How modern specification technology is shaping design
If you walk around a construction site today, you will see evidence of technological advancements. Surprisingly, however, the majority of work is still done with manual labor, and piece by piece. According to the Deltek Clarity Architecture & Engineering Industry Study, “only 25% of architecture and engineering firms consider their business digitally advanced today, but 76% expect to be there in five years.” In addition, the report indicates that “businesses expect to increase investments in emerging technologies for project management and project execution to enable new ways of working while increasing profitability.”
These are indicators the industry is ripe for change. Many architecture and engineering firms focus more on the project work and less on the business side. And the business side is what makes the practice run efficiently. What propels this business growth? Technology.
Modern technology in the digital age brings together the information produced by every employee for every project that you work on, so your firm can better influence and project success, as well as make better decisions for every project moving forward. The improved visibility boosts efficiencies and employee productivity, while creating a collaborative and integrated approach to design and specifications.
Digital transformation: the industry impact in the digital era
What is the definition of digital transformation and what does this mean for specifications?
Digital transformation encompasses all kinds of technologies and processes, so it means very different things to different firms. That makes it hard to find a single, unanimously agreed upon definition. Gartner, a research and advisory company, defines digital transformation as “anything from IT modernization (for example, cloud computing), to digital optimization, to the invention of new digital business models.”
While Gartner’s definition is a good starting point, we can get a clearer definition of what digital transformation means for architects and engineers by focusing on transformation processes and goals, and dividing them into two broad pillars:
- Replacing manual processes and finding new efficiencies through new digital platforms and technologies
- Using these new technologies to unlock new business models and ways of working
Together, these two pillars illustrate what digital transformation can mean for architects and engineers.
Digital transformation is about how we share information more readily between different parties in the built environment. And it's those technologies that are really going to help move the industry forward, and help architects and engineers build safer buildings and understand how to collect better information around the performance of materials that are specified in buildings. And there is a sea of change where technologies can help with collaboration—not only internally but externally.
AIA MasterSpec’s digital transformation
One of the biggest sources of frustration for architects, engineers, and specifiers is the reuse of old specifications from previous projects that reference out-of-date information. It is a huge undertaking to manage specification content, and it can take time away from fee-earning project work.
The digital transformation of MasterSpec®, a product of The American Institute of Architects and the industry-standard product research and specification resource, makes spec writing easier.
Here is why:
This transformation removes silos between designers, building product manufacturers, and external project participants, and consolidates all relevant information into a single source of truth. With streamlined project coordination and integrated technology that supports real-time project collaboration, MasterSpec users will have access to current and past specification data that can provide predictive insights to reduce risk and improve project results.
MasterSpec is the marquee guide specification in the industry. New modern software is encapsulating the MasterSpec libraries and the content into one source, using technology that provides a high-quality experience designed for your project-based business.
Additional benefits include:
- Improved collaboration with building product manufacturers by consolidating all relevant information into a single tool
- Access to more than 50,000 building product listings for immediate access to the most current and accurate data for your projects
- Easier spec authoring with a visual tool for product research, selection, and “one-click” specification writing
- Automated updates that ensure data is up-to-date and that distributing MasterSpec content is easy and streamlined—so the design team always has access to most current data
Modern cloud-based software with MasterSpec content is the lowest risk and most cost-effective way to mitigate referencing out-of-date specs. By using software, the content on projects is always the most current. This digital transformation of MasterSpec will improve your specifications by getting you connected to the right manufacturers for the right building products.
How to start your digital transformation journey
There’s a lot to consider here. While it might seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. It starts by having a vision for continuous improvement. It starts with the goals you want to achieve and then plans backwards. Teams are more likely to adopt technology when they understand how it helps them achieve their goals and objectives. Communicating the change to both staff and clients is crucial to ensuring your specification digital transformation is successful. Far from just ensuring new technology is adopted, providing employees the tools they need to work more effectively and making them an active part of the process create significant long-term implications.
After all, if you can offer employees powerful tools and make sure people are using them, you can attract the new generations of talent that are coming into the workplace hungry for the latest digital solutions. By putting current and future employees at the center of your firm’s transformation, you can offer them the experiences they crave and attract the very best talent to your organization.
Here are three steps to get started:
Step 1: Take an honest look at your business. Many companies don’t know where to begin with digital transformation. That’s where an honest review of the business—warts and all—comes in. This kind of internal audit offers an ideal way to get started and find out exactly which processes and systems are most in need of transformation.
Step 2: Transform people and processes—not just the technology. While it’s essential to train staff on new systems, there’s also work to be done educating clients about your transformation. Whether it’s to set expectations on short-term disruption or long-term deadlines, or just to tell them about how you’ll deliver new services in different ways, transparency is key. Communicating the change to both staff and clients is crucial to ensuring your digital transformation succeeds.
Step 3: Don’t tackle digital transformation alone. No one can predict exactly what technologies we’ll be using in the future, but by finding the right technology partner today, you can draw on their expertise to transform in a way that ensures your business is ready for whatever challenges tomorrow brings.
Deltek Specpoint software improves how architects, engineers, and product manufacturers collaborate, bringing teams together to work more efficiently and make data-driven product decisions for better built projects. Enhance project outcomes by easily sharing, updating, and distributing specifications that leverage MasterSpec content to better support dispersed teams. Learn more.
Better software means better projects. Deltek is the leading global provider of enterprise software and information solutions for project-based businesses. More than 30,000 organizations and millions of users in over 80 countries around the world rely on Deltek for superior levels of project intelligence, management, and collaboration. This includes more than 11,000 architecture and engineering firms, including 80% of the Engineering News Record (ENR) Top 500.