What I learned at MCA Chicago last week: managing construction projects is tougher than rocket science

February 15, 2013 |
Sasha Reed

Last week my colleague and I attended the Mechanical Contractor Association’s Tech Day Conference in Chicago. We were invited to speak and present workflows specifically tailored to specialty contractors who were looking to digitize their project communication and leverage the cloud for collaboration. The keynote speaker was Reg Hunter, the Sr. Program Manager for FiaTech and formerly worked with NASA. Reg’s keynote speech outlined how project productivity improvements can be achieved through the use of technology.

He started off by saying that construction projects are one of the most complex and challenging projects to manage, from procurement of materials to close out.  In fact Reg said, “If you think this isn’t rocket science, you’re right…it’s harder!” In Reg’s opinion, our challenges are more complex than rocket science due in part to our interdependency upon each other to achieve project objectives.

While technology can be leveraged to improve accuracy and add efficiencies, Reg stated that it is often our siloed process that causes us to focus on our specialized approach, losing sight of the end point. Therefore, productivity improvements must be made through situational awareness. It was here that Reg made a statement which I full heartedly believe to be true. Unless you have your arms wrapped around your existing process, implementing a new technology is futile.  In fact, if you don’t understand the challenge you’re trying to solve, and thoughtfully select, test and implement a technology solution you will most likely cause more harm than good.

So my question to you is, how well do you know your process challenges and have you taken the time to really identify your needs? Does the concept of situational awareness change the definition of your challenges? How does this then further define the criteria for the solutions you seek? You may want to get another cup of coffee before answering this one. I know I need another after asking it!

Sasha Reed | Digital COM
Bluebeam Software

About the Author: Sasha Reed has over 12 years of experience working directly in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) market. As VP of Strategic Alliances at Bluebeam Software, Sasha interacts directly with AEC leaders to better understand the long-range goals of the industry and help align Bluebeam’s technology partnerships. In addition, Sasha is acting Chair of the Construction PDF Coalition.  The purpose of the Coalition is to establish Guidelines to provide Architects, Engineers, Constructors and Owners (AECO) with a common framework in which to create and maintain Construction PDF Documents. Sasha has been featured as the keynote speaker at the 2014 Bentley Florida User Group and spoken at numerous industry events including the American Institute of Architects’ DesignDC Conference, NTI Danish BIM Conference, the International Highway Engineering Exchange Program and the International Facilities Management Association Conference. Sasha has also contributed articles to numerous national publications and authors the Digital Com blog for Building Design + Construction magazine. Before Bluebeam, Sasha was a Project Manager for M3, a Herman Miller dealer, where she learned ?rsthand the challenges faced by the AEC industry from project conception to completion. 

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