How Data Standardization can Advance the Design and Construction Industry

The design and construction industry uses powerful tools to support the execution of their work. Enabling detail and clarity, these tools are able to bring project data to fuel collaboration and coordination on any project. So naturally, as with all other things now supplemented by tremendous technologies, there is a reasonable expectation of greater greater value, but that has not been the case.

Making strides in efficiency and delivering unprecedented value and owner satisfaction

Unlike the vast majority of commerce that has been enhanced through technologies, the construction industry has failed to advance in the past 70 years. It should also be of no surprise that customer satisfaction follows this trend. Granted, there are many contributing factors, the lack of efficiency gains has some extremely positive stories, such as improved accident and injury rates due to improved awareness and practices. Some may also point to the litigious nature of the industry, where the need to document and defend oneself has impaired collaborative and innovative processes that would yield new efficiencies.










However, we see a significant fundamental factor, the apparent inability to standardize and flow information. On thousands of job sites today, project paperwork will be copied, faxed, filed, photographed, (to post to a website!), in order to establish a paper trail and record of activities. Even less efficient, data is being input by hand, introducing unacceptable error rates and creating false records, (the litigators just love this!). These are decades old techniques, long abandoned by others, yet this industry clings to them, failing to broadly embrace standards and best practices which can be leveraged to advance business fundamentals.

By contrast one needs not look far, the supply chain industry’s best practices have been adopted in Aerospace, Automotive, Food, Pharma, and has propelled .com to paradigm shifting proportions. The tired argument of the design and construction industry is that every job is different and that is indeed true, but the underlying processes are fundamentally the same.

The opportunity to apply standardized driven processes becomes particularly apparent when considering the infinite array of globally implemented supply chain solutions, moving every conceivable product and commodity by pipe, ship, train, truck, airplane, and couriers. Additionally, due to the quality of data that supply chains produce, they are being constantly changed to improve results. Think about 1990’s mail order versus .com to measure the value gain.

Supply chains move 3 fundamental things: money, information, and goods

Often it is thought that this dialogue is around making BIM and/or VDC the orbit around which all success in moving information depends. Unfortunately, that concept is often seen as limited to the project, needing to clearly communicate and execute to discrete project objectives. While this is absolutely true, it fails to recognize the potential of industry wide standards enabling broad process advancement. Those compelled by broad standards adoption will be the first to capitalize on processes that better move:

  • Money
  • Information
  • Goods

The design and construction industry remains particularly impaired at effectively moving information and consequently is not particularly good at moving money. Information and money do not move well because there is not a broadly adopted information standard. There are a myriad of construction industry issues to capitalize upon through standardization, unleashing data driven innovation and efficiencies.

While project proficiency is terrific, having data that is unique to every project is not. Industry proficiency relies on federated information flows, the core cog in the construction supply chain. There are hundreds of examples, but think about the prospective efficiencies of moving information seamlessly from approved submittals to procurement to supply chain execution to asset handover without data input as possible because of a standardized information exchange. We experience an analogous experience every time we click on an online retailers offering, think of it as a submittal approval!

These standards exist and are becoming more broadly adopted. The tipping point is approaching. Are you prepared?