Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Cost of the Status Quo: Architects and Engineers waste 20% or more of their time searching for information about their projects!

Shockingly, in meetings with hundreds of firms, the response to this assertion has typically been undisputed or “at least 20%”. That’s one day per week of unproductive time looking for information that is “somewhere on the network”, not finding it and more often than not having to recreate it. The cause is well understood given the sheer volume of information being generated on every project plus the demands of the day job denying even the most diligent project team member the time needed to save everything correctly. Some firms have tried to address this problem by implementing either a document management system (vault) or Sharepoint (library) but very often with failed results. Principles regularly tell me that getting project staff to fill out their time sheets is difficult enough so therefore it is not surprising that they refuse to apply the time and discipline needed to follow the rules of a highly structured filing system or make the extra effort required to add meta-data tags to facilitate easy retrieval at a later date. So what is the alternative?

Firstly, the design process is iterative and the project information it creates is dynamic rather than static. Secondly, every member of the project team (including all of the external consultants) is an originator of different parts of the project data set. Therefore the problem is one of how best to manage unstructured project information which is always being shared and often being communicated on an ad-hoc basis. By defining the problem more accurately, Newforma has intentionally taken a different approach in developing its project information management (PIM) solution. To quote Ken Herold, Chief Knowledge Officer of HOK Architects, “a more pragmatic and much more affordable solution involves simply using Newforma Project Center to index all your project information to enable users to search any project in their office or even across the company wide network just like searching the web. The time savings creates more billable hours on a project or can be spent on other initiatives like being trained on BIM.” HOK deployed Newforma Project Center enterprise wide in July 2007 and continue to use the solution in all 26 of their offices worldwide today.

To learn more about why Newforma is committed to an 'indexed based search' approach to managing project information as the right paradigm for architects, engineers and construction firms, view our recorded webinar “For knowledge mining, reuse or recall – the value of full-text search”.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Cost of the Status Quo: Introduction Procrastination? Hesitation? Fear of Change?

We are all players in a design and construction industry in which more projects are completed late than on time, budget over-runs are the norm and excessive litigation prevails. Add to this the fact that a lot of firms are currently finding it difficult to retain the number of skilled professionals that they need on staff to perform their project responsibilities. Unless you enjoy paying ever higher liability insurance premiums, running jobs that end up costing you money or having even more sleepless nights, then the time has come to change the status quo!

As Newforma pursues its ambition to find new ways to help architects, engineers and construction firms streamline their work processes to increase efficiency and be more profitable, we enjoy the unique privilege of visiting with and talking to many leading firms, observing best practices and learning how these firms are innovating.

As a result, we have been able to identify seven areas where low impact project information management (PIM) technology can be applied to proactively change the status quo in your office; to significantly reduce your exposure to risk; to remove wasted effort; to protect your fee margin; and, to sleep better at night !

Look for seven more blog entries to follow on this topic as we explore the question: Can you really afford to delay being more diligent about managing your project delivery processes?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Alphabet Soup (or acronym hell ?)

Do you get confused or just plain frustrated when you are reading the industry press reporting that AIA, CURT and AGC have formed the 3XPT Strategy Group, GSA has published an IFC based MVD requirement for BIM concept models, NBIMS is adopting IDM, CSI is supporting the IFD Library and promoting PPD, AGC has published agcXML, ICC is developing Smartcodes, AIA TAP recommends using MPS, NIBS is sponsoring COBIE, or by all of the references to IPD, LEED and VDC. If you are an international reader, just substitute your local variations such as Avanti, be2camp,CIB, CRC, etc.

Regretfully, here at Newforma we too have been guilty of speaking in acronyms on occasion. For example, in December 2008 we sent you an email blast entitled “PIM and the DNA for IPD” inviting you to join us for a free webinar …. when what we really wanted to talk to you about was
email management as an integral part of the project delivery process and to show you how firms like yours are tackling out-of-control inboxes to mitigate risk by capturing email decision trails and to improving team communication.

Through this blog we will be making every effort to demystify much of the industry jargon rather than just pile on and add to your confusion. We aim to be diligent about explaining exactly what the most important acronyms stand for, convey a fundamental understanding and provide an informed opinion regarding the importance of the specific project or initiative. As a start down that path, the links provided above (for anyone who wants to take the time to explore them) have been carefully selected to point you to an authoritative source that explains who or what is behind each of the acronyms used as examples above.

If we do err again, please call ‘foul play’ to get us back on track :-)

Friday, August 7, 2009

An invitation to join us in a critical conversation…….

Our industry is facing tectonic shifts in the way it executes building and infrastructure projects. Will integrated project delivery improve on time completion within budget ? Should building information modeling center around one massive model or be managed as a series of special purpose BIM’s ? Can new forms of contract like multi-partner agreements really change the adversarial behaviors of the past ? Which open data standards will prevail to facilitate the necessary exchange of project information? What best practices are being implemented by other firms that will give them competitive advantage? How do you take advantage of new software delivery models ? Are you managing your project information effectively and transparently ? Have you calculated the cost of the status quo ? Lots of issues remain that need to be addressed and resolved over time through healthy debate (no, not the healthcare debate!), bold experimentation, dedicated effort, ongoing perseverance and yes, also some failures.

Our intent in creating this Newforma Blog is to “host a conversation” by industry stakeholders to discuss each of these and other closely related questions that are facing us all. We look forward to sharing our thoughts and posting observations as our contribution to promote discussion and encourage an active dialogue via your comments.

Unlike the discussion forum on our user community site (which by popular demand is both product centric and technical in nature), and unlike our traditional whitepapers (that are both static and only provide a one-way communication), we are adding this interactive blog to explore the business issues, industry trends and technology that will shape new and improved best practices for architects, engineers and construction firms. Recurring themes will include project information management (PIM), integrated project delivery (IPD), work processes that support model based design (BIM), virtual construction, managing a federated project model, the purpose driven exchange of information, open data standards, change management for technology implementation and the cost of the status quo.

Our desire is to both inform and to learn from our mutual exchange of ideas. Ideally our contributions and the comments that they generate will stimulate and expand your thinking and offer you different perspectives and insights. We may even throw in a little controversy for good measure along the way!

So whether you just choose to read our blog postings or join our conversation, thank you for your interest and we welcome your participation.