New study: Project Information Management 2021 - Current Trends and Future Direction
As construction projects and delivery methods continue to increase in complexity, the management of project information is also more challenging than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic added to the confusion by creating a remote workforce overnight. This impacts how and where employees access information.
Key factors that contribute to the difficulty of managing project information include:
- Exponential growth in the volume of project data.
- Increased number of applications generating new project data.
- Project data scattered and stored in multiple places.
In a new study conducted by Newforma and Dodge Data & Analytics, architectural and engineering firms identified their current challenges, future direction, and plans for technology investments. The survey includes responses from 220 architectural and engineering firms across the United States.
75% are weighed down by manual administrative tasks.
Survey results reveal that most companies continue to struggle with manual administrative tasks associated with moving data between systems. Combined rankings for the top three challenges place this in the number one spot.
56% have issues sharing information outside their firm.
Many of the respondents have issues with sharing information outside their organization. Consequently, 47% of respondents report problems with document version control, and 43% cannot track the status of items outside their organization.
53% cannot find the information they need to make informed decisions.
Finding information needed to make informed decisions rounds out the top three challenges. Engineering firms struggle more with this challenge than architectural firms. Remote access restrictions and unorganized project data contribute to the problem.
Factors Impacting Effective Management of Project Information
There are several factors impacting effective management of project information including data governance concerns, complexity of collaboration, and lack of an overall strategy for managing project information.
Seven in ten respondents indicate their company has requirements for on-premises or internal server data storage. Respondents most often cite governance concerns including control over data (74%) and, secondarily security (62%). The requirement to maintain a secure copy of the project record is driving the need to store data on-premises. Almost half (48%) of respondents also have a hybrid approach to storing active project data. The need to collaborate across a remote workforce is one of the main reasons.
A comprehensive Project Information Management strategy should take all storage requirements into account.
Having to use another party’s software solution can contribute to issues related to manual administrative tasks, and collaboration roadblocks. Almost half of the survey respondents (45%) are required to use another party’s platform to manage all, most, or nearly all of their projects. This raises concerns with many of the respondents regarding the administrative burden required to maintain their own project record.
A Project Information Management solution that enables firms to use their preferred applications while automating the flow of informaton across systems will reduce administration costs and improve collaboration.
The majority of survey respondents (85%) use some type of file transfer software to share information with external organizations. Email is also a popular way to share information with almost three-quarters of respondents. Critical information shared via email is often not part of the project record. In addition, files shared by email can also be misplaced or lost in an individual's inbox.
Implementing a consistent process for sharing information across the entire project team will help get information to team members in a timely manner.
Lack of a Project Information Management Strategy
When asked if they had a Project Information Management strategy in place to drive future technology initiatives, only 30% of respondents said "yes". Although accounting for a third of respondents,60% of engineering firms do not have a strategy in place. In addition, more than a third of respondents were not sure.
A Project Information Management strategy goes beyond technology infrastructure and software applications. It’s a strategy specifically designed to align project information to organizations in a way that makes it accessible, sharable, and secure. A Project Information Management strategy enables firms to proactively manage information in support of the firm's strategic direction.
The Cost of Disconnected Data
For many A&E firms it’s clear that maintaining separate siloes of project information is costly.
73% report a decrease in productivity.
Seven out of ten survey respondents report that the challenges related to manual administrative tasks result in a decrease in productivity. This is primarily due to manual efforts required to upload and download files between disparate systems.
56% report that information is not getting out in a timely manner.
As a result of administrative delays, information is not being delivered to team members in a timely manner. This hampers project performance by introducing potential schedule delays and rework.
44% of architectural firms do not have a complete picture of the project.
Not having a complete picture of the project to make informed decisions also impacts project performance. To make informed decisions, project teams need access to the complete project record. When information is scattered across multiple systems it is difficult to get a complete picture of the project.
Plans for the Future
Although most firms do not currently have a Project Information Management strategy in place, many are considering developing one.
Respondents cite top considerations to include in a strategy as external collaboration (77%), and the ability to access information from anywhere (73%). In addition, having a centralized view of project data ranks high, particularly with over half of the architecture firms.
Architects name overall firm strategy as the principal driver for technology investments far more often than engineers (62% vs. 27% respectively) while client or project requirements drive technology investment for engineering firms.
Many firms (45%) will implement technology to support a remote workforce. Moving project data to cloud-based storage solutions such as Microsoft SharePoint, Panzura™, and Nasuni™, in conjunction with remote desktop implementations will support this requirement.
Given that most respondents report that manual administrative tasks impact project performance, it’s not surprising that many firms (40%) are also planning to invest in automating workflows.
Creating an Agile Approach to Managing Project Information
Tapping into the brainpower of the project team requires the ability to access and share information across systems, applications, and organizations. This is where Project Information Management comes into play.
Many A&E firms have already figured out that they need a more flexible and agile way to manage information in today’s complex project delivery environment. As firms plan their technology investments for the next year, laying the foundation for effective management of project information will certainly pay off.
A proactive Project Information Management strategy will...
- Increase profitability by reducing the time wasted on administrative tasks.
- Help deliver higher quality projects and services by making it easy to find the information needed to drive smarter and faster decisions.
- Increase collaboration across internal and external project teams with integrated systems.
Learn how to develop a comprehensive Project Information Management in our full report, "Project Information Management 2021: Current Trends and Future Direction".