The infra-construction industry today, seems to be revolutionizing itself. People say that we no longer rely on the inefficient age-old methods of construction, because we have access to artificial tools (like BIM, machine guidance, laser tracking, virtual reality, and many others) to assist us in making construction more efficient and cheaper. We have many reasons to believe them, an important one of which is, we see some construction organizations claiming to have made substantial savings using those tools.
But at the same time, a fear lurks in us. We doubt, for good reasons, whether and if this is really true. Or if it is just a propaganda devised by construction guidance companies to extort money from us. Because for every success story we hear, we also hear a story of failure. And to add to our misery, we hear rumors on how designers try to bill as many hours as possible, and endlessly find more to polish in their designs. Or how purchasers only care about saving money in projects, and therefore, set terms of construction so high, that it pushes construction companies to the point of bankruptcy. Or how builders try to hide their lack of quality, and make budget cuts on landfills to save up in costs; even if it means damaging purchaser’s property.
For good reasons, we doubt.
But because we doubt, we also never get to the root of the problem. For it is no lie, that the infrastructure industry’s long distrust in each other, has driven all of us into our own corners. And this lack of interest to support other groups, has pushed our working conditions, and work approaches into very group-specific and collectively ineffective methods. But yet we are fearful of changing our ways, because we fear we might fail again.
But I am here to tell you this: that there is every possibility to win in this game; to make those +30% savings, and continue making it project after project. And it comes with only one condition. You must know how to use those tools. And that is what Jero’s SASI is. A complete guidebook that takes you on a journey, listing the various reasons as to, why you should adopt these tools in your projects, and more importantly, what is the best way to implement those tools?
Jero’s SASI solution – Introduction.
Before we begin, you must know that I am an advisor to many organizations in the Infrastructure industry. My clients are both, municipalities and government organizations; and design, consulting, construction and surveying companies. The nature of my job has allowed me to observe different organizations closely, and has given me the opportunity to see clearly, why some organizations are successful in implementing BIM in their projects, and why some don’t.
I have seen why organizations that try to become frontrunners in implementing this new technology, often burn their hands badly. While on the other hand, leading organizations that been using BIM since the past 15-20 years boast of 20-30% savings per project; and inspire us to start adopting BIM tools to make our own work as effective and as successful as theirs. And when new organizations try to walk in their footsteps, I have often see them fail horribly.
A curious question is: what differentiates the successful ones, from the ones that fail?
I would say that the one key difference between them, is in the management of information. It is as simple as that. If you can mange the flow of information for your projects better. You are guaranteed to make +30% savings.
And that is exactly what Jero’s SASI is all about. A step by step, to how you too can start making those +30% savings in your projects, and see the results immediately. Let’s get to it.
To keep this guide simple and easy to implement, I have broken it down into five parts:
Going through the fundamentals of why information management is important, and how it can help you to improve.
Going through the breakdown meeting and ways to gather the information needs.
Giving value estimations for the information needs so we get priority system on what to improve.
Getting best insights on how much each need really provides vs takes.
How to operate this solution smoothly and in the most efficient way?
The Jero’s SASI solution itself, only has 3 steps: Breakdown, Comparison and Correction, and only requires a single meeting of two hours to put it all together. When you are done with the solution, you will realize immediate benefits.
In the Infrastructure industry, we always have well-defined end results to achieve. We measure each task in: quality, speed, and cost. Wherein we want to achieve great quality at the least time, and least cost. And to achieve that, we promise to give enough resources to our service providers, so that they can work unhindered, and complete the tasks within the time-limit and allocated budget.
Now comes the question, how do we do that. How do we make work tasks faster and cheaper, while still achieving desired quality?
You might say, that one way to achieve those goals is by buying new products, like softwares, services, and machines to help us make work tasks faster. Even though they might mean a heavy up-front investment at the start.
But that indeed is not the solution. To get defined quality with lowered costs and to finish projects faster. You rather need to harmonize and streamline the process and flow of information.
Sounds strange, does it? How could information make projects faster or cheaper?
Well ask yourself this: How does low quality information, or no information make projects expensive?
Now if we are clear, as to why we should put a bigger focus on information management. The next step (The Breakdown) is to know who needs what information in your organization. Here’s how you could do it:
Set up a meeting. Invite everyone who is in the leadership position of each responsibility in your organization. It is not necessary, that you invite only those who belong to the infra-construction organization. You can invite people from other organizations as well. Because the aim of this step is to have a deep insight of your organization’s infrastructure work, so that we get to know, the information needs of each responsibility.
[Note: If your organization is big enough that it has office leaders and work-site leaders, I recommend you invite one from both. Or if your organization is gigantic and worldwide; I suggest you first have a meeting on the management level, and then take this Jero’s SASI solution to the country-level].
Once your meeting is set. The next step is to understand, what is the best way to get that information? Which responsibility do I start from?
I would suggest you to start from the work/responsibility, which lies towards the end of your organization’s work process.
For example, let’s say we start with maintenance.
Ask your maintenance team’s leader the following question:
If he had a button in his hand, that would give him all information he desired immediately, what would it be? What information would he specifically want from the infrastructure property management period? from construction? from design? analysis? reports? images? etc. Even if he knows that the information he demands is impossible to get?
List all the information he wants, even if, at the moment, they appear impossible to get. Then repeat this exercise for other responsibilities, and list their information wants.
At the end of this exercise, you should have an ideal list of information required by each responsibility in your organization.
[Note: Incase you work for the municipality, whose primary job is to only order; and not design build or maintain. Then you should do the aforementioned with your service providers. Like your design team, construction team, surveying team, maintenance team, and so on and so forth].
After you have a list of all the ideal needs of each responsibility in your organization. You must ascertain the value of that information. In other words, you must know, what you gain, and what you lose, when you don’t have access to a particular information.
So for each question, ask yourself: how much extra time and work would go wasted, if I don’t have access to this information? And when you ask yourself this, don’t think of a work task independently, rather think how each work task affects the other.
Once you have ascertained that a certain information is valuable. The next step is to get that information. So for those information that can be easily arranged, ask yourself: how much would it cost to get this information, vis-à-vis, how much would I lose by not having this information.
At this point, you will also realize that there will be some information which can only be provided by other 3rd parties. Ofcourse they will be the most difficult to gather, because everybody’s only concern is the profit of their own organization. Here, I suggest you to demonstrate to the 3rd parties, how giving you that information will help their organization as well, by making their work tasks cheaper and faster.
Then there will be the third category of information. The one which appears impossible to gather. This one is the trickiest of them all, and you might get demotivated quickly. But I promise you there are solutions for these too. And you will find them if you do some digging. Ask yourself: Is there an already existing solution to solve this need? Or could we set up something that could solve it? Or how much extra would it cost to gather this information? The answers to these, I am sure will motivate you.
Once you have ascertained the approximate value of each information. It’s now time to put a price tag on each one of them. And see how much they cost in numbers. When you sit down to do that, you will find that all information can be divided into 3 categories:
- Those information, for which benefits are clearly identifiable.
- Those information, that promise benefits, but do not state clearly how.
- Those information, for which benefits are extremely vague, and you have no clue how they could be beneficial.
Having known this. You can immediately begin applying that information whose benefits are clear, and start receiving their benefits. But for the ones, whose benefits are vague, but yet appear profitable, you must be cautious.
For example, for machine guidance systems, what we often hear is: “Machine Guidance is beneficial only in big projects.”
But here is an eye opener: Why is it that some companies use machine guidance only for large virgin projects, whereas some use it to build foundations for houses? The answer is obvious, isn’t it? It must be that Machine Guidance has led them to massive savings in small projects as well. To test this for yourself, do this: Set a fixed time period, say a month (160h). And record for yourself, how many hours of work you saved using machine guidance. Then put a price tag on the saved time, and compare it against how much you spent hiring machine guidance. The results will astound you.
At this point if you are thinking, why have I have turned away from talking about information management, and am giving you examples on how to measure tools. It is only because I want you to compare this new information, and see how much it costs money, against how much it saves you money.
And while I am at it, I want to remind you of what I said earlier:
“Tools will bring you value, only if you are able to use them to their maximum efficiency. To do which, you must be able to manage your information well. Otherwise, those tools will not bring you the benefit that they ideally could.”
Next let’s address the third information category: Those information, for which benefits are extremely vague, and you have no clue how they could be beneficial.
I would suggest you to work on this, using the same methods, that you would use for the above ones. By comparing total working hours, against saved hours to get the correct value for each information. Also, consider taking a note of the project scope and the project type, that you are using for comparison. This is important because some tools are more effective at virgin projects, while others are effective on urban renewal projects.
After having compared them, if the results look very bad in cost vs benefit comparison; you should ask yourself these things before you strike them off the list:
1. Was there other reasons that led to the bad performance?
2. Was the information easy to take to the work site, and was it used well? If not, why?
Whereas, for all the results that come positive, you can implement them right away in projects of similar type, and start reaping their benefits. Thereafter, you could also consider taking them to the next level, and test them in more demanding situations, to see if they have a potential to perform there as well.
[Please note: A project has thousands of moving variables and to ascertain the “true” value of an information is almost impossible. Therefore, you must be careful to not look at them as just numbers, but also try and understand the true meaning behind those numbers].
After you have done all the required things, and are enjoying their benefits. The next question is: how can you successfully enjoy these benefits project after project?
As clear and straightforward this question is, the answer equally difficult and vague. Because the answer is hidden in continuously reworking the ideas you have learnt. Just like you can’t have complete knowledge of an elephant on your first observation. Similarly, you can’t expect to discover all required information and ideas in a single meeting, or over a couple of projects. To add to that, the demands in the infraconstruction industry keep evolving, and to keep pace, you must be continuously evolving as well.
Here’s my suggestion: You should allow the aforementioned steps to run through your system thoroughly once, and then discuss parts of them during the post-project evaluation period. The reason for this is that, if you do this only once a year, they will become very heavy and wasteful. And you will not receive their full benefits.
Here are some points to remember during the post-project evaluation meetings.
- Note the new needs, that get discovered while working on a project. And;
- Time saved after incorporating the new way of working.
This way, you can keep your processes efficient at all times, because you are now treating each project as another iteration for improvement.
[Note: This on-going model has one drawback. Office & management. For them, I recommend you to add needs to the list when they arise, and once a year run the Jero’s SASI solution through fully].
This is it.
The short and simple Jero’s SASI. The secret to +30% savings, in 9 simple steps, that take less than 2 hours of your life. You can implement them right away, and realize those benefits for yourself.
[End note: I am often asked, wouldn’t it be better to clarify one corner first, then move on to next? This is a very valid question. But I answer no, because if you move from one corner to the next one by one, then your movement becomes so slow, that by the time you solve all the corners, there will be 10 more that appear in their place. Therefore, it is much better to develop things on need basis and each time ask yourself: Is there a smarter way to do this?]
If you liked what you read, I would want you to give back to all infrastructure industry people by:
- Sharing this article at social media
- Leaving a comment below. And tell me what you think about this.
- Join the Infra Pioneer Group so we can take this further.