Risk Mitigation with Construction Technology

September 17, 2013

Risk isn’t something you can generally avoid on any given construction project. Teams can have bullet proof plans, strong processes and procedures, and a diligent staff on hand, but the truth of the matter is risk remains at the forefront of every phase of the construction project cycle. While information technology cannot provide any magic bullet to the cause, it can help alleviate some of the concerns along the way.

In a way, the idea of “risk” can be tricky to define. Given the broad scope of what risk truly encompasses, construction teams are finding themselves exposed to risk on multiple fronts. Still, if you hone in on the concept that ensuring data is accurate and up-to-date at all times helps mitigate risk, then you have a place to target your efforts.

Take the broad concept of collaboration, for instance. With project teams continuing to be disparate and fragmented, and most often times each with their own preferences on technology to use, finding a way to get everyone on the same page proves critical in construction. We have seen an increased focus on collaborative solutions to hit the market as of late, designed to help alleviate the matter.

This week, for example, Viewpoint Construction Software, www.viewpointcs.com, Portland, Ore., announced Viewpoint For Project Collaboration, Designed to extend and expand the abilities of traditional project management solutions, this solution aims to improve communications and collaboration among multiple project stakeholders on both internal and external teams. Not only that, but the collaborative solution looks to effectively tackle the multiple steps involved in a construction project, from pre-construction (an area in which Viewpoint has been heavily involved in recent months), to construction, and extended outward to ongoing operation and maintenance.

The Web-based SaaS (software-as-a-service) solution will help teams find one version of the truth, if you will, for management of drawings, submittals, RFIs (requests for information), and other construction and pre-construction documents. Having such alignment between team and process can prove to be an ultimate tool for risk mitigation for the entire project team.

Mobility is another area in which risk becomes a big factor. As more data is made readily available in the field, having the proper tools in place to manage and control this information becomes paramount to reducing any risk associated with taking data mobile.

We have seen an influx of applications to hit the market of late, designed to enhance the mobility concerns of construction teams. LATISTA Technologies, www.latista.com, Reston, Va., recently announced it version 2.1 app to the iPhone, which will bring the digital issue management tools that LATISTA already makes available to the iPad to the iPhone. With a growing percentage of contractors using the iPhone as a productivity device in the field, this option helps streamline communication between project team members, and thus mitigate risk.

Another company that has been hard at work on the mobile side as of late is Bentley Systems, www.bentley.com, Exton, Pa. For example, its Field Supervisor, released this past July is an iPad app that helps mobile workers access information that is securely managed by Bentley’s ProjectWise and eB programs, as well as data stored in other user repositories. Using such a solution, mobile workers can now make on-site decisions based on a unified view of relevant, current, and complete project information.

Furthermore, the personalized views that can be created within Field Supervisor furthers the concept of risk mitigation in allowing users to filter information stored in multiple project data sources based on relevance to specific project roles and tasks. Being able to locate the most current versions of information for a job, including engineering documents or Microsoft Office documents, helps decisions to be made in the field with ease.

In fact, ‘Managing Risk in Construction’ is the title to Webcast that Bentley Systems will host on October 11 as part of a series to help construction workers address critical issues through the use of technology. This will be the first in a series of educational Webinars hosted by Bentley Systems.

Leveraging technology has become essential to adapt to the growing demand for higher performing infrastructure, greater global competition, expectations for sustainability, and an increasing focus among owners on maximizing ROI. In this first session, Steve Jolley, who is director of product management for construction at Bentley Systems and has roughly 30 years experience in design, construction, and operations, will discuss the many contributors to construction risk as well as technologies to reduce this risk and improve safety and efficiency.