Infrastructure projects generate a lot of information, shared amongst multiple users and stakeholders through the project lifecycle. The question is: how is this information managed? How is it stored, shared, disseminated, accessed, updated?
The short answer is: inefficiently.
Project data management in Indian Infrastructure projects
In a typical Indian Infrastructure project, the method of managing project documents and data is not properly planned out and the data itself is poorly structured, so project information management ends up being managed less than optimally with a high level of cumulative error, rework, and discrepancy. So much so that the systems and processes for managing the information become more of a liability than an asset. If project data could be structured and managed more efficiently, infrastructure companies would see big savings in less waste and rework.
How to manage project data efficiently in infrastructure projects?
The key is a Common Data Environment (CDE), an online place for collecting, managing and sharing information amongst a team working on a project.
WrenchSP recently implemented a CDE platform on Phase 1 of NCRTC’s Regional Rapid Transit System. The Regional Rapid Transit System is a critical project in India from The National Capital Region Transport Corporation Limited (a Government of India undertaking). Implementing the CDE allowed the project’s 3 stakeholders to share drawings and documents on the move via a centralized location which can be accessed from anywhere in the world, and view drawings and documents within the browser i.e. no need for heavy applications (like Autocad or BIM suite). This gave the project team transparency, as well as efficient search and retrieval of data.
What is a Common Data Environment?
A Common Data Environment is a shared digital (i.e. online) space where project teams collect, manage, and disseminate project data and documents. The type of CDE depends on the size or type of project, but is typically set up on a project server, an extranet or a cloud-based system.
Why a CDE?
Efficient information management will improve a project manager’s decision-making, influencing for the better how he plans, delivers and operates his deliverables. Since in a developing country like India infrastructure makes a huge difference to the quality of life, ensuring speedy delivery of infrastructure projects means benefits not just for the public, but all the varied industries in which they serve.
Examples of how a CDE impacts the Indian EPC industry
- A CDE is a fundamental success factor in delivering the company’s BIM policy, which controls the way information is generated and manipulated across the business cycle.
- A CDE will improve efficiencies across the whole business life cycle.
- Improve an organisation’s ability to do respond to and recover from delayed, stalled, or failed projects
- Enable effective knowledge management, via a robust information management system which is a foundation to future working practice and infrastructure technology.
Challenges to implementing a CDE in India
Although India has a thriving IT industry, EPC companies still face complex IT procurement challenges to potential users or buyers of a CDE, mainly the lack of compliance with existing/legacy IT procedures
- Companies are often put off by the real and/or perceived high cost and resources associated with procure such a system.
- There are deep-rooted prejudices around data security in enterprise-wide IT systems, which are not easy to overcome
- Developing a system solution compatible to existing organizational systems is usually seen as a very difficult and intimidating process
- Today there are many varied CDE market offerings, which makes it difficult for a company new to the idea to evaluate and select one
Despite all the above, Indian Infrastructure companies are slowly opening up to the need for something like a CDE and are becoming aware of the many benefits, including:
During Design & Construction Stage
- Greater reliability of data and reduced risk.
- Support more efficient processes in the creation and management of information.
- Reducing the time and effort required to check, version and reissue information.
- Reducing the time and cost of producing coordinated information.
- Enable to improve collaboration and improved outcomes.
During Operational stage
- Save time to transfer accurate and complete information from construction to operational stages.
- Easy access to relevant and reliable information in the event of failure.
- Enable improved estate planning, procurement and maintenance.
- Support improved analysis across portfolio of built assets.
Finding the right CDE
A CDE is not just a technology solution but a combination of software and processes. The Information standards need to be agreed upon before they can be implemented, in order for the information to be easily managed, retrieved and used within the CDE. So a CDE’s benefits – both qualitative and quantitative – do not arise from the technology solution alone but from the integration of the technology solution with BIM Level 2 standards, the company’s Information Management processes, the Form of contract, the company’s Business Culture, and so on. Taking all this into consideration, a CDE is a proactive next step in digitizing the project management process.
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