BSI's Digital Construction

BSI’s three-step guide to digitising construction

BSI Digital Transformation ReportThe UK’s national standards body has launched a report to help support construction organisations address their digital transformation concerns.

The organisation conducted a survey of 100 built environment professionals, which revealed 32% felt unprepared and behind in delivering digital transformation standards in 2019.

Here is an extract from the report, including an implementation checklist below

By following these three steps, the construction industry can begin to create a solid framework that encourages growth, partnership and quality from across the built environment.

Step 1: adopt a standards-based approach

The competitive and fragmented nature of the construction industry often creates an adversarial culture among built environment professionals. Reluctant to disclose their digital transformation successes and failures, organisations are left without useful tangible advice or recommendations from their peers. However, a standards-based approach to multidisciplinary workflow design solves this conflict. Alex Lubbock, head of digital construction at the HM Treasury and Cabinet Office, revealed some of the most successful digital transformation roll-outs have begun with culture and consistency across people and supply chains from a technology and practical perspective.

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By embedding standards and certification into the heart of your practices, particularly with data use, you can ensure the processes and technology you implement meet industry-wide levels of compliance. These standardisations can also provide you with a recognised framework for success around which you can build a platform to educate and train your teams. Ultimately, you can evidence best practice through independent third-party certification or product testing.

With a universal reference point to use across business cultures and supply chain processes, organisations can be held accountable for their actions and work with their supply chain partners to create a better level of service.

Step 2: break down barriers with communication

With agreed standards in place, organisations must then work towards creating an open, collaborative space for teams across built environment projects to work in. For every professional in the supply chain – whether you are a client, customer, manufacturer, supplier, contractor or designer – this begins with clear communication. Because 23% of professionals rated their organisation’s communication and work processes as ineffective.

As Lubbock explained, “clients need to be clearer and more confident about what they’re asking for from the rest of the supply chain. Often their requirements are diluted by confusing languages of inputs, outputs, performance and outcomes”.

Ditch the jargon that surrounds technology to explain to clients, stakeholders, supply chain partners and employees the long-term benefits your proposed technology will create, and what you need from them to make this a reality. This, partnered with standardised processes, will set project-wide expectations and reduce any misinterpretation of requirements.

With everyone on the same page, processes like BIM and tools like IoT can be implemented to create collaborative environments, where project stakeholders from every phase can work together to overcome challenges, reduce delays, improve trust and increase project profitability. Research shows that using BIM processes to resolve issues contributes to an average project time saving of 15%.

Step 3: build momentum for buy-in 

The most important things to show your stakeholders and clients are the logistics and value of your digital transformation strategy. This starts at the beginning of projects. Just because a client or customer hasn’t asked you to use processes like BIM or additive manufacturing in their project, it doesn’t mean it won’t be a worthy investment.

It is often up to constructors, suppliers and manufacturers to show specifiers and designers the value of processes like these during early project phases and explain the long-term benefits it can create through to facilities management and building maintenance.

Organisations that have implemented successful digital transformation strategies have often done so by appointing an internal ‘champion’ who helps their organisation, from the top-down, understand the benefits of their new approach, and who is responsible for driving its adoption.

This includes creating a swell of support from stakeholders, managing the certification, education and adoption of technology, and working with clients, suppliers and facilities managers to ensure everyone is on the same page. This way, organisations can see the long-term benefits of a digital transformation investment from the perspective of an in-house expert.

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Companies that have implemented successful strategies have often done so by appointing an internal champion to provide a top-down approach

Are you ready?

To ensure that construction companies’ starting positions are strong, BSI has created an implementation checklist.

Create a strong foundation

  • Test the quality and value of your data collection methods across systems and processes
  • Work with multidisciplinary teams to identify and prioritise areas where your project delivery processes need to be improved

Refine your business case

  • Design a 12-month, three-year and five-year technology roadmap with clear actions to show which steps you need to take, when. If you haven’t already, make BIM part of your roadmap today so that you don’t fall behind your peers
  • Before roll-out, make sure every team understands the benefits of these new solutions and has training on how to use them

Roll out technology

  • Ensure your new technology and processes meet industry certifications and standards (think global). Use independent third-party certification to validate your adoption of digital construction
  • Put measures in place for open communication across the supply chain with key stakeholders and teams throughout planning, rollout and use of new processes and technology (through cloud-hosted meeting spaces or information management tools)

Manage performance and development

  • Continually evaluate the successes and failures of your digital implementation and use incremental product and system changes where necessary
  • Work towards the next level of certification and training for your chosen technologies and system so that you’re always at the forefront of your field

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