Speed up your adoption of Digital Processes, start with 4D Planning

Why the Slow Adoption of 4D Planning? Modern digital processes in construction have been around for a good decade or more, yet the construction industry is mostly still stuck in its old ways.

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We have had tools available to allow us to produce better programmes to enable better project management, but for some reason, most projects choose not to take a progressive approach.

Every construction project's success depends a lot on how well the risks of each project are allocated and managed. So if there are tools available that would effectively identify risk and allow it to be allocated correctly, eliminated, reduced or managed earlier, why would everyone not take this opportunity?

The reason why 4D has not been widely adopted is due the fact that project planning itself is often never allowed for correctly in the first place. 4D is project planning - so if there is no budget in a project for a planner, there is certainly no budget in a project for the additional resource usually required for high quality 4D.

The barriers it seems to me, are mainly two:

    1. History
    1. Knowledge Gaps

Historically, traditional forms of contract used on building projects would be built on skinny prelims with heavily under resourced site teams that could barely look down the end of their nose at what's ahead, let alone a long term programme. When people started out on these types of contract, there was not as much information required to be in place throughout the process, people just got on and built it. The tongue in cheek phrase 'build and design' still exists today. So clients and people who came up in that era decades ago, are still pricing projects at the same level of resource when in reality, to deliver a construction project today, there are a lot more roles to fill to satisfy contract requirements.

It's no wonder then, that more than half of all construction projects finish late.

Source: BIS, CITB, Glenigan, Constructing Excellence

More progressive forms of contract such as the NEC (most recently NEC4), have put the programme central to the contract - 'the beating heart' as it has been dubbed. Civils projects are generally more familiar with this than those used to Buildings projects, however the onerous requirements for planning and programme updating is still often not resourced properly until it's too late.

Moving on, Knowledge Gaps are rife in the Construction Industry and there is a definite skills shortage in trades and management (or at least quality of management).

A lot of senior people have a lot of knowledge, but it's difficult to get it out of their heads in a way that the younger generation of construction workers will understand it. What better way then to communicate how to build something and audit a programme than by using 4D? The youth can have a go and present to their older and wiser peers who can then gain confidence that they have understood what has been taught to them and be sure that they are planning to build correctly. Similarly, when the image presented is not correct, this can be fed back far more easily to ensure any errors are corrected before they become a problem on site. It is the best way to get confirmation of understanding since the picture on the screen can match the picture in each persons minds - having everyone literally on the same page.

So with these considerations, why the slow adoption of 4D?

As the transition to digital processes in all industries gathers pace, construction will find itself needing to adapt to modern ways of working more quickly to attract the younger generation of people and best new talent. At the same time, we need to find a more agile way of passing on experience from those that know more quickly to the new blood. 4D can play a huge part in that as we go digital.

If you're still unconvinced, for more information on what advanced 4D looks like, check out the work of Freeform and also our work at InCo Projects on 4D Project Planning, Reporting and Delay Analysis. We're always happy to talk the benefits of 4D.

Speed up your adoption of Digital Processes, start with 4D planning.