In this episode of the Smarter Building podcast, we caught up with Dr. Stephen Hamil, Innovation Director at NBS, to gain insights into the future landscape of the construction industry and the upcoming trends in 2024.
6 areas to consider when developing your Digital Strategy
A digital strategy provides an organisation with a clear direction and pathway to achieve its strategic goals and desired outcomes. This can involve introducing new technologies to work smarter, implementing new management processes, or aligning delivery to clients changing information requirements to improve business performance and sustainability.
So, what goes into a digital strategy? Below offers some guidance in just some of the areas to consider when developing your strategy:
- Visions and Baselines
- How Can Symetri Help With BIM Consulting?
One of the primary decisions an organisation must make when developing a digital strategy is the approach. For example, can it be developed with existing internal resources or may need some external expertise. Often subject matter expertise will need to be involved to partner with solution providers who can compliment an organisations main business function such as design, construction, or asset management. This expertise can provide new insights and access to a wealth of knowledge and experience not available within your business. It is essential to identify precursor activities, for example investigating external market trends before even developing a strategy, such as market analysis to ensure proposed high-level objectives align to industry or clients current and future requirements, which is one example of a step that is often missed. The preferred approach should be understood very early on.
Ensure that governance is in place and key sponsors are identified, normally at main board management level. This is critical to success and provides clear communication across the business that the initiative has full board support and strongly reinforces its importance. Of course, governance and stakeholders can change during programme delivery, with a main board member being the main sponsor during strategy development, and governance transferred to a senior manager to lead the implementation phase. However, governance should be clearly defined at all stages. Without the appropriate level of governance often digital transformation can be siloed, disjointed, or not aligned to an organisation overarching objectives and direction.
A vision is a term sometimes used to describe an organisation overarching objectives or their aspirations for the future. However, to fully understand the effort required to make the vision a reality, understanding the as-is, or current state of an organisation is required. By understanding an organisations current state provides a baseline to measure progress against, and it can often highlight areas of focus or where increased effort is required which may not have been previously realised. A technologies main purpose is to improve business performance whether this is via:
- A very focused initiative such as implementing a Common Data Environment (CDE) or new data capture processes on site.
- Through a wider transformation project across the whole organisation, with the overarching vision defined within the strategy.
By using baseline measurements, the success of the implementation can be clearly communicated and assists identifying areas where more focus is required during programme role out.
This is part of an organisations digital strategy that we often find has been either ignored or not defined clearly, resulting in the deployment of bespoke internal processes and workflows that do not align to industry standards or client requirements. In 2020, the UK Government published the Construction Playbook containing clear communication and guidance on how they wish to engage with their supply chain and to their specific requirements. Information Management and Building Information Modelling requirements are clearly defined with references made to the UK BIM Framework. For organisations supplying services into the public sector, this knowledge and understanding naturally should influence any proposed digital strategy. Quite often, organisations deploy digital technologies as a standalone IT project without fully understanding what industry standards are required or even investigate what requirements can be typically written into client’s contracts or appointment documents.
Of course, driving a standardised way of working can be informed in many ways, it can be via industry standards; client requirements, the technologies functionality, and often internal management processes within the organisation. All of these exist to drive consistency, collaborative, and efficient workflows. Understanding required or recommended standard methods of working is recommended and should be part of any digital strategy.
When individuals consider enablers, it is often attributed to the digital technologies themselves. For example, using Autodesk Revit to author designs as BIM outputs, Autodesk Construction Cloud installed to support a Common Data Environment, or Symetri’s Naviate to drive increased efficiencies within the design process. However, within a digital strategy this should extend a lot further. Any tools deployed to assist in delivering outcomes is an enabler, this can include templates, spreadsheets, online design management portals, or eLearning platforms. All these tool’s support and enable the achievement of an objective or required outcome. If we consider information management, as defined in ISO 19650 and national annexes, there are lots of recommended enablers to support the management process, so these should be considered within an overarching digital strategy.
Finally, the most difficult part of a strategy to deliver is change. When we discuss with new clients their previous initiatives and challenges, it is not unusual to hear of previous initiatives that have failed due to poor change management. Technology solutions such as mobile data collection on site that has driven increased productivity and project controls, improved efficiencies, and reduced costs in multitudes of organisations worldwide, can sometimes be reported as failed and not successfully adopted within an organisation due to a lack of strategy or implementing change management processes. Employees have been found to have reverted to inefficient working or simply resisted any changes to new working processes. In these scenario’s, we quite often see the organisation simply try a different technology solution instead of understanding the root cause for the failure. Change management often includes clear communication strategies, education and training, onboarding support, as well as monitoring and measuring adoption rates and the productivity improvements achieved. A successful implementation is often supported with a strong change management process.
Whether you are or considering developing a Digital Strategy, a Digital Transformation Roadmap, a BIM and Information Management Change Programme, Symetri offers a wide range of BIM consulting services, technologies and IT services.
If you would like to discuss your Digital Strategy with us, please get in touch with us to book an appointment with one of our BIM Consulting team.