Seeing the Big Picture with the Right Construction Project Tech
October 04, 2023
What does it mean to see the big picture? It means viewing each capital project from every facet — how all its parts work together and how they impact each other.
Traditional project management technologies limit this ability. These limitations — lack of transparency, project uncertainty, inaccessible documentation and disconnected data — make it hard to see what’s really going on and prevent us from steering our way through and around inevitable challenges.
Fortunately, construction technology has evolved to enhance our understanding of capital projects more clearly and thoroughly. Because these projects are characterized by “smarter” technologies incorporated into the built asset and more stringent building requirements, having this more holistic view can be the difference between successfully meeting project outcomes or becoming the latest to overshoot budget and schedule expectations.
What do you stand to gain with the right technology?
Any exploration of construction technology must start with what it enables you to do as an owner or construction manager, the opportunities it opens up for improved project management and how your capital projects benefit.
Improved project visibility. Centralizing data and documentation provides a direct line of sight into progress, delays and emerging problems in real time. Project management becomes more proactive than reactive, significantly improving the odds of meeting cost and schedule outcomes.
Better-informed, more confident decisions. Having the right information at the right time empowers project teams and stakeholders to be more strategic with the constant decisions necessary to keep projects on track and on budget. With project details always within reach, there’s more comprehensive, realistic project awareness on which to base evaluative discussions and action steps.
Higher levels of productivity. Through automation, your teams get back precious time eroded by repetitive administrative work and manual data entry; they can instead focus on more strategic, project-impacting activities. More broadly, automating routine processes — estimating, scheduling and compliance inspections, for example — creates more streamlined precision-based operations that deliver the speed, accuracy and efficiency necessary to meet project outcomes.
More effective resource allocation. Optimizing workflow depends on how labor, material and equipment resources are used and distributed. Data analytics technology helps track the when and where of each so downtime and waste can be kept to a minimum.
Proactive risk management. Prior project data combined with connected analytics help you to identify potential issues and suspicious trends early on, forecast their cost and schedule impact and create contingency plans around them. This proactive approach keeps you from being completely blindsided by anticipated hiccups and never-saw-it-coming events and gives you more control over navigating them.
Project certainty. All the above culminates into this highly sought benefit that often has been hardest to attain. The vast capabilities of today’s construction project technology — real-time data transparency, automated tasks and performance tracking, and incorporation of data from past projects and multiple sources — streamline the planning and execution processes, helping them dovetail toward expected project outcomes.
What construction project technologies help you see the big picture?
Connected analytics. Trying to make sense of the endless amount of data pouring into your projects can feel like you’re among millions of small puzzle pieces, each representing a tiny part of the big picture you need to see.
Connected analytics brings all that data together from its many sources and interprets it so you can make sense of it. Cloud technology and mobile access enable this connectedness, sourcing real-time data to be converted into usable metrics.
Those metrics — most commonly through earned value management (EVM) measures such as schedule performance index (SPI) and cost performance index (CPI) — help the picture come into focus. Their simple numeric values provide real-time indication of how well a project is doing en route to meeting project outcomes, so you have an objective, data-supported foundation to make decisions and adjustments as you go.
Those same analytics can also be used predictively. EVM helps you effectively plan ahead, forecasting and exploring different what-if scenarios so you can avert or mitigate the impact of risks such as supply chain disruptions and labor shortage challenges. You can test various contingency plans and, using the potential EVM results, devise and implement the appropriate one when needed.
With EVM metrics, you can pan out to assess all the projects in your portfolio — how well they’re performing comparatively, where resources can be reallocated, and which ones may need more attention.
Building information modeling (BIM). You can’t get more literal at seeing the bigger picture than with BIM. This 3D interactive modeling technology shows what the built asset will look like from the inside out, above and below and within its proposed surroundings.
Digging deeper, each item within the model, whether a bolt or concrete, is linked to its own unique information, including manufacturer, quantity, material composition, warranty, cost, etc. The dimensional representation and linked data make it possible to experiment with different design and materials options, such as more environmentally friendly ones, so you can evaluate what they look like visually. But more than aesthetics, BIM supports a more holistic view of the impact of those changes before they’re built into the asset. How do they affect the rest of the structure? Will they necessitate adjustments to the design or materials elsewhere? And how do the costs change with each variation?
Integrated platforms. For that big picture to become even clearer, all the details must come together to form a more complete image and story of the project. An integrated platform not only gathers all these nuggets of information but makes them accessible from one virtual location for all project teams.
And that’s where the clarity comes in. There’s visibility into objective project data for real-time progress and performance monitoring. It’s easier to see risks and, therefore, more appropriately respond to them. And it’s possible to communicate and collaborate with teams and stakeholders who depend on this information to make the critical decisions that keep the capital project on track.
Ultimately, having that ready availability of project intelligence fosters a broader and deeper awareness of what is happening with the asset from end to end.
Alongside the need for details that ensure projects meet their expected outcomes, there’s an equally important need to grasp a more holistic view of the project’s entirety. The right construction technology for your projects can help that become more clearly defined and therefore more manageable. Find out what technologies may be best for you by scheduling a time for us to talk.
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