When you think about how much decision making, planning, and effective implementation is necessary in a complex construction process, it’s amazing that a skyscraper or stadium ever gets completed. There are lots of schedules to make, budgets to manage, materials to order, and jobs to coordinate. It’s always an enormous challenge to get the work completed according to the planned schedule and budget.
When things go wrong, as they almost always do, these mistakes cause financial loss. Delays, detours, and deficiencies in construction are seldom without cost.
Initially, at the start of a project, when plans are drawn up, budgets calculated, and construction managers hired, there is an abundance of optimism about how well things will go. However, within only a few weeks of actual work, scope creep, deviations from plan and unexpected delays begin to increase expenses.
Pressure and Angst
Those involved in a construction project, whether they play large or small roles, feel the pressure to get the work done efficiently and experience the angst of unforeseen delays and rising costs.
Yet on any given day on a construction site, a lot of can go wrong, ranging from inaccurate scheduling to receiving the wrong materials from a supplier, and from poor communication on how a job is to be done to shoddy workmanship after its completed.
Often enough work has to redone, and all schedules reset. Sometimes, too, problems can go undetected for awhile, resulting in a small crisis when they are detected and readjustments have to be made to the plan.
What Can Be Done?
Is there a way to anticipate delays, find alternative solutions on the fly, speed up communication between all major stakeholders, and improve collaboration? Is there a way to make construction work more of a science than an art?
Before the advent of advanced technology, there was little to be done other than hope for the best, convene emergency managerial meetings, and send out urgent memos and messengers to warn people about the dire consequences of their inefficiency. Now, with cloud-based construction apps to keep track of every phase of a project and mobile devices to receive detailed information on a construction site, a great deal can be done to keep a construction project going according to plan. Additionally, when there are deviations from the planned work flow, they will be quickly noticed and corrected.
Things, of course, can still go terribly wrong on a construction project, but now alerts can be sent almost instantly and decisions made on laptops, tablets, and smartphones on how to resolve new problems.
The Reason for Complexity
The principle reason for complexity on a construction site has little to do with knowledge, skills, or materials. Instead, the problem is one of big data. There is often too much information for any one person to handle and too much communication necessary for key decision makers to work on issues in a collaborative way.
Datafloq, which keeps track of big data, reported that “one of the greatest challenges in managing a project correctly are finding the right information when it is needed, collecting the right information from different construction sites and managing the distribution of information to other parties.”
It also reported that one reason for this was challenge was “low interoperability between project-management technologies, inefficient workflow processes and data volumes and file sizes that were hard to manage.”
The companyProcore has found a solution to this dilemma with cloud based construction software that can be used on any device. Their application leverages data organization and access as an asset that can be used by construction companies.
Flexibility and Growth
The reason why construction projects fail is because of errors in judgment made due to insufficient information. These failures arise because there is just too much information happening at the same time, with no way to correlate it.
Fortunately, with construction-oriented software, it’s possible to find the right information, make critical decisions to fix unexpected project problems quickly, and inform all parties about the decision instantaneously. This software can allow managers to balance cash flow, adjust plans and designs, revise cost estimates, and make any other necessary changes to keep the construction project on schedule. What’s more, this information is available to all users at once, even if they live on different continents, which often happens in the case of international construction work.
What’s more, in highly complex scenarios, group decisions can be made online. When, there is enough flexibility in telecommunication, coping with big data is no longer problematic.
It’s not reasonable to expect everything to go as planned in any construction project, but with the right level of collaboration and data sharing, all problems can be resolved quickly and effectively.