Establishing a Connected Data Environment as Part of Your BIM Strategy
Finding value in new technologies
Emerging technology solutions are transforming the competitive landscape for mid-size design and engineering firms. New capabilities—including mobile devices, reality modeling and laser scan point clouds—are becoming more commonplace in the industry, creating an onslaught of data meant to simplify jobs. But managing all this data requires coordination and collaboration of the project team and supply chain to make it useful.
In the minds of owners, there’s great value in incorporating new technologies, big data and standard workflows. Many owners are already moving in this direction. Design firms find that this increasingly sophisticated client base now specifically asks for building information modeling (BIM) processes to drive down costs.
Design firms are going down this road too and they are realizing the value of BIM processes in improving productivity and efficiency. A 2017 McKinsey Report, "Engineering and Construction Firms Can Beat the Low-Productivity Trap," showed that engineering and construction firms could increase their margins to as much as 30% from the North American industry average of 6.4% by updating their operational practices.
Overcoming roadblocks to effective project delivery
To meet the new expectations and standards of the digitized engineering industry, many firms struggle to find the right information at the right time. Files are shared via email or generic file-sharing solutions and saved with inconsistent filename structures. The previously mentioned 2017 McKinsey report identified that organizations tend to be siloed around a project manager’s specific way of doing things rather than a standardized, company-wide process.
Engineers often deal with multiple projects at a time, and the sheer amount of information flowing in and out of the firm can be overwhelming. Consider all the steps in a project, the time to design, the review, the approvals. Human error is introduced every time files are moved, modified or sent. There is the potential for a team to locate and modify the wrong version of a file or for the owner to miss an approval deadline. Firms that aren’t effectively managing workflows run the risk of errors, delays and costly budget overruns. In the BIM universe, re-work and non-conformance to standards are serious problems and can damage a firm’s reputation.
Establishing a connected data environment for improved outcomes
A connected data environment can make a significant difference in this situation and provide a framework for managing these industry expectations. Firms interested in maximizing operational efficiency create a central repository for all project management workflows: a single place to store and manage all the information flowing through an array of projects. Data management solutions reduce risk and expand the project team across geographical boundaries.
By establishing a connected data environment, firms have more control over their workflows. With the rising emphasis on BIM compliance, it is increasingly important for organizations to monitor and enforce their processes. Organizations are turning to enterprise solutions that provide them with the tools necessary to optimize their workflows, adhere to document control standards and effectively manage deliverables.
Automated workflows ensure that the right document is being shared along with all associated files. When a designer submits a file for review and approval, everything is tracked and events are triggered for approvals every step of the way. It’s a closed-loop process that shortens approval cycles and keeps projects on a fast and efficient timeline, all while enforcing organizational standards and ensuring BIM compliance.
Evolving the industry with digital innovations
Design firms of all sizes have realized the benefit of BIM methodologies and advanced design modeling solutions. Today, they are increasingly turning toward sophisticated technology to handle the administrative burden of their projects and effectively organize information in a connected data environment. As the digital transformation reshapes how projects are designed and managed in the industry, firms are embracing digital innovations to evolve and grow.
Rebeka Thomas is a Product Marketer, Project Delivery, for Bentley Systems, the global leader in architectural, engineering and construction software solutions for advancing infrastructure. In this role, she is responsible for the worldwide marketing of the ProjectWise Design Integration system, as part of Bentley's offering of Project Delivery solutions, for all industries and markets.