Construction Best Practices

How to Achieve the ‘Golden Thread’ of Construction Data


The deadly 2017 Grenfell Tower fire in London led to more scrutiny of construction practices across the UK.

Information: there is no shortage of it in construction. From material serial codes to the time taken to fix a snag, it can almost seem like there’s too much information. However, if construction is to modernise its ways of working, it must learn how to harness this information.

Alongside this, Dame Judith Hackitt’s ongoing review in her role helping the British government establish a new Building Safety Regulator has highlighted the need for shared responsibility throughout a project. This increases morale and financial obligations to ensure that processes and projects are completed to a high standard first time around. The desire to shake up the industry for the first time in years calls for a shift in mindset and willingness to adapt.

The new London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe stated the review should be “an undertaking not to let history repeat itself,” in reference to the deadly 2017 Grenfell Tower fire in which shoddy, hasty construction was among the culprits. The golden thread of information helps to instigate change and easier ways of working for construction along the way.

In its most basic form, the golden thread of information is quality, up-to-date information throughout a construction project. Although a simple enough idea, many projects are unable to put this into practice for a variety of reasons, ranging from using paper-based methods to working in isolated teams.

What Prevents the Golden Thread of Information?

Using manual processes or outdated technologies can lead to significantly higher rates of miscommunication or errors in construction.

Manual Processes:

Using paper-based methods to record information can be time-consuming and lead to costly errors as well as providing issues that arise from storing physical records. Even slightly more modern technologies like spreadsheets or email that still require hours of manual data entry or retrieval in order to utilise or analyse data appropriately still unravel that golden thread.

Lack of Visibility:

Some projects are fully paperless and yet they still don’t have the golden thread of information. This is often seen when systems that are being used on a project are disparate or closed off from one another.

A major issue on sites is the linear nature of construction. For example, floor layers can’t begin screeding until electrics are fitted, and much of the time teams won’t see each other unless there are delays in a construction project. To add to this, should a team encounter a snag or issue that prevents them from carrying out their tasks, the process to call back in the team responsible can be time-consuming and cause further delays.

How Modern, Connected Software Can Help

A common data environment brings all construction team members together to utilise the same sets of data and build collaborative workflows.

When companies use a common data environment to take care of recording and storing information, it ensures that everyone can see and amend one single version of the truth. This is perfect for keeping track of instances such as architectural amendments or product substitutions as the project happens. The electronic audit trail ensures that any prior revisions are safely stored and can be accessed at a moment’s notice if required. By taking the burden of storing information away from a person or department and placing it onto a system, this shares the responsibility throughout the project, by easily flagging up any gaps of information and making sure that everyone keeps the golden thread intact.

Using connected software also helps project sites operate safer, by showing site managers live information of site incidents so they can make site adjustments by following what the data is telling them. This means no more filling in several incident forms at the end of the day to find out they all occurred in the same area.

A connected software solution, such as Viewpoint For Projects (VFP), can be implemented by the main contractor for a project’s duration but used by subcontractors working on-site at any one time. VFP Workflows ensure relevant stakeholders on-site can see information relevant to their part of the project and increase their efficiency by being constantly up-to-speed with how the project looks. If a snag or fault is identified, the project management and the team responsible can be notified immediately and begin to resolve the issue. This notification system also helps to ensure teams check their part of the project thoroughly before leaving the site, as it creates transparent accountability and encourages a high level of finish.

As well as ensuring that construction projects run as smoothly and as safely as possible, aiming for the golden thread also brings business benefits. When vital information can be viewed anywhere, and any substitutions or amends given the suitable approval quickly, projects start to see an improvement to their bottom-line.

A Trusted Construction Technology Partner

Viewpoint For Projects is a construction management solution that gives contractors the ability to collaborate in real time, with accurate, timely data at their disposal.

It is perhaps no surprise that software is one of the key ways that companies can give themselves the best chance of success when it comes to achieving the golden thread. Viewpoint specialises in construction software that helps give a clear view of your construction projects.

Viewpoint For Projects (VFP) is a cloud-based document and information management solution which enables customers to share, control and collaborate on project documents with dispersed projects teams. VFP customers realise benefits such as streamlining documentation, reducing errors, mitigating risks, and avoiding duplication of efforts.

Viewpoint Field View is a cloud-based and off-line mobile solution that replaces pen and paper in the field and streamlines quality, safety, project delivery, and closeout/commissioning processes.

As a construction solutions provider with more than 40 years of experience, Viewpoint works with its clients every step of the way to not just implement modern construction technologies, but ensure that contractors are getting the most out of their technology investments at all times. Viewpoint helps thousands of contractors across the UK and around the world tie together their people, projects and processes through connected data and solutions, bringing about more collaborative, informed construction operations, as well as the foundation to properly scale their operations for the future.

Posted By

Tamara joined the Trimble team in 2020. She likes taking complicated subject matters and making them easy to understand. She is experienced in the construction software market with expertise in content creation and distribution. In her spare time, you'll often find her running or dog-walking (not usually at the same time.)