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September 17, 2015

The problem with communication in the AECO industry

There has been a significant decrease in efficiency in the construction industry over the past few decades. This decrease in efficiency is ironically inversely proportional to the increasing number of technological communication means. Because information is shared in different formats, software programs, and locations, it is hard to get the right information at your fingertips in time. As the fuzzy repository of the latest information expands, the chaos of communication starts. This has been a challenge that each Project Management Professionals (PMPs) needs to face daily. In fact, it takes a significant amount of people on some projects to track communication and make sure the information can last in the project lifecycle and can be shared until issues are resolved.

 

Does construction management software solve the issue?

Building information modeling (BIM) promises better deliverable quality and improved coordination, but it has been proven that it is also a disturbing new process because of the number of different technologies involved in it. We can expect a draftsman and a technician to master the use of BIM software but what about our PMPs? To be realistic, navigating in a 3D model is not necessarily everybody's cup of tea, especially from a mobile device in the field. This is one of the good reasons why it takes them so long to switch to building information management (BIM) solutions. Instead, they use construction management software which is much easier to use but is far from efficient for communication purposes.

Traditionally, in a construction management software, you have to describe an issue, to specify the objects involved, the location in the building, create an additional procedure to solve the issue, and so on. Building Smart international, a non-profit international organization, came up with the idea to standardize communication format by creating the BIM Collaboration Format (BCF). This promising new open format aims to increase interoperability between the different systems used to communicate and collaborate on a project. Cutting edge building information management platforms solutions like BIM Track are based on open standards for BIM (OpenBIM) and fully support the vision of Building Smart.

How is BIM Track different from a traditional construction management software?

First, BIM Track is a web issue management platform providing visuals that reduces the number of tasks to one: describing the process to solve the issue and all the other information such as the geospatial location and screenshot is collected automatically from the building information model.  Because the link to the location is maintained it provides a good way for the person that needs to solve the issue to find it quickly. It has been said too many times that a picture is worth a thousand words but how is this different from an image attached to an email? There is no need to convince you that emails are a very bad collaboration method as it results in multiple versions of the information sent to different stakeholders thus resulting in duplicated communications and confusion about the current state of an issue. Because there is only one single source of truth in BIM Track, up-to-date information is easy to find in a central collaboration hub and can be tracked over time. Traceability is ensured by exportability to the BCF open standard at the end of a project.

Secondly, construction management software is not used by designers and this results in a barrier against collaboration between constructors and designers. BIM Track was built to maintain a link to BIM software through the use of BCF, providing a better approach by solving the issue in its original context. The optimized workflow made possible by the open standards can increase firms’ generated value by minimizing waste of time during the whole project timeline and increasing efficiency (also shared by Lean principles).

 

Why is traditional BIM review software not working?

Unfortunately, the software manufacturers expect you to manage all the issues solely in their design software and this workflow does not happen in real life. Most of the BIM review platforms currently available on the market such as clash detection or markup software cannot make the information accessible in other software used by other stakeholders involved in the project. BIM Track can. To track an issue, you also need a unique identification number. If the issue is not logged in a centralized database in the cloud, unique identifiers can quickly be cloned by different people working in different offline locations thus resulting in a poor tracking and communication system.

Finally, BIM Track provides a way to not only store the issues but to manage and track them over time by defining the type of issue (clash, data deficiency, modeling method), assign metadata about an issue (location, priority and raised date), take the change of status of an issue through a lifetime journey, manage comments from different stakeholders, define who is responsible for solving it, keep all the information above intact as the model is developed, and is accessible by the entire project team regardless of their experience or platform used.

Carl Veillette

Co-Founder, Vice-President Innovation & Technology