A single construction project generates an unprecedented amount of data out of which 96% of captured data goes unused. But every project, whether small or large, requires the creation, management, and sharing of tremendous data volume during the whole project cycle. But many project team members find it challenging to effectively manage, use, and share project information. Due to poor information management and lack of proper data environment systems, a project can lead to errors, missed deadlines, rework, extra financial cost, and similar other impacts.
But the present technologically advanced era has somehow the solution for all such data-centric problems. The best way to address construction data overload is to set up a standardized way to collect, manage, and disseminate data or, in short, simply opting for the common data environment (CDE). In this blog, we will shed light on the common data environment (CDE) and discuss its important aspects.
Common Data Environment – A Comprehensive Overview
Acting as a single source of information, the common data environment (CDE) is used to gather, manage and disseminate documentation for all the project team. The information set also includes graphical models and non-graphical ones. CDE approach of one single information source encourages an environment of collaboration between the project teams and helps to avoid duplication and mistakes.
Common data environment (CDE) was initially created in a BIM environment and promoted as an element of UK BIM Level 2 standards, but now it extends to diverse project information, such as project contracts, change orders, schedules, etc.
There are many challenges faced by construction companies (related to the software ecosystem) during a project that is often difficult to address. Some of the leading challenges include inconsistent workflows and processes, loss of data, no interlinked technologies or software, no central hub, no standardization, and similar other challenges. But this is where CDE plays its role.
Common data environment (CDE) addresses the information requirements and management aspects effectively in construction projects. Following are some of the key reasons that showcase why you should practice CDE actively:
- Sets up a Single Version of Truth: A project with a single source of truth has a lot of benefits. When project team members can access data, changes, and plans in real-time under one source, then such information facilitates collaboration, triggers better decision-making and efficient use of data.
- Enhances Quality and Efficiency: With CDE, there is no need to recreate data manually, so it improves the quality with less information lost and reduced input errors. In addition, the overall company efficiency boosts, as all the staff has the access to the required data instantly.
- Economy: CDE can facilitate in reducing initial and ongoing project expenses by providing centralized expense monitoring. It helps in reducing the number of required resources, tools, and processes.
- Better Security: Instead of scattered data, creating this single source of data environment enhances data security. IT professionals or other company administrators are in a better position to control data, especially sensitive information.
- Enhances Collaboration: Out of many benefits associated with CDE, its collaboration perspective is one of the primary reasons why companies should practice common data environments. When all data flows and gets updated in a single place, it’s easy to access data in real-time and collaborate within or across teams on the shared information conveniently. Overall, it enhances teamwork and a collaborative work environment.
- Decreases Risk: With a clear glimpse of the whole project landscape and better transparency, CDE decreases risk. In addition, it encourages the environment of continuous improvement, thereby making the company grow.
- Attracts more Business: CDE gives the impression of transparency and efficiency, as the project team is involved in less paperwork, avoids mistakes, and collaborates smartly. All such aspects increase company reputation and attract more potential clients.
Till now, we have discussed what CDE is and why it is important. So, if it has made you think about adopting the common data environment, then you should have a clear glimpse of what key attributes it must showcase.
- Accessible: A cloud-based CDE with proper access control is the need in present times. This way, information remains accessible to authorized personnel both within work premises or outside.
- Easy to Use: Since both technical and non-technical users are going to use CDE, it must be easy to use. Teams shouldn’t be forced to get specific training just to know how to use CDE.
- Secure: In the present cyber-concerned era, data security is a must. Since CDE is holding all the project crucial information in a single place, it must be well-protected. This means no unauthorized access, data breaches, or other data calamities.
- Smooth Integration: A effective CDE integrates smoothly, which means it functions properly with the company’s present processes and systems. CDE is meant to bring convenience not extra brainstorming to align processes with it.
- Standardize Workflows: A CDE should facilitate standardizing processes and workflows. Besides that, it should also be scalable.
If a common data environment showcases the above attributes, then it triggers the environment of collaboration, teamwork, efficient operations, better insights, and quality project deliveries.
When data is properly managed and utilized, it can generate fruitful outcomes for any company. Since construction projects generate lots of data, it needs proper management to extract useful insights and collaborate better. The common data environment (CDE) sets the track of efficiency, optimization, and collaboration in a construction project. In addition, effective data management opens room for more tech advances, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. In a nutshell, the CDE is a must-have environment for construction companies if they want to become agile, accelerate project delivery, and increase reputation.