In part one of our series of articles on the tools reshaping construction, we examined how cloud-based handover software is revolutionising the industry. In part two, we turn our attention to Common Data Environments, or CDEs.

What is a CDE and how does it work?

A CDE (as the name goes some way to explaining) is a single point through which all project data flows. It forms the digital data foundation of your project throughout its entire lifecycle.

CDE’s are split into 4 distinct phases as defined in BS EN ISO19650-1:2018, which is available to download on the BSI website. These phases are WIP, Shared, Published and Archive. Each phase is gated, meaning that data must be authorised and verified before passing into the next phase.  

Approval of the data in the gating system is essential. If incorrect data were allowed to leak through into the Published phase, for example, the construction team could commence work following flawed plans, which might easily have costly or dangerous consequences.

A properly managed CDE ensures that the appropriate stakeholders have access to accurate information when they need it. A building owner can access data through a CDE to review warranty or maintenance manuals. Someone completing an audit could easily review transaction orders. A project manager can create powerful digital overviews and make better critical decisions. If your data is digitised, it is searchable, secure and much more reliable.

So how did people ever cope without CDEs?

With so much data required on any given construction project, it is hard to imagine how a job could be effectively and efficiently managed if reliant on paper documents. Paper is bulky, hard to search through, it can be lost or damaged and takes time to file or access. In short, it is grossly inefficient.

Though most firms have adopted digitisation in some form, many could still do much better. An alarming number of companies still use emails and text messages as their primary method of communication. This leads to ‘data sprawl’. Finding that all important communique in a labyrinth of email threads can waste hours of valuable time.

Poor data management represents a massive financial drain for the construction industry as a whole.

Research shows that a whopping 30% of all work completed is rework, and half of all rework occurs because of poor data management. The average construction worker wastes 14 hours a week on non-optimal activity. Individual construction firms are incurring huge unnecessary losses which could be negated through the application of a CDE.

Companies that resist modernisation for fear of upfront costs or complexity do so needlessly. CDEs are simple to implement and can be managed through smartphones and tablets; as such, they don’t require huge investment in tech hardware and are relatively cheap to put in place. Considering the efficiencies attainable through CDEs, they soon pay back dividends to new adopters.

No time like the present

An ancient Chinese proverb says: the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago and the next best time is now. CDEs should be the main technological focus for companies yet to use them. The sooner you adopt, the sooner you can begin benefiting with better communication, higher efficiency, better project outcomes, happier clients and a boosted bottom line.

Those late to adopt will fall behind their more technologically advanced competition - especially as practices like BIM integration become more commonplace. Plus, if you have business interests in the UK, digitised data management looks set to become a legal requirement; the Building Safety Bill, with its added emphasis on accountability and ‘The Golden Thread’, makes no mention of ‘hard copies’ of data anywhere.

Choose Zutec

Zutec’s superior CDE platform delivers greater efficiency, cost savings, improved compliance, better quality builds, happier clients and revenue and profit growth.

Our user-friendly CDE platform allows your team to:

  • Manage every data element in your project easily & efficiently.
  • Store data securely on a single platform.
  • Access, upkeep & share data in real time as your project progresses.
  • Create & follow bespoke workflows – work around your processes, not someone else’s interpretation of your processes.
  • Schedule notifications to ensure no stone is left unturned.
  • Collate & analyse data for ‘the big picture’ so you can make the right critical decisions.
  • Work on one unified toolset from design through construction to handover.

Revolutionise the way your firm handles data and streamline every aspect of your project lifecycles with Zutec CDE. Book a free customised demo.

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