How Interoperability in Construction is Changing the Game
Keeping track of your information can be difficult. Even scheduling your daily life can be challenging, especially when your daily tasks are spread out among multiple scheduling tools. Imagine this; your doctor's appointment is written in your planner on your desk, but your kids t-ball practice is written on the wall calendar, not to mention the two work meetings that are scheduled in your google calendar. We’ve all been there.
Of course, scheduling t-ball practices and doctor’s appointments is nothing compared to the hassle of running a construction business. You have to track all kinds of complex information, from HR data to change orders. People, projects, and finances all have to be tracked in detailed fashion, and chances are, you’re not using only one tool to do it.
It’s a lot like spreading your life across planners, sticky notes, and calendars, and hoping you won’t forget something. But in the construction industry, you can’t afford to forget something, or spend the time it takes to gather and re-enter data multiple times.
This is where interoperability comes in.
What is Interoperability?
Interoperability is a term used most often in reference to software and technical systems, used to describe the ability of one system or software to exchange and make use of information with another system or software. In the construction industry, this means that complex data from different systems is automatically connected to each other. Imagine that your sticky notes, calendars, and planners could all communicate. and sync data so that you had all your information in one place. That’s basically interoperability.
Interoperability in construction allows stakeholders to quickly make accurate and timely decisions to move projects forwards with confidence. When barriers between different software systems are removed, data can be automatically connected which allows business to scale while maintaining data integrity. As a result, project visibility is enhanced, workflows are streamlined, overhead is reduced, and projects are delivered on time, more safely, and with less waste.
But It’s Not So Easy…
Obviously, interoperability sounds great. Who wouldn’t want to experience all the benefits of connected construction data? Here’s the problem…it turns out that communicating across multiple computer systems and softwares built by completely different developers is fairly complex. Each stakeholder in the project workflow likely has their own tech stack built to suit their specific needs, and of course each project has several stakeholders, such as owners, designers, contractors, not to mention the different personas among field and office teams.
In addition to the differences between users and their specific needs, there are simply the differences between each system and software. Each tool is typically built in a silo by a unique development team, which leads to differences in field-level validation logic such as rounding discrepancies. To make things more difficult, users often build in user-defined fields and workflow parameters that don’t translate well across different systems.
In summary, interoperability is super difficult and may even seem unattainable. It makes sense why the temptation is to just forget about it, and work with what you have; a collection of disconnected software products that require you double check your numbers, and re-enter data at every turn. Here’s the hitch: we can do better. Despite the difficulties of complex technical systems, crossing brand barriers, and implementing new technical “bridges,” this is the future of construction, because a connected construction is a more accurate, efficient, and profitable construction.
It’s hard to imagine a world where completely different systems and software sold by completely different developers work together, but that’s a world more profitable for every contractor and subcontractor in the game; a world where paystubs and earnings history can be seamlessly communicated from Viewpoint Spectrum to bambooHR, or where earning codes from Viewpoint Vista are available in Raken’s pay type.
How Can You Benefit from Interoperability?
If you’ve worked in the industry, you likely know the frustration of dealing with disconnected data and siloed technology systems and you understand the importance of interoperability for your business. At Trimble, we believe in the industry's ability to overcome disconnected data as connected technology allows us to scale output, improve safety measures, and eliminate wasteful processes and bottlenecks, whether in the office, on the job site, or between project stakeholders. Hence our mission to usher in the connect and scale era of construction, where you can capitalize on the benefits of interoperability.
The Trimble Construction One suite in connection with Data Xchange provides access to real interoperability and integrations between the different software tools you use to make your business successful. Data Xchange exists to put interoperability at the forefront of your technology stack by empowering maintenance-free integrations between your most-trusted software solutions, and as a Trimble Construction One user, you can automatically gain access to Trimble integrations, creating one of the most connected and open ecosystems in the industry.