5 reasons your project should use a Common Data Environment

Posted by GroupBC on 7 March 2017

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5 reasons your project should use a Common Data Environment

Construction project management deals in an unimaginable amount of data. From architects to electricians, the number of specialisms producing digital construction data is highly fragmented.

It is an industry-wide problem with up to 96% of all information being left unused and 30% of data being lost by project closeout. Teams are struggling to manage data from their construction software causing errors, deadlines to be missed and even legal cases to be launched.

A common data environment (CDE) provides a solution to these issues. They are a digital space where all the information and assets of a project are easily stored, shared and disseminated. 

In the construction industry, a CDE exists to house, manage and share information amongst the different suppliers. Data created in a BIM standard, non-graphical assets and documentation can all be stored there as it is essentially a storage locker in the cloud.

As the CDE is digital, it provides a space for all changes to be recorded, distributed and resolved in a secure manner. Improving efficiency is at the heart of the Common Data Environments idea, but in what ways do they achieve it? And what other benefits do they provide? Below, the answer to all of these questions will be explained.

What are the benefits of using a CDE?

1. Having a single version of the truth

Having a single source of information, and having every file up-to-date, means everyone works from the same page. This means there are no arguments between project team members when it comes to referencing files, and the time and cost to check versions and reissue information is reduced considerably.

2. Co-ordinated data

CDEs store every piece of production information from all specialisms working on the project. Architects, contractors, consultants, mechanical engineers and so on all have access to the same data in a shared area so their collaboration becomes seamless.

3. All information available from any device

As the data is digitalised, it is all available on any connected devices. This greatly increases efficiency as no-one ever has to wait for files to be distributed. 

4. Right first time

Providing the CDE is managed correctly, all information on the system is consistently correct and current. This ensures everyone works from the latest asset information.

5. Confidence

If everyone knows they have, and will always have, all current and correct information readily available, they can be more confident in the decisions they have to make.


Where are common data environments being successfully used?

GroupBC is one of the UK’s leading project information management services. It is currently helping to implement a common data environment for Heathrow airport, expected to be completed in December 2020, which aims to be the “first airport operator in the world who can leverage value from [their] digital assets.”

The benefits gained from implementing this CDE are set to be extensive. Not only will Heathrow be able to leverage value from their digital assets, but they’ll also allow staff to work in a safer environment and collaborate to make the airport as a whole work more efficiently. 

What to think about when setting up a Common Data Environment

Given all of their benefits, CDEs have become essential for proper data management of construction projects. Here’s what to consider when thinking about setting up your own: 

- Decide where to host it
CDEs are always digital, but there is a range of options for where you host them. Ideally, they should be cloud-based and hosted within the UK, but they can also be hosted on a server of your own if required.

- Think about security
Any digital system needs to be thoroughly protected against cyber-security threats. Consider this when deciding where and how to host your CDE.

- Appoint a CDE manager
The CDE manager can ensure there’s consistent labelling of data and ensure all parties are trained on the system to maintain a smooth operation.

- Train all relevant parties
Everyone using the CDE should know what you expect from them. This keeps it running smoothly and ensures everyone gets the most from the data.

As you can see, there are many considerations to think about when implementing a CDE for your construction project. 

If you need any advice about implementing your own CDE, head to GroupBC who are experts in information management and can guide you in creating one for your own construction project.