Resourcing – Q5: What resources do I need to accomplish each requirement? 

Resourcing is always a problem as we are always asked to deliver more for less. Setting the expectation with the project manager about how much resources they will have to allocate to the creation of the digital asset is an important thing for the information manager to do.

To get a good feel for this resourcing, the IM needs to look at what is mandatory, what is essential and finally what is desirable. This must include backup and emergency planning just in case there is an absence that cannot be covered by the proposed team.

The human resources that you mobilise for the project need to be identified by the roles they need to play; the 1192 and 19650 suites of documents can assist here. Once a list of roles has been created do the same with responsibilities/ tasks that need to be covered in the creation of the Digital Twin.  To be able to carry out these responsibilities the person fulfilling that role will need to be given authority to do so as well as possess a set of skills, qualifications and certifications. This will of course lead to a gap analysis of what education might be needed and also to the creation of some form of awareness package to help them on-board.

Inevitably there will be a whole platform of technologies that will be required either by the project or by the client that will need to be verified and trained.

Finally, to carry out that role, there will be a set of standards, methods, processes and contractual education required. Each of which could be the difference between a successful delivery or a costly failure. This will lead to question five being answered with a resource requirements document, an update to the BIM Execution Plan followed by a back brief to the PM to make sure they are aware of what resources are required. This should be the final piece in the jigsaw for delivering the Master Information Delivery Plan (MIDP).

The problem with people

It has long been recognised that there is a trilogy of things you need to get right in any endeavour. Process and technology are about in our industry in abundance! The main problem we have is people. Perhaps ‘problem’ is the wrong word, they are our biggest asset, and trained / maintained correctly they will make all your outcomes happen… but ignore their wellbeing and your greatest endeavours will fail!

We are all individuals, with different minds, wants, skills, desires, experiences and defining how to ensure we get the best out of people would take a whole book in its own right, particularly when you factor in apathy!

You will notice that during the 7 Questions process, there are plenty of meetings, briefings and stakeholder engagement opportunities. These are all a part of winning the hearts and minds of the people either directly involved in the project or effected by its progress, keeping them informed and inviting them to comment is a key element.

Back in 2012 the Crossrail project identified that they had some excellent processes, standards and technology in place, but there was a significant risk to the project as the delivery partners that were spread across approximately 200 contracts, didn’t fully understand what they were being asked to do and how they were to do it. They needed to be brought together in a collaborative, joined up delivery rather than a fragmented one, trying to combine a set of individual projects and only linking them when forced to do so.

This was also the turning point in the UK construction industry, with a new mandate for BIM set out to be achieved by 2016. These new processes, standards and technologies deployed without sufficient time spent on education to raise the skill levels to support them would spell disaster.

Recognising this issue Crossrail’s CEO, Andrew Wolstenholme and my boss, Greg Bentley, met to discuss how it could be resolved. They came up with the idea of the Information Management academy, a place outside of the commercial world, where all the projects participants could come together to talk about what needed to be done and share good practice on how to achieve it.

The Crossrail IM Academy delivered on-boarding sessions for each project, making them aware of the standards, processes, technologies and interactions that they needed to get to grips with. Delivering sessions on the bigger picture, CAD systems, GIS, Document Control, Asset Management, Handover and the BIM in Delivery working group, which aimed to become a “force multiplier” in getting value for the delivery partners through innovative technologies.

When engaging and winning over your project team these four areas should always be included:

  • What is the bigger picture?

  • Where do I (you) fit into the bigger picture?

  • What is in it for me?

  • Take me through my day to day working and how its changed

Get these things right and you will be well on your way to winning over the people.

This Academy didn’t just brief people on the project, it gave the delivery partners a location to share knowledge, ideas and ask questions outside of commercial restraints. As the project moved forward it allowed many major projects and clients organisations from around the world to hear about the project and learn from it.

Those Academy facilitated conversations have formed the base of these pages

The next generation

As we step forward to consider these questions and how to effect the changes required, I suggest before you start, maybe take step back instead, and look at this differently.

Being entirely realistic, how can you influence people to make a change when everything tells them from experience that they are just a piece of a giant puzzle, and for them to change, everyone around them needs to change too. Now that sounds difficult indeed! Let’s take a broader view.

In any major project, even mid-size ones, just how long does it take from inception to hitting the ground? 6 years, 8 years, maybe 10 years, and if that is the case, just who will be on the team at that point? Maybe some of the older team members will have retired, and it will be the next generation who will be joining the team who stand a chance of bringing new attitudes, and new ways of working.

 

Maybe it is they who could bring about the change you believe is needed. 14 and 15years olds today will be your new hires in 8-10 years’ time, so you might decide that it would be a good idea to follow the old game – and aim your torpedo not where the ship is now, but where it will be. We might suggest, and there is ample evidence to confirm this, the key age for influence, of open minds, of embedding change in attitudes and understanding is actually age 14 +/- a year. You might think some of the processes we will talk about in this book are not relevant to some so young, and on that we will invite you to consider you might be wrong, and that indeed shaping your next workforce will repay your investment handsomely. Have your team ‘adopt a school’ or two and engage the students, grow your own talent – and be prepared to be surprised.

I’m going to draw attention to a phenomenon you might have seen yourselves, and it plays to this very approach.

Older experienced staff members familiar with drawing-based processes are generally challenged by model based and information-based datasets – and these new and different ways of assessing project information, and of sharing experience, and making decisions and checking designs. Mostly older team leaders can only do reliant on younger hands – those who drive the technology. No longer can senior industry professionals make marks on drawings or lean over the shoulder of younger team members working at the drawing board. As a result, younger team members are effectively left to make design decisions, changes, checking etc. simply because the technology requires a level of literacy that so many older team members lack. The dynamic of changing processes is being bounced by the development of systems – that’s disruptive technology for you!

Change is coming, often in more dynamic ways that we are comfortable with, yet today’s 14-year olds expect it, embrace it, and will drive it, get with them, and steer the future of your industry!

Get involved with the next generation through Alison Watson and her dedicated team.

Improving Construction Productivity

Behind all the technological initiatives in our industry is a simple goal - improving productivity. Often the best improvements come from a combination of knowledge (the people) the process, and the technology and we are all (hopefully) striving for better outcomes. Before I can address the matter of improving productivity, I need to provide context to the problem.

 

The construction sector is one of the largest sectors in the world economy, with more than $10 trillion spent on construction-related goods and services every year. The construction industry’s productivity, however, has very much lagged that of other sectors for several decades. It is very much a traditional industry with old values that often hold it back from better outcomes. If we do some calculations, we see that there is a $1.6 trillion opportunity to close the gap through higher productivity.

 

World Construction-related spending accounts for 13% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The UK market is 10% of the GDP. And the construction sector’s annual productivity growth has increased less than 1% over the past 20 years! Compare this to the 2.7% for total world economy and 3.6 % for manufacturing according to McKinsey Global Institute analysis, it’s only then that we can start to see the big picture.

 

In the UK there are some 280,000 businesses involved with construction both large and small with 2.93million jobs which is about 10% of total employment.

If we can improve productivity by even a small amount by doing things quicker and smarter in specific areas, then we can make certain to improve production and have much better outcomes. Construction productivity surveys suggest many reasons for this poor performance. It is complex and varied. The industry is extensively regulated, is very dependent on public-sector demand, and is highly cyclical. It suffers from issues that hold it back in addition to its firmly held traditional values and beliefs. Informality and sometimes corruption can distort the market, and this creates uncertainty and unwillingness. Construction is also highly fragmented, and this too can be a major factor in preventing collaboration and shared risk, that would otherwise help in the development of new innovative industry solutions to long standing problems.

An exceptionally large proportion of the industry is in the 2nd or 3rd tier part of the supply chain (excluding manufacturing in this example) meaning smaller or medium players and they tend to be even more traditional and steadfast to adopting new technology and methods. By shunning innovation, potential opportunities are missed that could enhance performance through process improvements. And any changes that do take place are terribly slow to evolve and met with acute cynicism.

 

I’m going to throw up some figures in the next two paragraphs that are quite literally shocking to those unacquainted with the close workings of the industry. If you read Building Magazine, the figure of 2%.... was the average net profit made by the top 150 construction companies in the UK last year. This is maybe another reason why there is a shortage of investment funds from within and available to the sector to use as research and development.

With many firms also living on debt, when interest rates rise, we could see more Carillion’s. …. this was a massive outsourcing and construction firm that went bust last year – and was said to be the largest ever trading liquidation in the UK - with huge consequences.

 

According to the University of Reading, another percentage is 3%... and that is what construction firms typically spend of their turnover on bidding for new work. Most of this is written off as they lose more bids than they win. It means that they are spending 50% more on bidding than they make on profit. Not only is this unsustainable for contractors, it does not serve the buyer well. To win 1 from 4 is considered good.

 

PricewaterhouseCoopers puts the higher margins in the UK construction sector tending to come from long-term relationships, such as five-year service contracts, rather than one-off building contracts. These long-term arrangements, such as frameworks or partnerships for civil work, tend to be driven by organisations where establishing a relationship is key to accessing a pipeline of contracts.

For this to operate effectively, it must have large elements of trust and deliver two-way value.

 

In addition, innovation must become a key part of the digital deliver partners narrative and offering, rooted in the reality of a firm which is genuinely seeking better ways to do things for better outcomes and increasing certainty of cost and schedule.

This is part of the trust equation where a buyer who develops a long-term relationship with a construction firm needs to know that they are partnering a company that will always seek to bring to the table the best of what can be done. That means they are never ever complacent or lose sight of the target.

 

When focused to major project schemes, there are several areas that could add significant improvement to productivity centered around project work and one that crops up as having the most potential is that of project controls. Site teams identify this as being their major issue whilst taking aim at other matters such as design inadequacies and skills shortages to name but a few.

Most individual players lack both the incentives and the scale to change the system as described above they do not have the means to change. However, there are forces lowering the barriers for change: rising requirements and demand in terms of volume, cost, and quality; larger-scale players and more transparent markets, and disruptive new entrants; more readily available new technologies, materials, and processes; and the increasing cost of labour with partial restrictions on migrant workers.

 

The good news is that change is coming. Construction-sector participants are slowly rethinking their operating approaches to avoid being caught out in what could be the world’s next great productivity story. As I said earlier, construction companies traditionally invest less very little in R&D /new technologies: it’s less than 0.1% of revenue—lower than every other major industry. As a result, the last several decades have seen construction productivity fall while costs continue to go up.


Government assistance through e.g. the national economic plan (which forms part of the Industrial Strategy) in helping this drive to change which has great potential for people, communities, and the economy. This support can quite literally mean the difference between getting started or not at all. Government Incentivised innovation, collaborative working and sector encouragement are making a real difference to UK Plc where it’s becoming an envy of many others.

 

The UK is tackling the productivity issue through the COMIT group, join in or perhaps get left behind!

Most individual players lack both the incentives and the scale to change the system as described above they do not have the means to change. However, there are forces lowering the barriers for change: rising requirements and demand in terms of volume, cost, and quality; larger-scale players and more transparent markets, and disruptive new entrants; more readily available new technologies, materials, and processes; and the increasing cost of labour with partial restrictions on migrant workers.

 

The good news is that change is coming. Construction-sector participants are slowly rethinking their operating approaches to avoid being caught out in what could be the world’s next great productivity story. As I said earlier, construction companies traditionally invest less very little in R&D /new technologies: it’s less than 0.1% of revenue—lower than every other major industry. As a result, the last several decades have seen construction productivity fall while costs continue to go up.


Government assistance through e.g. the national economic plan (which forms part of the Industrial Strategy) in helping this drive to change which has great potential for people, communities, and the economy. This support can quite literally mean the difference between getting started or not at all. Government Incentivised innovation, collaborative working and sector encouragement are making a real difference to UK Plc where it’s becoming an envy of many others.

 

The UK is tackling the productivity issue through the COMIT group, join in or perhaps get left behind!

© 2017 - 2020 by COMIT Projects Ltd.

 

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