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A journey through design management with InEight

InEight Solution Engineer, Jason Lancelot.
InEight Solution Engineer, Jason Lancelot.

InEight Solution Engineer Jason Lancelot reflects on the past and present and forecasts the future of design management in construction.

With more than 30 years’ experience in design, Jason Lancelot has seen first-hand the effects of digital transformation and its impact on the construction industry.

As an InEight Solution Engineer, Lancelot says his own journey, from using technical drawings in his late teens, to Computer Aided Design in the 1990s, reflects the industry’s push to deliver projects faster and more accurately.

He also points out that though the technology used to design projects has changed significantly, the methods and importance of planning, managing and tracking project designs has remained the same.

“Technology has changed, but the same design management challenges still persist,” Lancelot says. “Two of the biggest challenges are resourcing and time. Project managers want to deliver projects faster and cheaper. Tracking this process is essential, especially when dealing with multiple parties, such as engineers, builders and architects.

“With more collaboration comes more data.”

Those involved in the design management process are typically tasked with assessing the planning, documentation and reporting that is required to support the delivery of any given project.

Once this phase has been completed, each task is assigned as a ‘deliverable.’ Previously, there’s been a disconnect between this ‘deliverable’ task and the actual resource itself, explains Lancelot. This is due to the task usually sitting in a separate scheduling system, from which a manager can assign the task.

InEight Design provides a project design management system which bridges these tasks with its assigned resource, making it easier to trace and manage the full design scope.

Lancelot says the increasing demand for project design software and for complex project delivery globally means many companies are looking to improve their project control processes.

“If we think about how we used to complete project management over a spreadsheet, it was hard to specify the deliverables, traceability and resource allocation to a certain design. That’s because we’d need to work across three different systems,” he says.

InEight Design’s features help to support collaboration during the design management phase.

“With InEight, it’s all packed into one. Resource management, earned value management, progress tracking and predicted completion dates can all be accessed from one solution.”

Processing milestones

InEight Design has been configured to assist throughout the entire design phase. Lancelot says these phases are usually represented in 30, 60 and 90 percentage milestones. The design plan is sent for construction at the 100 per cent milestone.

Lancelot adds that tracking the design process has previously been considered a ‘black art,’ meaning that only those closely involved with the project planning would have access to updates. InEight Design provides the tools to open that curtain.

“The design and construction team for a project can sometimes be separated. The design team knows the data which they need to collate, and the construction team knows the date they should be getting that information. The problem is, that if the design takes longer than expected, the construction team can only become fully aware of what’s happening when that date has been missed,” he says.

“This can lead to delays to the beginning of construction, which delays everything else. That’s why transparency is key.”

InEight Design can also help design teams get paid. Historically, contractors have been paid only upon the completion of a project.

With some modern design consultants requiring payment during each of the design phases (30, 60, 90 and 100 per cent), tracking and auditing is paramount, Lancelot explains.

“It depends on the size and value of the job, but the problem for a consultant is if they don’t get paid until the end of a project, it can be difficult to manage that cash flow. So, it’s important to have information on your own progress, to prove that you’ve satisfied these deliverables, to then be able to claim payment from a client,” he says.

“It’s about having an audit trail, which is why we implemented that feature as part of InEight Design.”

The program can also provide cost-benefits in terms of efficiency, ensuring that project estimates are accurate, reducing the chances of incorrect or excess materials being ordered for works on-site. An important aspect for joint venture and construction partnership works, Lancelot says.

While using InEight Design, design managers can create an ‘audit trail’, making reporting and planning easily accessible.

The future solution

Capturing and mapping through InEight Design provides an environment where construction and management can work hand-in-hand. Lancelot explains that using such a solution would have been “alien” when he began his career 30 years ago.

“We wouldn’t have known what to do with it!” he jokes. “Now modern technology has caught up, so project designers can benefit from accountability and transparency. It’s bringing teamwork back into the frame.”

InEight is looking to make further improvements to its design solution, incorporating feedback from clients and the market to see how it can be further integrated.

This article was originally published in the September edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.



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