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”.

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