Collaboration has become a moving target for construction companies. From preconstruction, through handover, and every stop in between, the need to collaborate with key parts is essential. However, with the plethora of technology options available as ‘collaboration’ tools, finding the right solution might be a challenge.

Take, for example, the need to integrate construction information for the long-term care and maintenance of a facility. Facilities management is among the hottest topics in the market today, and a key objective for owners. Therefore the importance of generating and storing data that is useful throughout the lifecycle of a facility remains essential.

“The initial handover of information to owners is a major problem facing the industry today,” says Marty Chobot, vice president of product management and strategic alliances, FM:Systems, www.fmsystems.com, Raleigh, N.C. I’ve had customers tell me they get the handover package three-to-six months after the project is complete and, even if it’s digital documents, it can still take months or even years to wade through it to get the information they need.”

During that time period, adds Chobot, critical maintenance tasks can be missed–shortening the useful life of building equipment and voiding equipment warranties. In addition, the cost of reentering information on the facilities management side can be significant and there’s the opportunity cost to consider as well. According to Chobot, the question becomes: “What could the facilities management team be doing if they didn’t have to do the data entry?”;

In addition, project teams have invested heavily in technologies that enable BIM (building information modeling). With such tools, they are expecting a seamless flow of information to be the key enabler to this process.

A company like FM:Systems is providing a cloud-based platform for sharing information, i.e., collaboration. “The Web makes it possible for AEC (architecture, engineering, construction) project team members and the owner to all work on information for the building,” adds Chobot. “The people that know how to use BIM tools can now share data and documents with a much wider range of people. And that information can be synchronized back into the model if needed.”

As the market continues to evolve, and the word ‘collaboration’ takes on new meaning, expect technology to change with the times. Whether it is for facilities management or modeling and data-sharing capabilities throughout construction, technology remains a key enabler to collaboration—however you may define it these days.