For years every one has talked about the lack of gains in efficiency in the Construction Industry. Many articles and books have been written around this issue and theorized on why and how it can be corrected.
The biggest challenge we see with construction is that you bring together many individual firms to design and build a project. This project can last from several months to decades and encompass a dozen organizations on up to thousands. Historically each organization has procured their own software tools to manage their own silos of information. To convey this information to the parties in the team siloed data would need to be transferred via ftp or email to other participants. Adding to this issue was this data was transferred in pdf format reducing it’s value and ability to be reused by the receiving party. A perfect example is the engineer sending drawings to the contractor in pdf format. This would force the contractor to start from scratch with their shop drawings. Not only do engineers put their drawings in pdf for transmission purposes but also they thought this would protect their Intellectual Property. This transmission of data process creates tremendous inefficiencies within a project.
To improve efficiency in the construction industry we need to go beyond the Enterprise Construction Software applications and look at everyone involved in building a capital project. Here are three steps we believe could dramatically improve efficiency immediately in the construction industry.
- Transmit all information electronically.(it’s amazing how many projects still use paper) this allows people to improve the efficiency of moving information. Electronic transmission of information across construction project teams increases the rate of transmission, increases control of the information, and delivers unparalleled accountability when the appropriate tools are used.
- Transmit all information in native file format. This means the engineers and Architects provide design drawings in CAD format. By transmitting this information electronically a record is established of the original drawings going to the contractor. Eliminating the worries
- Stop buying Enterprise software aka “data silos”. Enterprise software was architect-ed for users to enter data once for reporting. They were never designed for data re-use or information sharing. This is why they are typically sold on a named user or concurrent user basis, they only want a small group of users using the software. Enterprise software creates a dramatic inefficiency on construction because we have to share large amounts information across our teams and enterprise software products prevent this. Project participants need to be looking at collaborative project management solutions that foster usage(unlimited users) and the ability to quickly share and exchange construction project information across the entire team.
I would be interested to hear other ideas around how we can improve efficiency in the construction industry. Feel free to comment on this blog and discuss ways either with technology or procedures that we can improve efficiency within the construction industry.