Managing the AEC industry - A survey of technology applied to the management of projects, knowledge, and resources

Managing the AEC industry
               A survey of technology applied to the
               management of projects, knowledge,
                           and resources

CASE Design Inc. / 401 Broadway Suite 1600 / New York, New York 10013 / 212.255.5483 / / © 2013 CASE Design

In summary
In this survey of 429 leading AEC                      Project Management (pg. 4)
industry professionals we look                         • Most medium to large sized firms are using project management
at how technology is impacting                           software to organise and share documents both internally and with
project management, knowledge                            external clients and partners.
management, and enterprise                             • These systems are perhaps better termed document management
resource planning.                                       systems since most currently lack the integration necessary for true
                                                         project management.
                                                       • Cloud based storage has seen new arrivals take significant marketshare
                                                         from incumbents. Firms should look closely at the new range of provider
                                                         options and be aware that the offerings are likely to change significantly
                                                         in the coming years.

                                                       Knowledge Management (pg. 6)
                                                       • Most firms with more than 50 employees are using intranets and other
                                                         tools to capture knowledge.
                                                       • Many firms are reporting that it is hard to get employees engaged and
                                                         as a result the data often goes stale. Furthermore, the lack of specialised
                                                         AEC integration means critical project data often isn’t captured.
                                                       • Be cautious when investing in these systems, the technology that gets
                                                         deployed is rarely used to the extent envisioned without proper executive
                                                         support, implementation consulting, and training. This remains a
                                                         major pain-point for the industry. KA Synthesis is the only AEC specific
                                                         knowledge management system with any meaningful traction.

                                                       Enterprise Resource Planning (pg. 8)
                                                       • Primarily used for accounting and time tracking, they generally integrate
                                                         poorly with other aspects of the AEC industry.
                                                       • Majority of firms use some form of Enterprise Resource Planning.
                                                       • While innovation is possible, there do not appear to be any firms taking
                                                         the lead in this area. Firms should expect the status quo to remain in
                                                         place for at least the next few years.

                                                       Software use at a glance

                                                           35%        54%              32%        59%             29%          67%    Using
                                                                                                                                      Not using

                                                         Project Management       Knowledge Management          Enterprise Resource

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Where computation resides

I n recent years the AEC industry
  has been saturated by images
of intricately curved geometry,
                                                       how it affords new opportunities for
                                                       collaboration and new workflows.
                                                       But this interest often overshadows
                                                                                                              they are using – what they are using
                                                                                                              it for, how they are using it, and
                                                                                                              the challenges they face with it.
demonstrations of robotic                              how computation is impacting                           Our methodology is similar to the
construction, and diagrams of                          the less glamorous parts of the                        NBS National BIM Report and the
data flowing between design,                           AEC industry; the back-of-house                        Design Intelligence 2012 Technology
construction, and occupancy.                           functions like project management,                     & Innovation Survey but, unlike
Collectively this deluge forms a                       knowledge management, and                              these previous surveys, instead
declaration: computation is here,                      enterprise resource planning.                          of focusing on design tools we
and it is profoundly impacting                                                                                have chosen to draw attention to
the AEC industry. Yet discussions                      In this report we investigate the                      the technological infrastructure
of technology tend to dwell on                         computational technology powering                      that underlies leading AEC
only the most readily apparent                         AEC firms. There are no images of                      firms. In doing so this report
instances of computation. To a                         complicated geometry, robots, or                       taps into a growing awareness
degree this makes sense, we are                        data flows. We instead examine                         that the computation celebrated
– after all – here to design, make,                    the technology used to manage                          for transforming contemporary
and manage buildings. We are                           projects, manage knowledge,                            architecture is similarly
interested in how computation                          and manage resources. We have                          transforming the management of
provides new tools for design and                      asked 429 leading AEC industry                         AEC firms.
construction, we are interested in                     professionals about the technology

About CASE                                                                                                    About HP
CASE is a Building Information                         CASE and HP share a mutual                             HP creates new possibilities for
Modeling (BIM) consultancy based                       interest in how technology will                        technology to have a meaningful
in New York City. They provide                         shape the future of the architecture,                  impact on people, businesses,
strategic advising to building                         engineering and construction                           governments and society. With
design professionals, contractors                      industries. To gain further                            the broadest technology portfolio
and owners seeking to supplant                         insight into this future, CASE, in                     spanning printing, personal
traditional project delivery methods                   association with HP, conducted the                     systems, software, services and
through technology-driven process                      survey and subsequent analysis that                    IT infrastructure, HP delivers
innovation.                                            forms the basis of this report.                        solutions for customers’ most                                                                                              complex challenges in every region
                                                                                                              of the world.

CASE Design Inc. / 401 Broadway Suite 1600 / New York, New York 10013 / 212.255.5483 / / © 2013 CASE Design                    2

Method &                                                                                                         In terms of technology adoption,
                                                                                                                 how would you rate your company
                                                                                                                 vs the AEC industry?

Limitations                                                                                                50


This report is based on a survey
                                                                                     Percentage            30
of 429 AEC industry professionals
                                                                                        Own company
undertaken between June 3 and
                                                                                        AEC industry       20
June 13, 2013. The survey was
conducted online and respondents
were primarily recruited through
invitations in the CASE email
newsletter, a post on the Archdaily                                                                              Leaders                     Laggards
website, and links in social media.

Considering that respondents                                                                                     Which of the following services
were recruited through digital                                                                                   does your company offer?
media, it is unsurprising that
they tend to self-identify as                                                                     Architecture    69%
technological market leaders. This
report should therefore be read                                                  BIM Modelling / Consulting       46%
with the understanding that it is
not a representative survey of the                                                             Construction       20%
entire AEC industry, but rather a
glimpse at how leading firms are                                                               Design-build       26%
using technology. While the survey
was answered by respondents in                                                             Engineering, Civil     11%
thirty-seven countries, the majority
(69%) were from the United States                                                          Engineering, MEP       18%
of America. Despite increasing
globalization in the AEC industry,                                                   Engineering, Structural      17%
there are still regional preferences
towards particular software.                                                          Facilities Management       9%
The most salient instances are
highlighted in this report, but in                                                           Interior Design      41%
general this report offers American
perspective of the AEC industry.                                                     Landscape Architecture       20%

                                                                                 Planning and Urban Design        31%

                                                                                                                 0 69%     20         40        60          80   100
                                                                                                                                Percentage of respondents

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The technology
of project
Expect shifts towards                                  Managing project documents on                          Does your company use Project
                                                       file servers – whether cloud based                     Management software?
the cloud and away from
                                                       or on-site – presents problems
pure file management                                   when multiple users access files. It
                                                       can become difficult to track issues

P  roject management software
   helps firms plan, organize,
and manage projects. In the
                                                       such as: who has permission to
                                                       use particular files, who is using a
                                                       file, which version of a file is the
AEC industry, this software is                         most recent, and what has been                                  35% – No      54% – Yes
primarily used to manage project                       done on a project in relation to
deliverables, share files (both                        what needs to be done. These issues
internally and externally), and to                     tend to be amplified by BIM since
track issues pertaining to projects.                   it encourages data sharing between                                      11%
                                                       project stakeholders.
For the 46% of respondents who
                                                                                                                  No, but
do not use dedicated project                           Most AEC project management                                considering
management software, projects                          software attempts to address the
are typically organized using                          challenges associated with sharing
some combination of file storage                       data in a collaborative context.
and emails. In the extreme case                        54% of the respondents use project
(13%) an individual will store files                   management software. This is
on their personal computer and                         correlated with firm size – firms                      Project Management software use
use email to send colleagues and                       typically begin considering project                    vs firm size
clients updates. The more typical                      management software when they
situation (58%) is that project files                  have roughly 10-30 employees, and
are stored on what one respondent                      most firms have adopted some form
called “a disorganized project                         of project management software
server” with coordination occurring                    by the time they have 50-60                                     49%             22%       >20 empl.
through emails, phone calls, and                       employees.
excel spreadsheets. There is also
a contingent (29% – but likely to                      There are regional biases towards
grow fast) that use cloud-based                        particular project management
storage instead of an on-site server.                  software. The survey’s Australian
Dropbox is far and away the most                       respondents were more likely to use
popular cloud storage service, with                    Aconex, while those in the United                                               23%

differences with any statistical significance).
In general, the most commonly used project
management software in the sample was
Newforma (56%), followed by Autodesk360                                                                         Which of the following project
(27%), and Projectwise (18%). Autodesk360                                                                       management software does your
is a relative newcomer. Launched little over                                                                    company use?
                        a year ago, its cloud
“There isn’t one piece  based solution has                                                        Newforma          56%
of software that does   picked up significant
everything.”            market share                                                           Autodesk 360         27%
                        (largely through
“My biggest frustration Autodesk’s vertical                                                      ProjectWise        18%
is that actual project  integration) where
management software     other new cloud                                                              Aconex         9%
doesn’t thoughtfully    based arrivals, like
integrate with BIM,     GTeam, have failed                                                            Prolog        5%
at all.”                to do so (only 4%
                        of firms were using                                                          GTeam          4%
GTeam, however 19% of those looking to
begin using project management software                                                            4Projects        4%
were considering GTeam, which makes it the
third most considered [behind Newforma and                                       Asite, CMiC, Conject, Enovia       Below margin of error
Autodesk360] and perhaps signaling a change
of fortune for GTeam).                                                                                          0         20         40        60          80   100
                                                                                                                               Percentage of respondents
Newforma, Autodesk360, and Projectwise,
all have a strong focus on organizing files
and models. Some of the survey respondents
noted that “document management is not                                                                          Which of the following does your
the same as project management” and                                                                             company use project management
felt hindered by the lack of integration to                                                                     software for?
dedicated management software. Other
common challenges brought up included:                                     Sharing files with project partners       77%
• The training required for individuals to use
  the software.                                                                  Sharing files with the Client       73%
• Software using a file based paradigm when
  models are more appropriate.                                                Managing project deliverables         73%
• Internet connection speeds.
• Interoperability, fragmentation, and                                      Sharing files within the company         64%
  compatibility with certain design software.
• The chunkiness of Newforma’s interface.                                                      Issue tracking       47%
These challenges signal that while project
organization is generally becoming more                                                     Version tracking        45%
sophisticated than simply files on servers,
the industry has a ways to go in the                                                          Model viewing         20%
management of projects. There have been a
number of new companies who have arisen                                                                         0         20         40        60          80   100
to take significant market share in only                                                                                       Percentage of respondents
couple of years, and we anticipate that there
will continue to be heated innovation in this
space over the next few years.

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The technology
of knowledge
With limited AEC specific options,                                                                            Does your company use Knowledge
                                                                                                              Management software?
knowledge management systems
often go stale once deployed

K  nowledge management concerns how knowledge
   is created, captured, and disseminated within an

                                                                                                                       32% – No    59% – Yes
The capturing and dissemination of knowledge
often occurs simply through emails, informal chats,
and meetings. For respondents at small firms, this
relatively informal, personal communication was the
primary way knowledge was shared. For larger firms,
there comes a point where it is prudent to deliberately                                                      No, but
set out to capture aspects of the organization’s                                                             considering
knowledge. This point is clear in the survey data: most
firms with 10 or fewer employees
do not use knowledge management         “No one wants to read
software, while almost every            it. Everybody wants
firm has begun considering              information but when it’s
using knowledge management              convenient for them.”                                                 Knowledge Management software
software by the time they have                                                                                use vs firm size
approximately 20-30 employees,          “The biggest challenge is
and virtually every firm with           getting people to contribute
more than 50 employees is using         and then to actually use/
knowledge management software.          read it.”
                                                                                                                       51%           15%       >30 empl.
In total, 59% of respondents were using some form
of knowledge management software, 9% were
considering it, while the remaining 32% were not.
For those using knowledge management software,
65% are using SharePoint. This is a dominant portion
considering that the next most commonly used
knowledge management software is some form of                                                                              9%

Which of the following does                                                                     extensive self-customized solutions.” Based
your company use knowledge                                                                      on the survey, firms that do implement
management software for?                                                                        a knowledge management system are
                                                                                                primarily choosing between SharePoint,
                                                                                                an in-house solution, or KA Synthesis. For
    88%                                                Sharing information resources            the first two it is a somewhat dire choice;
                                                                                                SharePoint isn’t targeted at the AEC industry
    54%                                                Documenting expertise                    and requires significant customization,
                                                                                                meanwhile, an in-house solution is,
    48%                                                Collaborating                            according to one respondent, “slow to evolve
                                                                                                and takes enormous resources to create
    39%                                                Tracking project success                 and manage.” KA Synthesis is the only AEC
                                                                                                specific knowledge management system
    34%                                                Socialising                              with any sort of meaningful use, with 8% of
                                                                                                respondents using it. This is due primarily
    33%                                                Reviewing past projects                  with their market focus and integration with
                                                                                                other AEC-specific enterprise technologies:
    22%                                                Issue tracking                           Deltek Vision (enterprise resource planning,
                                                                                                pg 8), Newforma (project management,
0          20         40        60          80   100
                                                                                                pg 4) and Axomic OpenAsset (digital asset
                Percentage of respondents

                                                                                                Those adopting knowledge management
                                                                                                systems are primarily doing so to share
Which of the following knowledge                                                                information resources (75%), collaborate
management software does your                                                                   (72%), document expertise (72%), and to
company use?                                                                                    review past projects (56%). But those using
                                                                                                knowledge management systems report that
                                                                                                they can be difficult to navigate, and that it
    65%                                                SharePoint                               is hard to get staff to participate. As a result,
                                                                                                the knowledge often goes stale, which further
    19%                                                In-house custom app                      dissuades users by reducing the utility of the
                                                                                                knowledge management system. The tone
      8%                                               KA Synthesis                             of many respondents was quite negative,
                                                                                                the consensus seeming to be that while
    4%                                                 Mindtouch                                knowledge management software was a
                                                                                                good idea in theory, in practice people “get
    4%                                                 Confluence                                frustrated and don’t use it.”

                                                       Jive, Open Atrium,
    Below margin of error
                                                       Thought farmer, Yammer                   Knowledge produced on projects often
                                                                                                either gets forgotten or simply ‘walks out
0          20         40        60          80   100                                            the door’. While there is a clear benefit to
                Percentage of respondents                                                       capturing project knowledge and sharing
                                                                                                it within an organization, very few AEC
                                                                                                firms appear to be doing this successfully.
                                                                                                The range of knowledge management
                                                                                                technology is limited, and the technology
                                                                                                that gets deployed is rarely used to the extent
                                                                                                envisioned without proper executive support,
                                                                                                implementation consulting, and training.

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The technology of
enterprise resource
                                                                                                              Does your company use Enterprise
Widely used, although rarely for anything                                                                     Resource Planning software?
other than time tracking and accounting

E RP is TLA (Three Letter Acronym) for Enterprise Resource
  Planning. Simply put, this is how firms budget for projects,
manage their accounting, pay employees, bill clients, and
manage their relationships with clients.                                                                               29% – No   67% – Yes

29% of respondents do not use dedicated ERP software. Of these,
the majority (25%) do not in any way formally plan or budget                                                          4%
                                                                                                        No, but
for projects. A typical respondent told us, “we just don’t do that                                      considering
and that’s bad, very bad”. Another common solution (22%) was
to use Excel spreadsheets for planning, creating time-sheets,
and tracking costs. For the remaining 53% of respondents not
using dedicated ERP software, they were using a scattershot mix
of whiteboards, Microsoft Project, bespoke solutions, and “the
honor system”.

The majority of respondents (67%) use some form of dedicated
ERP software. Most use Deltek Vision (49%) while 17% use                                                      Enterprise Resource Planning
Quickbooks. There is no clear pattern to what remainder use,                                                  software use vs firm size
other than that in aggregate they use a large range of software.
                                          There were over
                                          twenty ERP solutions
“We keep data modes separated: one        mentioned during the
for real time spent, other for billing    survey, most of them
times, other for client database”         only used by a couple
                                                                                                                         58%          12%      >20 empl.
                                          of firms. This reflects
“Users do not understand the benefit      the diversity of ERP
and so they are not motivated to          software available to
use; they want to be architects, not      AECO firms who do
managers.”                                not require industry
                                          specific software to do
“I don’t see the benefits of using it to  basic tasks like paying
                                                                                                                         16%          15%

country (sometimes geographically                       mining the data for business
limiting its availability), in our                      intelligence. The most interesting                     While the majority of AEC firms
data the only discernible pattern                       example of this was a firm that had                    appear to be using some form of
based on location was that Deltek                       developed a custom application to                      ERP system, most have failed to
is more popular inside the US than                      track how sleeping and exercise                        leverage this data for anything
outside. It was also difficult to find                  impacted employee productivity.                        other than simple accounting and
associations between firm size                          Considering the richness of the                        time tracking. Integration remains
and ERP use. Virtually every firm                       data entered into these ERP                            a challenge due the wide variety
with more than 50 employees uses                        systems, very few firms are deriving                   of software firms are using, and
ERP software, but there seems to                        value from the data outside of                         due to the sensitivity of the data.
be no pattern to the use in small                       accounting and time tracking.                          There did not appear to be any firms
to medium sized firms – a sole                          Most respondents reported that                         taking the lead in this area, and
practitioner might use it, a firm                       due to the sensitivity of the data,                    it therefore seems likely that the
with a dozen employees may not.                         they were unable to access it. Often                   status quo will remain in place, at
                                                        employees only use ERP systems                         least for the near future.
Most firms are using ERP systems                        to enter data, with the aggregate
for accounting (81%) and time                           statistics available solely to those in
tracking (76%), with only a third                       upper management and accounting.

Which of the following does your
company use enterprise resource
planning software for?
                                                                                                               Which of the following enterprise
                                                                                                               resource planning software does
                                                                                                               your company use?
    81%                                                Accounting

    76%                                                Time Tracking

    45%                                                Tracking Cost Overruns                  Deltek Vision       49%

    39%                                                Tracking Project Success                  Quickbooks        17%

    35%                                                Managing Client Relations                Axium Ajera          6%

    33%                                                Business Intelligence                      Salesforce       4%

                                                                                                Over twenty
      11%                                              Regulatory Compliance                                       Below margin of error
                                                                                             other softwares

0         20         40        60          80    100                                                           0          20         40        60          80   100
               Percentage of respondents                                                                                       Percentage of respondents

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