Information can be an overlooked corporate asset. For that information to be the most valuable in modern construction projects, the information generally needs to be digitized and organized and then made available to the right people, in the right format, at the right time.
Through cloud-based data repositories, modern information management practices are helping to make this possible. These systems help clients, designers, and contractors share, store, and manage project data efficiently throughout a project’s lifecycle.
While many industry professionals understand the benefits of digitized information management, are they cognizant of the potential risks? Is this new, innovative step in the digital revolution leading to data-access disputes? Do contracts deal with this risk?
This article will consider some of the benefits and risks of modern information management practices in construction projects.
Documentation and Data
Modern construction projects generate an immense amount of documentation and data. Consider the multitude of contracts, drawings, specifications, schedules, progress reports, meeting minutes, change requests, requests for information (RFIs), risk registers, safety documents, standards, and invoices that may be generated throughout a project’s lifecycle. It can be easy to become buried in documentation as the project progresses, especially for the estimated 47% of construction managers who still use manual (i.e., non-automated) methods to collect project
Data collection and analysis in construction projects may seem like a never-ending and daunting process. However, if data is not managed appropriately from the outset, construction projects may descend into chaos which could result in potential losses.
A 2018 report estimated that 90% of data generated by the engineering and construction industry isAn estimated 30% of initial project data created during the design and construction phases was lost by project This results in avoidable waste and can create productivity losses; an estimated 13% of construction teams’ working hours are spent searching for project data and According to another study, the lack of a comprehensive data management strategy contributes to an estimated $1.8 trillion of lost revenue Furthermore, when records and evidence are missing or unorganized, construction businesses are less likely to successfully recover losses through claims or dispute resolution. Fortunately, there are data and document tracking solutions that can effectively combat chaos and mitigate risk in construction projects. One of the most comprehensive tools is to establish a common data environment (CDE).
A CDE is defined as the “agreed source of information for any given project or asset, for collecting, managing, and disseminating [information] through a managedPut simply, CDEs are typically cloud-based platforms where project information is stored and accessible to project participants. Popular CDE solutions include Oracle’s and
CDEs can change the way project data (or evidence in dispute resolution) is created, stored, managed, and archived. In a study on poor information management in construction, 38% of respondents were adopting a CDE to combatA 2021 KPMG report demonstrated that CDEs provided a significant return on investment with respect to labor productivity A CDE acts as a one-stop shop for project data, with a goal of improving efficiency, accuracy, and accountability. They can even keep the data trail of a document intact, potentially detailing when project documents were viewed, accepted/rejected, commented on, amended, or superseded by project participants. Comments made using the CDE may even detail why data changed.
CDEs have the potential to hold the evidence that can make or break a claim. Perhaps they hold the contemporaneous, factual evidence that is essential in developing or rebutting claims, and the necessary data to form credible expert witness opinions. However, they can only be used by the party (or parties) that have access to the CDE when a dispute arises.