Why should major construction projects embrace model driven information management?

Already back in 2016, McKinsey concluded that ‘the construction industry is ripe for disruption’. It said that ‘while the construction sector has been slow to adopt process and technology innovations, there is also a continuing challenge when it comes to fixing the basics. The construction industry is among the least digitalized while projects are ever more complex and larger in scale.’

In the report, McKinsey suggests five ways the industry should transform itself in the run-up to 2021. One of the five areas is what they call ‘digital collaboration’. McKinsey states:
“Process digitization means moving away from documents and toward online, real-time sharing of information to ensure transparency and collaboration, timely progress and risk assessment, quality control, and, eventually, better and more reliable outcomes.
One reason for the industry’s poor productivity record is that it still relies on documents to manage its processes and deliverables such as blueprints, design drawings, procurement and supply-chain orders, equipment logs, daily progress reports, and punch lists.”

Due to the lack of a good cloud-based information management system, information sharing is delayed and hardly universal. Owners and contractors therefore often work from ‘different versions of truth’. The use of documents makes it difficult to capture and analyze data. This matters because in procurement and contracting, historical performance analytics can lead to better outcomes and risk management. Mismanaged document trails also spur disagreements between owners and contractors on such matters as construction progress, change orders, and claims management. And finally, document trails simply take more time.

Innovation to streamline collaboration

In January 2020 ENR (Engineering News Record) in its article ‘Contractors Must Develop an Effective Data Strategy to Compete in Today’s Market’ notes that in an effort to improve efficiency, a lot is happening in the construction industry already.

But early adopters of Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) go a step further than that. Documents are no longer the basis for information management. Instead information is managed in small, atomic information elements and mutual dependencies are maintained in the form of explicit relations. All information integrated in this way results in a so-called single point of truth. Routine tasks can be outsourced to computers and people keep their hands and heads free for the intellectually demanding tasks. MBSE ensures project output of higher quality that is delivered in time and at lower costs.