SenSat | Digitalisation and Project Delivery

CONSTRUCTION | INNOVATION

4 Ways Digitalisation is Transforming Project Delivery

 

According to Gartner, digitalisation is the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities.

 

Digitalisation is a key driver for change in project delivery.

Mia Monaghan

20.06.2019 // 4 minute read

 

Construction and infrastructure rely heavily on the successful delivery of projects. However, it’s no secret that delivering construction projects on time and budget is quite a challenge. Data published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills found that 60% of construction projects were delivered late. Digitalisation is poised to help improve productivity in the industry and cut the time and cost of delivering successful projects.

In 2018, PwC produced a digitisation index which identified the impact that technology has had on productivity over the last 30 years. The report outlined what you would expect - digitally native industries such as finance, telecoms, and media have seen mass productivity uplift due to digital influence. Industries that are inherently more physical - where tasks tend to be more manual, such as construction, real estate, and utilities - haven't been able to participate in this digital revolution on the same scale.

Construction came out the most laggard of these sectors and is currently undergoing its own digital transformation. With new disruptive technologies, improved business models, and the merging of virtuality and reality, construction has already surpassed the initial possibilities of technology of the 20th century. As the sector slowly but surely starts to adopt these new technologies, the entire project lifecycle should benefit from improvements to efficiency, cost, and overall client satisfaction.

Here are four ways digitalisation is transforming project delivery:

1. Project communication and collaboration is improved.

 

Communication is a crucial task for project managers, with some experts estimating that a project manager can spend up to 90% of his time on communication. A frequent complaint from stakeholders is that siloed information results in an uncoordinated project. On the design side, this can result in ambiguities, errors and omissions in the construction documents. During construction, it can lead to pricing errors and rework. Construction project cost overrun has become so common that they’re basically expected in the industry. McKinsey estimated in 2016 that large construction projects are typically completed 80 percent over budget and take 20 percent longer than originally scheduled.

 

The digitisation of important project documents and reports can reduce the information silo by ensuring important information is available, accessible, and shareable with stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle.

2. Meetings can be held remotely.

 

By removing the information silo, meetings can be made more productive and held less frequently. The days of frequent face-to-face meetings with every team member and stakeholder for everything is rapidly becoming a thing of the past; reduced by the accessibility and shareability of important project information. Stakeholders are able to process information relevant to them from an online platform or database in a simple manner at their own convenience, and at the desired time. The possibility of web conferencing reduces the time on the road, and the project manager becomes more flexible in scheduling meetings and integrating project staff.

3. The administration of the project becomes cheaper. 

A recent national study from Re-flow looked at the cost of paperwork in UK construction companies. They found that companies are spending an average of 90 hours a year per employee on paperwork. This comprises of nearly 40 hours reading paperwork, 38 hours filling out forms and 14 hours searching for mislaid documents. With an average weekly salary of £607 according to the ONS in 2018, paperwork alone is costing the construction sector nearly £1,500 per employee every year. 

 

When project plans and work results are held in a common digital environment, information can be found, processed and used more efficiently. Project standards can be better pursued in a common environment, making project reporting more efficient and saving money.

4. Teams become more agile.

As technology removes the need for manual workarounds and does much of the process-based heavy lifting, it frees up time for teams to focus on the actual project requirements and value-added tasks rather than the administrative requirements and minutiae. The largest win for project teams, stakeholders, and businesses as a whole is the ability to become more agile. This reduction in unnecessary workload means that project team members are more likely to look for newer and better ways to do things that increase quality, improve processes and deliver better results, faster.

Advancements in digitalisation have already helped the construction industry to become smarter and more collaborative. As technology becomes more widely adopted, it will be great to see how this continues to impact the delivery of large projects.

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