Things have changed dramatically since early March 2020. We wonder if the world will get back to normal soon, or if the pandemic will change the way we do architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) projects. The simple answer is that the pandemic will change how work is done. “We work this way” has been fundamentally altered, and for many, ‘work’ will never be the same as they will continue to work from home, collaborate on projects in the cloud, etc.
These changes provide a moment to think about where we stand in our AEC technology world:
- AutoCAD software is 37 years old and Revit is 20 years old. Frankly, that is ancient technology in software years. However, there seems to be no new modeling and documentation software technology on the horizon.
- The AEC world had experimented with visual programming and started to look at artificial intelligence and automation with some success.
- Many AEC firms have not really changed much of the way they do things for the last five years or so.
The current global health pandemic gives AEC firms an opportunity to change project workflow processes, and therefore the possibility of creating more reliable and profitable outcomes. However, many firms are looking for the one path that will be the right one. I propose that there will be multiple paths forward; that the future is not a one-path-fits-all scenario. So, the future is not one path, but a possibility of different paths forward:
- Data Integration – Making the project a true information model has the highest gain for the least amount of effort. This is the focus of Ideate Software desktop software products.
- Automation – There is a term being used called “semi-automation,” where the 80/20 rule applies: 80% automation of tedious tasks and 20% human involvement in those “wicked problems/processes” to solve complex and contradictory issues.
- Generative Design – This has promise, but how do I decide the best solution amongst the multiple options? “Best” is the most ‘wicked’ of problems that AEC professionals face.
- Robotics – This has productivity and cost reduction promise in the construction and supply chain of construction product manufacturing.
- True Project-Based Collaboration – When you return from stay-at-home orders, will you forget how you got projects done while you worked from home?
Then again, firms could try to simply start up where they left off. This was a practice some AEC firms adopted after the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Firms that saw change as an opportunity were miles ahead of those firms that tried to pick up (workflow) where they left off. I think it is fair to say the global pandemic of 2020 beats the Great Recession of 2008. So here is my question that should be investigated/explored now by every AEC firm:
Where do your processes have the ‘highest gain’ possibilities?
Now is the time to plan for future workflows to successful AEC projects. Have those difficult discussions, do the research, investigate what others have done. Review the results of the Ideate BIMLink survey, which reveal how much time users save when using Ideate BIMLink for certain Revit workflows. Reach out to me with your comments or questions at [email protected].
About the Author
David Haynes, Director, Ideate Software
David is a registered architect and a project management certified professional. Before joining Ideate, David had his own architectural practice and was president of a commercial design-build construction company for 15 years. A graduate of the University of Arizona, he has worked as an architect, contractor, and developer, and he was a national construction manager for a national retailer. David currently provides business process analysis, data integration, and change management solutions for AECO clients involved in the design and construction industry across the United States. Find David on Twitter.