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What is an Advanced Digital Construction Management System?

by Dan Conery   |   September 2, 2021

How the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Provides Funding for Digital Project Management Information Systems

Most owners believe in the usefulness of digital tools. In fact, 92% of owners who responded to a recent survey said they already have a digital transformation strategy in place, but feel their organizations should invest more in technology tools that aid in project management, data analytics, and maintenance.

Of course, a lack of funding often creates roadblocks for owners and contractors wanting to adopt more technology. The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law November of 2021, includes new streams of funding for owners interested in digital transformation.

In the bill, the term “advanced digital construction management systems” is used to create a funding source for owners looking to procure and implement construction technology. The bill’s language stresses accelerating “state adoption of advanced digital construction management systems applied throughout the design, engineering, construction, and operations phases of a construction project.”

While open-ended, the term “advanced digital construction management systems” essentially describes a digital Project Management Information Solution (PMIS) for construction—the type of end-to-end solution that e-Builder provides.

Essentially, the goals of the bill include maximizing interoperability with other systems and tools, increasing productivity, managing project complexity, reducing delays and cost overruns, reducing reliance on paper, and enhancing safety and quality. While open-ended, the term “advanced digital construction management system” basically describes what most professionals refer to as a digital Project Management Information Solution or PMIS for construction.

How an Advanced Digital Construction Management System Can Help Your Organization

With funding in view to accelerate your organization’s digital transformation initiatives, here are some areas where adopting this technology can make a significant impact:

Construction Digital Transformation

Design Authoring and Collaboration

An advanced digital construction management system creates a central location for planning, allowing you to use data from past projects to define contingency budgets and make accurate cost-to-complete predictions. From one location, you’ll be able to manage the design phase of your project—processing submission and approvals with vendors, partners, and stakeholders. 

A versatile system, also allows you to redline and mark up drawings as needed and view CAD and BIM files from within your browser, simplifying collaboration between teams. Automated workflows help ensure that designs are reviewed on time and let you track any issues that arise along the way.

Project Management

From procurement to operations, a construction management system helps you manage the entire project from one digital hub—and provides a single source of truth for all stakeholders. With a robust solution, you’ll be able to manage and accept bids and RFPs, communicate with bidders, and evaluate potential vendors from within the platform.

The ideal construction management system will give you essential control over project execution with features such as:

  • A sophisticated digital document management system
  • An automated, data-driven cost management system
  • A digital approval process with automated workflows, built-in verification tools and electronic signatures
  • A fully integrated, automated, cloud-based scheduling system
  • Automated on-demand reports
  • Configurable workflow management capabilities
  • Dashboards and forecasts that help ensure that up-to-date information is easily accessible whenever you need it
  • Configurable forms that align with your specific requirements
  • Flexible and mobile interfaces so that you can manage your projects from anywhere

And as construction commences, you should have the power to track the project in real-time, with visibility into change orders, resource management changes, and other shifts. Advanced system features to look for include access to customized reporting, Business Intelligence (BI) tools, and analytics dashboards, which can provide critical insight into a project’s performance.

Document Management

Because construction projects are enormous and many-faceted, document management is always a challenge—but this is another area where a reliable digital system can help. 

With so many stakeholders involved, success depends on strong communication and collaboration built on accurate information. When paper documents are digitized and placed in a central management system, contractors and vendors can easily find what they need and share the most current documents, reducing delays and costs related to rework. 

An advanced digital construction management system should also be able to manage other assets such as drawings, 3-D models, digital twins, vendor data, and financials. When all these components can be centralized, you’ll gain visibility into the overall health and progress of your project—and avoid many miscommunications along the way.

Enterprise Integration

Adding a new system can be a headache, especially when it’s unable to integrate with your existing systems causing added manual work and the risk of human error as your teams must transfer data from one system to another. But a superior construction management solution will have the power to integrate seamlessly with your existing technology, including Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, helping you avoid data silos and ongoing hassles.

While some solutions may claim to be completely operational out of the box, the truth is large-scale enterprise-wide adoption takes time, particularly when it comes to changing legacy methods across multiple offices, different geographic regions, process testing and documentation, employee training—you name it! But the right partner will take the time to understand your short-and long-term goals and build a solution that works for your organization.

Enterprise Software Integration

Keep in mind, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so your construction management solution shouldn’t be either. As your organization grows, so too should your integrations and systems.

Your processes and technology should be integrated so that each person has access to the information they need for their job role. As an example, our third-party integrations are made possible by AppXchange, a collection of data exchange tools, APIs, and pre-built integrations. This toolbox allows e-Builder Enterprise to connect to and share data with the broad ecosystem of solutions used in your organization. If the integration you need is not pre-built, we can also help you design and implement a custom integration.

Keep in mind, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so your construction management solution shouldn’t be either. As your organization grows, so too should your integrations and systems.

Construction Cost Management

Cost and Change Management

The building process generally accounts for approximately 70% of an organization’s capital improvement budget, so having a strong cost management system in place is critical during this phase.

Look for a flexible, malleable, yet detailed system capable of rolling up data across the project on a day-to-day basis, as well as across projects to the program level. Additionally, the solution should be user friendly, meet stakeholder needs, and provide transparency and visibility in every area of project execution to ensure budget is being adhered to.

The building process generally accounts for approximately 70% of an organization’s capital improvement budget, so having a strong cost management system in place is critical during this phase.

The Biden administration’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act aims to fund major infrastructure projects across the United States. With these opportunities, however, comes a huge increase in capital funding—and with it, the need for construction owners to employ digital technologies to manage the expected doubling or tripling of their capital improvement plan budgets.

With e-Builder Enterprise, Banner Health was able to streamline construction management and reporting practices, and significantly improve program and project visibility and cost control―leading to $70 million in savings from active projects and the reallocation of an additional $22 million. When you have simplified, unified control over funds based on accurate, data-driven forecasting, you can save millions of dollars while keeping all stakeholders happy. Hear the full story in this video.

Scheduling

We shouldn’t have to explain why scheduling is important for owners, not when the outcome of poor scheduling—in both time and costs—can make the difference between a failed project, or a successful and profitable one.

While owners generally rely on project milestones to determine the status of a build, there can be technical challenges in pulling the essential information from say, a contractor’s schedule, and presenting it in a comparable format. If the construction management system being considered wasn’t created with the owner’s scheduling needs in mind, this may lead to inaccurate milestones and performance reports that trigger project delays and costly errors.

Construction Scheduling

Ideally, your construction management system should allow everyone on the project to update the same schedule on a regular basis so that you have a clear understanding of where tasks are at any given time—and if there’s an issue, you can flag it immediately.

"From an owner standpoint, I might be budgeting out five or ten years in the future. If I have a major capital improvement project that I need to do in year three, and I've got these other projects pushing it back, I need to be made aware of those roadblocks in time to offset delays.”

- Christopher Haite,
Managing Civil Engineer at Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

At the end of the day, a construction management solution should fit your scheduling model, not the other way around.

Construction Cyber Security

Security

Security should be a main deciding factor when you’re looking for a construction management system to advance your digital transformation.

Cyberattacks and ransomware should be treated as any other threat to your business, seriously. Owners who invest in technology solutions that prioritize the security of customer data will not only protect their business reputation and interests but also our nation’s infrastructure.

Earlier this year, the Biden administration put into effect an executive order that outlines a course to improve our nation’s cybersecurity. Even if you’re not required to abide by these measures, they’re effective guidelines to mirror:

  • Remove barriers to threat information sharing between government and the private sector
  • Modernize and implement stronger cybersecurity standards in the Federal Government
  • Improve software supply chain security
  • Establish a Cybersecurity Safety Review Board
  • Create a standard playbook for responding to cyber incidents
  • Improve detection of cybersecurity incidents on Federal Government Networks
  • Improve investigative and remediation capabilities

Still, one of the best ways to vet the security of a potential construction management solution is to research its status on the FedRAMP marketplace. Even if you are not a federal agency and don’t use the FedRAMP version of the software, the processes and audits required to qualify will assure you that the solution takes security seriously.

Perhaps you’re considering a custom-made, on-premises solution? If so, first ask yourself these five questions...

  1. How do you plan to allocate the development & financial resources to adhere to FEDRAMP standards?
  2. How will you build extensive configurability around administrative control?
  3. How will you perform automated monitoring of all static and dynamic processes within your system to prevent intrusions?
  4. What percentage of your company’s revenue have you allocated towards internal security research, development, and execution?
  5. How will your internal team ensure performance and scalability as more users rely on your homegrown system?

If your organization is unable to confidently answer these questions, then security is an afterthought for the on-premises solution, and it is not prepared to properly mitigate risk as you make large-scale changes to how your business operates today. Read this 1-page security checklist for more helpful tips.

Let Us Be Your Trusted Partner

From funding to budget and change order management to invoicing, e-Builder Enterprise is the construction management solution that covers all phases of the project lifecycle, including capital planning, design, procurement and bidding, construction and facility operations. Because it integrates cost capabilities with real-time workflow, everyone involved in a project can consistently see what funding is coming through on a budget or contract. And you get expert consultancy services to help you design the right construction cost management process that can save you money and make your project more efficient.

e-Builder Enterprise is designed for owners like you to manage the funding, tracking and reporting of your Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act projects. By choosing e-Builder, you are joining the ranks of public and private organizations that have managed tens of thousands of projects valued at over $1 trillion in our advanced digital construction management system. Let us be your trusted partner.

Key Topics Covered: construction management software, Cost Management, digital construction management system, What is an Advanced Digital Construction Management System

About the Author

Dan Conery
Senior Director of Product Marketing

Over 25 years of software industry experience. Worked with top firms around the world with adoption of technology and the organizational change required. Involved in defining strategic direction as well as tactics to execute on defined strategy. I have excellent customer facing skills along with the ability to speak with people at a very technical level of detail. I believe strongly that if you are not failing you are not trying.

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