Many large construction companies are busy setting up their CDE (common data environment). The underlying reason is that these companies want to handle their information carefully and are looking for a collaboration platform. They are looking for a way to store and process data securely, while benefiting from efficient collaboration. A stable and reliable cloud solution is the answer. But what exactly is such a CDE and what’s in it for you?
What is a CDE?
CDE stands for common data environment. This can be a stand-alone computer, but in practice, organisations almost always mean an online cloud solution. A place where data can be properly and securely stored and managed. A CDE is both a document and a data management system, as well as an online location where people can share files and collaborate on the same – and thus always up-to-date – files.
These days, criminals are increasingly nimble with online crimes.
Where did the name CDE come from?
The name CDE comes from the English public available specifications (PAS); a collection of standards, specifications, codes, and guidelines that meet the requirements from the market. This may sound a bit complicated, but it mainly means that when everybody manages their information in the same way, communicating and developing will be easier, faster and more efficient. In the meantime, the term CDE has gotten a life of its own. The term is often used for all situations that use a data structure, whether it’s the cloud structure of an organization or the computer in your home office.
Why a CDE or collaboration platform?
Security is everything. On the construction site, but certainly in the cloud as well. Data about your construction projects, administration, progress, but also confidential information about the organisation, are things you don’t want to share outside your organisation. These days, criminals are increasingly nimble with online crimes. Hacks and data breaches are therefore common. Generally speaking, fortunately, these are things you can prevent. A second reason for wanting a CDE is to have your data always up to date and available. So stability is also an important factor. Computers, servers and data centres should not fail, and if they do, you should be able to seamlessly switch to a backup. So that documents or data are never lost. The third reason to want a CDE is to be able to collaborate well and effectively in your project team.
Data security: what does your Common Data Environment or collaboration platform do?
One of the main reasons why many construction companies look for a CDE is data security. A good cloud solution for document management tackles all bottlenecks. The biggest advantage of such a cloud solution is that the builder of the software has already built in many measures to protect your data. With a professionally built system, your files are behind a firewall that monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic. Your files are also stored encrypted. Sharing data is done via a secure connection. The systems are periodically tested by professional hackers to close any possible back doors.
Data security: what you can do yourself
The innovative construction software is designed so that security is at the heart of everything. Because you can manage everything from a single platform, you are completely unburdened and don’t have to worry about it yourself. Yet, there are things you need to take into account as a user. For instance, it is smart not to share all your data with everyone, but to selectively allocate access to certain folders. Files that you share with external parties can be given a password, but also a time slot in which someone can view the file. You can also specify for each file whether someone can only view it, or also edit it.
If something went wrong in a file, either consciously or unconsciously, you can fall back on an earlier version of your files.
With an online document management system (DMS), which a CDE basically is, you always have all your data backed up in the cloud. If your laptop crashes, you can simply access your data again from another device. With version control, you can fix bugs. If something has gone wrong in a file, either consciously or unconsciously, you can fall back on an earlier version of your files. Your information is distributed across different servers in various locations. If one of the servers crashes or is attacked, you can still access your data from another server.
The benefits of a collaboration platform
In general, you can say that an online document management system provides overview and insight. Because people from the entire organisation, as well as subcontractors, suppliers and construction partners, work in the same system, you are always assured of up-to-date information. You decide who has access to which document. Project members who are not allowed to see certain documents or files, are not allowed to access them either. The fact that everyone works with the most recent documents, reduces the risk of error in the final construction phase and therefore saves a lot of time and money.
Working together in the same file
By working with a document management system in the cloud, you can be sure that everyone always has the latest version of a file. You really won’t be the first to spend hours working with an outdated version. Or worse; that a structure is built based on an outdated blueprint! You avoid this by working on a collaboration platform. When saving files, the system automatically assigns continuous version numbers. Moreover, by tagging documents, all project members can easily find your files. You can also place a QR code on a blueprint. When you scan it with your phone or tablet, you immediately get a notification as to whether you are working with the most recent version, or not. The result? Insight, overview and lower failure costs. A guarantee for optimal efficiency.
Also read our 5 tips for document management in construction.
Conclusion: this is why you want to get your Common Data Environment right!
Whether you call it CDE, DMS or collaboration platform, fact is that you want to be able to store your data securely and edit it effectively. Whether it’s plans, quotes, contracts or blueprints, your entire team must be able to find all relevant information easily, edit or view it securely and be sure that the information is up-to-date. In optimal cooperation, but with the necessary security measures. So that only those people you have authorised to access your information can see it. In which you always want to, and can, count on your information being available and accessible.