All major construction projects have a contractual obligation to transfer documents and records to the new asset owner. This information ‘handover’ fulfills two core objectives:
- that each project stakeholder has a full set of records reflecting project activities like decisions, payments, meeting minutes and historical versions of drawings, and
- that critical information needed for the ongoing operation of the asset is provided as ‘inputs’ to new maintenance systems and processes
Sounds easy enough right? Well, not always.
It can be challenging and is often actioned without a clear understanding of the negative downstream effects of getting it wrong.
What starts as rich data creation in cutting edge design software ends up in a basic hard drive, destined for a less impressive location (most often a network drive) where access is uncontrolled, and documents are pulled apart by new users. Information is lost, money is spent to recreate and processes become inefficient.
So, why are owners still accepting a hard drive download as their preferred method of handover? The answer to that question is simple—a hard drive is perceived as easy! No one wants to be tasked with assessing 4 Terabytes of information when the project is wrapping up.
Finalising a construction project is already very intense, especially when funding and resources are gone. The focus is on obtaining final certificates, addressing defects and orienting new maintenance staff. Everyone is busy and everyone is on a deadline.
So how can you streamline the handover process with minimal cost and effort?
Step 1: Hire a Specialist
A Digital Content Specialist has access to tools and experience that allows them to focus on migrating information from project systems to operational systems with immediate and measurable benefits.
Step 2: Content and Metadata Assessment
For a migration to be successful, information should be assessed in its project location before migration even begins. Today’s project delivery tools do a lot more than just store documents – docs are tagged with meaningful metadata, changes are captured and tracked, and documents can be associated with other documents to create a full picture of an event or decision. A Digital Content Specialist, using digital export and import tools, will ensure that all of this important metadata and auditability is maintained during transition and the records remain reliable.
Step 3: System Assessment for Functional Readiness
New asset owners need to ensure their IT systems are ready and available for the volumes of incoming information. A Digital Content Specialist can provide a ‘current state’ assessment for the owner in advance. This will identify gaps in required functionality, clarify the availability of storage space and identify any highly specialised content that need to be addressed.
Being prepared means knowing if the current systems are fit- for- purpose; avoid reactive spend to fix. A specialist will also recognise future opportunities to improve business efficiency through system integration or functional upgrades; add these to your technology roadmap. In summary, documentation cannot simply be dropped into a system without some planning and configuration.
Step 4: Migration Planning and Testing
Creating a seat at the project table for a content specialist gives everyone a head start. This dedicated, skill- based resource can develop a migration plan early on, with processes and agreed tasks, whilst mapping risks and potential impacts. The plan should focus on actions that align with the project priorities, those requiring the greatest level of effort or contain the greatest risk. Testing procedures will also be part of this migration plan to ensure a smooth and accurate transfer of data; faults or issues are found and fixed, this is all about QUALITY!
Helpful Hint— Start early and organise a meeting with the content specialists across both the project and the business– they will speak the same language and they will ask the right questions .
Step 5: Risk Management and Data Security
Something will always go wrong during handover; a hard drive does not arrive at the intended destination, the password didn’t work, only half of the content was successfully downloaded. But the most common issue is that the hard drive is corrupt (maybe not on Day One but eventually it will be!). Taking a digital migration approach gives the asset owner more control and assures a better outcome. Data can be encrypted when in transition between systems and user permissions can be designed to suit (and tested!). When new protocols are needed to manage critical information, content specialists can advise of the best practise and even update the exiting governance.
Finally, migration doesn’t have to happen like a ‘big bang’ at the end of the project; with specialists onboard, information can be made available at project milestones – for example, it may be more practical to migrate records directly after the procurement activity, or when the initial designs are completed, or when the to-be constructed drawings are approved. All of these actions reduce information loss, failure rates and security breaches.
Let’s Recap the Benefits
- By maintaining metadata and audit trails, the evidential and informational value of the project records is preserved
- Early content and system assessment will avoid reactive costs to correct technology gaps
- Action can be taken to remedy immediate shortfalls whilst roadmaps can be developed for longer term considerations
- Accessibility is possible on Day One—- by being proactive and fast, owners avoid waiting and scrambling
- Have confidence that the data was migrated as intended, the functionality works as planned, and the data can continue to be relied on as a record.
- Saved costs, time and effort = happier employees
Handover is more than just receiving records and documents, it is an opportunity to ensure your company has the right information before it takes on the responsibility of operating a new asset. You can and should expect this value-added service from your Digital Content Specialist as it is no longer acceptable to allow critical content to arrive in a hard drive unassessed or unchecked.