Embracing the new normal: delivering projects digitally

Guy Beaumont

Director, London

UK

Architecture, engineering and construction organisations are proving they can maintain operations across large parts of their businesses by working remotely. In essence, parts of the construction industry are undergoing an accelerated digital transformation.

So as the industry embraces a new norm, what should organisations be asking themselves to ensure that they can embrace a new, digital way of delivering projects over the long term?

Laser focus on productivity and outcomes

Throughout COVID-19, sustaining revenue-generating activities and delivering project outcomes efficiently and effectively has become critical for survival. Organisations must hold up a mirror and consider what outcomes they are trying to achieve and what day-to-day activities are required to do this. Non-essentials should be parked and people, investment and innovation directed to the areas which will drive productivity and outcomes.

Key productivity considerations to deliver outcomes: 

  • Look at typical tasks and how they have had to adapt as a result of COVID-19. For example – valuing a contract, reporting project performance etc. What has adapted and improved operations, what has (or hasn’t) adapted and is now inefficient?
  • Ask tough questions and challenge the status quo at all levels. Do you need everyone in the office, do we need that report or meeting? Reimagine processes and practices which are no longer productive or effective.

Building digital capability and culture for the future

Use a Digital Maturity Framework to develop a clear understanding of capability, culture, leadership and organisational design to inform digital plans and investments. This will explore the gaps like how leadership and teams respond when ‘normal’ working approaches have evolved.

Key considerations to build digital capability and culture:

  • What systems are not being used effectively as a result of changes in working practices? What capability, training or skill build must be rolled out?
  • Consider the long-term investment in digital skills/resources that bring cultural change and rapidly pilot new solutions and approaches.

Information management as a route to organisational agility

When trying to keep control in a rapidly changing landscape, data is the evidence of what is happening. Accessing the right data, real-time, from a central place enables agility, decision making and means that working differently (or remotely), becomes second nature. Establishing a common data environment where different users can access information needed from a ‘single source of truth’ to make your organisation more robust to sudden changes.

Key considerations to manage information: 

  • Create a common data environment and associated standards for new projects at the ‘setup’ stage. All stakeholders and suppliers should feed into and pull from this environment. Encourage collaboration through proper information management.
  • What incentives, reporting and advocacy are needed? Build a culture that treats data and information as valuable business assets rather than a by-product of project delivery.

Connecting the physical site and digital management environment

Management teams often feel detached from on-site delivery which can impact the understanding of progress, performance and hinder the ability to make proactive decisions.

Key considerations to improve the connection between the physical site and digital management environment:

  • Consider current management information and what is missing. For example, would 360° photos of sites give management more confidence, rather than traditional charts?
  • Be alert to information filtering (human and system) and what is being discarded inadvertently. Use a common data environment as a collaborative tool and establish a ‘digital thread’ to allow stakeholders to use data and information over the entire delivery lifecycle. 

Assured data and analytics to make decisions

Trusted data supports the generation of actionable insight and enables proactive decision-making. It is critical in challenging times to provide managers at all levels, the quantitative basis with which to make informed decisions. To achieve this, renew requirements for assured data and use robust, repeatable analytics to understand current and future reality as accurately as possible.

Clearly define your information requirement:

  1. What questions do you need answering?
  2. What decisions and actions do you need to take as a result of those questions?

Key data and analytics considerations:

  • Based on these questions, organisations and different management levels will understand what information they need. These can be validated through using a Digital Maturity Framework to help understand what data, information and analytics will best support your decision making and achieve the answers you need.
  • Take the time to review corporate reporting in terms of content and frequency. COVID-19 has brought focus on the key items that must be managed and the risks leadership must maintain control over – now is the time to review and check to make sure data and reporting serves a purpose.

Further resources

Please visit our COVID-19 response page for all of our resources relating to the impact of COVID-19 on the construction sector.

For further information contact:

Guy Beaumont
Director, London

t: 07941234047
e: