ClickCease

Capital & Contract Management

Manage contract workflows from start to finish, from contractor/supplier selection through contract closeout including the related buyouts, pay requests and change orders. With our capital and contract management solutions, you can facilitate contracts and changes throughout the project, resulting in a 20% reduction in turnaround time.

Learn More >

Connected Analytics

Make real-time decisions as you gain visibility into metrics, KPIs and trends, driving continuity in operations.

Learn More >

Document Management

Our document management solution helps you streamline the capture, review, management and distribution of project documents. Because all your project documentation is stored in a centralized repository, you can reduce processing time by 30%.

Learn More >

Estimating & Project Cost Management

Our project cost management solutions help you create more accurate and timely project estimates, increase your forecasting accuracy, and improve the anticipated project ROI.

Learn More >

Field Execution Management

Manage work packages and daily crew plans to deliver and capture predictable results in the field, reducing project costs 10%.

Learn More >

Integrated Project Controls Platform

Only InEight provides a complete portfolio of capital project management software that supports enterprise-wide digital transformation.

Learn More >

Safety, Quality & Commissioning

Capture and analyze safety, compliance and quality data directly from the field, reducing rework by 10%.

Learn More >

Virtual Design & Construction

Use an aggregated 3D model as a common data environment, increasing clash resolution efficiency by more than 200%

Learn More >

Connected Data: A Look Ahead at
Project Controls in 2021

 

Originally aired on 1/26/2021

60 Min

Request a Demo

Thanks for contacting us. A member of our team will follow up with you shortly.

InEight’s Brad Barth, Dale Dutton, Andre Paden and Nate St. John discuss the future of construction project management and how integrated technologies will provide a clear view into all phases of the construction lifecycle. From design to turn-over, keeping your project stages out of silos and in a single system will ensure that every step of the project is managed effectively. 

John Klobucar:

Hello. I’m John Klobucar with InEight, and I’d like to welcome you to the latest webinar in our Connected Data series. Today’s presentation is titled Connected Data: A Look At Project Controls In 2021. We will have four presenters today, including InEight’s Chief Product Officer, Brad Barth, who is a member of the company’s executive leadership team and a key architect of InEight’s product vision and strategy. We will also hear from InEight Product Delivery Consultant Dale Dutton, as well as InEight Product Managers Andre Paden and Nate St. John.

John Klobucar:

If you have any questions as you watch this webinar, please enter them in the box marked questions on your screen, and our experts will do their best to answer them following the program. Let’s get started now, as I turn things over to our first speaker, Brad Barth.

Brad Barth:

Alright. Thank you, John. Appreciate it. Welcome, everybody, to today’s webinar. So, my name is Brad Barth. My role at InEight is Chief Product Officer. And, man, I’m really excited about this webinar today. We’ve got a great group of guests and experts that are going to join us here today as we look at this topic of the future project controls and specifically, connected data. And looking at how that translates into trends that are coming down the pike, and what that means in 2021.

Brad Barth:

And Connected Data is really the theme for InEight, an overarching theme that cuts across everything that we do. And really, that drives our product strategy, it drives what we try to do for our customers as we deliver our mission of project certainty, bringing that project certainty predictability to our customers. So the guys that are joining me today have tremendous experience in the subject areas that we’re going to talk about. A little bit of housekeeping before we go around the horn and introduce.

Brad Barth:

Feel free to submit any questions that you have, and we’ll make sure that we get answers for you. So you can submit those questions at any point during the webinar. So let me introduce the stars of the show here today. We’ll go around the horn a little bit, and then we’ll get into some of the topics. Like I said, InEight, our focus is on project certainty and helping our customers achieve predictability in their project outcomes. And doing that, we’re fortunate enough to have some just tremendous experience and construction experience running around inside this company.

Brad Barth:

You’re going to hear from some of those guys today. So folks that know the industry, that know the nuances of it, we’re fortunate to have those people that really help drive our products, help drive the services. Virtually every group within InEight that you speak to, you’re going to find that construction experience. So really looking forward to hearing from three of those folks today. So let’s go around the horn here. So we’ll start with Nate St. John.

Brad Barth:

Nate really looks after our scheduling and risk applications here at InEight, and comes from that background. So maybe Nate, if you wouldn’t mind, give a little bit of an intro to yourself there.

Nate St. John:

Yeah. Thanks, Brad. Nate St. John. I’ve been in the industry in some form for about a decade and a half, beginning working labor, working my way up through the field engineering process. But really, the experience has been focused around the category of integrated project controls, primarily in systems-related risks. So to have an opportunity to come to a company that improves those processes and leverages the latest software is a real pleasure.

Brad Barth:

Awesome. Thanks for being with us here today. So continuing around the horn, let’s go to Andre Paden. Andre is on our BDC, virtual design and construction team. And in particular, has a nice focus that really cuts across the whole InEight suite in terms of advanced work packaging, which cuts like I said, across things like scheduling, work planning, and models. Andre, welcome. Give us a little background on yourself.

Andre Paden:

Hey. Thanks, Brad, for the intro. Yeah, I’m Andre Paden. As Brad mentioned, I’m looking over the models solution. Prior to joining InEight, my experience is much like Nate’s. 15 years in the EPC world, field engineer, project controls manager. Lastly, AWP implementation lead for the organization. As Brad mentioned, the AWP focus, using that mindset in bridging various bits of project planning, project execution across the entire project lifecycle. Using that information and knowledge and leveraging it with InEight’s tools to give you that full lifecycle picture and management of a project is my focus. So glad to be here and talk about this subject today.

Brad Barth:

Awesome. Thank you, Andre. All right. And last but certainly not least, we have Dale Dutton. And Dale is also focused on the VDC side of the InEight solution. Dale, welcome. Give us a little background on yourself, please.

Dale Dutton:

Yeah, thanks, Brad. Name is Dale Dutton. Spent 30 plus years in the construction industry, construction engineering industry, if you will, and dealt with a lot of different design systems. And my passion is basically, trying to get that intelligent model into the hands of the contractor. And with InEight, it’s really getting that model integrated within the project control system. So glad to be here.

Brad Barth:

Perfect. Thank you, Dale. And thanks, again, to all three of you for being here. What I thought we’d do guys is let’s take a project and we’ll just follow it through the typical stages of a project lifecycle. So let’s start in that conception, pre planning stage. A lot of that work is obviously happening on the owner side. Some engineering as we get into engineering, prior to construction. But, Nate, let’s start with you.

Brad Barth:

So I know, and I think everybody on the webinar here today shares this mantra, but I think when projects don’t go the way they were supposed to go, we didn’t achieve that project certainty, there’s a tendency to blame execution. And sometimes that’s valid. Sometimes it’s things that are out of our control. But I think we would all agree that often times, it’s poor planning. We haven’t done a great job in the planning, to create the right expectations in the first place.

Brad Barth:

So maybe said another way, if we’re not properly accounting for all the scope, and obviously, scope also brings risk. So I think there’s a great opportunity out there to do a better job in the planning stage and create the right expectations in the first place. In terms of scheduling software, from your experience, and where we’re going on the InEight side of that equation, how do you see scheduling software, I guess, evolving to help create better plans in the first place, to create a more realistic expectation of the scope and the risk?

Nate St. John:

Yeah. That’s a great question, Brad. So, I suppose the good news here is that you don’t ever have to start from scratch when you’re developing a conceptual plan, or a proven plan. Just like everything else in the world today, a construction project generates a lot of data. So software today, should be able to enable things and leverage things like augmented intelligence, in order to gain insight into what is achievable.

Nate St. John:

So software will now critique a plan, it will offer up suggestions based on machine learning from historical projects relevant to your own company. And this ultimately, leads to more realistic durations, costs and sequence of work. So the endgame and the end role here that these sorts of technology play is that it increases your confidence and decreases your uncertainty for project teams. And that really sets the stage early on in this pre planning process to achieve project success.

Brad Barth:

Fantastic. Fantastic there, Nate. So, would you say maybe if I understood what you were saying, the scheduling tools, and maybe it’s not appropriate to just … maybe that’s too narrow of a definition or category. Maybe we should call it planning tools. But are you saying basically, that they’re getting smarter, and they’re helping to leverage your … It seems like in the past, whatever you put into the scheduling tool, you’re going to get your CPM out of that. You’re going to get your durations and sequence and all that.

Brad Barth:

But one to one, whatever you put into is what you get out of it. It sounds like what you’re saying maybe is the tools are getting smarter to leverage previous work and previous projects that may be interpolating, some of that come into play on this new project. Is that where you were going?

Nate St. John:

Yeah, absolutely. Today, you have an opportunity to take your project history and build this robust schedule knowledge library, or planning library. And that includes, like you said, things beyond just the schedule. It includes risk things, risk items, potential mitigations. And so as that knowledge library develops and matures, the software adjusts to tell you, “Listen, we recognize that you’re trying to pre plan for this particular market. And oh yeah, by the way, the last time that this job went this route, these risks A, B and C occurred because of whether it’s in a particular part of the world, a particular industry, et cetera.”

Nate St. John:

And so it prompts the user, prompts the planning team in real time, to remind you, “Hey, these were the guardrails, and this was what actually occurred to set the stage for, are you upfront planning for an achievable process, or potentially a more negative result?”

Brad Barth:

That’s great. That’s great. Sounds like that would not only make you more accurate in your planning, but it sounds like that would actually make you more efficient as well, and be able to get the work of planning done faster by leveraging that history as well.

Nate St. John:

That’s correct, yeah. The rapid nature of leveraging this type of stuff will free up all kinds of time for more meaningful manipulation in your planning process.

Brad Barth:

Perfect. Let’s turn to you, Dale. The question I have for you, in this stage with work still in that conceptual stage, certainly I think you would agree that the use of models has certainly increased over the last decade. We’ve gone really 100% from that 2D approach to 3D.

Brad Barth:

And a lot of times, those models are used early stage, even as we go through the approval, capital planning process, so on the owner side of things. We’re creating conceptual models to help drive as we get better understanding of the scope, to help visualize what that thing is going to look like, and what’s included in it.

Brad Barth:

But also, at that stage, we start to have to figure out not only what’s the scope of it, but what’s our schedule? What’s the cost? It’s three things that we have to have a good understanding of, in order to even just get budget approval for the project, that scope, cost and schedule. The model can be a great way to tie that stuff together. And it seems like there’s always been this increasing expectation that we should be able to create estimates really easily from these models, because the models have all the scope in it.

Brad Barth:

They’ve got the quantities in it, so that seems like the use of models should be a boon for creating estimates a lot easier. Would you agree with that? And would you say has that become the norm yet? Or is that still an opportunity do you think for most people to tie in models and estimates together?

Dale Dutton:

Yeah, I would agree with that. But we have to remember that all models are not created equal, meaning that some models have more data than others to be utilized for estimating purposes. All design systems don’t provide the same metadata with the graphics, for those model based takeoffs. But with that said, there are design systems that provide a great deal of metadata to be utilized in the estimating and then further into the construction process. So even though that data is available, it still requires some massaging to be utilized, and then to be linked into an estimating system.

Brad Barth:

Makes sense. Yeah. And maybe that’s been the rub on, in terms of translating design data into data that’s useful for let’s say, estimating purposes, or other purposes, work planning, procurement, that kind of stuff. So it sounds like maybe what’s needed is something set in the middle there, as we transform that design data that you see rendered in a model. We got to do things that transform it, derive other things from that in order to create some useful stuff, for example, to put in an estimate. Do you degree with that?

Dale Dutton:

Yeah, that’s correct. And I think that to your question there, has this became the norm yet? I think there’s a lot of factors in there that each industry is a little bit different, especially with a different level of metadata that’s in there. Some companies, they have processes for takeoffs. And to change those costs time and money. There’s a lot of unknowns if you’re not doing this, to even realize what the return on investment is, until you try it out. Try it out being, validate that you can execute more estimates, or the same amount of estimates in a less amount of time utilizing models.

Brad Barth:

Yeah, it’s interesting. I was talking with a really good sized commercial builder over on the West Coast, and it was really interesting to hear them talk about how they’ve evolved from their estimating process. In fact, even just looking at their job description for estimators has changed over the last few years, particularly where they’ve gone from looking for people that can do takeoff and going back even for that, run digitizer boards and do all this quantity surveying kind of stuff, and now they’re looking for people that know how to work with models, how to interrogate those models, how to, like you just said, transform the data.

Brad Barth:

So they’re really looking for data guys now, that skillset guys and girls, I should say. That skillset of that data management, not necessarily just the ability to trace it on a drawing and do the takeoff part of it. So I think that does seem to be something we’re hearing more often, that the craft of estimating is evolving, or models are becoming more of a central part of that. Are you seeing that as well, Dale, in some of the situations? You get in front of a lot of customers. Are you seeing that same kind of evolution?

Dale Dutton:

Yeah, absolutely. Again as I mentioned, those that are willing to take a look at that model based … Models, again, are more intelligent than they used to be. So some estimating teams will take a dump of that model, open an Excel and then they will massage that data, and then bring that into their estimating systems. But there are some technologies that evolved out there that allow the estimators to get in and massage that data within. But then, they need to still connect that to the estimate.

Dale Dutton:

But I would say to an established estimating system, and that’s where it’s rare with the technologies that’s out there, there’s not many that are connected to an established system. And when I say established system, I’m really talking about one that takes more than just quantities, but they handle the crews, the hourly rates, the material cost, the equipment cost, quote comparisons, benchmarking, those type of things.

Dale Dutton:

But I am seeing the uptick in the companies that want to get into that, because as you mentioned, we’ve seen customers that actually, really reduce that amount of time from utilizing model quantities directly linked to an estimate.

Brad Barth:

That’s interesting. This particular general contractor was even talking about how … Because one of the issues has been, we’re in the estimating stage. We may not have good, accurate all-encompassing models that we can rely on. And their response to that was, when we don’t have them, we create them. So even if the engineer or the owner hasn’t made them available, they’ve just given us 2D drawings. We’ll go create the models, because there’s so much benefit to those connections you’re talking about.

Brad Barth:

If we get those models in place, then we can connect them to estimating another thing. So again, I think that’s another trend worth noting. That customers, I know they do … contractors I should say, are not just sitting and waiting for that evolution. In some cases, they’re driving it and being at the forefront. Let’s create the models if we don’t have them, so we can take all the benefit. Alright. Andre, let’s turn to you. And maybe let’s advance a little bit from the conceptual stage of the project. Maybe let’s get into maybe engineering and planning, pre-construction. And let’s stay on this connection with model topic.

Brad Barth:

Let’s just take work planning in general. I want to ask you some questions about AWP and that specific approach in a little bit here. But just regardless of whether you’re doing lean or AWP, or whatever work planning approach you’re taking, the essence of work planning is again, it’s that scope, cost and schedule. We can get information from the model, we can get information from the budget, obviously from the plans and specs and everything.

Brad Barth:

Traditionally, work planning and creating work packs has been a very manual, arduous process, to go get all that different information that might exist in all those different sources. Or maybe it’s in Excel spreadsheets and stuff. Are you finding technology and software specifically, is getting better at bringing all that kind of stuff together for the sake of work planning?

Andre Paden:

Yeah, you hit on it. When you engage in this work planning process, there are just tons and tons of data that needs to be collected. Think about it in simple terms, just to get a work crew at its work location, with the applicable drawings, materials, all the tools, equipment, things like that. There’s quite a bit of information that went into that process, well in advance of that work crews showing up to perform that work.

Andre Paden:

And so what we’re seeing is that there are quite a few point solutions out there in the marketplace where you have tools where you can do your schedule, planning portion, or tools where you can do your materials management portion, tools where you can bundle up and assign work to these work packages. What we haven’t seen, and what I think InEight strives, is doing a great job is bringing all of that information together as that connected digital thread. So if I’m in that model space, and I’m visually creating work packages, I can also bring in information from our schedule.

Andre Paden:

So I can work with Nate in that planning department and say, “Okay, this is how you planned out the work at a higher level. But now, I got into the finer details of that work. And this is how it’s going to actually step out from the week to week, day to day process. And how does that jive back with your schedule?” Same thing with the materials planning progress and solution as well. You can build your work hour estimates, understand your manpower profiles. Understanding, “Hey, I have a spike of work coming up in front of me, I need to look at investing in getting additional people on the work site.”

Andre Paden:

So having that connected thread across all of that work process is just invaluable to that work planning process. And if you’re engaging in that formal, rigid, AWP, CII prescriptive process, or if you’re just not using that prescriptive process, again, the process of constructing, you’re always planning smaller chunks of work. So having information available to you, that makes your work crews smarter, that makes your planning department smarter, it just makes everyone a little bit smarter.

Andre Paden:

So when you’re going about the execution, you don’t run into those same mistakes. I think that’s something we hit on earlier, where we often point to construction as the failing of the project, but a lot of times, that failures happen four to five steps before construction has even showed up in that planning process. So again, having that information readily available to not only the guys actually doing the work, but everyone on the project team. So we all can push and strive to make it a streamlined goal.

Brad Barth:

And I would imagine one of the benefits of that connected digital thread, as you call it, one of the benefits of that approach is to deal with the constant change that you face in the work planning process, whether you’re a project engineer, field engineer. All the folks that are involved in creating work packages and planning the work, I would imagine one of the challenges is there’s so many changes thrown at you. We got to change the schedule because the site’s not available or materials aren’t available, or resources aren’t available, or maybe the scope changes.

Brad Barth:

It feels like traditionally, a lot of manual effort, not only to pull all that stuff together into a work plan in the first place, but then before you execute it the day before something changes, and now you got to go make a bunch of changes and you’re going back through all that again. Does that connected digital approach help that, to help you deal with those changes?

Andre Paden:

For sure. In a construction project, or even before you get into the construction space, even when you’re in detail design and engineering, there’s always change popping up, whether that’s change in scope, addition of scope, changing of priorities, or just information from the owner. So the ability to have that information and connect it, and not necessarily have to manually manipulate and live with it as things change, that becomes quite a bit of time savings at the project level.

Andre Paden:

In my previous projects we had dedicated data manager, data wrangler type personnel, that they’re constantly going to the planning department, Primavera, give me your weekly schedule updates, because I need to consume that information and push that information back out into my plans. Same thing with materials. The materials guys are changing things on a daily basis based on feedback they’re getting from vendors and suppliers. So again, somebody has to consume that information on a frequent basis and push that back into your plans.

Andre Paden:

Having that digital thread, some of that process is automated once you do the behind the scenes work of connecting all the information. So, in real time, you’re able to see how these things, how these pushes and pulls are impacting your detailed work plans at the field level. So yeah, it’s quite drastic savings, and quite a bit of a lifesaver for us. We’ve all been on jobs and they highlighted, there’s just reams and reams of data that’s just produced on a weekly basis.

Andre Paden:

Having someone that doesn’t have to manually manipulate the data, again, like Dale mentioned, massage that Excel output from Primavera, because they added an extra dash and they didn’t set it up right, and I got to massage that and take out these extra dashes so I can import into another system you know. Reducing that manual manipulation efforts, it’s just invaluable to the construction team.

Brad Barth:

Well, and then after you’ve done all that, then now you’re ready to go push that out to go execute that work. And what happens traditionally? You’ll print all that stuff out and put it into a big three-ring binder. So I would imagine this digital approach makes it a heck of a lot easier to push that out, communicate to your superintendents, your foremen, folks out in the field. With all that information, they can pull it up, I would imagine on a tablet or a laptop and not have to worry about the three-ring binder that they left in the truck.

Andre Paden:

Oh, for sure. You’re getting into a whole other document management part of that. How do you make sure or ensure that those folks in the field have the latest and greatest? Having that connected information, having those digital work packages, you can reduce some of that. And again, as we’ve mentioned, we’re flying by the seat of our pants in construction, and everything is moving day to day.

Andre Paden:

So eliminating the need to print out binders and binders, and reams and reams of paper just to have a product for the field to actually touch and say, “Okay, I’m ready to go to work.” It’s a lifesaver. As much as I love the pulp and paper business, I don’t think we need to be in the market of keeping those guys working.

Brad Barth:

So you mentioned scheduling in there. Back to you, Nate. One of the things, I think that’s been a gap from a technology perspective over the last decade, from contractors or engineers to owners, a lot of adoption of technology, one of the things that I think may be lagging behind in terms of adopting technology is that last mile scheduling. That’s short interval planning where our master schedule might go down to level four or level five, and maybe you’re looking at it at the week level.

Brad Barth:

But when you get down to it, what are we doing tomorrow, what are we doing the next day, that short level planning approach or SIP, traditionally, I think you still see a lot of that. It’s really being done manually or up on the whiteboard in a job trailer. Is that another area where scheduling software may be evolving to encompass that last bit, which may be the most critical part of the whole planning process? What are we doing on a shift by shift basis?

Nate St. John:

Yeah, I think that today, the industry does a pretty good job of obviously using a digital approach to their project schedule. And then even their longer look-aheads if you’re, say, doing a rolling wave type thing. But where the disconnect occurs is usually at that last planner, short interval, three-week look-ahead process. And I think the part of that is that people are just naturally comfortable on a traditional whiteboard than they are with software.

Nate St. John:

I think the effort that InEight has taken is to take that approach and digitize the process, but without losing any of its ease of access or familiarity for people that are traditionally maybe not CPM experts or planners. So by doing so, I think the connection between the CPM schedule and the look-ahead schedule remains constant and true. So it notifies you in real time whether a breach of, say, the CPM has taken place during one of these whiteboard sessions.

Nate St. John:

It’s at nobody’s fault, but when a foreman or a superintendent gets up on a three-week grease board, whiteboard, they’re rocking and rolling. They have things to build out in the field. And so they’re honed in on what they’re doing that day or potentially week out. And sometimes, there’s some context that’s lost in where that decision and those forecasting plans exists in terms of the contractual scheduling element, which is usually your CPM higher level schedule.

Nate St. John:

So having that notification in a digital format allows you to say, “Oh, something occurred here.” This new adjustment that we made on this shift planning for the next week has breached what we had committed in our plan in the CPM. What do we want to do about it? Usually, what would happen is a scheduler will take note of that during the session. They won’t maybe say anything, then they’ll go back and they’ll scratch their head, and they’ll try to do some schedule magic.

Nate St. John:

But what an opportunity to see it live in real time and say, “Okay, well, we either have to readjust this shift planning, or let’s have a critical conversation around, do we extend out the CPM?” But the endgame is to have that constant connection there and that harmony, so that you’re truly flowing scheduled data from CPM three-month look-ahead, daily plan and backup.

Brad Barth:

You mentioned something I want to follow up with you on. So this, I think rings true. You mentioned that the scheduler, the scheduler making a note of something and going back to the scheduling system and updating it. Are we’re getting better with technology that helps more people get involved in the scheduling and planning process as opposed to, “Hey, let’s give our feedback to a specialist, they’re the ones that run the schedule?”

Brad Barth:

Feels like if we’re going to connect schedules with models and work plans, and procurement and all that, we need a more collaborative approach where otherwise that one scheduler becomes the bottleneck on everything. Are we finding more ways to get more people involved in the scheduling and planning process, working together?

Nate St. John:

Yeah, absolutely. So there’s an opportunity with how we’re set up to capture everyone’s feedback in an easy way. And at the end of the day, using things like AI, benchmarking, and consensus capture, you can elevate every single person on the project to become really an intelligent planner. Because they may be uncomfortable at first pushing buttons, moving scheduled pieces around, but if they sit back and just do their role, and we allow them to execute that role, provide their feedback, provide their expertise, then they can see how all of these connected pieces adjust. And it’s just this transfer of knowledge.

Nate St. John:

I think that the world looks a lot different than it did even a year ago or two years ago, and especially in terms of where workers are physically located. I think in terms of how difficult it is to capture subcontractor information, how to bank in client expectations and their hot points into a contractor schedule. And so, the latest technology we have is to provide this digital invite to an environment where they can then provide their feedback. And this can occur even outside of an organization. So, what this does then is it provides non scheduling experts an easy way to have a voice in the planning process.

Nate St. John:

All of this feedback then is generated in this markup process, that then the computer pulls together all of the feedback into a consensus pool, and then weighs it against what other members of the team have to say about that line item. So at the end of the day, it ultimately leads a team down a consensus plan on how much uncertainty or risk or adjustments they need to account for, to again, target a most likely scenario, not reverting back to a rose colored, let’s say, best case scenario.

Brad Barth:

And I would imagine, I’m sitting here as you’re describing that, I’m thinking the old approach or the traditional approach where it might be we’ve got a printed schedule and someone’s going to make some notes on it. And then physically hand that printed schedule back to somebody who goes into the system, who makes the changes.

Brad Barth:

What you’ve described sounds like a much better approach, but it also feels like I’m trying to imagine the younger generation coming in and if you handed them a printout and said make notes on it, and then carry it over there or take it over there. It sounds like what you’re describing is much more what our younger folks that are coming into the industry would expect, which is this collaborative approach.

Brad Barth:

I can look at a schedule on my tablet or my phone or my laptop and provide my input. Whoever needs that input gets it automatically. Is that what you’re describing? It’s more of a distributed collaborative approach, as opposed to more of a hub and spoke kind of a thing?

Nate St. John:

Yeah, absolutely. And when I first started in the scheduling world, we did exactly that. It was a printout of an Excel with all the activities, hand it over to somebody, mark it up. A younger person or someone that’s just coming up through the trade will hopefully, or at least my assumption is they would probably go scan it, put it in a PDF because they’re just used to that world.

Nate St. John:

It’s also about accountability and record keeping. So anytime that somebody puts their thought against a portion of a plan, when we go to a review process or a review phase, you can see all of the members that contributed to that item. And so it streamlines this, like a traditional risk workshop or a traditional review plan, because you’ve gone ahead and allowed people to have time in their own space outside of groupthink to provide what they truly believe the honest feedback is.

Nate St. John:

And then a reviewer, a manager, a team can come together and say, “Andre thought it was 10 days, Brad thought it was 25 days. We’ve got a gap here. Brad, could you speak to why you think it’s 25 days instead of 10?” So those are the conversations that become very easy because of the process that we have here, and what we’re pushing for.

Brad Barth:

But I would imagine, too, that by capturing that kind of feedback and markup digitally, there’s an opportunity to leverage that on future projects as well. So we can take a look at, “Hey, here are some risks. Here are some similar scope on a new project, we can maybe look back at that, easily go back to the previous projects and look at what some of the risks were relative to that scope that others have surfaced.”

Nate St. John:

Yeah, this is great, Brad. You’re really teeing up some strong passion for me on this. So taking it a step further, once the consensus pool has been put together, and the team decides what to do, you can then have the option to apply and commit that change. So say, we went with you, Brad, and trusted that it was going to be that 25 days, we can then just hit a commit button, it reverts it to the plan, and now that item is 25 days.

Nate St. John:

And so there’s a record behind the scenes that says it’s 25 days. And it’s because Brad thought that there was a risk of dot, dot, dot. And so the next time you go, again, to build a new plan from scratch, not truly scratch, you’re using that historical capture coming from all the people that contributed in the markup process.

Brad Barth:

And that goes to another overarching theme, I think we have here. Again, it cuts across everything we do here today, which is that collective experience. So every project helps every other project, because we’ve captured all that experience. Every person helps every other person. So projects that maybe you did that I wasn’t involved in, but I can see the experience that you went through, the lessons learned, so I can use it on my project. So good stuff.

Brad Barth:

Turning back to you, Dale, we talked a little bit about models and that’s really the way things are designed these days. And we talked about models being a source of information for other things like estimating. Are you seeing an appetite to use models as a way to report on the project in terms of creating those visual reports, color coding the model to show different things? So in other words, model becomes not just a source, but it becomes a destination as we’re executing on the project, things coming back to hit the model to use for reporting. Is that an appetite you’re seeing that’s increasing out there?

Dale Dutton:

Absolutely, Brad. Utilizing models as part of the project execution and the project controls is getting easier. And I’m seeing companies wanting to better that communication information. A picture is worth a 1,000 words. So when you can utilize a model to visualize the status of the project, then you’re communicating that same message to all stakeholders.

Dale Dutton:

I don’t think it’s really spreading like wildfire. And most of that’s because the applications today, it takes an additional person or two, to Andre’s point, a data manager, if you will, to manage that model for construction, which that adds a complexity to the project itself. But some companies out there have found and developed a very good workflow around this. But there’s others that have not taken on that endeavor yet.

Brad Barth:

So it sounds like you’re saying there’s an appetite for it, but it’s hard to do. And maybe that’s an area where the technology is still evolving to make that easier. And maybe it’s that connection from the model to these other things. And that making that a two-way connection, so as schedules get created, like Nate was saying, make that visibility to those schedules come back to the model. So we could maybe run a simulation of the model to show the sequence of the work.

Brad Barth:

Or as Andre is creating work packs and assigning those out to teams, maybe you could use the model to show, “Hey, here’s where this team is working, here’s where this team is working.” Do you see that kind of stuff getting easier? Because I would imagine, if you’re trying to do that today, a lot of that’s manual work: taking things out to Excel, trying to load that into a model. What do you see that’s going to make that easier, do you think?

Dale Dutton:

Yeah, I think that makes that easier. And you’re right, there’s point solutions that we refer to, that can do that, that are out there. And there are solutions that will allow you to connect your model to an estimate and then you can visualize your work packs. But that system there isn’t really tied to any other systems.

Dale Dutton:

You can manage that and add into your work packs as far as what the status is. But again, that’s done in two separate systems. If we can imagine a technology that doesn’t take an extra dedicated resource, the model would actually participate in the normal flow of executed work, opposed to being used in a one-off standpoint, if you will. The model also being used as desired within the creation of the work packs, what Andre talked about.

Dale Dutton:

And then those work packs as they get executed, that percent complete, and data flows back into the model along with that schedule. Because the schedule would be part of that work pack as well. Then you can easily visualize all that data flow as it goes back and forth.

Brad Barth:

And that sounds like that’s another area, too, where we can capture all that stuff digitally. And the model becomes not just a way to render the physical nature of the project, but it also gives you that ability to drill through that piling right there. Click on it. When was that installed? Who did that work? That whole digital twin concept of.

Dale Dutton:

Exactly, right. Yeah.

Brad Barth:

Well, so speaking of digital twins, really, that starts with the owner. So there’s a lot of work, a lot of technology that goes into making a digital twin happen. And the owner’s got to be committed to that. But likewise, back to you, Andre. I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least talk a little bit about advanced work packaging. An expertise of yours.

Brad Barth:

So AWP, advanced work packaging, I think we’re seeing an increase in adoption of that approach. And not only within oil and gas, but other sectors as well. Can you just talk maybe a little bit about, why do you think that’s the case? And maybe, what are some of the benefits to both the owner and the contractor to using that AWP approach?

Andre Paden:

Yeah, for sure. I think we’ve seen AWP blossom along the industry. It’s rooted in good, sound execution processes. Building work packages, dissecting the work, making sure you have firm plans before you actually go out into the field, that’s all just sound execution. Folks were doing that under the guise of AWP or not, well before AWP became a thing, at the turn of the century.

Andre Paden:

I think the benefits that we’re starting to see both from an owner’s perspective and a contractor’s perspective utilizing the AWP, the typical siloed approach that we’ve hit on, where engineering does their thing, they give you all the design documents, procurement does their thing, they say, “Hey, here’s your material insights,” and then construction gets handed that basket at the end of the day and say, “Hey, here’s your basket,” go do your work, I think what that AWP focus is showing that all of that information that you generated throughout the entire project lifecycle, we can leverage that as we’re moving throughout this whole process.

Andre Paden:

One of the things that in the AWP space, before we even start a job, we develop the CWPs, construction work packages. We have reviews and look-aheads where that schedule activity that says, hey, six months from now, you’re going to have to start working on the civil foundations. Well, utilizing the AWP, somebody is already probably looking at that work six, eight, nine months in advance. They’re identifying, what’s my manpower requirements for that? What’s my material requirements for that? Did engineering complete their design?

Andre Paden:

It starts to take some of that uncertainty that we see in the schedule that says, “Hey, this is how the schedule shakes out, and behind the scenes, we’re hoping that everything’s going to work out well, and we get to the point where it’s day one of the activity and we’re ready to go,” AWP starts to remove that uncertainty and starts to give you some of those sureties that says, “Yes, you are prepared to do this work.” These are the things that you need to chase down before you start that.

Andre Paden:

And it gives you that insight to say, if you’re coming upon something, and you don’t have all of the available resources, you can make that adjustment before you get out in the field. And the crew is just standing there, looking around and saying, “Oh, what am I going to do?” So that’s some of the business from the contractor’s side. But you think about that same information being available to the owner.

Andre Paden:

I’ve been in meetings where we know we produce that CPM schedule, it’s a big 50-page PDF document, 11 by 17. And we have scheduled activities for the next three years listed out. And the owner gets that information and says, “Okay, I guess this makes sense. It’s a logical plan.” We trust your expertise. Now, AWP allows them to go to that extra layer just below that, and they say, “Okay, let’s look at the work that’s happening in the next 12 months.” Convince me that you’re ready to do this work.

Andre Paden:

And being able to have that information, being able to share that information, the owner is welcoming that mindset of I’m the contractor and I keep all of my information in my little silo, and no one gets to peek at it until it’s done it. Then I’ll just throw it over to the fence, to the owner. That thinking amongst more sophisticated owners and contractors, we’re seeing that relationship is transforming into more of a collaborative effort, with the use of AWS. Being in the oil and gas space, there are times where there’s things happening within that facility that only the owner is privy to.

Andre Paden:

And maybe there’s a turnaround scheduled three months from now, and he’s going to shut down access to your main lay down yard for two weeks. And some of that information where there’s that two-way street of push and pull of information, where there’s information that the owner is going to be privy to, and then there’s plans that the contractor wants to do. And that AWP effort providing that visibility and allowing everyone to communicate, cut through some of that organization structure and say, “Hey, what are we doing as a collective, to ensure that this project is going to meet its desired outcomes?”

Andre Paden:

I think that’s one of the benefits of AWP that I’ve noticed, just that collaborative effort between everyone on the project, from owner and contractor side. It’s invaluable.

Brad Barth:

More visibility, more transparency. That’s good, good, good for everybody. The AWP approach, really that you and your team, Andre, are building on the InEight side, and implementing out there, that does tie together model schedule work plans and all the related stuff, documents and everything else.

Brad Barth:

It seems like that, aside from making everybody involved in that, a lot more efficient and driving that visibility and transparency, is an outcome of that by tying all that stuff together, it makes each of those things more intelligent? So though, the model itself, the work planning approach and statuses and who did what, and issues and all that, can come back and inform the model so that you could do some of that lighting up the model for reporting and things like that. Is that part of what you guys are looking at doing?

Andre Paden:

Yeah. That’s a key to this as well, being able to consume the information as well as report back out against that information. I think, in the construction industry, we’ve taken that model as our go-to common data source, where we’re starting to push a lot of information from the various tools. The first thing that we look at, how can we absorb schedule information?

Andre Paden:

Let me visualize my plan over the next month, two months, whatever my look-ahead. Absorbing that information and say, “Okay, let’s look at this as a whole.” So when we go into those scheduled discussions, those far ranging look-ahead discussions, let’s look to see where my pipe crews are going to be over the next six months, and how that work is going to shake out. And let’s look at that in relation to my sewer crew. And just see again, planning, making sure that people aren’t going to be on top of each other, making sure there’s work that’s free and clear.

Andre Paden:

We talked about it a little bit as well, even with the estimates. Understanding are there areas where there’s going to be man hour or work hour spikes? That’s critical to understand that this, I’m looking at this particular critical area, and it’s saying that I have X amount of man hours to be done in this short duration. Let’s look at that and see, how can we actually execute that? Or is this expectation unreal? Again, going back to the point of setting up construction for success.

Andre Paden:

If we look at something and say, maybe there’s a schedule or estimate, thus we can address that before that work is taken out to the field. Coming full circle with that, as we go through execution and the construction phase, being able to consume that information of saying, this work has been completed. Yes, this work is free and clear to go to the next step, whether that’s somebody with construction, or this work is free and clear to go to the next step. And that might be systems trying to handover to the owner, as well.

Andre Paden:

Being able to show that visually in the model, being able to communicate that to the model, it’s great information. I think we’ve come far enough with our model use in the field where everyone can navigate, move around in the model and quickly use that information in there and use it for their own purposes. I came in the industry when we first got out there. Some superintendents were like, “I don’t want to see a model. Don’t worry about downloading it on my computer, I’m never going to use it. Give me my stack of drawings, I’m good with that. I got my highlighter, I got my yellow, pink and green highlighter, I can tell you where I’m at. Just give me a nice, little number and I can tell you where you’re at.”

Andre Paden:

That’s good, that’s good. He’s managing his business, but what does that do for everybody else in the grand scheme of the project? And again, that model, being able to consume that data that’s held within his world and be able to communicate that out to everyone on the project. It’s just great information to have.

Brad Barth:

Well, and reporting to the model, you’ve all been through these projects. You get this emotional connection right to the thing that you’re building. And that model is the representation of that. So you give somebody a 10-page report with 3,000 rows in there, and they’re not going to look at it. But if you put that same information and express it through the model, and have that context, people look at it and it makes sense. So, that’s a great way to report on really, everything that’s happening on the project, through the model, not necessarily just as a source to pull stuff out of.

Brad Barth:

All right. Well, we’ve got just a few minutes left, guys. I want to give you one last question just real quick, as we just go around the horn. I just want to give you a chance to talk about or point out, what are you most excited about for 2021? What’s either that you or your teams are working on, or trends that you see that are going to really come into fruition in the industry in your mind in 2021? So, Nate, let’s start back with you. So, what do you get excited about as you look forward into the rest of this year?

Nate St. John:

Well, I think one of the key things, especially what we’re building at InEight today, is the integration of a cost schedule risk assessment. And so there are point solutions out there where you export a schedule file, you run a risk assessment. Then you go and then you grab the estimate file, you run a risk assessment, you try to make some correlations, connect the dots.

Nate St. John:

What we’ve done at InEight is we’ve taken this approach of supporting basically, the two main pillars of integrated project controls, scheduling, estimating, and blending them together, really at a centralized risk register when we talk about risk assessment. There exists an org chart on a construction project for a reason, and it’s to divvy up scope and responsibilities in relation to each member’s expertise.

Nate St. John:

So, while that is a good approach, it inherently causes functional silos. And it’s a common thing that we’ve been talking about today. There’s a good chance that your estimators aren’t great at scheduling, and your schedulers aren’t great at estimating. But if you were to look at, I guess, a Venn diagram of the two, there’s a lot of overlap between those two categories in terms of integrated project controls. So I think that the expectation should be, and I think that software should deliver on an example such as, I want to mitigate a particular risk in my schedule. In order to run that mitigation, there’s a cost to that.

Nate St. John:

Well, when I apply that cost and that mitigation strategy, that should automatically populate in a section of a cost estimate that says, “Hey, here are all your new line items to account for what you’re proposing for costs of mitigation.” That’s that interconnected, tied-at-the-hip true approach to project controls. And I think it’s very valid that people ask that and demand that. There’s no reason why we can’t get there.

Brad Barth:

So try to take those contingency lines that we bake into our estimates and our budgets, and make them smarter. So, what are those contingencies based on? It’s not a scratchpad somewhere or an Excel spreadsheet where I’ve listed out the justification for that contingency, but it’s tied to a risk register, tied to a mitigation strategy, tied to maybe even some Monte Carlo Analysis or some risk simulation approach to derive those contingency values.

Nate St. John:

Yeah. And you mentioned the term Monte Carlo approach. When you get into the risk world, you can’t do one or the other. You have to do scheduling, and you have to do costs, and you have to do it together. And they have to be blended and associated to a single point, source of truth via a risk register.

Nate St. John:

There’s a probability of a risk occurring. And if it does occur, there’s going to be a day impact, there’s going to be a cost impact. That all has to live in one sphere, one retainer, one experience, where you can go in and manage all of your risks and assign mitigation strategies, owners, due dates, control statuses, retire a risk.

Nate St. John:

Hey, this risk has been retired. Well, that should streamline and trickle down into the most accurate information, the most accurate and updated iteration of both schedule and cost, seamlessly. I think that expectation is valid, and that’s what we’re striving for at InEight.

Brad Barth:

Good stuff. I’m definitely excited about that. All right. Let’s keep going around the horn. How about you, Dale? What excites you, looking forward to the rest of the year?

Dale Dutton:

Yeah. If I go back to my introduction, I mentioned my passion of intelligent models into the field. And what I’m very excited about is the true integration of model integrated into the project controls process. InEight, we are not looking at model as just one-offs, off to the site and do some specific things. It is truly integrated into that project process, as far as even starting with the quantities, pre-construction, where you can utilize model quantities and push that into the estimate.

Dale Dutton:

The estimate goes into the control, control feeds into the plan. Then with plan and model connected, now as the person that might be responsible for creating those work packs, they can do that and plan. They can also do a model at the same time. It’s sharing information instantaneously between the two. And then that connection also, from plan to schedule of grabbing those dates. That feeds back into the model as well. So to be participant in the true execution of a project, I think is huge. I think it’s the right focus.

Dale Dutton:

It eliminates extra people that have to learn how to use model off to the side, that the people executing those work packages can truly utilize the model to help with that. The estimators can truly get in that model, massage that data, and then do their estimate, opposed to going through a third party, if you will, a third person to massage that model for them. So I do think that some of those roles are expanding, and we’ll need to expand to utilize that model.

Dale Dutton:

But to your point earlier, Brad, that all of that data, it still flows back into the model. So, you can visualize what and where your project is on a daily basis, as construction is happening and getting captured in the field daily. So you can see that, everybody’s got the same view. It’s one model, one project model, different locations all over the world as it needs to be. So I’m truly excited that model is part of the project execution, project controls throughout.

Brad Barth:

Hopefully, we’re headed to a future where the use of models is familiar and as a matter of fact, is jumping into Excel and working in there. Everybody can jump into models and see the information they need, get the information they need and report everything else. That sounds exciting. All right. Andre, bring us home. What are you passionate about? What are you dreaming about for 2021?

Andre Paden:

I’ll make it three for three. I think Nate and Dale, they both hit it. It’s the integrations. Looking forward to continuing that integration across the entire the InEight platform. Having the ability to, as Dale mentioned, push information from the estimate over into the model. And as Nate mentioned, push information from the schedule with risk information, risk profiles into the model, or pushing things back out. That deep integration of all of our tools is something that I’m excited about.

Andre Paden:

Dale mentioned we have that smart construction model, using that information that we’re getting from these various sources to create that smart construction model. And then even go farther and start beginning on that journey towards that digital twin. We briefly touched on that. How do we collect and have all this information, all this information that’s generated on the project, where we’re going through execution phase, where we’re going through engineering, all the way through systems turnover where we have quality information, owners, operational information? All this information.

Andre Paden:

Having the ability to not only capture that information, retain that information, keep it organized, but then also being able to leverage that information to make us smarter. I think one of the things that Nate hit on quite passionately in this is being smarter. A lot of times, we complete a project and we go gearing up to go do a similar project of the same style. And you know what we do? We go grab that original baseline, we go grab all the original information. We don’t use any of that actual project learnings to make us better.

Andre Paden:

And again, so I’m really excited about all of the things that we’re doing to leverage all of our existing intelligence. Learn from our failures, so that on the next project, we can do it a little bit better. Construction, we talked about it: increasing productivity, all the things that we can do to help our construction. Being from construction, I’m used to having the finger pointed at me, you’re behind schedule, your cost is overrun. Again, we made mistakes in construction, but some things were unavoidable because we were handed a raw deal.

Andre Paden:

So again, using and leveraging information from this project, all projects to make us smarter, make construction better, make overall project execution a little bit better is just something I’m really passionate about. And I’m excited that InEight is taking the time to fully integrate our tools. So that information is not just siloed in a point solution that you may never see again. Having that information across the entire platform and leveraging that for a full project lifecycle enhancement is something that I’m passionate about, and I’m excited to be a part of.

Brad Barth:

Fantastic. You just summed up I think, what we mean by project certainty when we talk about that at InEight. That project certainty is that we want expectations to equal outcomes. And the expectation side is a lot about what we were talking about today. How do we make those expectations more realistic? How do we make our plans better, our schedules better, and so that the outcomes that we’re delivering are in alignment with those expectations?

Brad Barth:

So, great job, guys. Appreciate all the expertise that you’ve brought to this webinar here today. Love the passion, love what you guys are working on, and keep up the great work. And again, thanks for joining us here today. Again, if you have any questions that you want to submit to any of the folks here today, just submit them through the webinar, and we’ll make sure we’ll get answers for you. And thanks, everybody for joining today.

John Klobucar:

Thank you, panel. That wraps up this webinar. We thank you so much for tuning in. To learn more about InEight, as well as our broad portfolio of construction project management software, visit InEight.com and click on the request a demo button. And if you’d like to see a schedule of upcoming webinars, visit InEight.com/webinars. This concludes our presentation.