Why Simplicity is Key to Managing Construction’s Complexity 

Why Simplicity is Key to Managing Constructions Complexity 

Construction is full of complexities. Planning, designing, and erecting a building from scratch takes a combination of teams, processes, and tools—and orchestrating all that is no simple feat.  

As the world becomes more interconnected, the construction sector becomes increasingly elaborate and multifaceted. For instance, supply chain challenges on the other side of the globe can have a profound impact on your project’s budget and schedule.  

There's also the issue of the labor and skills gap. According to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), 68% of firms report applicants lack the skills needed to work in construction. The same challenges can be found worldwide; 32% of Nordic construction firms indicate they cannot recruit people with the skills they need, while 75% of all businesses in Singapore report a significant digital skills gap

To overcome these hurdles, firms often turn to technology. And while tech has become more accessible over the last few years, research shows that adoption remains a challenge, with 41% of businesses saying that a common barrier to digital adoption is user uncertainty about their tech skills and capabilities.  

This tells us construction tech will only provide value and help solve construction industry complexity if it meets the market at its current skills level. Many tools can streamline your workflows in theory, but if end users struggle to get up and running, the value of that technology is lost almost instantly in reality.   

The best innovations come from simple solutions that address problems in a practical way. That is what we aim to achieve at Autodesk; we want to bring even more value to all customers with intuitive and simple solutions.  

Why simplicity matters 

Growing up, my family owned a construction business, and I was immersed in the industry by age 11. I went to school for architecture, and that's where I fell in love with technology. I realized we could achieve so much more and move faster with just a few simple changes to our approach. 

At that time, Revit was evolving, and Navisworks was coming online. I found that these tools were intimidating to a lot of people, and there was some hesitation to explore them.  

That's when I became passionate about helping folks better understand technology. Specifically, I wanted to bridge the gap for those who introduced me to the complexities of the jobsite; I wanted to show field teams how to leverage BIM technology to enhance their day-to-day operations. 

Fast-forward to today, and the industry has come a long way since the early days of Revit and Navisworks. More and more firms are using cloud technology, but this explosion has created some new pain points.  

A lot of data, but too little insights 

The tools we have today make it easier to capture data—often, too much data for one team to manage. As such, teams are left feeling overwhelmed about how to measure success. Having too much data yet few insights or just not using the information you have on hand can lead to poor and uninformed decision-making, which then impacts the overall success of a project. 

Plus, there's the matter of where that data is stored. Using multiple tools and data sources results in siloed reports and dashboards. Teams must then spend time moving from one solution to another or creating and sharing reports manually.  

Slow and cumbersome tools in the field 

A lot of digital tools in construction aren't created with field teams in mind.  

For instance, model viewers are invaluable for installations, yet many of the tools in the market are slow and unreliable. Some solutions aren't equipped to handle model data, which has increased in size and complexity.  

Moreover, these tools fail to support connected model-based workflows, so teams turn to multiple point solutions, which can convolute collaboration. 

All this to say that the jobsite is highly dynamic and fast-moving. So, it calls for simple and intuitive tools.  

Autodesk: your partner in simplicity 

I am privileged to be in a role where I am able to speak with hundreds of customers each year. I hear time and time again how they aren't looking for more tools that add complexity to their jobs—they are looking for solutions that add value. 

That's why I am excited to see that we've developed technologies that make our customers' lives easier. We're not here to just deliver advanced software; our goal is to pack the power of simplicity into our solutions.  

Consider just a few of our newest releases for Autodesk Construction Cloud

New webinar series: Powerfully Simple Capabilities in Autodesk Construction Cloud

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Enhanced Model Viewer 

We recently improved the Model Viewer (beta) on the Autodesk Construction Cloud mobile app. For the better part of a decade, we received feedback that the tools we produce need to have more than just a wow factor. They need to wow our customers because they're so intuitive; they bring people into the fold in a way that past iterations of our BIM offerings could not. 

Our enhanced model viewer does precisely that by empowering users to view larger models faster, with cleaner visibility and filtered control. How? By transforming model viewing and navigation to improve performance and stability. Field teams can section, isolate, and understand the properties of elements in the models, capturing more granular data while in the field.   

Work Planning in Schedule 

We realized that when it comes to construction planning, customers don't have a single source of truth or the most up-to-date work plan information at their fingertips, which leads to a lack of collaboration and connectivity to the master schedule. Weekly plans are created in silos. Plus, many users struggle with manual planning processes dealing with sticky notes, multiple spreadsheets, or playing phone and email tag to keep various teams coordinated to get the job done.  

So, we launched Work Planning in Schedule, which empowers teams to build and use digital work plans to deliver projects on time and within budget. The work planning capabilities within the scheduling tool allow you to collaboratively build detailed work plans and manage handoffs and roadblocks—all while viewing progress in the context of the long-term schedule. Now, project teams can avoid delays and mitigate risks early on by managing their short-term and long-term schedules in the same connected environment to complete projects successfully. 

Unit Costs in Autodesk Takeoff 

Estimators can now use Autodesk Takeoff to create rough budgets and early estimates without complicated manual processes. This capability lets you add unit cost to takeoff types for both 2D and 3D takeoffs to generate budgets and conceptual estimates, further enhancing the quantification workflows within Autodesk Takeoff. 

With this release, estimators are no longer relying on manual and disconnected processes to add or update quantities and costs. They can create conceptual estimates to quickly determine if a project is worth pursuing or evaluate different options to better align with cost expectations.  

Specifications in Autodesk Build and Docs 

Construction teams want access to project specifications to fully understand the requirements of what needs to be procured, built, and installed at every stage of the project. They rely on specification documents, which serve as the instruction manual for each job.  

These specification docs are quite dense. GCs and subs must manually search for relevant information, which could take someone hours just to sort through a specification to find what they need. Not to mention, different teams may use different point solutions just to manage specification documents, making the process more complicated and disconnected. 

With Specifications in Autodesk Build and Docs and powered by Autodesk AI, it's easier for teams to automatically section a specification document and publish relevant data. Field crews can access the information when needed, streamlining communication and reducing the need for multiple tools. 

KPI Templates 

Earlier, I talked about data overwhelm and teams' difficulties in measuring success. Many GCs don't have clear or defined KPIs that work for their business, which leads to poor decision-making.  

Enter our ‘out of the box’ KPI dashboard templates.  

KPI templates are customizable Power BI templates to help customers identify and deliver KPIs at a project and cross-project level. The most recently released templates focus on quality and cost-specific workflows, and we are currently building a template for schedule workflows. 

Teams can extract their idata using the Data Connector and connect the data extracts into one of the cost or quality focused KPI templates currently available within the Data Connector template gallery.  

With KPI templates, you can surface and share relevant dashboards easily and make decisions that lead to better business outcomes. 

Simplicity still requires support 

While we strive to build simple tools that are easy to adopt, this doesn't mean learning and education are any less important. 

Beyond providing simplicity through our products, we are invested in supporting our customers in all aspects of their technology usage. That's why you have access to several high-value resources. 

Today, Learn ACC has almost a two-week turnaround for new updates in that content, and we're seeing customers use it in the thousands every day, adding badges and earning certificates. 

We're continuing to enhance Learn ACC. In the same way that we want you to adopt technology quickly, we also want you to maximize the use of the platform and get the most out of it. We'd like to empower our customers with micro-learning opportunities to easily pull up on a lunch break on their phone without leaving the product. 

I'm also incredibly proud of our community forum—The Big Room —which has flourished into an eclectic group of real industry people coming together to help one another and hold essential conversations to solve challenges. 

From GCs and specialty trades to architects and designers, The Big Room is always bustling with discussions on the latest trends, technologies, and best practices.  

Communities like these are vital for tapping into and crowdsourcing a wide breadth of industry knowledge from those experiencing similar challenges. We'd love to see you there! 

Even more simplicity 

Excited about these releases? So are we. If you'd like to learn more about these powerfully simple product updates, check out this roundup and put them into action in your current projects.    

Brandon LaCourciere

Brandon joined Autodesk in 2013 and held positions as Director of North American Technical Specialists, Director of North American Customer Success, Senior Director of Global Customer Success, and in his current role as the Vice President, Emerging Business for Customer Success for Autodesk. Brandon and his teams are committed to helping customers across the world solve industry challenges and optimize their construction workflows through the use of Autodesk.