As a single store of all documentation related to a construction project, a common data environment (CDE) is by its nature a tool for smoother collaboration. The fundamental aim of a CDE is to enhance efficiency by providing ease of access to the latest information. This reduces mistakes, cost and time spent on a task, and helps avoid creating duplicates. 
 
By improving visibility, access to and management of project documentation, a CDE will boost productivity. It provides clarity now and in the future; the project team can be confident they are using the correct version of a document, and it also simplifies progress tracking, producing a full audit trail, which will help settle any potential disputes further down the line.
 
The benefits of using a CDE are clear, but how do you make sure you are making the most out of it?
 
1) Create a clear sign-off process and a system for archiving
 
As the source of a single project truth, your CDE needs to make clear which documents are works-in-progress and which are final. To do this, you need to have a process in place, make sure everyone understands it and follows it with discipline.
 
This workflow should include files in four different stages: work-in-progress, shared, published and archived. A document will be work-in-progress until it is shared with another team or stakeholder. A shared document may become work-in-progress again when a second team is amending it, and sharing it again. This exchange can go back and forth between teams, producing an abundance of versions, before a document is finally published – at which point a contractor can use it to build from. Therefore sticking to your process is crucial to achieve the efficiencies you need. 
 
2) Appoint an information manager
 
Regardless of how you choose to organise your CDE you should appoint someone to manage it. It’s important to have a person responsible for overseeing all information coming into the system and ensuring documents are synchronised and coherent.
 
It may be tempting to delegate this to someone at entry-level, as the work can seem repetitive, however it requires a variety of different types of knowledge about BIM, quality control and project management to name a few. It’s therefore usually best left to a senior member of the project team.
 
3) Create sub-environments or control access
 
It may be a good idea to divide your CDE into smaller environments. First of all, you may have confidentiality reasons for restricting access to certain information. However, you could also use this to streamline the work done by different sections of the project team.
 
For example, an architect will need to access a different set of documents from a plumber. By allowing them to view a narrower set of assets, you’ll cut down time spent finding the right documents. The key is to make sure the environments work for their intended users, taking into account their different needs.
 
At Zutec, we provide a CDE and cloud-based management software, so that data collection and collaboration can happen on a single platform for entire construction teams. What’s more, our platform is not just time-saving, but also user-friendly. This is crucial when working on projects of scale, with numerous teams and stakeholders involved. Our simple interface is as easy to adopt as everyday online platforms and apps.
 
Contact us to find out how Zutec can help simplify your project processes and management.

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