What do the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Linear Park in New Orleans, The METRO Southwest Light Rail Transit Green Line Extension project in Minneapolis and LaGuardia Airport, Terminal B in New York have in common?
These three projects all executed using Procore and exemplify the distinctive risk profiles associated with civil and infrastructure projects. With a complex web of stakeholders spanning from federal to municipal governments, along with the general public, operating in a dynamic construction environment where construction is just one piece of the puzzle. And navigating a labyrinth of permits and approvals — all while upholding an unwavering commitment to quality and safety — these projects exemplify the intricacies of the field.
In this high-stakes environment, the ability to harness the full potential of connected data is nothing short of revolutionary. It offers a powerful solution to meet the multifaceted demands of these endeavors, driving a transformation in the planning, execution, and completion of civil and infrastructure construction projects.
This article will help to unravel the transformative impact of connected data within the realm of civil and infrastructure construction and shed light on how seamless data connectivity is revolutionizing the construction industry. Additionally, it will show how data connectivity enables stakeholders to navigate these complexities with unprecedented efficiency and success.
Connecting the Dots: Collaboration Essentials in Civil and Infrastructure
At a 30,000 sq. ft strategic level, there are always a few key points of collaboration between teams that make or break a project, according to Julian Clayton, VP Product for General Contractors at Procore.
However, the essence of collaboration in these intricate projects is twofold, as outlined by Tim Glaser, Director of Project Controls at Skanska USA Civil. There’s the daily collaboration, a constant effort to solve immediate challenges, and then there’s the post-mortem collaboration, where the focus shifts to distilling the learnings from completed activities for the benefit of future projects.
Yet, a common challenge looms over both aspects of this collaboration — data collection. Before data can be connected and leveraged, it must first be collected. This remains an area of immaturity within the civil and Infrastructure sector. Notably, a recent AGC and Procore report unveiled that just a fraction of builders, a mere 24%, were able to harness their data to its fullest potential.
This challenge becomes particularly relevant within decentralized, project-based civil and infrastructure companies. Often, teams may lack a consensus on what data to collect and how to analyze it. Given the sheer volume of data generated throughout a heavy civil project, the critical question arises: How can it be ensured that this data reaches the right individuals within the organization, those who possess the capability to leverage it effectively?
A senior IT leader at a leading civil and infrastructure company, encountered a similar revelation when outdated drawings and specifications led to rework during prefabrication. Having up-to-date data and the means to share it across the organization became a fundamental necessity. In a world where design-build progress information is in constant flux, the imperative is clear — self-perform crews and trade contractors must stay in the know to ensure seamless collaboration and project success.
Efficiency from the Outset: Preconstruction’s Role in Data Connectivity
For Clayton, the journey of connected data commences right at the preconstruction phase, entailing collaboration with both internal and external teams. It is here that the foundation for seamless data connectivity is laid.
Glaser’s journey involves the orchestration of efficient business processes, designed to facilitate data collection and digitization. It revolves around a fundamental question: How can we make the job easier for field teams, those individuals on the frontlines of these complex projects?
Notably, the civil and Infrastructure sector is progressively gravitating toward more collaborative delivery methods, a departure from traditional hard bids. This shift underscores the growing necessity for heightened collaboration between owners and contractors. Such collaboration assumes paramount importance as these new methods introduce a significant degree of change, a factor that was less prominent in traditional delivery approaches.
The IT leader underscores the pivotal role of collaboration with owners, particularly since civil contractors often engage in substantial self-performing. This shift towards more collaborative methods serves as the catalyst for enhanced engagement with project owners, marking a fundamental transformation in how civil and infrastructure projects are approached and executed.
Streamlining Document Management on Mega Projects
Managing documents on mega projects can be a complex task, where workflows and approvals are pivotal. As an example, just determining who has the authority to approve documents often poses a significant challenge.
The added complexity arises when civil builders find themselves navigating document control processes within their construction management system, only to repeat a similar process within the owner’s system. A problem that often rears its head when public owners are involved. Such redundancy appears to contradict the very essence of connected data, which aims to provide real-time data visibility. Consequently, the central challenge here lies in establishing consistency within workflows that aren’t entirely under one’s control.
Clayton corroborates this perspective, highlighting a significant development — Procore Connectability. The new feature was recently introduced at Procore’s annual conference, Groundbreak 2023. This innovative feature empowers all major construction stakeholders, including owners, general contractors, and trade contractors, to collaborate without leaving their own Procore account. Procore Connectability essentially allows builders to work within an environment that aligns seamlessly with their unique business and project goals, thus enhancing efficiency. After all, when trades operate efficiently, it impacts the whole project and not just their bottom line.
In joint ventures, features like Connectability play a pivotal role. They enable organizations to track compliance requirements and manage data in ways that best suit their specific needs. The presence of a centralized platform like Procore, where data is meticulously organized and accessible at all times, not only enhances efficiency but also serves as a safeguard against potential litigation. In the event of disputes or legal challenges, having a comprehensive data repository can be a powerful tool for demonstrating compliance, tracking decisions, and providing an indisputable record of the project’s history. This protection against litigation becomes an invaluable asset in civil and infrastructure, where legal challenges can be both time-consuming and financially burdensome.
Transforming Builder-Owner Relationship through Effective Closeouts
A pivotal juncture in the builder-owner relationship is the phase of project handovers or closeouts. Within civil and infrastructure projects, this stage entails a complex web of documents and processes. Skanska, recognizing the significance of this phase, has harnessed the power of a platform like Procore to forge a semi-standard closeout model. The increasing client demand for technology-driven solutions to streamline the project closeout process underscores the escalating importance of efficient data management during this critical phase.
In a parallel vein, the IT leader attests to the shifting landscape of project handovers. Owners now exhibit a heightened appetite for more extensive data and finer details. They seek a comprehensive walkthrough of the project’s progression, mirroring the journey it undertook during construction. The capability to discern and selectively share specific data with owners, all while safeguarding sensitive information, emerges as a notable advantage, especially within the framework of a platform like Procore.
Moreover, as the industry turns its focus towards compliance in various areas, such as CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification) and Buy American requirements, the importance of information security and data presentation becomes increasingly evident. Providing data to owners in a manner that aligns with their expectations is crucial in maintaining positive relationships and ensuring successful project outcomes.
Seemless Partner Integration
Platforms like Procore take connected data to the next level by seamlessly integrating with over 500 marketplace partners. Each of these partners enhances an organization’s tech capabilities, making project management more efficient. This extensive integration provides access to a wealth of resources, ensuring stakeholders get the right information when they need it, ultimately improving civil and infrastructure projects.
In conclusion, the journey of connected data in civil and infrastructure projects is an intricate and transformative one. The success of these projects ultimately depends on the ability to harness the full potential of connected data, enhancing collaboration, efficiency, and overall project outcomes. As the industry evolves and embraces technology, selecting the right tech stack becomes pivotal in ensuring that data is truly connected. The right tech choices can help organizations not only navigate the challenges of today but also adapt to the demands of tomorrow.