Classification and Integration

By Safiy Abdur-Rahman

Classifying information enriches the data regardless of the application, technology, or platform being implemented. Classification leads to better integration.

Successful adoption of innovative methods and technology requires a focused effort on three key areas:

  1. people

  2. process

  3. technology

Change can be difficult but with concentration in these three areas while engaging staff in its development, change is all but certain and success inevitable.

Digital tools, just as physical equipment and tools, serve a purpose. Tools with similar form and function exist, offered by a wide array of vendors and manufacturers, like trades on a jobsite performing task of differing scopes, duration's, using various tools and techniques. Technology is similar

In the past decade, I have amassed a significant digital toolbox starting with using Auto CAD with a digitizer pad and an early incarnation of BIM in Revit 4.1. Since I have steadily seen the technologies of our industry innovate and integrate.

I really appreciated “How to make the transition to digital data collection on your job siteMatt Monihans’ article on data engineering and integrating with other technologies. No longer are the days of technologies being bifurcated and siloed as part of the business model. Today companies are adopting open data standards, facilitating data and information exchanges in truly meaningful ways.

If you are struggling with where to begin your technology adoption consider a standardized basis for classifying information; Omniclass, “a comprehensive classification system for the construction industry. Omniclass can be used for many applications, such as filing physical materials or organizing project information, but its chief application is to provide a classification structure for electronic databases and software, enriching the information used in those resources.”

Always “begin with the end in mind” an ethos I have espoused for two decades and Omniclass is a great place to start.

More and more project participants are asked to digitize construction processes, much of construction is complex and difficult, requiring orchestration and coordination in achieving predetermined outcomes.

Technology integration is similar, open standards are continuing to be adopted and technologies are breaking down data and information silos in meaningful ways for end users. Although we are playing nice in the same sandbox, our technologies and tools are not fully integrated making the transition more complicated.

Here is an example of a recent project applications' list used by different project stakeholders:

  • e-builder

  • SharePoint

  • Acumen Fuse

  • Plangrid

  • BIM 360

  • Revit

  • Navisworks

There are other unnamed applications in use on this specific project serving other vital project functions. As an organization all of these tools (plus more!) serve a purpose and help to achieve outcomes.

Because of my experience and availability of use for each, my approach has always been to differentiate between goals and uses. For example; a quick takeoff and estimate a job.

The Goal is: to turn around a detailed construction estimate in under 24 hrs.

The Use of the tool, technology, information is: Quantity Takeoff and Cost Estimating.

Recently on a cost controls assignment we partnered with a design team using Revit. The design teams also structured, classified, and organized information according to Omniclass. The architect used Revit's native Uniformat classification system when organizing model content.

Omniclass consist of both Uniformat and Masterformat found on these Omniclass tables

Uniformat Table 21 - Elements

Masterformat Table 22 – Work Results

Evaluating cost for design changes were achieved with proper organization of model content in Uniformat, iterating design and controlling cost are simplified. As we are using the same classification standards mapping of Uniformat Table 21 and Masterformat Table 22 become clear.

In Revit, the design team authoring application of choice. Omniclass categorized model objects having assembly codes, and imbedded attributes/properties for classification systems seamlessly map to your estimating application with similarly organized and classified information.

We can achieve our goal and implement our use because information and data from disparate sources have common classification. This is one singular use.

Construction processes have hundreds and thousands of uses.

Beginning with the end in mind and data engineering at this point may seem like a daunting tasks but are necessary.

Define your Goals and Uses.

Classifying information now enriches the data for specific outcomes and uses regardless of the application, technology, or platform being implemented. Classification leads to better integration.

Safiy Abdur-Rahman

CMC Governance Board Member

Safiy serves as ROM Groups Chief Operating Officer providing expertise on behalf of ROM Groups organizational and operational needs bringing continued value and impacting every project we undertake. 

Practicing in the design and construction sectors as a Sr. Technical Architect, Sr. Project Manager, Building Information Model (BIM) manager and technology integrator for over 17 years. Bringing technology to bear on project controls, cost, schedule, and managing risk in order to remain on time and on budget. 

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