Partner Perspective

Data Overload: How Can It Be Prevented?

Amodal speaks with Jan Stephens, BIM Implementation Manager at Edocuments

If most of us were asked the question: ‘What do you need and why?’, without giving it a lot of thought we’d like to think we could deliver an answer pretty much straight away. Often however the reverse is true; we find it difficult to pinpoint something exactly, causing us to over-compensate by accumulating as much as we can without necessarily thinking about the value. When clients in the construction industry are asked which data is required on handover to inform the operation of an asset, there’s a tendency to prioritise quantity over quality. Amodal speaks with Jan Stephens, BIM Implementation Manager at data experts, Edocuments about how this process leads to data overloads, and what can be done to ensure all data is of true value.

“With the volume of construction information increasing, data assurance and quality are critical,” Jan begins. “The likes of Amodal are going some way to help construction clients improve the efficiency of mining valuable data – how they find the needle in a haystack.” At present the way in which data is sourced and the type of information that is surfaced, is problematic. Contractors and asset owners are producing two separate sets of data regarding one project or building, and as a result of this fragmentation, neither datasets are standardised in the same, corresponding ways. Not only is the quality of the information compromised, there is little guarantee that the data produced will be of worth once handed over.

“Information from differing sources leads to confusion,” Jan continues. “On a construction project so many parties are sending in information about different products, people and specifications. Architects, engineers, subcontractors will all have various information to share and handover to the asset owner. But there are multitudes of contrasting formats and versions, and the load of information can be challenging to bear. In this situation, it can be difficult to ascertain which data can be trusted: what is of value to the asset owner and their building?”

Jan highlights that whilst some clients are very specific about which data they need, others are unsure. It’s important to remember that this could be for a variety of reasons: lack of resource, education and even time. Although not caused intentionally, collecting excesses of data in fear of not wanting to be too brief does result in data overloads. “It is why we need to help clients define the type of data they need. It will in turn, enable them to achieve the results they want,” Jan pinpoints.

How are Amodal and Edocuments aligned?

“This is where Amodal and Edocuments are similar – we are both trying to get the industry to be more efficient through standardisation and smarter ways of managing data,” Jan explains. “Main contractors typically work on a package-by-package basis, whereas a client will want to view information or data in a system. At Edocuments we bridge that gap to present valuable, standardised information via one resource.”

Edocuments is transforming the data management process into something simple, for the benefit of clients across the sector. “When a construction project is finished and a client is ready to take it on, an operations maintenance manual is produced to transfer all the information from a contractor to the client. We work closely with main contractors and subcontractors during this transition to make it as straightforward and seamless as possible. Our easy-to-use software, Springboard is a valuable database where we can build asset registers and COBie spreadsheets to present data in a way our clients can understand. It enables us to collect information for handover, siphoning unwanted data so there isn’t an overload.”

This simplified, efficient approach to data management is further evidenced by Edocuments’ style of work, as Jan articulates. “As we work on a system-by-system basis we can immediately see which information is absent. We are in a position where we can easily detect valuable information that is amiss, ensuring that we can eliminate unwanted data to find what’s truly needed.” When it comes to giving the information to the asset owner, Jan highlights that Edocuments covers all bases. “The information from the project stage gets uploaded into a bespoke template that is consequently reviewed and approved. Once quality checks have been performed the resource is ready for hand over, where the client is given one version of an approved document containing the data they need.” And why is this of particular importance? Is data just for data’s sake? “Not at all,” Jan says, “With this resource clients can rely on it to inform important decision-making in the future. With solutions provided by the likes of Amodal and Edocuments, data overload can quickly become a thing of the past.”