The Importance of Information on a Construction Project

PIMeo - document management

Information on a construction project is like diesel is to a car – without it you will go nowhere.

Information can come in different forms on a project, it can be in the form of drawings (or models), specifications, bill of quantities, schedules, instructions, queries, emails, etc. Most of this information is created by the design team but some originates from the contractor/subcontractor. The delivery and coordination of all of this information is vital to the successful completion of a construction project. There are so many cogs in the process that it only takes one or two cogs to fail for the information to stop flowing.

While I have spent most of my career working on the front face of construction, I did spend a short period of time working in a design office. Looking back, I think it is often overlooked how challenging it can be working in a design office whether that be an Architect’s office, a Structural Engineer’s office or a Services Engineer’s office. They are usually commencing with a blank “canvas” and have to take the client’s brief and make the project/canvas come alive. Depending on the complexity of the project, this can be a time consuming process.

The Unknown Information

In reality, no project commences construction with 100 percent of the information being known, fully understood and priced, even if a model has been used to coordinate the various packages. Anecdotally, the percentage of information known could be around 70-80 percent. The remaining 20-30 percent unknown information can arise from clients changing their minds, not enough time has being given for design development, errors made during the design development process and sometimes problems do not appear until the elements are actually constructed/installed.

How can PIMeo help?

Our PIMeo application can aid the construction team to help the design team to identify and resolve the 20-30 percent unknown information. PIMeo can
Host the construction team’s Information Release Schedule to inform the design team when certain information is required
Raise Request for Information queries highlighting issues
Confirm Verbal Instructions so that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet
Issue Technical Submittals to get proposed designs, materials approved by the design team in an efficient manner

If unknown information is not resolved, it can play a pivotal role in different areas of the construction process, from quality assurance to health & safety, from programme to mental health, etc. Ultimately, the unknown information can lead to delays being experienced on a project and in the absence of an Extension of Time, these delays have to be mitigated.

Mitigating the Delays

Mitigating delays is when the real “fun” begins. The duration for the works affected by the unknown information has now to be completed in a shorter space of time which may result in:
Quality Assurance being affected as the works have to be completed in an accelerated manner, mistakes can and will be made
Health & Safety – operatives may cut corners to get the job done in a shorter duration, increasing the risk of injury to themselves and others
Programme being more congested with too many activities being carried out concurrently
The Mental Health of the project manager, site supervisors and labour force being affected by having to deal with highly stressed situations on a daily basis. Everyone is on heightened alert to get the project finished and to overcome the obstacles placed by the unknown information.

Whether you are a main contractor or a subcontractor, mitigating delays can cost money. The labour force possibly has to carry out work during overtime hours and in non productive environments. Having the backup to demonstrate these situations is vitally important to recover the costs associated with same.

How can PIMeo help?

PIMeo can help with creating, maintaining and providing the required backup to help with resolving the costs associated with mitigating the delays, for example, PIMeo can track the employees hours (including overtime hours) and their associated activities which can feed into discussions for resolving the delays.

Delays can occur for multiple reasons on a construction project, for example, contractor or subcontractor errors, weather, etc. This article only dealt with the delays associated with the unknown or lack of information that may exist on a construction site.

I do think it is often overlooked the impact the unknown information has on the lives of the site construction team and even the client/design team, things can get very emotional. Perhaps if an Extension of Time can be agreed it should be enforced, it may actually save money in the long run…..

PIMeo, our document management system, can help with tracking the various pieces of information that are required to make a construction project a success.