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Manage Changes, Don’t Let Them Manage You

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to be inundated with information highlighting the importance of collaboration and communication in design and construction projects. Naturally, most teams, if not all, have the goal of being proficient in these areas given that it’s key to successful outcomes and maintaining profit margin. However, it is also common for architecture and engineering, as well as general contracting firms, to struggle with precise and timely communication of changes.

An uncommunicated change in the design phase can cause several weeks’ delay resulting in thousands of dollars wasted. The further along the change goes unrecognized the greater the impact with potential outcome leading to stop construction for redesign, and on average of 35% of all construction projects will have a major change, according to Project Analysis Group. To help eliminate these challenges, it is recommended to implement change management. Effective change management enables better coordination leading to less risk in design, and improved quality in construction.


Change management with the Change Analysis tool

The Design Collaboration module in Autodesk BIM Collaborate offers the Change Analysis tool, which enables users to understand the design changes incurred on their projects. Teams can establish watch groups to closely monitor changes, configurable based on user criteria.

For example, a user can select watch groups for teams, models, or objects. Once a watch group is configured, the Change Analysis tool will share notifications automatically to the group about any changes impacting assets relevant to the group. Effectively making it easier to keep up with designs in continually evolving projects.


Change Analysis tool and watch groups in action

So, how does this show up in the real world? Here are a couple of cases studies where the Change Analysis tool and watch groups could have helped prevent negative outcomes.

Scenario #1: Design Phase

Consider an architect working on the design of the façade in a new building. The structural engineer on the same project decided to change the floor slabs, reducing them from 20 to 10cm from the façade edge because less space was needed for rebar.

This change looked pretty similar in the plan, but now the designed facade is 15cm distance from the slab causing a 5cm gap. The design team is using Design Collaboration to share information, but because there was no change management or watch group established, the change was missed when sharing the models with the greater team.

Eventually, when plans went to the main contractor, they realize the problem between the slab and the façade, but it’s too late. As a result, the design had to be updated leading to a 2-week delay.

If change management was implemented in this scenario, when the structural engineer’s new BIM Model was uploaded in Design Collaboration with the new slabs (and new dimensions), the architect would have automatically received a notification that something has changed, since the architect created a slab watch group. This change notification would have prompted the architect to go back to the design, and adapt the façade line to meet the new slabs design. Now, when the information is sent to the main contractor, the design is of much greater value because it’s inclusive of changes—which, in turn, reduces or eliminates delays.

Scenario #2: Preconstruction

Similar to the design phase, change management is equally important to the preconstruction phase. Consider a client went for a site walk, and requested a change to add a door to the facilities room. The architect made the change, and communicated it to the blockwork subcontractor to add the door on site. The architect also updated the drawings, but did not communicate the change to the broader team.

As a result, during model coordination the blockwork in the facilities room was set up as “frozen design”, and the services team were given the green light to start the manufacturing drawings. Because the architect did not communicate the change to the broader team there was no clash, and coordination ultimately missed this change.

This miss required a change order to be made for the design to be redone. New materials had to be ordered to site, and the removal and reinstallation had to be done delaying the project; costing time and money.

How could this negative outcome have been avoided?

In this scenario, it would have been recommended for the services team to create a watch group with the blockwork; let’s say they named the group “Blockwork Frozen”.

While the services team were working in the design, a notification would have appeared in Design Collaboration of a new model from blockwork with a change in the specific area that was “frozen”. The services team could have then requested more information from the blockwork subcontractor and client before going into manufacturing and installation. This approach would have resulted in no delay or unforeseen costs.


New features for change management

As depicted in the earlier case studies, it is imperative to establish a strategy for change management. The Change Dashboard in the Change Analysis tool provides users with a single view pane where they can see the changes as well as dive into details about those changes—giving immediately useful insight and flexibility in design. To further improve the Change Analysis tool, Autodesk just released a few new features:

Comparison of non-consecutive versions allows users to compare any two design versions of a project against one another. This benefit being the ability to track scope change, understand decisions made, and reference outdated designs. This gives the team more power to easily track how a project changes over time.

New viewer experience permits users more control on the comparison workflows and transparency in the selections of models for the viewer. It also offers flexibility to see changes by discipline with the object tree and flexibility to see changes with multiple attributes selected.

Filter improvements have been made to enable users to more easily see different changes by project attributes as well as provide a better experience overall when filtering. Users can now filter by discipline, modification type, and category. Users can also take advantage of the search function that permits filtering based on names of specific objects.

With the Change Analysis tool and these new features, users can now take even more control of the outcome of their projects, de-risk deadlines, and reduce waste. Considering from 2012 to 2015, just 25% of projects came within 10% of their original deadlines, having a tool that helps to mitigate unforeseen delays is critical.

During design and construction of buildings, making changes is an inevitable part of the process. The Change Analysis tool in Autodesk BIM Collaborate has been defined and designed to help users make sense and stay on top of all changes. It makes it easy to find and identify changes with automatic notifications, and the user interface improvements make it more intuitive for users to compare versions. Reach out today for a demo.

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