How SharePoint can drive efficiencies
in AEC projects

With so many benefits and potential for improved collaboration, consistency and efficiency, there has never been a better time to embrace digital transformation.

London, UK - Published July 14th 2020

The world of work has changed. More employees than ever are working remotely. Regulatory requirements are changing and evolving. And organisations are under increased pressure to work more effectively, collaborate and delivery projects more efficiently.

At the same time, the ongoing digital transformation - the fourth industrial revolution - has led to a rapid shift to replacing previously non-digital or manual processes with digital processes to meet changing business and market demands.

In many sectors and businesses, the move to digitisation is being driven primarily by a desire to cut costs and improve the efficiency and profitability of projects. And more recently, the adoption of digital tools has been escalated by the dramatic increase in remote working as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the AEC sector, while many things are changing rapidly, the expectations remain the same — to deliver projects on time, on budget, safely and at the agreed-upon quality standards. So now, more than ever, achieving these positive outcomes relies on the adoption and effective application of the right digital tools. One strong indicator of the digital transformation of the workplace is the increasing adoption of Mircosoft’s cloud based, productivity focussed suite, Microsoft 365, which has seen the number of users rise to over 200 million globally - with over 130,000 of those users based in the UK*.

Not surprisingly, the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the utilisation of the suite further - with the almost overnight transition to remote working for many businesses and the dramatic evolution of working practices. For the purpose of this blog, we want to focus on one of the core components of Microsoft 365 - SharePoint - the how the proper utilisation of its features can help to support more effective collaboration and productivity specifically for design and construction projects.

Latest stats indicate that 75% of Fortune 500 companies are now using SharePoint** but why does this solution make sense for the AEC projects? Construction projects consist of a series of cross overs between the different stages, from design phase to build, for example and involves multiple stakeholders across different locations including architects, developers, clients, general contractors and subcontractors. At each stage, if there is a lack of digital integration, information is transferred on paper or with limited underlying data.

The features of SharePoint are centred around cross collaboration that enables digital document sharing, content management and workflow collaboration which can transform project and information management for constructions projects.

Flexibility with work anywhere

SharePoint allows for flexibility and adaptability - for information sharing, task scheduling, contacts, and much more. Because it is Microsoft 365, data in SharePoint is available, securely, on iOS, Android devices, as well as through traditional desktop apps and web browsers.


More effective collaboration

The main purpose of SharePoint is to provide a web-based space where users can securely upload documents to be shared with other others that need to see them. The approval and workflow features can control how documents are shared and how employees work on information within their organisations. The streamlined approach to work allows knowledge and information to flow more freely. Employees can more easily stay connected through the entire life cycle of a project – at every stage of the project and wherever they are.


Supports adherence to standards such as ISO19650

Regulatory and contractual requirements are a core challenge for construction projects. SharePoint allows easy specification of documents templates, settings and storage and auditing policies to support more consistency and compliance.


Access effective decision-making tools

SharePoint allows users to create live, interactive business intelligence portals. Project-critical information can be displayed, which allows for more effective – and trackable - decision-making capabilities.


Content management is streamlined

Anyone who has creates project documents knows that version control is challenging. SharePoint functionality allows for improved content management that maintains a clear relationship between multiple content versions.


Empowering teams to work more collaboratively

Information managers have the ability to control access to specific information and automate workflow processes across business units and teams.


Integration

Microsoft SharePoint offers a seamless integration with Microsoft Office Suite (Excel, Word, and PowerPoint), MS Exchange Server, MS Unified Communications, ERP, CRM, and many other back-office systems. There are also sector specific tools – such as Atvero - that not only integrate but enhance the features of SharePoint for design and construction projects.


*Number of Office 365 company users worldwide 2020, by country (Statista, 2020) https://www.statista.com/statistics/983321/worldwide-office-365-user-numbers-by-country/

**Microsoft’s April quarterly report Q1 2020

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