The successful implementation of Viewpoint For Projects allowed The Highland Council to implement BIM standards in advance of the UK Government’s deadline for implementation.
- Unclear document audit trails
- Naming conventions were inconsistent
- Processes were time-intensive
- Existing system not widely used
- A secure, fully-compliant document management system
- A consistent and comprehensive workflow
- BIM compliance became simple
- A consistent document approach
The Highland Council previously used an alternative hosted solution. David McIntosh, the Council’s property support administrator, said the system’s configuration meant it was limited, and it was not widely adopted by the team. As a result, only a small portion of staff became users, with all other staff passing data and documents to them in order to be uploaded to the system. This was compounded by staff retirements, eventually leaving The Highland Council with no staff that knew how to work the system, and a unique naming convention that existing staff were not in the loop about.
A large number of project documents were still stored on internal networks (windows network storage). The Highland Council’s internal networks allowed staff to create their own individual documents, templates and storage folders, and as a result, it was extremely difficult to locate or make sense of the disconnected data in project related documents.
A Heavy Document Lift
When moving away from its existing system, the Council required the migration of 40,000 documents; this included the renaming of files to meet the BS 1192 document naming convention standards. The lack of central document management meant that The Highland Council’s existing system had a poor quality audit trail of documents, drawings, markups, and overall project documentation.
The Council needed to ensure that the new solution met the required ICT security standards for Local Authorities/Public Sector Organisation (e.g. PSN compliance, cloud storage regulations — such as Google Cloud).
The Highland Council required a document and information storage and management system to be able to manage data and documents relating to construction, health and safety and building manuals. The Council underwent an initiative to drive a common data environment in order to effectively manage its non-domestic and domestic property portfolios in relation to all types of construction work.
The purpose of the initiative was:
- Procurement of a cloud-hosted solution to enable The Highland Council to meet obligations set out in the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations to make H&S Files and pre-construction information available to designers, contractors and others.
- Store and retrieve property-related information from a cloud-hosted system to achieve wide, easy access to key health and safety documentation by external contractors, consultants and premises managers.
- Provide a solution to data storage issues that are currently affecting the day-to-day delivery of construction projects (lack of data storage, making information available to external contractors and consultants).
A common data environment was recognised as having a key role to play in helping The Highland Council manage interactions with external parties who are required by law to be provided with construction information, such as health and safety files, building manuals and more. By having this information in a web-hosted environment, the information is immediately available to those who need it.
A web-hosted common data environment would also remove time-intensive processes, streamline administrative tasks, encourage collaborative working between internal and external parties and most importantly, improve the accuracy and quality of the data by providing all of those involved in the process with a single source of data acting as one version of the truth. The goal was to provide accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive information at the touch of a button.
Viewpoint also has an expansive self-serve knowledge portal that many employees can reference and quickly find what they are after.— David McIntosh, Property Support
After researching the market, the The Highland Council chose Viewpoint For Projects (VFP) to lead the council’s digital transformation and fulfil all of the council’s software requirements. VFP underpinned the management of The Highland Council’s non-domestic and domestic property portfolios, and allowed the Council to be compliant with legislation in regards to health and safety files, the management of health and safety information for properties and throughout construction projects, and the ongoing management of properties throughout the operational lifecycle.
Through the use of Viewpoint For Projects, teams were able to collaboratively work together efficiently without the duplication of efforts. The council gained a consistent document management approach, using set site and project templates alongside a fully audited system with revisions control. In turn, this helped the council simply and effectively capture all relevant construction information in order to effectively manage data with internal and external clients, customers and partners.
Embracing a Tech Culture Change
The successful implementation of Viewpoint For Projects allowed The Highland Council to implement BIM standards in advance of the UK Government’s deadline for implementation. The Highland Council spent a year and a half configuring the system to meet their specific requirements. It was not just a case of making sure the software was fine tuned, but also accepting the culture change that was to come with new technology, and ensuring that everyone was comfortable with the system in order for it to be widely adopted and the most value gained from it. The council typically has around 300-500 projects a year, ranging from new school developments to refurbishments and fit-outs, and every single project is run through Viewpoint For Projects.
It also allowed external contractors and consultants to collaborate with The Highland Council on construction projects, ensuring that there is a single ‘version of the truth’ for construction information. This was aided by the full BIM model viewer within the system which allows federation of models.
McIntosh believes that the relationship between Viewpoint and its customers means that user needs are listened to, with a simple way to give feedback and suggest ideas to make the products better.
“As a community of users, the fact that Viewpoint listens is a huge plus for us. You can see what’s on the roadmap, and can see what people are voting for future releases.” Alongside this, McIntosh said the experience with Viewpoint’s support and professional services teams is first class as they are highly knowledgeable and highly responsive to any queries. Viewpoint also has an expansive self-serve knowledge portal that McIntosh said many employees can reference and quickly find what they are after.
The Highland Council were the first Scottish council to implement a common data environment throughout their organisation, and their experience and usage of VFP proved so successful that it has now become a requirement for all Scottish councils to have an information management plan on all major local government projects. This new method of using VFP to create an organisational workflow capability created streamlined and transparent projects.