BIM Special: When it’s good to share
Bluebeam’s Revu interface enables collaboration on blueprints for buildings
Joint research by CM and software company Bluebeam shows construction still lags on information sharing. So what should the industry be doing differently, and what are the potential benefits?
With complex projects to deliver and extensive supply chains to manage, information sharing is crucial to the effective operation of construction companies. But few firms have mastered it – yet.
Sasha Reed, vice president for industry advocacy at software house Bluebeam, explains. “Document control is a major challenge for construction firms,” she says. “The well-worn motorway of information sharing between project partners has been paved with paper.
“This outdated business process has resulted in hours of rework and inflated project costs due to incorrect and outdated information sharing.”
When it began working with the construction industry, Bluebeam’s initial goal was to remove the paper and disrupt the status quo of information management, enabling construction customers to keep pace with modern project timelines, says Reed.
Key survey findings
- 83% of responders use software to collaborate
- 70% share sensitive info via email with external partners
- 84% of respondents share internal info via email
- 83% of respondents say they need to work “whenever, wherever”
Barriers to adoption of information sharing software
- 18% say budget is a factor
- 14% point to management hesitancy
- 15% cite lack of knowledge of available solutions
- 11% blame lack of support staff
“Today, digital documents and PDFs have replaced paper,” she adds, “which has introduced a new challenge: digital information management. So, our new goal is to leverage the success of Bluebeam Revu, our software, and provide a centralised platform for storing and sharing digital information.”
CM and Bluebeam have carried out a survey of construction professionals, to assess progress on information sharing and collaboration – and it shows there is still considerable work to be done.
Information is most commonly shared in the industry by email. Around 84% of survey respondents use email to share internal information, nearly 70% to share sensitive information with external partners, and 86% to share non-sensitive information with external partners, while 74% get instant access to information via email.
“That’s ok for some information,” says Reed. “And when you maintain a centralized location for those drawings, you achieve the closest thing we have to a single source of truth.” Different types of information require different types of sharing. But a single source of truth allows for the current version to be the one people are using and referencing, marking up and sharing.
“A simple file-share like Dropbox is a good start, but it doesn’t have the tools for effective administration, easy archiving, and quickly ascertaining who made which changes, and when. Making sure everyone has access to current drawings greatly reduces rework and delays due to confusion on the jobsite or in the planning and review phases.”
The survey results show that many professionals may misunderstand the goals of using software to aid collaboration, Reed notes.
“Some 83% of respondents use software to collaborate but interestingly nearly 50% say they don’t use the software to save money,” she says. “Collaboration and saving money should go hand in hand. Collaborating effectively means less rework, scheduling benefits, and greater buy-in from all parties.”
Some 83% of respondents said it was important or highly important to be able to work “whenever, wherever”. “Whether you’re at a desk or on the jobsite, or on vacation when an emergency comes up, it’s vital to have access to the most current information,” says Reed.
“Again, it’s about democratising the information, ensuring everyone has access without needing specialised software. Designers and construction managers will need different software from a foreman or planner. However, having universal software that allows for the sharing of information and real-time collaboration is a boon, because it unites people on all levels and in all phases of the construction process.
“Revu has become the industry standard for that, as a language that anybody can be fluent in.”