Project management in construction is still inextricably connected with pen and paper. As a result, many projects are in a stalemate situation facing low productivity, high rework rates and costly misunderstandings between the boardroom and the field.
At the same time, digital technologies are taking over almost every aspect of our personal and professional life. Construction could be no exception to that. There are many who believe that a deep shift in the sector is just around the corner.
In the course of the last couple of years, the discussion around the impact that digital tools could have on the way we design, communicate and eventually build is getting louder and louder.
The need for better progress monitoring, accurate data collection and analysis and timely fact-based decisions has brought on the surface the need for a digital and agile construction process.
Nevertheless, the power of habit is still strong in construction and there are many who fail to see the value in embracing digital technologies.
Project management in construction: The stairway to success
With that in mind, we present to you today five ways digital tools could transform project management in construction and help everyone work faster and more efficiently:
1. Real-time communication between the site and the office
Bridging the gap between the people who work in the office and the on-site personnel is the first step towards an effective construction process. Fragmented communication is one of the biggest sources of pain for professionals in construction, as they end up working on outdated versions of a project’s plan.
It goes without saying that this results in a lot of confusion and schedule delays. Subcontractors arrive on site in vain and wander around waiting for their turn to complete their tasks. Same can happen with materials which due to bad coordination with the office arrive on the field at the wrong day or place.
This is where digital solutions come into the picture. Being able to share updates and crucial information with the other stakeholders of the project in real time minimises the room for mistakes and paves the way for data-driven decision making.
Like that, the supply chain can start again operating as one while everyone involved in the project is on the same page.
2. Construction insights
Keeping a bird’s eye view of your project, while not ignoring any of the details is vital. A reliable digital platform can help you as a project manager to always know which member of your team is responsible for which task, while having access to all project programmes in one place.
Furthermore, with the creation of custom dashboards you would be able to get the data you need at the time you need it and monitor the latest trends on your projects. This would allow you to focus on the actual areas of risk instead of getting lost in a pile of information.
At this point, we should also not forget the importance of taking good care of your data. It is through your data collection and analysis process that you will be able to learn from your mistakes and continuously improve your systems and processes while making them more standardised.
3. Automation of the reporting process
It is no secret that reporting is one of the most time-consuming tasks for all project managers. Until just recently, this process had to be done manually and it was costing people many valuable hours every day.
Digital tools have already played a decisive role in automating the reporting process. Generating detailed and informative reports with the click of a button is now possible. These reports can be customised and re-edited at any point allowing those who are in charge of them to focus on what really matters leaving behind some of the administrative burden that comes with their role in the project.
Thanks to the storage of the data in the cloud, these reports can also be created retrospectively and used for resolving disputes or improving the future systems and processes of an organisation.
4. Building Information Modeling
BIM is one of the biggest trends in construction right now as it has introduced a new level of collaboration in the industry. By operating on Common Data Environment (CDE), project agents can react on the latest updates and issues with great speed and efficacy.
On top of that, the presence of a “digital twin” can help remarkably in preventing costly mistakes and detecting clashes before they become a threat for the smooth development of the project.
One thing we need to mention, though, is that BIM is not only about the 3D model. Digital adoption is the bedrock of success for BIM implementation and management. If people on the ground refrain from collecting the project-related data then the 3D model is pretty much useless.
In that sense, it is of paramount importance that digital tools are simple-to-use so that people on the field will be willing to use them with no hesitation.
5. Replicability of the building process
Last but not least, digital tools could pave the way for a standardised construction process where every phase of the project has already been thoroughly planned. Such an approach will add the element of replicability in the long run.
By doing so, an organisation can ensure that the management of the project will be smooth and that most, if not all, members of the team will have been through a similar situation in the past.
It doesn’t take much to understand that this could decrease the number of mistakes done during the building process, increase the readiness of the workforce and lead eventually to fewer reworks and budget overruns.
All in all, it becomes clear that digital tools have a lot to offer to the construction industry if they are used in the right way. Digital solutions aren’t a cure on their own. It is through digital adoption that the sector will be able to become data-driven and add more accuracy to its project management process.
About the author: Anastasios is the Content Marketing Manager at LetsBuild. He has a master’s degree in Cognition and Communication and a professional background in communication and content creation.