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The construction industry has made incredible strides in digital transformation. And while technology has been a key driver of this shift, transformation will not be achieved simply by implementing new technologies, but by improving workflows with repeatable business processes. As the industry moves down the path to digital transformation, repeatable processes are a key element of a constructible process that optimizes the entire design, build and operate life cycle.

All too often, new construction projects start with a clean slate. The fact that each project is unique from the one before it leads to a misconception that very little about the actual process of building can be standardized, hindering any efforts toward continual process improvement. While every project is inherently unique, there are aspects of each project that can benefit from past experience such as materials, components, suppliers and methods. Doing so can improve quality, increase productivity and reduce errors. 

There are a few areas in particular where repeatable processes are ideal including estimates, project management and managing content.

Estimates

The ability to quickly generate competitive, accurate estimates can be the difference between winning or losing a project. Thus, the resignation of a skilled estimator can be a significant loss. Because of the highly individualized nature of static spreadsheets, it’s difficult to turn a senior estimator’s knowledge and experience into standardized, repeatable practices the entire team can benefit from and use. So, when an estimator leaves a company, their expertise and knowledge often go with them. 

Data-driven estimating software is now replacing the use of spreadsheets and creating truly standardized estimating that is consistent and repeatable. It allows everyone to access the same database of company cost information to produce estimates with the most current and accurate data. A repeatable estimating process minimizes mistakes and allows for leveraging an estimator’s best practices, while also protecting intellectual property. Creating a standardized and repeatable estimating process reduces reliance on any single individual. If a senior estimator resigns, it’s easier to quickly recover and continue producing estimates with others on staff. 

Capturing the expertise of the best estimators in a repeatable process ensures consistency across estimates. This provides a number of benefits, including more professional estimates and faster workflows, which create time to generate more estimates and value engineer and explore alternatives. When it comes time to hire or replace an estimator, it’s much easier to quickly get a new employee up to speed. 

Project Management

One of the biggest reasons that construction companies turn to technology is to streamline the repeatable processes that go into completing jobs. Integrated, cloud-based construction management solutions can ensure that project managers and teams have real-time access to a single source of shared data between accounting, operations, field teams, human resources, the executive suite and beyond. 

Having a single system in place to capture and share data across these functions makes documents easily accessible, with complete audit trails clearly defined, which is vital to preventing conflicts, legal issues and project delays. In addition, data analytics and business intelligence features allow contractors to dive deeper into project data than ever before so they can identify new trends, spot problems before they start and predictively forecast future work.

Managing Content

Creating constructible models with digital content that mirrors physical components for specialty trades saves time and reduces the potential for errors. Managed content can include components from the faucets an architect uses to render an interior space to manufacturer-specific information such as what the item is, where to buy it, the cost and how long it takes to get it or fabricate it.

In the past, designers and engineers relied on a combination of hand-drawn blueprints, printed manufacturer specs and onsite adaptation. Today, however, technological advancements make it both possible and practical to integrate constructible content created and managed in-house or by third parties throughout the entire workflow of construction projects, from the initial idea to the finished product and beyond.

Constructible content simplifies the development of comprehensive models for each trade and makes construction data more useful in feeding downstream work processes. This helps to save time, money and effort by avoiding unnecessary rework. Data-rich models that go beyond basic geometry and include up-to-date content can help ensure building designs are truly constructible and reduce the need for excess materials.

With managed content, teams spend far less time and effort essentially "recreating the wheel" for projects with similar requirements. It ensures all team members are working from the same data and simplifies the development of comprehensive models for each trade, so construction data is more useful in feeding downstream work processes. It provides the potential to learn and improve based on experience and leveraging proven processes.

With increasingly complex projects and tighter schedules, standardizing processes is a foundational step toward working faster, smarter and with less risk. Repeatable processes ensure consistency, help increase organizational efficiency and eliminate waste. With the technology advances, it’s possible—and in many cases easy—to start streamlining workflows and taking advantage of repeatable processes today.

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