One of the huge advantages of using construction management software is the opportunity to fully integrate many aspects of a job into one common ecosystem.
This method, where all sorts of data from various sources on a project – from maps and models, to ongoing inspections, assigned tasks, costs, materials, schedules – is feeding into the one place where it can by centrally amalgamated and analysed, leads to huge gains in terms of efficiencies and insights.
Each part of the project can easily be informed by the other parts because all of the data is unified in one easily accessible resource, rather than fragmented in different physical locations, different media or incompatible software.
This idea of a common data environment (CDE) is leading to new gains for tech-savvy building professionals who recognize and harness the full power of digital technology to deliver the best job possible.
What Is A CDE?
A common data environment (CDE) is a central store where information from construction projects is gathered together, kept, managed and shared.
By using a single source of information, it will increase collaboration between stakeholders on a project, reduce the duplication of work, reduce the number of mistakes and problems – and thereby create greater efficiency and save time and money.
Once clear protocols around the workflow for dealing with information are established for all parties, to avoid errors or lapses and therefore fully ensure the integrity of the data, the CDE becomes the ultimate source of ‘truth’ around a project.
It will be the source from which you gather, manage and disseminate data and information between multi-disciplined stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle.
What Kind Of information Is Stored Within A CDE?
The CDE will have project data, registers, schedules, contracts and reports from all aspects of the job and the different teams responsible – from design and architectural, to contractors, mechanical, plumbing and electrical sub-contractors.
The information in a CDE can include graphic models, documents and assets from BIM modelling, as well as all data input onsite by stakeholders onsite once work has begun, including inspections or defects and snagging data.
Why Is Having This Information Within A CDE important?
Establishing a CDE should be a software priority for any organization in the construction industry as the benefits of having it as a single source of truth on a project are many.
When all the different functions of construction management software are integrated and feeding into the same ecosystem, there is greater collaboration, greater efficiency, greater traceability, and fewer problems and mistakes.
It allows for better design and planning, enhanced communication, real-time information sharing, easier document management, smoother handover and maintenance of assets once the building is operational.
An information manager should be appointed, ideally a senior team member, with responsibility for ensuring all the information that is logged and shared is kept in a coherent fashion.
When a CDE is used in conjunction with the whole range of tools available via construction management software, it becomes a potent tool throughout the project's life-cycle for quicker and more efficient delivery.
Zutec business development manager Daniel DaSilva explains: “When you use an inspections platform and you’re combining that with a digital handover solution, when you’re combining that with a common data environment, with drawing management, drawing submittal, drawing review, when housing all of that ecosystem in the one platform, it then allows you to streamline. There’s also less training required by all of the various parties, they don’t have to learn how to use two or three different systems.”