Collaboration, Transparency, Accuracy, Process, and supporting Technology – The Keys to Improved Productivity for Building Construction, Renovation, Repair, and Sustainability

Interoperability is a common “buzzword” used whenever you here a discussion about improving productivity with the AECOO (Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Owners, Operations) industry sector.  Unfortunately, it is a term associated with primarily with technology, and its usage implies that interoperability from a technology perspective is a major, if not THE major stumbling block to construction sector productivity improvement.  This “assumption” would be blatantly false.  Drastic culture and process are the requirements for mitigating waste within the AECOO sector.

The primary issue that dictates the tone and efficiency of any facility construction, renovation, repair, or sustainability project is process related… and is “the construction project delivery method”.  Assuming capable parties in each “knowledge domain” the delivery method must provide for, support, and monitor collaboration, transparency, and accuracy.   Common taxonomies, cost data bases, etc. play a role, as does supporting technology that embeds and distributes consistent processes.   While its true that cloud computing is an enabler, with its role to support the cost effective integration of various knowledge domains and technology silos; the underlies processes linked to a collaborative project delivery method focused upon life-cycle management is the critical aspect.

Integrated project delivery (IPD) and job order contracting (JOC) – the latter also referred to as IPD-lite as it target renovation, repair, and sustainability vs. new construction – are current examples of proven efficient construction approaches that dramatically alter the “status quo”.

Common taxonomy plays a key role and is also generally overlooked.   For example, cost estimators, even today, primarily rely upon spreadsheets and customized cost databases vs. integrating powerful software packages and standardized cost databases (ie RSMeans).   “Doing it my way” and exclusively using spreadsheets prohibits efficient information reuse, is prone to data and formula errors, and create largely unsupportable databases.   How can multiple cost estimators share information on a project, or communicate with Owners, Contractors, AE’s, Subs, etc… if they aren’t speaking the same language?  They can’t… and they don’t.  And this is just one example of many…across multiple knowledge domains whether it be capital planning and management, maintenance and repair management, building automation systems, procurement, bidding, project delivery, …..

(Figure Source – White Paper on IDDS “Integrated Design and Delivery Solutions”, CIB Publication 328.)

The AECOO sector can’t even begin a discussion about achieving higher levels of interoperability, exchanging BIM models and data, etc., until it shifts its focus exclusively to culture and process change.  We don’t even have a common understanding of BIM, let alone sharing BIM models.  Even today, many view BIM as 3D visualization, vs. life-cycle building management supported by technology!  We need to recognize that design-bid-build (DBB) and even design-build (DB) and the associated “accepted” practices of change orders and lawsuits are contrary to the basic tenants of productivity, collaboration, transparency, and accuracy.

Certainly it is true that our industry is fragmented and relatively slow at adoption of new technology, however, this is due to our culture, and our lack of efficient processes.

via – premier software for cost estimating and efficient project delivery – JOC, SABER, IPD, SATOC, MATOC, MACC, POCA, BOA, IDIQ