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Blog / Industry Trends

Transforming Project Data to Project Intelligence

February 26, 2021
By Rene Karras

In the last fifteen years the amount of data accumulated during the design and construction process for AECO projects has grown tremendously. Handling that much data poses a great challenge for businesses of all sizes.

At the same time, there is a popular and widely accepted theory that data, not oil, has become the most valuable resource on the planet.

But how can AECO businesses leverage their project information to make intelligent decisions, rather than being crushed by it?

Buried Under the Data Avalanche

One of the biggest obstacles faced by architects, engineers, project managers etc. is the monumental challenge of quickly finding and accessing information. Dealing with hundreds of new files and emails every day, that must be correctly filed, named, and categorised, only add to the administrative burden.

And yet, most document management systems require exactly that: A manual approach for project information to be searchable and valuable.

Sifting through mountains of emails and files, is not only time consuming, but it also distracts from the main task of delivering successful construction projects.

Aside from losing valuable time juggling both creative and administrative work, the inefficient handling of substantial amounts of data can also create hidden risks to the success of construction projects further down the line.

Team members, that are overwhelmed with too many manual tasks, are often prone to make mistakes, which can lead to important files getting lost or saved incorrectly or may even cause major construction errors and delays due to miscommunication.

Better Decision Making through Effective Management of Project Information

When project teams can focus on using project information to make better decisions rather than struggle with the administrative tasks of organizing data, the quality of a company’s operations and output will improve. Teams can get better insights into their work, the work of their peers, and the project itself.

Archived project data often gets neglected in the decision-making process. Knowing what has worked before, and what has not, is a great way to improve workflows for future use or avoid foreseeable risks. However, if teams are grappling with managing current information, digging into the past for insights may not be feasible.

Using Technology to Harness the Power of Project Information

The key to leveraging project intelligence is to use the right digital tools and systems that support AECO companies in managing and understanding their project data. However, the crucial factor is to find a way to automate as much of the workload as possible, to create effective shortcuts for team members, instead of additional hurdles.

Unfortunately, many solutions, such as common Electronic Data Management Systems (EDMS) or classic Common Data Environment (CDE) platforms, rely heavily on manual input to gain value, which many times outweighs their benefits.

Current Project Information Management (PIM) systems, automate the indexing of project information, eliminating several manual data organization tasks. . Data does not have to be uploaded or moved to a separate system. Instead, the software automatically scans every file (emails, PDFs, images, drawings, etc.), no matter what platform they reside on, indexing keywords which can then be searched. Users can subsequently locate and access any important information easily within seconds and manage and share all types of project data centrally from one location, without having to worry about how to file, name, tag, order, categorise, sort, or catalogue a file.

At the same time true PIM systems like Newforma Project Center monitor and log every digital asset for future reference and transparency. With this at hand every team member has an audit trail of which files were accessed, shared, and downloaded by whom, when and why.

With all this insight at their fingertips, AECO project teams can be re-assured to have the most accurate, recent, and best information at hand to make well-informed decisions at any point. Time spent shifting through data can now be spent analysing information.

It might not yet be established whether data is now more valuable than oil or gold. But one thing is for certain: companies can gain a competitive advantage by leveraging their information to the fullest.

By: Rob Stephen and Rene Karras