A robust project plan is one that avoids or reduces as many risks as possible, as early as possible. The extra time and effort invested to manage risks upfront help reduce time and cost overruns later and ensure site safety. Risk assessments are the best tool for this, and often, more than one is required. However, there are ways to increase site visibility during constraint planning.
Gathering fragmented information
A typical issue for many projects in the planning phase is the constant back and forth flow of information between different parties. The data required to plan options and mitigate any risks are often held by different people and teams. Time is then spent sifting through emails, chasing after documents, or searching for the right person to contact. This is further exacerbated by the disconnect between the site and the office.
For example, before a risk assessment can be completed, historic asset information may be required to understand what is currently installed or present on site. It is possible that only the owner has access to this information, which could be held on separate databases managed by different people. In this case, several requests would need to be made before the data is obtained.
Information may also be required about the existing site conditions or ongoing works before the risk assessments can be completed. Getting this information from the site can take up a significant amount of time, either from conducting site visits or making contact with the site team. Added to this is the time lost waiting for replies.
Is a common data environment the answer?
The typical solution to this issue has been to implement a common data environment (CDE). A CDE brings together all the project, site or asset information into one place. This is meant to eliminate the need to chase after information, therefore helping accelerate planning decisions in the early phases.
However, while a CDE has enabled collaboration between different data sources, it hasn’t completely addressed the problem. What results is often a jumble of files that are difficult to make sense of or leverage efficiently, particularly if specialist software is required to gain any insights from the information. Therefore, while the CDE has improved data access and availability, collaboration and data understanding between teams and wider stakeholders hasn’t been equally improved.
Better planning with a Common Visualisation Environment
Making the most of the data available instead requires a common visualisation environment (CVE). The CVE is a digital replica of the real-world asset, which contains all the project data and is accessed through a collaborative platform. In the CVE, design data can be layered onto the site constraints, providing a better insight for planning decisions while also ensuring complete clarity.
For example, if all historic asset and site information was stored in a CVE, these records would make up a comprehensive risk register of previously identified problems. This could include information such as existing hazards, errors, missing information, environmental data, or other constraints – all displayed as a layer on the CVE so it is clear where they are on the site. This brings the site to the subject matter experts, making it quicker and easier for them to obtain the information they need for risk mitigation.
With all the data they require in one place, engineers, project managers, or other stakeholders can efficiently gain a clearer picture of the current state. No time is lost gathering data on what risks are present and need managing.
Building a robust project plan
However, the benefits are further reaching – the project plan is also improved. More data-driven decisions about risks can be made in the time available, enabling a comprehensive risk assessment process to be undertaken. The more risk assessments which can be carried out during the early stages, the better the project plan will be, reducing the risk of delays further down the line.
Thorough risk mitigation is one of the key strategies for creating a robust project plan, and a CVE helps support this. Yet this is just one step in the planning process.
For a complete guide on how to develop a thorough project plan, download our eBook, 3 ways to improve the construction planning phase. It covers the three key aspects that will help transform your planning process and support better project outcomes.