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Construction Administration

Three Areas to Consider When Evaluating an Advanced Digital Construction Management System

February 27, 2024

Choosing the right tool for the right job

Today’s construction industry is in an interesting time with a landscape that seems hardly untouched by tech in any area, unlike never before. The industry isn’t just changing and evolving in some, but rather ALL of the areas simultaneously. For an industry known as a bastion of steady habits and resistant to change, the tech revolution has finally come to one of the last places to embrace it. The conditions are ripe for technology to modernize the landscape of construction, and it doesn’t take a keen observer to realize just how much technology has already permeated the landscape. For example, consider the list of acronyms and buzzwords today: BIM, GIS, RTK, GNSS, DPD, AR/VR, and on and on they go. With so many, it’s hard to make sense of what’s applicable to your situation and what isn’t.

So, with so much technology out there, how do you know what to choose? For the most part, all technologies have their merits and weaknesses. After all, no developer of technology for this industry can serve all stakeholders. Rather, much of the technology is more niche by focusing on smaller areas for improvement that are more manageable while leaving room for others to contribute. The technology today is as diverse as the construction industry, and therefore options abound for stakeholders to choose from when attempting to revolutionize their part of the landscape.

In this article, we’ll share perspective on three key decision points when evaluating technology particular to Advanced Digital Construction Management Systems (ADCMS), and we’ll also discuss how each end-users experience and needs drive the framework for decision-making, particularly when it comes to integrations between technologies and the ability to leverage cross training of skills and abilities on those technologies as a way of providing greater use of increasingly limited staffing resources.

1. Application, value, and price. Know your needs first.

    Consider for a moment, the variety of costs associated with ADCMS systems. The range is as broad as the systems and characteristics they are made up of themselves. Many specialize only in vertical construction; many only in horizontal unit-based construction. Some do both, and yet others have been shown to be purpose-built for one, but flexible enough to be used for others. So understanding your needs, requirements, and constraints must come first.

    Take for example, Infotech’s Appia®platform for construction administration and inspection. While purpose built for unit-based, horizontal construction, its agility is found in the highly configurable nature which allows it to be adapted to multiple different types of projects. With its unique ability to assign, report on, and prioritize fund sources and fund packages by individual items, it can be leveraged across multiple project types. Further still, Appia can analyze data from multiple bids for a single project via upload from a simple comma separated file. In this case, it is tasked only as a tool for engineers to use in streamlining the process of analysis. While not its intended purpose, it still brings a simple tool that streamlines and saves time.

    It's in these types of “out of the box” applications that provide the greatest value when viewed through a lens of totality. Therefore, price ought to be the last of the three considerations as price alone has rarely been a good indicator of value or fit.

    2. The value of risk reduction.

      One often overlooked and significantly undervalued advantage that using an ADCMS brings to the table is its inherent risk reduction. Stop for a moment and consider what the average construction claim is valued at. Then ask yourself, “How did it start?” And finally, consider the cost of the insurance policies and bonding that cover projects. In comparison to the gross dollars spent in aggregate around legal instruments which are meant to shift and control risk, ADCMS systems seem to do a far better job for the price.

      For example, in a recent discussion with a client who uses Appia® for their inspection documentation process, a project owner called to inquire about what appeared to be an overbill on an invoice. The ability to quickly search the software-as-a-service to determine a late work day due to mechanical breakdown during paving resulted in a resolution in 20 minutes. If they were using a conventional paper process, an answer may have taken days, increasing the Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) for the particular AEC firm.

      Or how about a project which involved the contractor working hand-in-hand via the ADCMS with the project inspectors and owners when an unforeseen condition was uncovered. The contractor, having adopted GPS machine-controls of their own, was able to share excavation information taken during the removal and remediation and share it with the team. The inspection team was then able to accurately determine the volume of the remediation from as-planned to as-built design and paid the contractor for the extra work without issue or delay.

      ADCMS digitization of workflows and document handling has created ripple effects still being realized. The above two examples simply show how risk mitigation on any side of the table provides value to all the parties involved on some level or another. Whether it’s mitigating cost of business for the AEC firm or mitigating claims and contention for the owner and contractor, the advantage of transparency in everything being done sets the table for less risk and more reward at the end of the day.

      As a final thought, consider the effect of widespread use of ADCMS on the bidding landscape like Infotech’s Bid Express®. We’ve all heard of those contractors who bid low to win projects, only to change order the project in order to make up the difference between their low bid and their true cost. What if they don’t adapt? Or what if they do? One could expect two outcomes; better contractors competitively bidding on the work, or contractors finally breaking old habits in favor of a more level playing field. And those reductions in risk flash points are good for all parties by helping to ensure delivery of properly priced and executed projects.

      3. Fully understand efficiency gains and integrations

        Adoption of technology like Appia® should first and foremost bring efficiency in everyday tasks. But that technology shouldn’t be self limiting either. Given the pace of change in technology and tech adoption, the ability to integrate with other technologies that are applicable must be a consideration. Like a matrix of nodes and links to all those small niches we mentioned above, by connecting different areas together, collectively the environment is made stronger through collaboration. Importantly, the tech you ultimately consider must balance the short term gains in efficiency while playing the long game with integrations against the backdrop of your current and future projected staffing pools.

        Appia®, for instance, is integrated with Bid Express® and Doc Express®. Current and future users can now securely bid projects online, push the project and bid information into Appia for analysis, contract/project/financial management during construction, while also seamlessly leveraging the digital document control workflows of Doc Express®, eliminating the antiquated email and .pdf offline systems so prevalent today.

        Now, add to that, the ability to utilize integrations with Esri ArcGIS and Infotech’s Mobile Inspector® to not only capture daily work information, but also simultaneously locate and accurately quantify pay quantities of any size and shape using land survey or GIS tools. Suddenly, users find themselves not only reducing risk of dispute and confrontation on quantity and payment with the contractor, but also providing transparency in a way that increases efficiency for all the parties across the board.

        Imagine a contractor who can rely on accurate inspector-led measurements and the time saved at the end of the day in exchange for a quality check on the provided data at a fraction of the time. Or how about the opportunity for the AEC firm to cross train its inspection staff in the use of land survey and GIS tools for greater cross discipline efficiency? Moreover, what about a project owner who sees a reduction in bond interest premiums thanks to more accurate records creating timeliness of reimbursement of project funds? Finally, imagine a program manager being able to more effectively communicate the status of projects to the public thanks to integrated data silos and the reduction of cost in public meetings and town halls.

        Integrations magnify the effectiveness of ADCMS. But improperly applied, they can magnify the negative effects or poor understanding of strategies behind an organization’s goals for tech adoption.

        If you’re interested in an ADCMS that can help in all the above areas, contact us to discuss how Appia could be a fit for your organization.


        Adam F. Dawidowicz, CCM
        Senior Account Manager
        Adam is a Senior Account Manager with a proven track record of growth, boasting 24+ years experience in construction and 15+ years specific to construction inspection. Adam is a subject matter expert in the fields of construction, project management, land surveying, and utilization of technology to further streamline and bring meaningful and valuable savings and results to owners and end-users of data.
        Terry Cline
        Senior Account Manager
        Terry began his career in the analog era of the AEC industry. Working with manually created plan sets, blueprint machines, fax machines, and floppy disk based sneaker nets. Terry has personally experienced and participated in the creation, implementation, natural resistance, eventual acceptance, and maturity of initially unproven technologies like e-mail, CAD, EDMS, GPS, GIS, the Cloud, SaaS, and many others. For the past several years Terry has worked to understand and help others appreciate the importance of digital as-builts, digital project delivery, construction management, asset management and the connected data environment needed to bring them all together. Over his 44 year career Terry has served as an end user, instructor, technology evangelist, and account executive.
        JJ Vanwinkle
        Senior Account Specialist
        JJ joined Infotech in 2019 and works with AEC firms and LPAs to find the right technical solution to meet their needs.