Redefining Current and Planned Projects to Reflect a New Normal: Digital Project Delivery
Of the myriad challenges COVID-19 has presented to businesses seeking their way forward in a new normal, at least one is ready to meet the demands generated by shutdowns and social distancing: technology. Fortunately, most companies already have robust technological capabilities and have been using technology to conduct business for years. With the rise of high-quality remote video conferencing, collaboration software, and cloud computing, those capabilities have grown even stronger.
Even though it has historically lagged behind other industries in the deployment of technology, the construction industry is proving in real time that it can maintain operations across large projects by working remotely and embracing the full benefits technology can provide. One innovative solution the industry has developed and/or improved? Digital project delivery. What can you do to be certain your company is ready for this next stage? The following steps will help construction companies analyze their business practices to determine how they can better engage new, digital methods of delivering projects, both now and in the future.
STEP 1: INCREASE EMPHASIS ON IMPROVED PRODUCTIVITY AND OUTCOMES
Traditional business models, project delivery processes, and approaches to revenue generation do not look the same as they did before the advent of 2020—and may never look the same again. Clients will always expect responsive, proactive, professional service, and it is most companies’ mission to provide that service, regardless of circumstances.
Since non-essential businesses and projects are stalled in most states, now is the time for construction managers to focus on applying and maximizing technology to those areas that will drive—and perhaps improve—more efficient productivity and desired outcomes.
Evaluate former typical tasks and ascertain how they can be improved or adapted to meet the new realities of clients who no longer hold face-to-face meetings and employees who are not in the office. Look for areas where protocols can be adjusted to change the status quo at every level of operations. Determine which employees are needed in the office and which are not and modify accountability reporting and monitoring methods to compensate for remote work. Eliminate those practices that are no longer productive or effective.
STEP 2: FOCUS ON BUILDING DIGITAL CAPABILITIES AND A TECHNOLOGY CULTURE FOR THE FUTURE
Utilize a Digital Maturity Model framework assessment tool to develop a clear understanding of your company’s capabilities, culture, leadership, and organizational structure to inform digital plans and investments. This process will evaluate any gaps in the company’s operations, including how leadership and teams respond when “normal” working approaches are disrupted, and provide clear guidelines for a roadmap to full digital transformation.
What to consider when building digital capabilities and a technology culture:
- What systems are not being used effectively as a result of changes in working practices? What new capabilities, skills, or training need to be encouraged and implemented?
- Decide which long-term investments in digital skills/resources will effect cultural change and rapidly pilot new solutions and approaches.
STEP 3: EMPLOY INFORMATION MANAGEMENT AS A ROUTE TO ORGANIZATIONAL AGILITY
When trying to maintain control in a rapidly changing environment, data creates evidence of what is occurring in your organization. Having ready access to precise data enables agility, informs decision-making, and helps reduce the perception of isolation that sometimes accompanies remote work. Establishing a common data platform for different users—both internally and externally—will allow all users to easily access information, making the organization more resilient to sudden changes.
What to consider when designing an information management system:
- Create a common data environment that adheres to associated industry standards for project mobilization. All users, including clients and other stakeholders, should be trained and allowed to feed into and pull from the platform.
- Encourage collaboration through proper information management and regular communication.
- Determine what incentives, reporting, and advocacy will be required.
STEP 4: CONNECT THE PROJECT, SITE, AND STAKEHOLDERS THROUGH DIGITAL MANAGEMENT
Before COVID-19, project delivery was usually conducted on-site and in-person. To minimize any sense of detachment when using digital project delivery, increase your team’s understanding of progress milestones, performance, and ability to make proactive decisions when needed. Consider improved and more efficient management information. Identify areas that could be adjusted and/or implemented, including creating project websites, 360° construction photos, activity milestone checklists, etc., allowing the client and project team to have greater confidence and understanding of where the project stands.
Use data as a collaborative tool to establish a “digital thread,” which allows stakeholders to interpret data and information throughout the entire project. Be alert to data filtering (both human and system) that might be inadvertently discarding important information.
STEP 5: CONSIDER CYBERSECURITY
Technology has allowed businesses to operate more responsively and efficiently. However, technology has a major downside: systems can be hacked. As the world has responded to social distancing with remote working environments, our vulnerability to hackers and cybercrime has increased along with our use of technology.
Analyze your systems and protect data from security breaches and cyber ransom
As your company embraces new technology and information systems, be vigilant with security and accessibility of documents and materials. Nearly 95% of security breaches are from internal user actions, so your company should enforce strict limitations on external interactions and carefully monitor user activity for any actionable threats. Investigate an enterprise platform that integrates and analyzes multiple enterprise data sources and provides the ability to execute workflows defined by the organization based on end-user behavior.
Technology is a major tool companies can deploy to navigate the uncertainties presented when conducting business in a post-COVID world. With careful planning, utilization, and monitoring, technology can help keep your construction project on track.
CCS stands ready to help you manage the processes and controls necessary to deliver your desired outcomes in a digital format. Our team is adept at working within project teams that have existing technology in place, or we can recommend a system that best meets your company’s needs. We have utilized numerous technology platforms, ranging from Dropbox to Newforma, CMiC, Microsoft 365 (including Teams), Procore, and a number of building information modeling (BIM) tools. Every project—and every client—is different. We can find the right fit for you.
For more information or to schedule a (virtual!) meeting to discuss your company’s digital project delivery needs, contact Paul Darby, Director Strategic Services, pdarby@CCSdifference.com, 630.678.0808 x127.