Drop meeting minutes might be the first and easiest step to take in order to start your digital transformation. Instead of lengthy meeting minutes, track your progress using dynamic task and issue management. The open BIM Collaboration Format (BCF), a way to exchange issues and tasks, has incredible hidden powers for our industry.
We have all seen them: Meeting minutes tend to be long and winding and grow in size during the project lifetime. It is a static document, written by one person and distributed to the team after every meeting. On page 23, 27 and 45 you will find the tasks and issues related to you. Someone else will find their tasks and issues on page 12, 15 and 57. The poor manager must track all this, getting feedback from each individual, perhaps in email, of status, when things are done, or updates that need involvement from yet another person on the team. Then, in good time before the next meeting, the minutes must be updated, by copying into a new document and updating the text. Everyone needs to read everything again to make sure they are up to date. This is cumbersome at best, but most likely dysfunctional.
It boils down to three important things:
- What tasks are assigned to whom, and when must they be completed in order for the project to be on schedule?
- What issues have arisen, who should be responsible for solving them, and when do they need to be resolved in order to stay on track?
- What decisions are made, by whom and when?
Having complete control of this will make any project move forward smoothly in a predictable manner. This means that meetings exist to align the team on these three categories and make sure the project team members are doing their best to get tasks done, resolve issues and have a transparent decision log.
The Power and Value of the Common Data Environment
Instead of tracking this in documents, dynamic lists handled by the Common Data Environment (CDE), will make it much more effective to stay on top of progress and keep complete control of the project. Dynamic lists allow you to filter for relevance, updating each item with new status in a distributed manner, so everyone has instant access to the real time status of each item. There is no need to report the status of a task in an email to the manager, simply update the task status in the CDE and instantly everyone knows. Issues can be logged and assigned the second they arise, keeping everyone alert to potential delays, right away. Decisions can also be logged as they are made, keeping everyone on the same page at all times. With dynamic lists like this, there is no need for meeting minutes as the true status of the project is kept up to date in real time and everyone can easily focus the lists with filters, to make sure they stay on top of their own items and prepare for each milestone.
The Value of BIM Collaboration Format
This is where the BIM Collaboration Format (BCF) can unleash it is untapped potential. It really is an open standard to exchange tasks, issues and decisions between different software, that is tailored for our industry. Even though BIM (Building Information Modeling) is part of its name, BCF can just as well work on projects without BIM. It is a very flexible format, allowing each project or organization to tailor the dynamic lists of tasks, issues and decisions to their own specific needs.
Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync) is fully compliant with the BCF standard from buildingSMART International. Not only were we the first to fully support the API specifications, but we are a long time contributor to developing the standard. BCF is built into the heart of Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync), with clever innovations that are based on years of experience and dialogue with industry users. Again and again, new clients keep telling us that Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync) is the best in class out there.
See article: How do APIs support innovation on an Open CDE?
When project managers told us that moving their projects away from traditional meeting minutes to dynamic lists with issues, tasks and decisions, saved them 50 hours every month and reduced email by 80%, we knew this is one of the first important steps any project should take in order to move forward on their digital journey.
See article: Jump start your BIM journey.
There are even more savings to be had with this approach. Savings that in the long run most likely will dwarf the 50 hours saved every month. When you move away from the document centric approach of meeting minutes and on to dynamic lists in your CDE (Common Data Environment), you create valuable data helping you to improve your performance from project to project. Virtual Design and Construction (VDC), is a structured methodology developed at Stanford University in the USA, that calls for dynamic lists and data to learn from. Which is exactly what BCF is doing. Catenda has developed VDC Dashboards that are already helping progressive general contractors improve their performance from project to project. The VDC dashboards get their data from the BIM Collaboration Format (BCF) based dynamic lists of tasks, issues and decisions. For example, how many tasks in a given project are behind their deadline? Or, what is the project’s actual performance compared to the planned performance? Or how about the aggregated set of data showing which projects in an organization are best at closing tasks? These organizations, running all their projects on dynamic lists, will soon improve their margins significantly.
Why BCF? Why not any typical task management system?
There are many very good task management systems out there that could benefit any project. The reason why you should choose BIM Collaboration Format (BCF), is it’s clever connection to BIM. And BIM is not just “BIM”. Think of Building Information Modeling (BIM), in this context, as the core data structure of any digital twin for any built asset. With that in mind, suddenly having BCF’s clever connection to BIM becomes incredibly important to our industry. BCF allows you to link an issue, a task, a decision or any other kind of item in a dynamic list, to a viewpoint and a set of objects in your models, thus in your digital twin. This is very powerful.
First of all, this gives enormous enhanced clarity to an issue, a task or a decision. With a viewpoint into a 3D model, and a list of objects this pertains to, it becomes much clearer for anyone else what this is all about. Forget emails with screenshots and long explanations and complex annotations, not to mention the chaos email correspondence tends to bring along. Just click a button when you discover the issue and briefly describe it and then submit it. Instantly everyone who needs to know, knows exactly what the issue is all about.
Second of all, it allows the digital twin to contain the design and construction history of any relevant item in there. This is because every issue, task and decision that relates to an item in the digital twin, will have a link to each other. From the issue you can see which doors, windows or water pipes this was related to. Or from any vent or column you can see the issues, tasks and decisions related to them.
Thirdly, the format allows for seamless exchange between different software. That means that the architect can work in his/her own preferred software and design tool, and see his/her tasks where he/she actually does his/her work. The Common Data Environment (CDE) dynamically keeps the architect up to date on all changes to all tasks, inside his/her own tool. Even clicking on a task, inside his/her design tool, will move the viewpoint to the exact right location, making it very efficient to complete tasks and work out issues for all team members in the project.
Catenda’s open CDE, Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync), includes all these powerful concepts. We did not start from a document centric approach, where we wanted to help projects share documents. We did that too, but the important thing was to help move our industry into becoming more data driven. That means we helped design these features into the BCF standard, and we certainly made sure it was a vital part of our own CDE platform. We even have this supported in our API as well, making it even more powerful to utilize the rich data we collect and structure in our platform. Start your own digital journey by moving from meeting minutes to dynamic lists, and grow with us.
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Håvard Bell, CSO at Catenda.