How well is collaboration working in the AEC industry? We surveyed 393 people whose companies design, engineer, or construct the built environment to find out about collaborative design in AEC, including multidisciplinary design and BIM.
Please enjoy the summary* below. For the full research, please visit our sponsor Graphisoft (registration required).
Table of Contents
- Profitability Demands Compelling Yet Efficient Design
- Communication and Complexity are Top Challenges
- Design Complexity is Growing
- Complexity Requires Multidisciplinary Collaboration
- Current Collaboration Has Room to Improve
- Importance of Design Integration
- Integration Approaches are Insufficient
- BIM as a Solution for Design Integration
- BIM is Maturing to Become the System of Record
- Importance of Design Integration Approaches
- Companies are Adopting Multidisciplinary Design
- Multidisciplinary Design Provides Valuable Benefits
- Perspectives on Multidisciplinary Design
- Multidisciplinary Design Faces Challenges
- Challenges Lead to Business Impacts
- Value of a Single BIM Authoring Environment
- Views on a Single BIM Authoring Environment
- IPD is Growing and Requires Multidisciplinary Design
- Fear of Trading off Capabilities
- About the Research
Collaboration Design in AEC
Our survey investigated the current state of collaboration and multidisciplinary design in the AEC community. The research focused on current approaches to collaboration, the readiness to adopt advanced design tools, and how these factors impact project success and profitability. The study focused primarily on the design and design coordination phase of the full built-project lifecycle and does not significantly include the experience of the construction community. About three-quarters (72%) of the research respondents are architects and the vast majority of companies offer architectural and/or engineering services.
The study shows that architects must design concepts with strong aesthetics and build their company reputation while also recognizing the need to meet practical project objectives like project cost and schedule. Unfortunately, poor communication and increased design complexity, which emerged as two of the most common challenges to meeting project objectives and outcomes, make this difficult. Beyond this, almost two-thirds of survey respondents report that design complexity has increased over the last five years.
Insufficient Collaboration and Design Integration Approaches
Designers recognize that working collaboratively across disciplines helps manage increased design complexity. However, the most common forms of collaboration include email, in-person meetings, PDFs, and hard-copy sheets. These methods are inefficient and error-prone. In addition, despite the fact that about two-thirds of respondents report that design integration across disciplines is critical or important to project success, the design integration approaches they typically use, like collecting 2D or printed documents, are also insufficient.
The Multidisciplinary Design Opportunity
Although the AEC industry faces increased complexity, the design and construction community has been hesitant to adopt new technologies and integrated data platforms. Our research shows, however, that surveyed companies are exploring and migrating to multidisciplinary design to drive efficiency, improve project outcomes, and reduce cost (among other drivers).
Multidisciplinary design marries the efforts of different disciplines into a cohesive process. This increases efficiency and provides impact visibility to designers. They can assess the impacts of choices on a design’s cost, more efficiently deal with clashes and geometric constraints, and better tackle complexity driven by code upgrades, material improvements, and energy performance.
The Multidisciplinary Design Transition
The study finds that full multidisciplinary design adoption is still relatively low in the architecture and engineering community, with only 22% of respondents using it on all projects. But about two-thirds of respondents have a positive perception of this methodology, and over one-half of companies are using it on at least some projects.
Although there are barriers to adoption, including organizational, technical, and business concerns, companies report valuable benefits. Over two-thirds of companies who have adopted multidisciplinary design for all projects report more complete designs and fewer errors and omissions. About one-half report increased efficiency and improved constructability. The opportunities are compelling and available. The eBook shares the full details of our findings.
Communication is the Biggest Challenge
The design and construction industry is highly fragmented. Companies range in size and the cross-section of industry segments they serve. Project
participants often span regional, country, language, and cultural boundaries. Multiple disciplines rarely share common offices, which only exacerbates the challenge of communication. With increasing project complexity and shrinking access to well-trained resources, communication is strained. The industry must uncover ways to become more effective.
Greater Collaboration is the Key
Architecture and engineering companies must increase their ability to effectively collaborate across design disciplines. Traditional collaboration approaches are insufficient. Fortunately, there are proven benefits to digitally integrating designs across disciplines. Typical integration methods must also improve, and the data demonstrates that the AEC design community is moving towards more enhanced collaboration workflows leveraging tools based on BIM. The role of BIM is also maturing to be a system of record. Although the domains of design are vast, our research concludes that companies are exploring and migrating to multidisciplinary design to drive better project outcomes and profitability.
Multidisciplinary Design Remains Novel in the Maturity Cycle
Full multidisciplinary design adoption is still relatively low, but those adopting it are achieving significant benefits. The overall perception of multidisciplinary design and BIM is positive, yet it faces a number of challenges. Most companies are not willing to trade off significant design functionality for those benefits. We expect to see greater adoption of multidisciplinary design as systems mature, but also expect that companies must maintain an open approach to BIM tools to accommodate an environment consisting of multiple authoring tools.
*This summary is an abbreviated version of the research and does not contain the full content. For the full research, please visit our sponsor Graphisoft (registration required).
If you have difficulty obtaining a copy of the report, please contact us.