The success of any mission critical project depends on effective communication and constant collaboration between internal and external parties. The teams need the latest drawings and frequent updates on assigned tasks for an accurate estimate of completion time. This applies to the owner, designers, contractors and material suppliers both during design and construction to align the office and the field teams of each stakeholder.
But this can prove difficult with outdated information sharing methods like keeping documents behind company firewalls. Streamlining access and data sharing between all parties is key to achieving the best outcome for all.
1. Manual updates are a chore
Keeping information updated on the internal side carries a heavy administrative burden. With multiple document repositories, shared folders, departments, and tools, making sure all your data is current is a full-time job. And that’s before reckoning for multiple vendors, projects, and sub-divisions of the work. For instance, you may have separate drawing sets for the data hall, fit out, and administrative parts of a facility. Each one of those has its own set of vendors that may or may not overlap — you could have three different structural engineering firms, three different electrical trade partners, and so on.
Between monitoring approval cycles, outstanding actions, design revisions and ensuring correct reporting for customers or auditors, the work quickly stacks up — and backs up, unless your organization has the right tools to keep up.
2. Right data, right people, right time
This is all part of the larger challenge of making sure the right information is being shared with the right people at the right time.
Manual tracking, checking, and approval processes quickly bog down your teams which are already carrying a heavy workload. Especially in the field, teams need to move fast and respond to fluid situations, and every minute they spend waiting for approvals or double-checking the drawing version is time that could be spent on higher value activities. Alternatively, acting on incorrect or outdated information affects critical path activities, resulting in risk, schedule delays and costly rework.
It’s important to keep partners and vendors on track for their own purposes; they may well have other jobs scheduled, and an administrative delay could affect their long term schedule. In this industry, people want to work with those they can trust and with teams that are experienced and reliable, especially when things get difficult. These are the teams that get the right people engaged to solve problems, even for tasks as complex as reprogramming a BMS or switchgear logic, or building it from scratch on site.
Ultimately, everyone involved in the job has a shared interest in the outcome — and better access allows more informed decisions to be made on time.
3. Insights when they matter most
Beyond just the data, insights and improvements are also best when they’re timely. A year-end retrospective to identify inefficiencies isn’t enough; even quarterly might not be enough.
The fact is improvement should be continuous and as close to real-time as possible. This helps keep your organization competitive, improves site safety proactively instead of reactively, and provides a running assessment of partnerships so you can assemble or lock down the right team.
Keeping information updated, sharing it effectively, and finding insights can only occur when your data is organized and accessible. A centralized project and documentation platform like Procore ensures all this is available anywhere, any time, securely and selectively.
4. Building around a single source of truth
With all data aggregated and tracked centrally, there’s a single source of truth, removing the need to manually update or watch various documents and sources. Naming conventions are enforced automatically in accordance with standards and governance. And access controls protect sensitive information like budgets while allowing appropriate sharing of task-pertinent data.
You can even automate the distribution of documents to the relevant trades or vendors, simplifying communications and relieving overloaded inboxes. The latest drawings and models can be sent to field teams as soon as they’re ready — no need to request. That goes for Schematic Design (SD), Design Development (DD) and Construction Documentation (CD), all of which add complexity to information management. Similarly, integrated workflows, like witness testing and integrated system testing (IST), accommodate your business’s own processes and review and approval cycles.
Data insights and reporting capabilities round out the merits of a centralized platform, offering both real-time status of a project and deeper analysis. Your open actions, schedule and budget risk exposure are always up to date, and reports can be generated on demand.
Trends of benchmark metrics like expenditure and delays are also on tap, across past and present projects and portfolios. No need to wait for periodic reviews, you can find out if you’re off track or hitting targets any time.
5. A centralized platform has real impact
This type of efficient information management is critical to keep up with rising demand and high-priority projects. Ease of access to key information reduces single points of failure; reporting capabilities are improved and labor reduced; data at project handover is cleaner and more comprehensive, which makes you a better partner.
Throughout the project, a complex set of trades is working off the same information at high speed in a dense space. High and low voltage electrical installers get the systems to operate the building and the servers are in place. Utility companies connect switchgear and data network cables to main points of entry (MPOE). Commissioning agents check and track the installation process. And designers approve various stages in the build. They all have high interdependence and need to work in concert with each other.
Confidence in your data, communication, and collaborative processes allows you to work more efficiently as a team and establish a higher level of trust. That’s something every organization can appreciate.