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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert

As an industry director for Construction and Real Estate at SAP for many years, I have come across many situations, where my customers have asked for solutions, that improve project productivity and control. They have mainly been focussing on getting their numbers faster and with lower efforts. However I got the impression, that even, if they do get this close to real time, this will not solve the substantial problem in the industry  - Lack of Collaboration and trust!

Living in silos – Who is the one to blame…

Once upon a time, traditional projects in construction meant that buildings were completed in a step-by-step way, each step being the responsibility of a particular provider or entity. Only a minimum of information was shared, and participants in the project sought to minimize their own risk – or preferably offload it onto another partner altogether. Cost was an overriding factor (whether or not the final construction was useful or profitable to the customer was less important).

Then tougher economic conditions meant that this traditional silo-oriented approach became less and less desirable. It was time for a construction management and project delivery rethink. The demand is changing, as owner are getting more informed about the way things are made, the quality of materials, the nature of labor. The means of construction, 3D printing, GPS-controlled equipment, additive manufacturing and the nature of buildings are changing, while requirements are moving from the pure physical outcome to be interconnected with the digital building. A digital transformation was needed to improve productivity and profitability of construction projects on contractor side and reduce cost and duration for owners on the other side at the same time, meeting the new demand.

Digital working suits this down to the ground. In fact, it would be hard to imagine effective large-scale open information sharing between project owners, architects and construction companies in a non-digital environment or network.

Cloud-based apps provide a practical platform for team members to work together, no matter where they are located and what company they belong to. Cloud working means that a construction project can be shared on a neutral basis, avoiding any unplanned changes, rework, waste of material, errors and omissions, all increasing the risk, not finishing in time and budget. In addition, a cloud-based network meets the demand for a collaborative, yet open, end-to-end process over the lifetime of a facility.


Better together: A network aiming for Big Open BIM

The Project Intelligence Network for Construction is a cloud-based network that supports this idea. There are no prerequisites, using this network, whether you are already a SAP customer or not. With the first wave, subscribers to the network will get the following components:

  1. Construction project management. Access to ‘one version of the truth’ allows project participants to see not only their individual tasks but also how they impact or may be impacted by the tasks of others. A cross company masterplan and schedule provides the framework and make sure, all parties are aware of critical milestones.

  2. Visual 5D Construction Financial Control and Coordination. Transparent sharing of cost and budget information makes it possible to work within the overall risk-management for the project, with the assurance that budgets can be inspected and approved by all parties. Issues and changes are identified, tracked, solved and well documented.

  3. Digital Twins, a virtual intercompany object model, that is verified and accepted. Up-to-date status information, a centralized data repository and visualization of the next construction phases are all potential advantages that e.g. BIM offers the team as a whole.

  4. Team collaboration and task management apps. Mobile and desktop access, social collaboration help keep the project moving forward, whether team members are in their offices or out on site. Questions get answered sooner and problems and opportunities identified earlier. Tasks are getting assigned and monitored.

  5. Construction Inspection, Issue and Punch lists will digitize this highly cumbersome process and boost productivity. Combining it with AI tools it will transform the traditional process to a true digital construction experience.

  6. Commissioning and virtual handover will help managing the transition from the as-built model to the Enterprise Asset Management tools, such as SAP EAM, Cloud for Real Estate or the Asset Intelligence Network. This built-in integration will decrease manual work creating or updating assets and make sure your processes are all connected to and based on the most recent as-built model. At the same time this will give companies the opportunity to extend the dimensions of the building model from 5 to 6 or 7D, adding the operational layers, like information about usage, energy, maintenance, etc. to it and allowing them to establish and monetize on new services for their customers.

Be part of the change!

Early adopters, ambassadors, influencers and customers, willing to co-innovate this next evolution of a true digital construction experience should reach out to their contacts at SAP or respond on this blog. The target participants of SAP’s customer engagement initiative are owners, operators, suppliers, construction managers or just innovative thinkers, that embrace the idea of digital transformation in a capital or construction project and are eager to get things changed.