We’ve all heard the catchphrase, “follow the money.” And in the construction industry, it’s fairly safe to presume that money drives many decisions and actions. When collaborative and cooperative methods of doing business came on the scene, it was natural that money would be the driving force behind companies adopting the new workflows. Collaborative ways of working make companies more efficient, saving them money.
The adversarial ways of yore for doing business are gradually declining. The industry is seeing stronger adoption of technology for the very purpose of collaborating. And although it’s a valid model for producing built assets, collaboration is just as much about avoiding surprises along the way. Collaboration helps avoid mistakes, which decreases a company’s risk and increases profits.
Some companies are better at partnering, because they see the big picture and understand the perils of not working well with the competition. Cooperation and collaboration are essential to lowering barriers to success, and this makes it easier to be motivated to share.
Data interoperability and sharing are key in the industry. Context and data in a model have become more important in the past five years or so. For example, GIS and BIM design information, once separate workflows and products, are now capable of being integrated. Today designs can be fed with data that can inform better decision making.
Generational shifts in the industry workforce are taking place, transitioning from baby boomers to millennials and digital natives. This facilitates more collaborative work environments, because there is an expectation in the contemporary workforce that systems work together. Digitally-savvy workers support building smart, with commonality, information exchange, integrated project delivery, and design-build methods. They see the importance of getting data to the people designing the world.
What’s needed widely in the industry is a mindset that’s open to cooperating with other companies, even if they are competitors. This includes adoption of apps with open standards, where data can flow from one app to another. For continued business success, the nice-to-have integrations where things work together are becoming requirements.
For that mindset shift, companies need to be willing to loosen their grip on their inhouse information, even though they have the most to gain from protecting it.
Beyond producing a project, a builder can now put information about that project into the hands of the owner, so they can operate the built asset more effectively. Owners are more technically astute than ever. They have an expectation that technology will help them stay more informed. They expect to be kept in the loop during a project, and that requires collaboration, transparency and information sharing. They don’t want to be surprised by project slippages and overruns.
The move from paper- and analog-based processes to digital enables the development of dashboards and interactive and immersive applications to keep all stakeholders in the loop. With that as a target, digitalization and data exchange will increasingly be required on projects. If you want to win projects, you’ll have to step up to meet those requirements.
Tune in to episode 175 of Bridging the Gap podcast as Marc Goldman talks more about how collaboration requires cooperation.