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Collaborative Project Management

Sept. 23, 2019
What if there existed an industry network that created an entirely different form of collaboration.

According to McKinsey, if construction industry productivity were to simply catch up with the rest of the economy, it would create $1.6 trillion of value, adding about 2% to the global economy. One of the most critical technologies with the potential to help achieve this objective is collaboration.

In another report, McKinsey identifies collaboration as one of five “big ideas” that will shape the future of construction and capital projects, and according to a study by the World Economic Forum, “Collaboration is, or should be, a hallmark of the construction industry itself: the industry’s future success will rely heavily on effective collaboration among all stakeholders.” It goes on to say, “In such a highly fragmented and horizontal industry: many of the challenges need to be tackled collectively—the industry as a whole has a responsibility. It needs to establish new forms of collaboration, or to improve existing forms.”

Yet, as we talk to leading stakeholders in our industry today, we hear a consistent set of challenges relating to collaboration:

  • Data Ownership and Control – We want to share data of course; that is the fundamental purpose of collaboration, but we also want to own our data, not just have access to the data in someone else's system.
  • Inefficiency – We also see huge inefficiencies associated with double-entry of data when multiple parties try to collaborate—even if all parties are using the same technology.
  • Data Management and Aggregation – Owners and subcontractors working on multiple projects are often forced or convinced by GCs to work on the GC’s system. These owners and subs have an extremely difficult time effectively aggregating and managing data across multiple projects.

As a result, we seldom see value delivered by project management and collaboration solutions to all project participants. This is not the formula for delivering on the potential social, economic and environmental contributions defined above.

These challenges are actually symptoms of a deeper underlying problem in the way that technology is delivered to the industry today. Traditional collaborative project management solutions operate on a “hub and spoke” architecture. One project member licenses and owns a project management software system, and all other project participants log in as users to that host system. While this is not unattractive to the company that owns the system (the hub), it can be a serious problem for the companies who are forced to operate as spokes across multiple projects because:

  • The spoke companies do not own their data or project records.
  • Each of these systems require a separate login.
  • It is difficult for the spokes to view and manage data across their entire portfolio of projects.
  • The spoke companies cannot integrate the hub system to their own internal core systems, such as accounting. If they want to utilize their own system that is integrated to their core systems, they are faced with duplicate data entry.

Imagine another approach. What if, instead of the current technology delivery model, there existed an industry network that created an entirely different form of collaboration. In this model, when a single stakeholder licensed the technology, they would immediately have the ability to collaborate with every other stakeholder on the network. No one would have to log into anyone else’s system to collaborate. Every member of the network would be able to:

  • Own their own data and project record.
  • Develop and manage their own unique internal business processes.
  • Integrate with their core systems, such as accounting.
  • Enter data once and share it with any other network participant.

The benefits of a true collaborative network platform would be significant, and include advantages across:

Agility – Agility means all network members are able to operate at maximum efficiency and can effectively adapt to the accelerating pace of change in our industry.

  • Risk Mitigation – The network enables process simplification and automation, and every project participant owns their own data. As a result, every network member operates at lower risk.

Competitive Advantage – Great companies have developed best practice business processes to compete more effectively. Members of a collaborative network platform would be able to develop and manage their own unique internal business processes and operate their own unique configuration of packaged or custom apps. Thus, members are able to leverage their competitive advantage.

  • Continuous Improvement – When all project participants own their data, there is a big opportunity to leverage historical data and analytics to make more intelligent predictions and decisions on future projects. The more data a team has on a project, the better decisions they can make regarding potential next steps on ongoing projects and all future planning.

The ability to leverage platform technology for network-based collaboration is a win for both owners and contractors, enabling the highest performing assets to be profitably delivered at the lowest possible lifecycle cost.

Brian Moore, co-founder and president at Kahua, is a transformational entrepreneur with a passion for innovation and customer value. He helps the world’s leading owners, contractors, architects, and engineers profitably deliver and manage the highest performance capital projects at the lowest possible lifecycle cost. Prior to Kahua, Brian was co-founder of Constructware, the first cloud-based SaaS solution for construction project management. Constructware was acquired by Autodesk in 2006, and Brian served on the Autodesk executive team following the acquisition. Brian holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Auburn University.

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