Efficient Construction Delivery – Life-cycle management of the build envrionment

Leveraging software to enable better decisions requires a robust, shared ontology, quantitative and qualitative metrics, sound processes/business practices, as well as transparency and collaboration.
Has anyone truly accomplished this in the AECOO community?
Certainly it has been don within certain areas such as cost estimating using common / well designed cost databases with integrated contract, project, and document management.

However across the full life-cycle of a structure?

Our industry, (AECOO – Architects, Engineers, Owners, Operators…), needs to focus upon the built environment from a life-cycle vs. first cost perspective.
This requires a fundamental change in thinking, business process and tools.

Parametrics are needed to enable what-if analysis while varying time, cost, materials, etc. For example, there is a reason, if not a mandate, for all large building portfolio owners to conduct ongoing  5-10-25-50 year planning while considering various capital reinvestment scenarios.

The convergence of processes, people, and technology is accelerating due to cloud computing (a disruptive technology). As process becoming transparent, change will become both more palatable and more frequent.

Traditional linear construction delivery methods such as design-bid-build are antiquated. “Newer” collaborative construction delivery such as IPD – integrated project delivery and JOC – job order contracting, and others will begin to mitigate waste, and improve stakeholder relationships.

Efficient Construction Project Delivery – BIM3, Ontology, and Process

Efficient Construction Project Delivery – BIM3, Ontology, and Process


Actionable, transparent information, collaboration, and supporting technology are requirements in reaching the goal of more efficient construction project delivery and life-cycle management of the built environment.   While “big data” may be viewed as a buzzword, it is also a necessity as all built environment stakeholders[1] are tasked with “doing more with less”.


The cornerstone of big data is a robust ontology.  Ontology is a robust set of terms and definitions and their defined linkages/associations for a specified purpose.   Ontology is a requirement for any robust business process. Any improvement to the current excessive levels of waste within the construction sector is impossible without all stakeholders working with common, transparent information.   One excellent example of an application of common information is RSMeans Cost Data.  Leveraging RSMeans Cost Data as the basis for Owner, Contractor, AE, and Oversight Group activities provide immediate benefits.  Planners, Procurement, Cost Estimators, Program Managers, Engineers, Architects, Facility Managers; virtually all local and global professionals and entities; would be able to track contract, project, and estimate information and get more project done on-time and on-budget to the benefit of the Government, Contractors, Subs, and AEs.


Multiple cross knowledge domain competencies and associated robust business process are equally important (See Figure 1).   Of all of these the enterprise application of collaborative construction delivery methods; such as Integrated Project Delivery, IPD and Job Order Contracting, JOC; are important prerequisites on the path toward greater efficiency.  Collaborative and/or “lean” construction delivery methods are not new. They are proven business process that have had decades of field application. Education and awareness, however, is limited in this area. Very few if any Owners have applied these and/or similar “best practices” on an enterprise level, while some have deployed on a local level/site level.

Figure 1

Figure 1


Technology is also a core element in that is place an enabling role by lowering implementation costs while also supporting consistent deployment, information sharing, ongoing monitoring, and continuous improvement.


Thus the question remains, why has significant improvement in construction efficiency yet to occur on a widespread basis?

The answers are both simple and complex.

  1. Owners have not taken a leadership role. They pay the bills and are ultimately responsible for the “end product”, the built environment.
  2. Education needs to be changed and improved from higher education throughout all related professional areas.   Focus is required upon fundamental life-cycle management and total cost of ownership business processes.
  3. The concept of global oversight with local action must be observed and practiced, along with a cultural shift from ad-hoc, linear, and antagonistic business process such as design-bid-build,   to collaborative methods that involve stakeholders earlier in the decision making process.


The culture change is major. Owners. Contractors. And AEs must work together toward common goals, with shared risk/reward, and with the same information.  How many participants are currently capable of doing this?


Time for a change?


[1] Stakeholders: Architects, Engineers, Contractors, Operators, Building Product Manufacturers, Building/Structure Users, Oversight Groups, Community at Large, Software OEMs.

Life-cycle Management of the Built Environment – BIM – Current Status

BIM usage, despite reports to contrary, remains minimal among large building portfolio Owners.  That is to say that the “life-cycle management of the built environment supported by digital technology” is not being practiced in an efficient, transparent, consistent manner by many, if any, public or private sector Owners.    The question is why?

Reason #1 – Most Owners don’t understand the basic tenants/requirements of life-cycle management.

Reason #2 – The lack of a robust BIM Ontology

Despite popular opinion, technology is NOT the issue.


BIM is in desperate need of a core glossary.   A core glossary a defining dictionary that enables definition of concepts, especially for newcomers to a language or field of study. It contains a small working vocabulary and definitions for important or frequently encountered concepts, usually including idioms or metaphors useful in a culture.

In a general sense, a glossary contains explanations of concepts elevant to a certain field of study or action. In this sense, the term is related to the notion of ontology.  

Automatic methods exist to a transform a glossary into an ontology or a computational lexicon.  Computational approaches to the automated extraction of glossaries start from domain terminology and extract one or more items (glosses) for each term of interest. Glosses can then be analyzed to extract  hypernyms of the defined term and other lexical and semantic relations.


  1. R. Navigli, P. Velardi. From Glossaries to Ontologies: Extracting Semantic Structure from Textual Definitions, Ontology Learning and Population: Bridging the Gap between Text and Knowledge (P. Buitelaar and P. Cimiano, Eds.), Series information for Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications, IOS Press, 2008, pp. 71-87.
  2. R. Navigli. Using Cycles and Quasi-Cycles to Disambiguate Dictionary Glosses, Proc. of 12th Conference of the European Association for Computational Linguistics (EACL 2009), Athens, Greece, March 30-April 3rd, 2009, pp. 594-602.
  3. J. Klavans and S. Muresan. Evaluation of the Definder System for Fully Automatic Glossary Construction. In Proc. of American Medical Informatics Association Symp., 2001, pp. 324–328.
  4. A. Fujii, T. Ishikawa. Utilizing the World Wide Web as an Encyclopedia: Extracting Term Descriptions from Semi-Structured Texts. In Proc. 38th Ann. Meeting Assoc. for Computational Linguistics, 2000, pp. 488–495.
  5. P. Velardi, R. Navigli, P. D’Amadio. Mining the Web to Create Specialized Glossaries, IEEE Intelligent Systems, 23(5), IEEE Press, 2008, pp. 18-25.

Next Generation Cloud Construction Cost Estimating and Efficient Project Delivery Solution in Beta

4Clicks Solutions, LLC is currently beta testing Ceasel, a next generation cloud computing application to enable collaborative construction cost estimating and associated efficient project delivery.

Cloud computing is more than a catalyst for change, it is a DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY, that will significantly enhance productivity within the Architecture, Engineering, Construction, and Facility Management sectors.


Different form legacy client/server applications or “web-enabled” systems that tend to automate existing ‘ad hoc’ and inefficient business process, Ceasel and other “built from the ground” true cloud computing applications enables embed business best practices and drive true collaboration among Owners, Contractors, Architects, Engineers.  The core focus ends up being upon  CHANGE MANAGEMENT and how to best leverage cloud computing, vs. the technology itself.

Here’s just a few benefit of Ceasel’s cloud computing …

1. Collaboration – True cloud computing (vs. cloud-washing or simply posting legacy applications to the cloud) lets users work concurrently on projects in real-time…virtually anyone, anywhere, anytime in multiple languages and currencies.

2. Data Integrity – Information is NEVER deleted. This is potentially the best form of security available. “Who” does “What” and “When” is always tracked and changes can be “rolled back” at any time by authorized administrators.

3. Data Protection – It is YOU, the user who determines how, when, and where to publish data. For example, you can maintain information in your private area, publish as read only to specified members within a private cloud…or publish to all members in a private cloud, or publish information to all members in public cloud and enable rights to use and modify data.

4. Visualization – DATA visualization and the associated development and implementation of collaborative construction delivery methods such as integrated project delivery – IPD, and job order contracting, JOC, enable shared information earlier in the project life-cycle and among more participants.  This enable errors to be found and corrected and/or changes to be accomplished earlier in the project timeline.  This results in few change orders, faster project timelines, and virtual elimination of legal disputes.  Cloud computing will accelerate data visualization and transparency among all stakeholders of physical infrastructure and promote multiple forms of performance-based processes.

5. Agility – Our work and natural environments are changing at an accelerated pace. Rapid deployment, monitoring, and the associated continuous modification of processes and policies are becoming increasingly important. Cloud computing deploys processes faster than any other method currently available. There is no longer a need to rely upon internal “IT” for deployment or applications specific changes, computing power, storage space, etc.

6. Mobility – It is neither cost effective, nor efficient, to have everyone working in offices or specified work settings. Resources need to be tapped from multiple locations enabling use of “the best of the best”. Cloud computing allows direct, transparent access to local resources while also communicating centralized processes and procedures.

7. Centralization of Information – While information can be scattered among several data centers, it also can be instantly consolidated to provide global management in support of an organization’s mission as well as associated, efficient local action.

8. Business Continuity – While Internet access is required (unless you host the “cloud” internally), would you rather store your information at your location and risk catastrophic failure, or at a location with multiple redundancies?


If you are interested in becoming a beta partner, please contact pcholakis@4Clicks.com

Managing JOCs ( Job Order Contracting) and IDIQs in spreasheets?

I regularly come across Owners (DOD and non-DOD) who run Job Order Contracts and other IDIQs in spreadsheets…or at least try to do so. I will come right out and say, it can’t be done efficiently, nor does the approach provide for an appropriate level of management/oversight. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Is it lack of education? Mismanagement? Other?

Certainly spreadsheets have many advantages over manual methods, however they fall way short of what a database application such as e4Clicks Project Estimator has to offer.

Is your spreadsheet difficult to use and maintain?
Do changes made in one spreadsheet force you to make changes in another?
Can you see all pertinent data on one screen or do you have to keep scrolling or open other tabs?
Can you easily update prices, quantities and other data elements in a single location?
Are estimates hard to find because they are buried in a confusing collection of folders and directories?
Does your spreadsheet automatically generate a series of reports and/or populate a government form?


Minimizing Waste and Improving Construction Productivity

On average 25-30%+ of construction project costs are due to inefficient processes.  Construction delivery methods that better integrate people and technology such as Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and Job Order Contracting (JOC)* have proven to help address the issue of poor productivity across the AECOO spectrum (architecture, engineering, construction, operations, owners).

Reducing waste through the use of collaborative construction delivery methods, robust information and data architectures, metrics, and supporting technology is not “rocket science” and we can all make positive impacts beginning today.  

Key characteristics of productive and collaborative construction delivery methods are as follows:

  1. Early involvement of project participants (architects, owners, building users, contractors, engineers, business product manufactures, oversight groups).
  2. Life-cycle cost vs. first-cost focus.
  3. Performance and value-based vs. low-bid.
  4. Robust ontology, standardized data architectures (examples: UNIFORMAT II, MASTERFORMAT2004/2012, RSMeans Cost Data, OMNICLASS).
  5. Robust collaborative construction delivery methods (IPD – Integrated project delivery, JOC – Job Order Contracting, PPP – Public Private Partnerships).
  6. Open, cloud computing, object-oriented supporting technology vs. archaic, monolithic technology.



Anecdotally, the main reason BIM has failed to date, and YES is has failed, is the lack of the application of a well defined systems and process approach that incorporates LEAN collaborative construction delivery.  BIM is NOT about design.   BIM is the life-cycle management of the built environment with a focus upon total cost of ownership throughout all “construction” phases.  BIM value is NOT 3D pretty pictures, but data visualization and associated decision support.  

It time to put aside our traditional AECOO culture of waste, poor planing, lack of transparency, distinct lack of responsibility on the part of Owners, etc., and make changes that will improve the current economic and environmental landscape.


*Job Order Contracting
Job Order Contracting (JOC) shares many of the features of IPD, but is focused on small- to medium sized renovation and remodel projects that make up the majority of a facility manager’s project portfolio. In many ways JOC is a delivery method ahead of its time, having been introduced in the US Army in the late 1980’s. It is a competitively procured, fixed unit price, indefinite quantity construction procurement and delivery method.
By integrating the design and construction of smaller projects, JOC can compress project timelines to better respond to the day-to-day needs for flexibility within a large facility. The design process is streamlined and involves design professionals at the level appropriate given the project scope; sometimes owner and contractor produce a solid statement of work and simplified design which is the most efficient approach.
Pricing transparency is provided in the form of a unit price book (UPB)—a construction cost database of detailed priced tasks, including construction, maintenance, repair, and renovation workitems and specifications. These tasks form the pricing basis for collaboratively-scoped projects, thus providing price certainty and meeting most procurement regulations. Since JOCs require a highly-performing contractor to provide these additional services, it is most typically procured through a Best Value or Qualifications Based process. Risk is fairly distributed, with the contractor taking on the performance risk of procuring subcontracts and materials within the pre-agreed unit prices, and the owner allowing for annual updates to the price book to reflect construction inflation.

JOC ProcessBLM2



IFMA WebCast – Efficient Project Delivery Methods for Repair, Renovation, Sustainability, Construction

IFMA Facilities Consultants

IFMA WebCast – Efficient Project Delivery Methods for Repair, Renovation, Sustainability, Construction

IFMA WebCast – Efficient Project Delivery Methods for Repair, Renovation, Sustainability, Construction

1.Importance and currently available collaborative project delivery methods
2.Description of key characteristics of a collaborative project delivery method
3.Roles of Owners, AE’s, Contractors
4.Importance of standardized information and process-centric technology


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