Most project organization spend a substantial amount of money in acquiring facilities needed for an effective management of information of every one of their projects so that there is an effective flow of information across every division in the company –whether vertically among project members on the same level or horizontally across the different levels of management in the company.
The ideal Information Management system
The ideal Information management organization sees the utilization of a project management information tool such as BIM to ensure that there is an efficient flow of information across all disciplines and departments of a project environment to ensure that all the stakeholders involved in the project are kept abreast of every important piece of information to help them play their roles efficiently.
In the ideal Project management environment, the project information management tool utilized for the efficient distribution of information methodically deployed to improve the general efficiency of project team members. Typically in a project environment, there are three main types of communication tool applied:
1). An interactive tool.
2). A push tool, and
3). The pull tool.
Naturally, an interactive tool is a tool such as BIM which allows a two-way information system for effective interaction and communication. For instance, a worker inputs a command such as “Generate a bar-bending schedule for all slabs in the first floor” and then the BIM tool proceeds to generate the schedule as commanded. The push and the pull tool employ a one-way communication system. Whereby in the push method, information is sent to workers without expecting a response from the workers. In the same way, the pull tool is typically applied in project notice boards where project workers go daily to see their tasks for the day.
However, due to the size of modern construction site, especially infrastructural development, some project organizations tend to use a combination of sophisticated and advanced information distribution method to ensure an increased efficiency among its labour force.
How project Information management affect workers efficiency
But most project organizations have moved from mere notice boards and e-mail communications to advanced project management information systems which depend on large information communications databases to effectively transmit information.
Due to this technological advance, there are a substantial amount of project workers who are affected by the project information systems which their companies adopt as a tool for managing project information.
At times, project supervisors discover that these tools for managing project information are too complicated to implement and also none of the lower cadre know how to operate or navigate this highly sophisticated Information Technology tool.
With this said, the following are the root causes of problems associated with the information management in a project. If you are familiar with the list, when modeling the project information management system of your project, you will be well informed on how to make the process of implementation seamless and smoother.
The root causes of problems associated with information management in a project.
1). The workers not knowing how to use the tool.
Typically, senior and middle cadre construction project supervisors are familiar with most tools that are used in projects to enhance the flow of information. Naturally, this comes with years of experience and use, but for the lower cadre site workers, this isn’t always the case. A situation where a project supervisor introduces a new tool for project information system to the project and this tool is not well known by most people involved in the project can lead to problems. This problem is further complicated and made critical by the lack of training and adequate orientation on the applications of the new tool.
2). The tool used for information management is not flexible enough
Sometimes the root cause of information management in a project could be from the fact that the tool applied is not flexible enough. So advancing from the fact that the some of the project site personnel may not know how to apply the tool in making their work easier, they get to use a tool for this purpose which comes with a difficult user interface. The lack of an effective system for project information and storage can lead to the installation of a tool that is not adequately flexible for the lower cadre workers to work efficiently with. Apart from the fact that this affects the efficiency of the worker, it also results to project delays, low morale among site workers and could lead to site workers ultimately abandoning the project altogether. So the implementation of an inflexible and intractable project information management system can lead to information management problems in a project.
3). Newly implemented tool not meeting the existing project information needs of the company.
Most organizations don’t tend to know the tool they are working with. The portfolio managers and project managers are typically busy. They often don’t have the time or the engineering skills to assess the potentials of the tools that they have. So, typically they use a consultant. Consequently, most of these consultants make loads of money in implementing fancy software tools and the services needed to install and tailor the tools according to the needs of the project environment. This sometimes can ignore tackling the most vital issues the company has already: which is improving on the already existing Project Management Information System tool that the company already has in place.
4). The tool is being controlled by the IT department or the external vendors.
The external vendor or the IT department of the company “locks down” the tool. As soon as a PMIS is deployed across a project organization and as well hosted on the vendor’s servers or in the internal servers of the company the vendor or the IT department is typically handed the PMIS tool to manage. Consequently, in the case of lack of flexibility of the tool, further requests on enhancing the tool’s custom features and additional capabilities from users are frequently delayed or rejected. In this case, the affected site personnel have one more reason not to use the official PMIS tool of the company.
5). Not considering the business requirements of the company.
A lot of companies just decide on purchasing an expensive project information management tool expecting this software to solve all their information flow issues all by itself. They typically give the execution of these tools to the people in the project who may not know much about the tool – typically the least experienced person in the organization since other senior experts are busy with running the projects.
However, this instantly devalues the project. A tool for project information management is only as good as the person who implemented and supported it. There should be some level of commitment to support for this tool every aspects of the project life cycle. In the absence of this support at every critical part of the project life cycle plus inadequate training, there would problems during the project.
6). Project information management is being implemented by the wrong team
The development and installation of a tool for project management like a software solution is a unique role. However, many professionals involved in the construction process think that they can implement these tools just because they manage construction projects from time to time.
However, the fact is that they do not often have the technical expertise to properly implement these tools. on the other hand, IT experts have no idea about managing construction projects and as well as try to develop solutions which fails since they develop construction tools that are not effective in organizing construction projects according to their actual workflows and work performance sequence. Typically, any project information management system will have problems if they are implemented by people without the proper knowledge of construction information management as well as implementation of a tool of that nature.
7). Purchasing numerous project information management tools for just one project
Most of the time, large companies with the financial clout tend to purchase construction software to do perform some particular tasks such as project costs, material requisition, site personnel welfare, payroll of human resources, site attendance system and do on. However, they end up making use of about 5% of the functionality of these systems. This often happens since the other features of the program do not cater to their needs and therefore are not well-integrated into their project system of information flow.
There have been horror scenarios where team members end up 10 different tools and systems to manage the flow of project information during the project – many of these which are often corporate mandates which makes the process of integrating these systems harder. Ultimately, what happens finally is that these individuals use a little bit of these mandated information systems and end up doing most of their jobs with AutoCAD and Excel. Again with such traditional tools for managing information flow in a project, there is typically less efficiency.
The Use Of Building Information Modeling in the information management of a project.
An effective Project Management Information System such as BIM is pretty much flexible as well as adaptable. It is naturally implemented without needing an extensive computer language or complicated programming. As a user-friendly tool BIM can be used to sort out project information and with its open-source programming comes with features that make it integrate easily with other project information management tools.
BIM is typically applied to visualize and digitize the project information so that it would serve the project most well and help the people involved in it to succeed.
Infrastructural projects typically involve the delivery of various information and data in different formats and specifications. Naturally, a lot of project information has been separated, scattered as well as lost all during a project.
The application of BIM to handle the management of information during a project enables the gathering of intelligent information relating to the project. This essential information is used during the important stages of the project to ensure that more valuable results are achieved. These results typically range from timely completion of work packages, accepted level of work package quality, then the avoidance of repeating work packages as well as client satisfaction.
Apart from effective flow of information that BIM brings to the table, its other fairly important features include third party integration, easy customizations to any project environment, report processing and time management. Other important features of BIM in mitigating problems arising from project information management includes effective task management, team collaboration, learning materials for training site personnel on using the tool, integration of effective project communication features like risk analysis, document flow and management as well as the capability to be used in mobile devices for easy flow of project information around large project environments.
With an effective project information management system there is an increase in efficiency and more transparency. Typically the use of BIM as an effective project management tool yields to better data quality, no change orders or rework, collaborative project designs, no loss of project information, there is a coordinated approach to projects, virtual simulation, virtual modeling and so on. Popular BIM tools that yield effective project information management project environments includes the cloud-based Infrakit, Autodesk BIM 360, Tekla BIMsight, Revit, Navisworks, BIMobject, Procore, Archicad, BrisCAD BIM, Allplan Architecture and so on.