There are few corners of modern society that haven’t been impacted by the spread of internet technology. From the way people get their news and entertainment to fulfilling basic work duties, we rely on information technology to take care of the big and small details in our world of work.
Computers have equipped us to quickly process, analyze and manipulate large amounts of data to solve problems and explore outcomes, regardless of geographic boundaries, markets or levels of knowledge. This is certainly true for project management within the AEC industry.
What Is AEC Industry?
AEC stands for architecture, engineering and construction. The AEC industry involves the various professional disciplines that result in the construction of the built environment.
Providers in this space manage projects on various levels that result in the conceptual designs, final engineering, construction and lifecycle operations of facilities, including buildings, roadways, bridges and pipelines, among others.
In the course of project execution and delivery, architects, engineers and construction project managers generate, analyze and process large amounts of data. Professionals in the AEC space have learned to leverage the power of modern computing to execute every stage of a project’s lifecycle, including design software, computer-aided drafting (CAD), project management software and asset management tools. The sheer amount of information generated in the construction of a single facility lends itself to the need for solutions for data management in construction.
The existence of design codes, engineering calculations, construction drawings, project specifications, contracts, subcontractor agreements, construction items, material specifications, submittals, shop drawings and project documents means management of AEC data is more important than ever. You need powerful data management software to meet the demands of your architecture, engineering or construction business enterprise.
Making Sense of AEC Data
While companies within the AEC industry may have similar types of information to manage, it’s important for each organization to make sense of their data in a way that is productive to their business goals. AEC data is one of the most important assets of your business, playing a critical role in how you meet the needs of your clients or customers and achieve short-term and long-term goals.
You need data management software not only to store your valuable information but also to validate and retrieve it. Remember, your data is privileged and invaluable to your business, so you need a management solution that also protects it.
Consider the following scenarios and consequences when an AEC organization’s data is not protected:
- Enterprise resource planning: An organization’s core business processes uses data to plan work, execute contracts and store information on clients. A breach of security for an AEC ERP system could lead to loss of trade secrets or exploitation of client information that could result in the poaching of customers.
- Common data environment construction: Also known as building information modeling, this involves the development of virtual models wherein detailed information can be stored that aid in analyzing long-term performance, actual construction, design optimization, waste reduction and other unique, company-specific benefits of a common data environment. Data breaches could mean theft of proprietary designs and other intellectual property. These could also result in design flaws and other errors that lead to expensive change orders, costly rework and lawsuits due to negligence.
- Owner’s project monitoring system: Similar to a cloud based common data environment, a project monitoring system may be used during the design and construction phases of a project to manage critical data such as monthly invoices, contractor pay estimates, requests for information, submittals, change orders, daily field reports, labor and equipment reports and other pertinent contract information. Without the property security in measures, loss of project information can result in inaccurate pay estimates or, worse, non-payment of the contractor and any subcontractors, with negative effects on cash flow.
- Detailed proposal development for alternate delivery: In design-build construction, a contractor hires a design team to develop detailed construction plans. As two distinct business entities, the designer and the contractor must be able to access data for a proprietary design, especially when preparing a bid and proposal to win a contract with the owner. Intellectual property, innovative design and construction approaches and pricing information can be stolen in a security breach, causing the team to lose the job to a competitor.
The importance of data security cannot be overstated, regardless of where your business enterprise fits within the AEC industry. Owners, engineers, designers, contractors and subcontractors can all benefit from robust security when it comes to AEC data.
Knowing What To Look For in a Solution
When it comes to protecting your company’s data, these are some of the things you should look for:
- Location, location, location: Where is your data stored? Is it cloud-based for access anywhere or is it local? A cloud solution can be accessed nearly anywhere, which is especially important for AEC providers who work in field or satellite offices or may collaborate with business units on the other side of the world.
- Redundancy: Look for a system that can reproduce your data from servers in several global locations. Imagine having your data in one location that gets impacted by an extreme weather event, act of war or terrorism or some other natural disaster. Just as you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, you shouldn’t do so with your AEC data security.
- Regular backups: For some organizations, restoring a backup of outdated information can be just as devastating as a loss. You need consistent backups with useful restore points that don’t impede operations.
- Encryption: Superior data management in construction requires encryption, especially for information of a sensitive or confidential nature. Some AEC providers hold contracts related to government, national defense, health and other fields where contractual data and other project details must be protected from unauthorized viewing.
Secure Data Management with Fluix
Fluix offers lightweight solutions for flexible data management for architectural, engineering and construction projects. Its workflow automation that helps streamline operations between teams is built in such a way that you have control over every stage of a document lifecycle.
- Two-factor authentication
- Single Sign-On (SSO)
- User roles and granular access permissions
- Digital documentation
- Cloud-based storage
- Reduced email use
- Compliance with ISO-27001, GDPR, OSHA
These approaches ensure digitalization and automation won’t cause data leakage to your engineering, and construction projects.