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iTWO costX® Consultant Series: The Digital Collaboration Concept

For our latest blog post, Middle East Senior Consultant Herman van Eeden has offered his thoughts on some of the latest philosophies and concepts guiding our industry, including collaboration, data analytics and the value of coding.

In this piece I will delve into some of the buzzwords defining construction, and I hope to bring some new perspective and practicality to them. I will merely scratch the surface, but from what I have seen, successful collaboration and interoperability is more to do with understanding and buying into a philosophy than actually following a 5, 10 or 20 step instruction manual.

I have heard big data being compared to a goldmine, but I do not quite agree with this analogy.

You see, a gold mine would only be commissioned once it is confirmed that there is gold in the ground at that location. Thus, big data is rather the world and our industry must find where we should place the mines to extract the gold contained within. And similar to the gold, it may be quite scarce and hard to find, because data needs to be structured to have any value. For the most part of our technological history, we have not been too good at this. I make this statement based purely on observation of different datasets, mostly historical cost data that companies may have accumulated over the years, and I am only referring to the way that data is structured internally, let alone globally as an industry. I think we have a massive problem with ‘overburden’, that could cause a huge tailings pile and need some serious prospecting if we are going to extract something of relevance.

Fortunately, we do have a lot of processing power at our disposal, and we don’t need to pick and axe and dynamite when our ‘panning’ produces some glimmer of hope. I see massive potential for machine learning and AI to even help us with our panning as well, if we can succeed in pointing it in the right direction; it may even be taught to enrich otherwise useless data to make it more meaningful as a data source.

This then leaves us with the question of how to take this forward and what we can do in the now, to ensure we are producing something valuable and not just contributing to the ‘overburden’.

The construction industry as a whole is working towards regional and global standards to ensure consistency, and this will no doubt mitigate many of the challenges we currently face. But in the meantime, we can work toward adhering to current standards like NRM, ICMS, Masterformat, etc.

The most important aspects of adherence are education and confirming that the coding structure is scalable – working with what you already have but also accounting for future considerations. This will hold massive future benefits in terms of insights and dashboards, benchmarking, value engineering and more.

In iTWO costX®, this can be achieved through various methods of implementation, from working with your BIM model and design team, to the schedule of object properties and adding your own user-defined properties, to setting up coded rate libraries and workbooks. Projects coded in iTWO costX®, whether they are an estimate or BOQ, can even have multiple codes per item.

Businesses investing in RIB solutions have further options at their disposal. Once priced iTWO costX® workbooks are consistently coded, you can load them into your iTWO benchmark system and start performing conceptual benchmarking, functional analysis and more as a value-added service that harnesses the power of your data.

Coding can be seen as the golden thread that ties many of our processes together. Or, in terms of our original analogy, the golden reef where the mine will be placed and the value derived as a result.

As a parting thought, when considering our workflows, it all comes down to rhythm. I had this thought while training recently; in terms of energy and how you feel when doing repetitions, you can conserve a lot of energy if you get into a good rhythm, whereas a stop-start nature can be frustrating and gets you exhausted way faster. The same can be true for work and workflows; if there is a natural flow from one process to another, it will contribute to not only an increase in efficiency and resultant time savings, but it will also make the job at hand more enjoyable. Conversely, stop-start workflows are not only less effective, but may lead to frustration that compromises the end result.

If you have any further questions about the coding and digital collaboration potential of iTWO costX®, feel free to contact your local RIB office today!