Foresee Consulting Creating Collaboration to Contain Costs

The Impact of Technology

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    George Aucamp – So here’s a great example on the evolution of technology and how we can integrate it into your project. While I was acting in the capacity of construction manager on site, actually delivering projects as a contractor, I used to walk the site, get to a particular area where, I need for instance, to pour some concrete. Well, is it lightweight concrete or is it normal concrete that I needed to use. I had to write it down in my notebook, go back to the office, and go and research it on my documentation. Now I know what I need, now I to go back to that particular spot, I need to measure the area, make sure I get my inspection in for the area, make sure I get my concrete order in for that particular area and the next day, go back again check the perimeter and make sure it’s done; supervise it, get the sign off from the inspections. It’s a long process. With today’s technology I can walk out to the construction site, I’ve got my iPad. I can look at the area that needs to be poured, very quickly bring it up on my iPad and see what type of concrete I need to use. I then log into my tool, take a picture of it, submit it with my inspection request to the applicable parties that need to come and look at it. I can make my measurements right there, and I can also get my concrete ordering right from my iPad, saving immense amount of time and getting a much better result. Tomorrow morning, all that data is captured, I can trace it back. I can go back to the site look at the inspection report and look at maybe a particular area where the pour didn’t go as well during the night and some rebar might be exposed. But it gives me real time information; let’s tie that back to the cost. The moment I put in that order, and that delivery was done, I can immediately see on my cost report where I stand which this particular area of concrete. What was my concrete cost? What am I forecasting? Let’s extract that little piece of rebar that’s exposed, I can immediately start working on getting that fixed and I can forecast right there and then by inputting the information where this particular piece of work is going to be at the end of the day. That is the power of tying technology to the construction industry. It’s doing it better, making better decisions and getting results right there and then.

During the 1970’s, 80’s and throughout the 90’s technology proliferated at an accelerating pace.

From the main-frame computer to the mini-computer and finally the personal computer it was recognized, on large construction programs and capital improvement projects, that computer usage could help standardize how the management team worked and how cost and schedule information could be captured and reported upon. The problem though, was that all of the data being captured provided reams of paper and in most cases management wasn’t getting useful information to help them make decisions, in other words, to do their job. This was perceived to be a problem with the technology.

System and software development advanced in an effort to improve data capture and reporting. Specific tools like Job Costing and graphics to enhance the readability of schedules were developed. Logs, databases, reports and more logs were produced. The results of building the better mouse-trap was that we could catch more mice! More data meant more data, not more useful information.

Then along comes the Internet and we assume that more interconnected people and more technology will yield a better result but, more technology combined with the same approach equals, as Einstein would have said, insanity. (“Doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result.”) Next comes “Cloud Computing” but, again, more technology in the hands of the same problem solvers yields the same insanity…and…more paper!

Isn’t it time you ask yourself what you really want from the impact of technology and what do you hope to achieve with it? To be sure, you want an organized team with clear roles and responsibilities, where all of the members of the team are following “best-practices.” And you want a low-cost basis technological solution that gets good information (not useless data), in the form of concise, audience-driven reporting, into the hands of your managers so that they can use accurate information real-time to make good decisions.

To accomplish all of this, you need a team with a track record of implementing project management information systems that ensures accountability, visibility and an audit trail so that your project is kept under control from initiation to operational start-up.

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When asked: “what’s your vision…ten years from now with the technology you’re developing” he responded:

“…the web is incredibly exciting because it is the fulfillment of a lot of our dreams that the computer will ultimately not be primarily a device for computation but metamorphosis into a device for communication and with the web that’s finally happening…I think that the web is going to be profound in what it does to our society”

-Steve Jobs, The Lost Interview, 1995 (while CEO of NeXt, one year prior to retaking control of Apple)