Digitising project information for handover

by Lewis Johnson | June 17, 2022 |  3 min read

Digitising project information for handover
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This week has been London Tech Week – a masterpiece in the display of advanced technology, some of which is simply mind blowing and poses the question, “why are we not all making better use of the technology available to us?”

This question seems extremely pertinent when directed to project teams in the construction industry delivering essential building and infrastructure projects.

Within the construction industry there are some very clever people working on intelligent tech that brings things such as robotics, machine learning and augmented reality to our fingertips. Yet so many still seem to shy away from digital ways of working.

For example, we only need to look at the enormously high number of construction projects that still have a hard ring binder full of papers, print outs and drawings of the project to deliver at handover stage. In an age when the Common Data Environment (CDE) software is readily available and simple to use, why aren’t more projects working this way? I would question the effectiveness of the ring binder and how many times anyone looks inside once handover is complete!

The key benefits of using a CDE is that all those on the project team, during design, build and operation, have access to the same secure, digitally held information – allowing them to collaborate on all information held on the project (such as 3D models, product data, documents, etc.) as well as digitising internal governance processes, health and safety, costs and programme scheduling.

We are all aware that if there is a problem within the first 12 to 18 months of project completion, the standard action is to call the contractor and ask them to rectify it. A recent project I was involved in for a local authority in Scotland saw a light fitting fail. Upon searching for the paper based O&M manual, which was located on a shelf collecting dust, it soon became apparent there was no information available on lighting. This is an example of how quality checks can be overlooked when using a paper based system. If a CDE had been used, this would have flagged the missing information.

Having a CDE in place allows for easier control and management of the whole asset lifecycle. Accountability can be clearly defined for all project stakeholders, preventing any misunderstanding about roles and responsibilities and preventing the loss of vital information. The transparency of a CDE allows each party in the project team to understand exactly how the project is progressing at every stage, make comment, give approvals or amend activity workflow.

Resistance to adopting a CDE is often driven by the same factors that are common to the implementation of all digital construction processes: insufficient expertise and resistance to change. Some may also consider that the introduction of a CDE comes with a steep learning curve; the reality is quite the opposite. Most CDEs are easy for users to adopt, and the centralisation of project information simplifies day to day workflows. It is time to say goodbye to the ring binder and be more open to the opportunities afforded to us by the development of technology and those leading the way to digitise construction.

To understand the benefits of applying a CDE to your project and how to digitalise project information for handover, contact Lewis Johnson at [email protected].