Transitioning into a new year, many industry experts are sharing their predictions on trends the market will likely need to deal with in 2022. Reading through these articles made me think about how interface management plays into these trends and challenges. Below, I share some details in response to these points - how interface management can help overcome workforce challenges and supply chain issues, as well as how we’ve made our solution better by enhancing our delivery in the cloud and focusing on delivering data-driven business solutions.
Supply Chain Issues
“Overall, supply chain disruptions and volatility are expected to be among the biggest challenges in 2022, and the firms that can navigate through them will likely emerge as winners”
- Deloitte 2022 Engineering and Construction Industry Outlook
Supply chain management will be a critical factor in project success in the year ahead. Ongoing supply chain issues will negatively affect project schedules, with potentially huge delays if not managed effectively. To mitigate this risk, businesses will look to adopt technologies that help overcome these challenges in innovative ways.
Interface management collaboration can help build resilient supply chain relationships that will benefit owners and the OEMs they work with. Independent Project Analysis describes how successful owners work with vendors and suppliers building relationships on trust and openness, which ultimately benefits all, also saying that “it takes some forward thinking and a mindset that the suppliers are partners, not just vendors and contractors.”
Procurement activities impact both internal and external stakeholders. Internally, the engineering department must interact with the procurement department and externally EPCs must have clear scope responsibilities when it comes to procured goods and services. Interface management will ensure that responsibilities with regards to procurement activities are tracked, and when integrated with the project schedule, can provide advanced warning of potential delays. Projects can definitely leverage interface management data to minimize the impact of supply disruptions.
Uncertainty in the cost of materials and availability will also result in higher bids from contractors. To offset this, ensuring well-defined interface roles and responsibilities, not only from an engineering perspective, but also from a procurement and commissioning perspective, will be even more important in the new year to ensure no overlaps, conflicts, or gaps in scope and provide greater certainty in bids.
A recent survey of senior project executives, reference by McKinsey, found that on average projects overrun their budgets and schedules by 30 to 40 percent. They recommend nurturing collaborative partnerships and contracts, forming an ecosystem of partners built on trust and for the long term. Interface management can help support closer, longer-term supply chain relationships where partners work from a single source of truth and share risk.
Projects that strive to keep the lines of communication open and identify any areas of concern, such as interface items on the critical path and those with multiple dependencies, will come out the winners.
“Resilience in managing supply chain risk and labour shortages will be the industry’s biggest issue in 2022”
- HUB International Boom or Bust? Perhaps Both in 2022
Although workforce challenges are by no means a new topic, Covid-19 will continue to add pressure to already existing labor shortage issues in 2022.
With labor and material shortages, 2022 will see a greater emphasis on efficiency, doing more with less and with better planning. Because interfaces represent great risk to capital projects, you will see more attention given to ensuring interface issues are properly managed and not negatively impacting the project’s cost or schedule.
An aging workforce brings new workers that lack experience; a new generation that will insist on working smarter, not harder. These new workers will benefit immensely from automated interface management systems that can enforce compliance and governance, helping to guide the interface management process and provide early indicators of potential problems.
The fact of the matter is that to survive these workforce challenges and remain competitive, companies must eliminate reliance on manual processes and look to technology to boost productivity and support a new, and potentially smaller, work force and a proven interface management system will be key to ensuring success.
Interface Management in the Cloud
“Because of the uncertainty of the times and the likely realities of the "new normal," more and more organizations are now charting the course for their journeys toward cloud computing and digital transformation.”
- Forbes: How the Pandemic has Accelerated Cloud Adoption
Many organizations have or are making the shift from on-premise solutions to cloud-based solutions – potentially pushed there by the realities of Covid-19, but also because of what the cloud can now offer. With maturing technology and proven trust in cloud service providers, adoption of cloud-based solutions is now a possibility for many companies who could not have considered it in the past.
Security and data protection are a number one factor for many organizations with the increase in cyber-attacks. Cloud service providers can deliver security at levels that many in-house IT organizations struggle to provide.
Coreworx Interface Connect is a cloud-based solution used to manage interfaces across multiple global stakeholders on complex megaprojects - even during a pandemic. With global stakeholders, projects are executed 24/7 and ensuring security and reliability in a cloud-based solution is critical. Coreworx solutions run on Microsoft Azure, providing high performance, availability, and scalability.
"We have seen massive growth in internal use of analytics and business intelligence, with employees seeking better ways to keep track of just what was going on with their projects. It’s been an explosion of dashboards, analyzing department and project data, all tied into our structured databases.”
- ENR Q4 Tech Report: Moving On to the Next Normal
Analytics enable ‘insight-driven’ business which provides a way to deliver projects with greater certainty and speed. It changes the way teams work and enables better decision making.
Interface managers who have access to data about progress, potential delays, and early scope gap/overlap and uncover insights that translate into informed business decisions will have a competitive advantage over those who do not. An automated interface management solution will capture this data and can be used to measure and monitor the health of your interface program on an ongoing basis.
Insight provided through early indicators in our Interface Connect software include:
- issues with the quality of contractor responses or collaboration
- disconnects in alignment between interface parties during design
- late interface deliverables that put your schedule at risk
- scope change that can lead to change orders and delays
Figure 1: Interface management insight-driven dashboard within Interface Connect software.
In combination with numerous reports and alerts, Coreworx Interface Connect provides dashboards that will identify trends and give your interface team critical insights which will help to reduce delays, errors, and cost overruns. Interface data can also be extracted for analysis using various business analytic and data visualization tools, such as Microsoft Power BI.
It’s exciting to have a fresh new year upon us, but, like the industry trends articles have pointed out, it won’t be without its challenges – or its opportunities too. The market is picking up and projects are expanding. To manage project risk, we will continue to see more projects executed as joint ventures which increases the number of stakeholders and the need for control - especially at interfaces. The challenge in 2022 will be for owner/operators, EPCs, and contractors to ensure they’ve equipped their teams to be as efficient as possible and to embrace a new collaborative partnership - so be sure to look at how interface management can help your project achieve these goals!
If you have any questions about this article, please let me know.
All the best in 2022!