COVID-19 has had at least one positive side effect! As strange as it sounds, the coronavirus was responsible for bringing one issue affecting collaboration in project planning to a head, so that a quick solution had to be found: the regular planning meetings within the framework of LEAN Design are to take place “on the spot”, so to speak. But where exactly is “the spot”, if the property hasn’t even been built yet? Especially when the people involved in the project are scattered across different locations in Austria and Germany?
Before the pandemic, the following questions kept cropping up during the planning stage: Where do we want to set up the Big Room, in which project participants discuss planning progress each week, and which each planning unit should be able to access quickly and easily? Who will cover the travel costs to the physical Big Room and incur the resulting loss of productive hours?
The travel restrictions imposed at the onset of the pandemic meant that there was only ONE answer to these questions: the Big Room had to be set up in a virtual space.
We quickly identified the perfect digital environment. RefinemySite is a cloud-based construction collaboration platform from Bosch that uses LEAN principles to enable everyone involved in a construction project — from owners to trade contractors — to plan in real time, communicate clearly, and execute work efficiently.
The platform is constantly being further developed in line with the LEAN approach and strives to continuously improve construction processes. This has led to a fruitful partnership between Bosch RefinemySite and pde right from the start, which is viewed very positively by both sides.
“Another way pde benefits from using RefinemySite is that our feedback and requirements are taken into account in the continued development of the tool, creating a win-win situation for both sides”, says Thomas Baierl, Head of LEAN department at pde Integrale Planung GmbH.
Nicolas Steimmig, Customer Success Manager at RefinemySite, is full of praise for the speed with which the tool was rolled out at pde: “Our easy-to-use collaboration platform was implemented at pde in a matter of weeks. Within a year, RefinemySite had already been established as the standard tool for digital process planning in all of pde’s planning projects in Germany and Austria.”
The advantages of the digital platform are self-evident. The virtual Big Room can be accessed at any time and from anywhere, and you can document your own activities by posting day cards. In the past, you had to be physically present in the Big Room to post sticky notes. Digital working has significantly increased efficiency in planning by eliminating travel costs and waiting time, one of the types of waste identified in LEAN methodology. The change from analogue planning to digital planning with a tool like RefinemySite, however, does involve a certain amount of work and time, as the processes and the project structure in the platform have to be adapted to the specific project requirements. Yet this groundwork is well worth the effort: smooth communication and transparency in the project allow the team to work in sync and boost satisfaction levels. RefinemySite also simplifies documentation and project management, which frees up project managers to focus on other tasks.
RefinemySite has been used in pde for several months in planning projects. What are adopters saying about the tool?
“My colleagues had a lot of good things to say about the platform, so I was very curious and looking forward to using it. At the start, I had to deal with how exactly to set RefinemySite up and use it for the specific project, just like with any other tool. Once that was done, the positive effects quickly became apparent to everyone involved in the project. We were quickly convinced of the advantages of RefinemySite, such as its ease of use.”
“One enormous advantage is that the system can be accessed from anywhere and at any time. This allows large numbers of people to attend meetings at the same time, which was often not possible in the past because of the limitations of physical meetings and the travel involved. Today, the project benefits from the time and cost savings.”
On the one hand, there has been an upswing in the quality of planning meetings: virtual meetings are more easily accessible, which means that they are always attended by most of the people involved in the project.
On the other hand, when it comes to the “human” aspect of the project, virtual communications are not ideal. Social considerations are an important factor in achieving a collaborative vision of shared goals, and would justify an attempt to find a hybrid solution between analogue and digital working methods in a “post-COVID” era.
The vision of RefinemySite, especially the as-built documentation linked to BIM and the continuous development of the platform towards Internet of Things (IoT), is in line with the approach we strive to follow at pde and throughout the PORR Group. Our goal is to use BIM and LEAN to design the processes in planning and construction in such a way that physical data can be captured digitally and effectively interconnected. In this respect, we see a win-win development potential in our strategic partnership with the Bosch RefinemySite team, which will ultimately benefit our clients and their projects above all.