Project Information Management for AEC Firms

Posted by Shari Gardner on February 14, 2017

Project Information Management for AEC Firms

Are you drowning in a Sea of Data?

Imagine this - what if managing your AEC projects and firm information could be as simple as managing your iTunes or Spotify library?  What if everything related to your projects was in one place and easy to find?  What if you could access it from anywhere, anytime and all of the information was organized, categorized, and easy to search? Just think of what that could do to your firm’s productivity.

Over the last 30 years the AEC industry has undergone a dramatic change, transitioning from paper based documentation to predominantly digital files. However, in many ways, the systems and processes for managing all of this information haven’t kept up. For many AEC organizations, information is still fragmented and living in silos. It’s housed in personal folders, on network shares or scattered across disparate systems – making it difficult for teams to collaborate on projects. When information cannot be easily accessed or is not properly organized for fast, easy retrieval, it not only negatively impacts productivity, but also exposes a business to greater risk of litigation when key pieces of information cannot be easily located.


Every AEC Project Generates a Tremendous Amount of Information

This risk increases with large AEC projects that span multiple years and can generate millions of documents. Even if you’ve already moved from paper based documentation to predominantly digital data files, managing the high volumes of information exchange (RFIs, change orders, BIM files, drawings and reports) can be a daunting task. It’s especially cumbersome when project partners, with limited access to your network, are participating in the process.  How do you ensure everyone is informed and working with the right information (and latest versions) to keep projects on track. When your projects are hindered by information silos, unreliable data and inefficient processes, not only will your organization’s productivity suffer, but you are exposing your business to greater risk.


The Daily Deluge of Email

Email has become such a fundamental aspect of the way we work, it’s difficult to imagine a world without it. It has become the dominant form of communication for most businesses. While email has streamlined business communication by providing a fast alternative to traditional mail, fax and phone, it can negatively impact an organization’s productivity if not used properly. 

Consider this:

  • The average number of business emails sent and received per user per day totals 122 emails per day.[1]

This figure does not include the large number of spam emails corporations must filter on a daily basis.

  • People on average spend 2-3 hours a day on email related activities, consuming 20-30 percent of their business day.[2]   

If a central place for teams to store project related emails is not provided, each recipient and cc’d user has no option but to file the email, and separately the attachments, in personal folders or on network drives. This results in storage duplication and makes retrieval at a later date more difficult. The risk of losing key pieces of information increases further when employees leave the company.


Mitigating Risk to Your Firm

AEC is a litigious industry, with the risk and cost of claims high. Although disputes can be due to any number of reasons, when it comes to litigation, it’s critical for you to ensure that your organization’s activity is adequately documented and information is easy to find. 

In the past parties working together on AEC projects exchanged PDFs that couldn’t be altered. With BIM, actual models with valuable IP are now being exchanged, which increases the risk of IP loss and legal disputes. Tools like email and file transfer sites, while a necessity for communication and transporting large file types, have also introduced an informality into the process without the necessary system gateways in place. This makes it more difficult for project teams to meet governance and compliance requirements.

These risks can be amplified in large scale projects that can span multiple years and involve the exchange of hundreds of thousands, even millions of pieces of information. Trying to find that killer email or critical document when information is hidden away in personal folders or spread across multiple systems can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.


Where to Begin?

As you look across your organization the thought of where to start to drive improvements into your information management processes may seem overwhelming.  You may wonder how you can possibly move from today’s information chaos to a state of information efficiency and control. But think about it, whoever thought we’d go from vinyl records to musical libraries in the cloud so quickly?  And - we sent a man to the moon in 1969 and have been there several times since.  So everything is possible! There is a way for you to gain control!


Learn How

Register for a Complimentary, On-demand Webinar with ENR to Learn How to Drive Information Chaos out of your Projects & Practice

Title: Data Overload: Drowning in a Sea of Information.

Register Now »

Can't attend live? Register to view the webinar on-demand

[1]  Worldwide Email Statistics Report, 2015-2019. The Radicati Group, Inc. A Technology Market Research Firm March 2015  

[2] The Three Approaches to reducing Email Overload, Dr Michael Einstein, Mesmo, 2014