Bridging the gap to growth

Ever-increasing amounts of data call for an innovative approach to managing whole-project information


The pressure is on. The UK is seeing unprecedented growth in the construction industry, coupled with an aggressive efficiency drive in the public sector. The 2016 BIM Level 2 mandate and Construction 2025 targets are forcing the pace of change, and the demands of the digital workplace are calling for enhanced connectivity and collaborative working.

As a result, the sector is witnessing an explosion in data and correspondence that, in turn, is exposing a gap between data generated and information of value. It introduces an element of risk that threatens quality and undermines productivity.

Successful project information management (PIM) must operate simultaneously on three different levels: the individual, for productivity via mobile apps; the project team, for collaboration via the cloud; and the broader enterprise, for overall performance via framework analytics

The problem lies in the highly fragmented nature of the traditional IT landscape employed to support construction projects, which throws up a whole host of information silos.

Paul Daynes, regional director for the UK and northern Europe at Newforma, explains: “From models and drawings, via contracts and specifications, to minutes and e-mails, you have information scattered across systems and platforms, variously on-premise, in the cloud and on mobile. File formats come in all shapes and sizes, and sharing is seldom easy to achieve with the appropriate levels of access and security. In short, the information is there, but its value is lost.”

In response, Newforma has developed a radically different approach to managing whole-project information. Its philosophy is that successful project information management (PIM) must operate simultaneously on three different levels: the individual, for productivity via mobile apps; the project team, for collaboration via the cloud; and the broader enterprise, for overall performance via framework analytics.

Newforma’s unique paradigm is its indexing technology, which is non-invasive to company processes and workflows. It indexes information silos to build a more connected environment and optimise processes by which project information is captured, shared and managed.

In terms of the ability of PIM to deliver on its promises, one of the commonest measures of efficiency in a sector where completion deadlines are critical is speed.

On mega-projects where size matters, for example, speed arguably matters more. As the first building projected to reach a height of 1km, the new Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia is set to become the world’s tallest building. Given its extensive project team, the mass of data, files and documentation is mountainous. Success relies on utilisation of technologies that foster collaboration and teamwork, enable faster decisions, and allow all team members to better realise their highest potential.

For leading global services provider Pinnacle Infotech, the benefits of using Newforma’s award-winning Project Centre software on the tower to enable best use of BIM, speed delivery and reduce costs through collaborative efficiency are also proportionately huge. When there are literally thousands of files to exchange, the advantage of transmittal times slashed by up to 90 per cent becomes cost critical.

Speed can also prove vital in meeting new standards and demonstrating compliance, so securing competitive advantage – as in the case of Newforma helping international architecture and engineering practice BDP become the first company in the UK to achieve BRE certification for BIM Level 2.

Being fast on your feet with agility in PIM can be crucial as well when working to demanding deadlines with changing requirements. For established architecture and building consultancy AHR, investment in Newforma systems that integrated Autodesk and Revit, as well as enabling BIM and features such as iPad apps to support personnel in the field, proved vital in closing-out a high-profile project for Blackpool Council, against the clock and an evolving regulatory backdrop.

“Done well, speed is a function of efficiency through PIM,” concludes Mr Daynes. “By employing a lighter touch in a systemic manner, PIM bridges that gap between data and value. That’s connectivity.”

Please click here to find out more on Newforma’s unique indexing technology