Common Data Environment (CDE) is the latest buzz word in the EPC project sphere. It is the single source of information for the project. It contains documentation, drawings, graphical model and non graphical data. Common Data Environment (CDE) is mandatory for Building Information Management (BIM). Common Data Environment can exist without BIM as well. Understanding the key challenges of managing large EPC projects first will help to appreciate the role of CDE in project success.
Challenges in monitoring & controlling large engineering projects
Large infrastructure and engineering projects often come with a lot of inherent complexity. As an example, let us consider a Metro Rail Project. Based on our experience, here is the document count breakup of a metro rail project;
- Total number of drawings / document files = 5,00,000 drawings and documents
- Average number of revisions = 2
- That makes the total count to 10,00,000 drawings and documents
- Total files to be managed including comment files is around 20,00,000 plus
- Correspondences amount to 75,000 plus
These happen across the key stakeholders comprising of;
They operate from different locations.
The data flow diagram below depicts the data flow of one of the metro rail projects we worked very closely with. Multiple Design and Development teams submit their work to the general consultant. After verification and validation, the approved engineering design artifacts get forwarded to the project head office. These approved drawings get distributed to project sites. The project sites distribute them to the contractors.
If you can visualize 3,000,000 documents moving to and fro throughout the project, you will be able to appreciate the complexity involved in maintaining the integrity of these engineering artifacts.
Having said that, the biggest problems engineering project managers face are;
- Waiting time – In many engineering projects, Project engineers spend lot of time to get information from others.
- Project status information not available on time – It takes a week to a month for project managers to get the project’s status updates. In the process they loose valuable time to take corrective / preventive actions. This results in costly reworks if detected. If there are undetected errors, they get transferred to the subsequent phases of the project which is even costlier to correct.
- Lack of reliability of available information – The project progress information available is error prone, as the data is manually entered.
- Improper change & configuration management – Improper implementation of the change management process and the version control of the engineering artifacts contribute to the lack of reliability of the engineering artifacts.
- Information overload – Project managers spend lot of time to analyse heaps of data. Too much information leads to analysis paralysis. The root cause for this is information islands across stakeholders which are not integrated.
Solution : Common Data Environment
- Single source of information – is the fundamental principle for data integrity. There must not be any replication of the same information within the common data environment. Seamless integration of the systems across different stakeholders is mandatory to achieve this.
- Fail proof configuration management and change control processes – Maintaining the artifacts under different folders and managing them manually is very inefficient. It may work for very small projects. For large projects it is bound to fail. An integrated approach to change & configuration management is the solution.
- Real time automated status updates – In-order to reduce the lag between the actual event and the status reporting, the best option is to automate the status updates. This will help the key project stakeholders to track the project with almost real time updates.
- Forecasting ability – Knowledge about an issue after the occurrence of the issue will keep project managers in a reactive mode. Ability to forecast anticipated cost and schedule will help the project managers to be proactive in dealing with them.
Implementation of Common Data Environment (CDE) software in engineering projects
Key benefits of CDE
- Single source of information for Client / Consultant / Contractor
- Asset management for operations phase
- Faster review and approval cycles
- Enforcement of quality process management
- Track and anticipate delays
The typical scope of the CDE for a large infrastructure or engineering project is provided below;
Wrench SmartProject: CDE for Engineering
Wrench SmartProject is a Common Data Environment framework trusted by managers of large engineering projects across different industries. The SmartProject platform extends the CDE functionality to offer automatic status updates, schedule forecasting and BIM integration for engineering projects.
Automatic status updates
The Wrench SmartProject’s workflow engine provides the option to pre-define the rules of credit for the different stages of the workflow during the project planning phase itself. This powerful feature provides data about the actual progress during the project execution without any additional data entry. This feature provides almost real time and accurate project status updates.
As discussed before, forecasting the schedule and cost help the project managers to be more efficient. They will be able to anticipate problems with respect to schedule and cost and prevent them before they occur. In the worst scenario, they will be able to escalate the bad news to the higher levels thus avoiding last minute surprises.
The basic information we need to know for schedule and cost forecasting are;
- How much work did we plan to complete as on the review date?
- Out of that how much work did we complete?
- Finally, for the completed work, how much did we spend (money / manpower)
The Common Data Environment provided by Wrench SmartProject makes forecasting a breeze. Here are the snapshots of the dashboard.
Wrench SmartProject provides the digital twin generated from it’s common data environment. Here is a snapshot.
Common Data Environment (CDE) helps to solve the key challenges faced by the Project managers of large construction projects. The Wrench SmartProject helps organizations to create / extend their Common Data Environments (CDE) further by bringing in real time status updates, Schedule & Cost forecasts and BIM integration. This will empower project managers by helping them to be pro-active while making project management decisions. This will in turn increase the project / asset profitability.
Manesh is the COO of Wrench Solutions. With hands-on domain knowledge based on over 20 years of experience in the digitization of the EPC industry, Manesh spearheades the successful adoption of SmartProject technology for some of the world's largest global players.
Evolving the Digital PMO Towards Construction and Project Management
In an effort to keep up with the changing requirements of an increasingly digital world, organizations of all shapes and sizes have been advancing digitization across their processes. However, many are now also understanding that…
- 23 Mar 2023
Why Digital Engineering Document Management is critical in the post-pandemic world
Now that we’re returning to normal work life after the pandemic we should remember the role technology played in that return. For engineering organizations, one of the most critical measures that helped keep business alive…
- 09 Mar 2023
Digital PMO for EPC Projects
- February 22, 2023
Subscribe to Our Blog
Sign up for our regular updates on project productivity, delivered straight to your inbox
- March 2023
- February 2023
- January 2023
- December 2022
- November 2022
- September 2022
- June 2022
- May 2022
- April 2022
- March 2022
- January 2022
- November 2021
- October 2021
- July 2021
- June 2021
- May 2021
- March 2021
- February 2021
- January 2021
- December 2020
- November 2020
- September 2020
- August 2020
- June 2020
- April 2020
- March 2020
- February 2020
- January 2020
- November 2019
- October 2019
- September 2019
- August 2019
- April 2019
- March 2019
- December 2018
- October 2018
- September 2018
- August 2018
- July 2018
- June 2018
- May 2018
- April 2018
- January 2018
- November 2017
- October 2017
- September 2017
- May 2017
- April 2017
- March 2017
- February 2017
- January 2017