It's All About the Data

It's All About the Data
It's All About the Data

Monday, July 29, 2013

More Data - Less Drawings

For  centuries, graphic drawings were the delivery mechanism for the AEC industry.  This methodology served it purpose, these graphic drawings could be printed, and communication was by pointing at the drawings and discussing at the jobsite, in meetings, etc. 

Today, this world is changing.  Information can be delivered in a multitude of ways; 3D models, virtual design and construction, and even virtual reality.  Cloud Services, which makes the model and the associated metadata accessible to all the project members.  This provides an anytime, anyplace, and any device way to view the project and associated information. 
 However, with this access comes the apparent ‘lack or intellectual property’.  This democratizing of data makes some within the AEC industry uneasy.  Fears such as client confidentiality, stealing of proprietary design ideas, and cloud ‘down time’ are often cited.  These fears form a roadblock to better client and project communication. 

This brings to bear the question "what are we being paid for"?  Clearly our design ideas are what clients are interested in, but I doubt any client comes to an Architect or Engineer for their graphical drawings.  Clients are interested in functional, interesting, and profitable projects, that are done on time and on budget. 

Many firms are moving towards a data-centric workflow.  One of the core benefits of data-centric is less drawings, rather than more drawings.  Since the advent of CAD, the number of sheets have increased dramatically, not necessarily providing more important information, just more dis-associated information.  Data-centricity combined with the availability of all parties to view data, makes more 'drawings' obsolete and unnecessary. 

Accurate, valuable, and democratized (available to all in the project) data is what clients want, need and require of the team. 

Our value to clients must be centered in providing solutions through synthesizing of disparate requirements into a cohesive whole and delivering the data required to complete the project within the project scope and budget and time line. 

David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Cloud Computing - An Inevitable Force

As part of my work, helping AEC firms adapt to technology change, I am often asked about "The Cloud".  First, let us start with a definition:

"Cloud computing is the use computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet)". (Wikipedia).

Often professionals say "I will never have my work 'in the cloud'".  First, never is a long time, and technology is ever-changing.  The AEC industry moved from hand drawn drawings in the 1990's and many firms moved to Building Information Modeling in the past decade. Technology marches on.

What are the business benefits of a move to the cloud for designs/documentation, etc.
  • Information can be obtained while at client offices, jobsites, work from home.
  • Computer intensive activities (rendering, computation, simulations) can be done 'in the cloud' while design/documentation work can continue to be done (freeing up computer resources and productive time).
  • Maintain a 99+% uptime of information accessibility.

Here are the perceived cons of cloud computing:
  • My client will not allow it.
    • This is the reason I hear the most.  If this is correct, a conversation with the client is necessary to explain the limitation the restriction plays. 
  • I fear my work being stolen by the cloud host (usually Microsoft, Amazon, or Google).
    • This seems unlikely.  The amount of data passing through the cloud service providers is so huge, it is unlikely that any one file is reviewed.
  • Data being collected by the cloud host.
    • This is the most logical.  Google has always gathered information about your web-search activities.  So, is it possible that data collection might be done to determine if your project has the word "masonry" in it - yes - but should you be concerned?

Projects require the ability to be nimble and agile - fast moving and democratized in the access to project information + data.  That is the hallmark of 'cloud' services.

Cloud services are here to stay, and will grow in usage and functionality.  "Staying on the sidelines" is not a viable option for long.

David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Importance for Architectural Project Managers to be PMI Certified

Many architectural firms have a job function called "Project Manager", what credentials should they have?

  -   Should they be Architectural School Graduates?
  -   Should they be Licensed as an Architect?
  -   What additional credentials should they have as a  Project Manager (PM)?

Many firms are sure about the architectural school graduation, and many firms seem to value having a license as an Architect.  But that seems to  be where the credentials end.  Firms then seem to focus on particular project experience (K-12, retail, health care).

I am not discounting project experience, but there seems to be another credential needed.  However, what other credentials/knowledge are needed.

Project Management is defined as "the discipline of planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling resources to achieve specific goals" (Wikipedia).  I find many people define project management as delegating to others, emailing, and taking meeting notes.  This underestimates the breadth of knowledge, requirements, and skills needed to be a good project manager.  What is the answer?

Project Management Institute (PMI) ( is an organization that provides credentialization and continuing education for project managers.  Why should that be crucial for architectural project managers? 

As a PMP certified professional, Architect, and project manager, the knowledge I learned:

  • Why it is important to get all the stakeholders involved in a project, including input that may cause project delay?
  • Why understanding risk and opportunity, how to mitigate risk and leverage opportunity is a key to a successful project?
  • How do you know when your project is either over-budget or behind schedule - at any point in the project duration?

Building Owners would find value in these traits, and could leverage your firm's ability to secure more work.  Investigate PMI's website - the testing is rigorous, but the educational and practice rewards are high.

David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.