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, Inc.
Vice President of Strategic Development

As Vice President of Strategic Development at Bluebeam, Inc., Sasha Reed collaborates with leaders in the architecture, engineering and construction industry to guide Bluebeam’s technology, partnerships and long-term goals. She joined Bluebeam in 2007 and co-created the Concierge Approach, a distinctly branded process of customer engagement, product feedback and solution delivery to which much of Bluebeam’s success is attributed, and which today is replicated at every organizational level.

Sasha is known industry-wide as a “conversation facilitator,” creating platforms for exchanges necessary to digitally advance the industry, including the BD+C Magazine Digital COM Blog, which she authors and manages. She’s been a featured presenter at numerous national and international conferences, including the 2014 Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), Federal Project Delivery Symposium and NTI Danish BIM Conference. Sasha also co-chairs the Construction PDF Coalition, a grassroots effort to provide a common industry framework from which to create and maintain construction PDF documents, serves on the City College of San Francisco BIM Industry Council, and is Advisor to the Board of Direction for the National Institute of Building Sciences BuildingSMART Alliance.

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