The Growing Challenge of Project Information Management Engineering and architectural projects today generate more information than ever before. Emails, images, meeting minutes, contracts, specifications, changes to contracts, orders, mark-ups, quotes ... all of this information about a project, or that discusses more than one project, adds to the complexity as each snippet of information may become vital to the success, or failure, of the project. The management, tracking and sorting of project information is a vital skill and one that requires effective management tools and methods.
Industry Challenges – The Many-Headed Hydra of Project Information Management The universe of project information contains models, drawings, emails, mark-ups, submittals, transmittals, meeting minutes, images, contracts, specifications, change orders and other documentation created in the course of designing, building and operating any facility, large or small. Every business project generates an incredible amount of project information; information that will need to be tracked and catalogued if it is to be used to improve current and future business. Addressing the basic needs of organising, finding, tracking, sharing, monitoring and reusing technical project information and communications takes time and effort. People and processes depend on that information. More than being a smart way of doing business, efficient project management is the only way to do business. But more and more, the burden of prima facie information management falls to the individual, and this leads to the serious problems of time-theft, stove-piping, accountability & visibility, the erosion of corporate knowledge, longer lead times for orientating new team members, poor visibility of project issues for senior management, and the possibility of greater exposure to risk from reduced process control.
Why this is of concern – The Costs of Getting it Wrong Managing information takes time; time which once spent cannot be regained. Time spent managing information is time not spent designing, collaborating or planning. Poor information management means excess time looking for or filing project information. Managing information requires processes. Even with company-wide processes, individuality creeps in and the resulting differentiation in file storage, naming protocols, version control, and so on, leads to stove-piping of information – a file emailed to most of the stakeholders for a project is not necessarily the same file that will be used by all stakeholders going forward. Information stove-piping will create a disconnect between vital elements of the project and the processes they need to work effectively – with architects, engineers, construction, owner organisations, and remote team members disconnected from their processes and from their financial and resource data, successful project delivery becomes a near-impossible task.
Losing Control Poor project information management reduces account- ability and visibility, potentially creating a whole host of problems with fraud and, just as importantly, the perception of how potential fraud is managed.
When project information management is not done well, corporate and project knowledge is lost during employee turnovers, and the orientation and assimilation of new team members on any project is made less effective.
Poor project information management obfuscates and makes difficult audit trails, transmittals, submittal and RFIs, increasing the headaches and time costs of doing business.
Process control will be lost without good project information management, leading to increased risk, and senior management visibility will be reduced, removing its ability to influence change and guide a project.