Digitalisation is now a hot topic in the construction industry. We use BIM, and drones and AI have long since ceased to be peculiarities on construction sites. And rightly so, because digitisation allows you to work faster, more efficiently and less prone to errors. So digitisation is the tool to get or keep an edge on your competitors. But what exactly is digitisation in the market, what are the pros and cons and how do you tackle it?
What is digitisation in construction?
Digitisation is the process of converting analogue information into a digital form. Think of digital construction drawings instead of drawings on paper, sending your quotations by mail instead of through the post, signing off the delivery list in an app instead of on your clipboard and keeping track of hours on your tablet instead of a note.
Digitisation of data and processes
Digitisation is not just about converting paper-based information to digital, but also about digitising processes. digitisation includes all the automation you use to work more flexibly, quickly and effectively. In construction, the hot topics in this field are CDE and DMS. CDE stands for Common Data Environment; in other words, a cloud solution in which you store and manage data properly and safely. DMS stands for Document Management System: a collaboration platform on which you manage information and data and collaborate effectively with all parties involved in your project.
Digitisation and digital transformation
Digitisation is what you need for a digital transformation. In a digital transformation, you aim for an organisation that is fully adapted to the capabilities offered by digital technologies. This may mean adapting traditional business models to rely more on digital processes. The end result is then a streamlined process with optimal collaboration between internal and external building partners. Want to know more about digital transformation? Then read the blog What is digital transformation?
Everything is securely stored in the cloud and therefore accessible anytime and from any location.
What does digitisation mean?
Digitisation means transforming information and processes into digital form. This makes it easier to share, edit and store data. Everything is securely stored in the cloud and therefore accessible at any time and from any location. You no longer need archive space and losing papers is a thing of the past. Processes can also be carried out more efficiently because they are automated. If you want to remain relevant in the future, you are forced to go along with digitisation, whether you want to or not. But you want to, or should want to, because digitisation makes your processes easier, faster, better and cheaper.
Why is digitisation important?
Digitisation is important because it allows you to achieve more efficient processes and cost savings. Moreover, digitisation is inevitable to keep up with the market and your competitors. By using handy digital tools, all construction partners can work with the same up-to-date documents at the same time. This way, you avoid miscommunication and misunderstandings. The result: fewer mistakes, a faster process and higher returns.
The benefits and challenges of digitisation
Digitisation has both advantages and disadvantages. Some of the advantages are:
More efficient processes
By automating processes, you can save time and money. Using 3D building models prevents errors in the design phase and simulations allow you to design perfect energy solutions for a building. Up-to-date documents are always and instantly available to everyone, but of course only to people with the right authorisations.
Working more efficiently also means lower costs. You have a smaller chance of error, so lower failure costs. More efficient processes mean you can work faster with fewer people. You also no longer need archive space and no more searching for documents.
Construction partners can more easily find information and communicate with the organisation. For example, construction drawings can be shared easily and comments can be processed quickly. You can also be sure that everyone is always working in the latest version of a document. Building incorrectly based on old drawings is a thing of the past.
The most up-to-date documents are always and instantly available to everyone. Because all information is bundled in a central location, you have a wealth of useful data at your disposal. Analysis of this data leads to valuable insights.
Because all the information is bundled in a central location, you have a wealth of useful data at your fingertips.
Some of the challenges include:
Implementing digital solutions can incur costs in the implementation phase. For instance, a DMS or collaboration platform needs to be purchased and employees need to be trained on how to use it.
Risk of security breaches
Digital solutions always involve security risks to a greater or lesser extent. For instance, sensitive data can be hacked or lost. It is therefore very important to choose a reliable supplier that meets the highest security standards. It is also important that this supplier’s data centres are located in (preferably Western) Europe. This is because they have to comply with strict regulations.
Digital systems can sometimes cause problems, such as malfunctions. Here, too, it is important to choose a reliable partner with an easily accessible, Dutch helpdesk. It is also important that the systems have good backups.
Digitise your organisation in 7 steps
So this digitisation makes sense, is important and is unavoidable. But where do you start?
- Step 1: Take stock of your current processes and systems. Which processes are currently running on paper or with outdated systems?
- Step 2: Determine which processes you want to improve with digital solutions.
- Step 3: Select the right digital tools. There are many different digital solutions available, so choose the ones that best suit your organisation. Compare suppliers, do research, talk to industry peers and make an informed choice.
- Step 4: Implement the digital solutions. Ensure that the new systems are properly integrated into current processes.
- Step 5: Train your staff. Make sure your employees are well trained in using the new digital solutions.
- Step 6: Monitor and evaluate. Monitor the performance of the new digital solutions and regularly evaluate whether they are still contributing to improving your processes.
- Step 7: Keep innovating. Digital solutions continue to evolve, so keep up to date.