste as possible. We’re finally harnessing unimaginable amounts of project information, and with it fashioning a new tool for seeing what’s ahead. The new construction management technology is all about the actionable availability of project data, viewable from anywhere, anytime.
Today, it’s no exaggeration to say that the world is in crisis due to COVID-19. As is often the case in crises large and small, success will be found in the rearview mirror. Construction’s digital revolution has been a boon to construction efficiency, a gift to project workflows, and the dawn of a new productivity. In the present crisis, it’s one thing more––a way forward. It is continuity. It is the key to wielding our collective strength through collaboration.