In the building lifecycle, there are many opportunities for project stakeholders to engage internally and externally. In a series of reports, Dodge Data & Analytics and Trimble sought the input of owners, designers, contractors and suppliers on the digitalization of AEC workflows. In the first report, which focuses on the owners, the authors have found that owners are adopting digital workflows internally, but need help in working with external stakeholders.
“The study shows that owners are already strong adopters of digital methods within their own organizations,” said Greg Blackman, vice president of Trimble’s Program and Project Management Division.
“In turn, they recognize the need for increased transparency and faster information delivery by their construction partners, such as contractors, engineers and architects. With the expectation of increased activity driven by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, digital workflows and connected teams will be crucial in meeting ambitious project goals.”
The report, Connected Construction: The Owners’ Perspective, was based on interviews and surveys with owners and owner organizations. The report found that there is a high level of engagement in digital workflows from owners and that the owners themselves can help drive the use of digital workflows in the industry. Several challenges, including the use of many different, disconnected software, the cost, and lack of internal training time were identified as barriers.
Key findings include:
- Owners are more deeply engaged with digital workflows than other project team members — Over half (54%) of owners have either integrated software solutions or are using a single, connected construction management solution. Designers and contractors significantly lag in this area, meaning owners are more likely to be able to conduct digital workflows effectively.
- Owners realize the need to improve the flow of communication and data between themselves and other project team members — 59% of owners report frequent breakdowns in communication between themselves and other project team members. Less than half (45%) report that they are satisfied with their connectivity with those external companies.
- Owners' experience of benefits from digital workflows will help drive further engagement — 66% of owners using digital workflows report that they frequently result in better-informed decision-making on their projects. Fortunately, this is also the top potential benefit that small to midsize owners report would be likely to drive them to increase their use of digital workflows.
- The ability to conduct root-cause analysis improves owners' decision-making — The findings reveal why owners using digital workflows are able to make better-informed decisions: they are far more likely to be able to trace the root causes of delays and errors on their projects back to specific activities than those that do not use digital workflows.
- Over two-thirds of owners contractually require contractors to use some digital documentation and practices — This finding demonstrates the value that owners place on having digital data on their projects.
- Owners can draw from their greater experience with digitizing their internal workflows to help them digitize their external ones — 60% of owners report that they have digital workflows for at least half of their project data between departments within their organization. However, only 28% report a similar level of digital data exchange with external companies. This experience with internal digital workflows has already helped drive their appreciation of value of them and can provide valuable experience for helping them transform traditional processes into digital workflows in the future.
"Owners have the greatest influence on the project team," says Steve Jones, Senior Director of Industry Insights at Dodge Construction Network. "If they decide that digital workflows will improve their projects, the rest of the industry will embrace them as well. This study clearly reveals that owners are already deeply into their own digital transformation, and therefore, we expect to see wider use soon of these valuable tools."
The SmartMarket Brief that contains the full findings of the owners' responses to the study can be downloaded for free at construction.com.