Integrated Technology Platforms
October 25, 2022
If you think about the most valuable assets in any given construction project, it really boils down to two things: the project team and the project data. Where the two are most likely to intersect when it comes to project management is via construction technology.
Yet while most construction companies have embraced technology to improve communication and streamline processes, many have done so via disparate point solutions. It’s not so much that these types of tools are “bad” by definition; they simply were not created to work together, and therefore do not fit the current heightened level of project collaboration that today’s construction teams and their complex projects demand.
Fortunately, there exists the integrated platform. This type of technology enables project teams to not only access critical data but refer to it and share it for real-time communication that allows for collaborative consensus-type decision making. These types of platforms are changing the very dynamic of construction project teams by providing a sort of internal infrastructure for collaborative decision making. It facilitates this in several ways:
Opens visibility and access to information. The best way to achieve consensus is through transparency. An integrated platform provides real-time visibility into critical project data and documents, including plans, budgets, schedules, photos, permits and inspections, and reports.
Just as critical is having a line of sight into ongoing project health as presented through earned value management (EVM) dashboards. These online dashboards track and display up-to-the-minute fluctuating project cost and schedule performance metrics. That transparency is what makes it possible for everyone to have a shared understanding of the project status at all times; so when the metrics indicate something is amiss, there can be a collective timely decision around next steps.
This helps remedy one of the biggest challenges facing construction projects: the lack of communication among team members who often don’t have the right information to make timely collective decisions. Access to this data helps teams agree on better options by increasing their collective knowledge base, speeding the flow of information among them, and providing a common language for communicating progress and issues. Seeing where they stand against their schedule, budget and other metrics helps them recognize problems sooner rather than later, and therefore respond quickly when something happens.
Provides one location for all project data. Our industry has traditionally relied on email, phone calls and spreadsheets to manage project data, but these methods can’t keep up with the speed and complexity of today’s construction projects. Cloud-based integrated platforms provide a single location for all project data that supports collaborative decision making, making real-time data available and shareable from anywhere in the world via mobile devices and other web browsers. Plus, they serve as a platform for improved project collaboration among all team members, ensuring everyone is working toward the same successful outcome.
Standardizes data for consistent interpretation. A common challenge when trying to share or interpret data is the inconsistent structure in which it’s produced — an unfortunate result of working with multiple point solutions that each process data in their own way and therefore don’t work well together. Is the data being interpreted correctly? What is the data really showing about project progress, performance, and risks? How can it be managed and tracked?
As the construction industry moves toward an increasingly collaborative model, there is a growing need for technology that can support project collaboration across multiple disciplines and project types using data that everyone can understand and interpret accurately. Integrated platforms are playing a key role in this shift, becoming more common as they provide standardized data that supports collaborative decision making. This reduces the risk of misinterpretation or miscommunication that can result in faulty decisions or costly mistakes.
Draws on historical data for reference and discussion among the project team. You can’t go back in time, but you can learn from it. Integrated technology platforms can tap into objective historical data that can serve as a jumping-off point for planning a new project. But it isn’t just about the hard data.
Using the collaborative capabilities of the platform, project team members who’ve worked on similar projects can share their subjective experiences and expertise to add human insight and context to the data. What lessons were learned? What decisions or actions could have been done differently? Do those in complementary disciplines have diverse perspectives on how to plan schedules or address risks? Experiment with entering variables into the integrated platform to explore the impact of team members’ input. The result, based on this early project collaboration, could be a lot closer to a more realistic plan from cost, timeline, scope and risk perspectives.
Issues real-time updates. The ability to create and track changes in real time is one of the most important benefits of a collaborative integrated platform. Changes on a construction project can come from many directions. A contractor may need to make alterations due to weather conditions or schedule delays. The architect may want to make design changes based on client feedback or budget constraints. And the owner may have questions about how these changes affect budget, schedule, and quality control. Each change has its own impact on other stakeholders in the project as well as everyone who depends on the completion of that project.
Besides managing the flow of information between stakeholders, real-time updates help support collaboration by ensuring everyone sees the same version of any document, allowing anyone with access rights to view or update documents at any time, and reminding stakeholders when documents are due for review.
Transitioning to a collaboration-friendly integrated platform
As construction projects become bigger and more complex, the industry is moving toward an integrated platform approach to manage those projects more effectively and efficiently. This places even more importance on achieving a collaborative consensus within teams via real-time decision making. Interested in learning more about migrating to this technology? Learn more by scheduling a consultation of how the cloud-based InEight integrated platform not only supports project collaboration but improves the way project outcomes are achieved.
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