As an industry that deals largely in tangibles, construction as a whole tends not to prioritise information management. A fear of scope creep and cost overruns exacerbate this problem, with a general feeling throughout the sector that resources would be better spent on something that provides a wider variety of benefits. The industry also deals with particularly high labour costs that have continued to rise in recent years. If these costs inflate at a faster rate than productivity growth, profitability decreases – followed by a lessened probability of securing new contracts. Overall, these concerns put pressure on procurement workers to save as much money as possible when engaging providers of non-core services.
Often, this can result in companies electing to handle their information management internally. But what is ostensibly a cost-saving decision can end up as a financial liability due to an unrealistic appraisal of the capability of in-house services – leading to the indexing and organisational problems mentioned earlier.
Another impediment to maximising the value of information management is the lack of holistic solutions. Companies may have information in a variety of formats, spread over multiple different systems, and managed by different in-house and third-party solutions. The mix of these elements can also vary from project to project. This deconsolidation reduces efficiency in the same way as fragmention of information assets among different parties on a project, with the added effect of driving up operating costs.
The same thing occurs in a broader sense through a failure to utilise the full service offerings of contractors. A plumbing contractor that also provides electrical services – and that offers a reduced rate to businesses engaging both of those capabilities – is a better investment than two separate contractors. In terms of non-core services, construction companies can find themselves in a situation of outsourcing their ICT system, information management, cleaning services, office relocation logistics and worksite FF&E to different providers. Rarely will a company look for a contractor that rolls all of these services into a single, cost-saving solution.
It is important for construction companies with a wide range of non-core needs to ask what additional services an information management provider can offer them, and what cost savings engaging those services might have. The best information management firms integrate their archiving, digitisation and retrieval solutions with a wider range of offerings, including asset management and data courier services, customisable ICT interfaces, cleaning services, a full range of office relocation services for rapid worksite redeployment, countrywide support, and many more functions.
An information management partner that provides an integrated solution simplifies the procurement process by acting as a one-stop shop for a wide range of logistics and administrative needs. As a result, not only is less time spent on the procurement process itself, but internal staff can be put to better use.
Solutions that integrate a wide range of services also mean construction companies enjoy reduced costs for those services overall. Providers of these consolidated systems will often provide attractive quotes to businesses looking to engage a number of different services. The silent benefit of this is that coordination between those services is also entirely managed by the information management firm – meaning, for example, that a worksite office relocation project would not need to be organised separately from, say, the archiving of physical documents and installation of a digital system in the new premises.
Find out more in Grace’s FREE in-depth information management report for government agencies – available exclusively at www.grace.com.au/information/construction
 Master Builders Association of Victoria, “Construction sector – outlook, labour costs and productivity”, Deloitte Access Economics (March 2016), p. 27.