Warboard – an evolution in issue management

Mar 21
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Warboard – an evolution in issue management

The evolution of technology, and particularly for me, the evolution of digital design and construction is developing at a rapid pace, making us more efficient and allowing us to push the boundaries of possibility. It’s an exciting time, and I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved in some remarkable advances – not least, the evolution of Warboard from its first inception five years ago.

I joined BIM Technologies in 2012, and at that time, we would create clash reports in a fairly simplistic way, using a word document template and a snipping tool to cut and save pictures and paste into the document. Producing the report was a manual and laborious process, and would quite often take a whole day to complete.

We knew there had to be a better way to achieve this in less time and with better results. We, like many people, use Navisworks, which does indeed produce a report as standard, but it’s fairly basic. What we wanted was a way of producing a report with clearer information, and to present it better to the teams and designers we work with.

So, we initially began with trying to develop a tool that would work to interpret the data that fed from the XML file and turn it into a template within a PDF document, exactly as we wanted it to appear. That’s how Warboard was born, and through extensive developments over some years, it met our needs to save time from the manual reporting process.

These were the early days of Warboard where it was only used as an in-house tool. It had bugs, yes, but we knew they could be fixed, so our in-house Space Applied Technologies team took on the challenge to develop it further to where we are today – with a platform performing exactly as we want it.

The project teams we work with like the capabilities it offers as it holds all the information on the coordination in one place as a complete issue management platform.

I use it on every project as it’s a great way of getting an overview for a development and obviously, to manage a team, as it allows you to see their outputs and to make sure everyone is working in a consistent manner using Warboard’s metrics capabilities.

Warboard is exceptional for some of our really big projects, for instance, the huge £3bn Brent Cross development combining some ten buildings.

As we start a development like Brent Cross, we’ll have a workshop with the whole design team and examine the clashes so they can be assigned to the relevant person within the team, who will then fix, reassign, or close out the clashes.

For a development of this size, coordination is vital with all of the models grouped together in Navisworks. If we were to produce one single report for Brent Cross we would have over 10,000 issues – not because it’s a badly coordinated project – it’s down to the size and complexity of the development. So we use Warboard to split it down into manageable individual buildings, and we actively encourage those not at the meetings or workshops to check our progress in Warboard, so they can progress and resolve issues.

Perhaps one of the most useful aspects for this project is that Warboard ensures that the right people are seeing the right information at the right time and not being overloaded with too much information. Clients also like to quickly see the visual information in Warboard, such as reports, graphs and metrics.

One other benefit is that our clients don’t need any software installed to use the platform. It’s cloud-based, so they simply log in to the website making it simple to use and intuitive.

As designs change throughout developments (as they always do), Warboard is able to handle any added complexities and as you progress through to Stage 5, the numbers of clashes reduce ready for that crucial time before construction actually begins.

I always find it interesting to look back at projects and to understand how different design options and different decisions that were made affected the modelling. This results in some interesting metrics from looking back at the data like how, and why time was spent on certain aspects.

Our intention is that we can eventually use the anonymous data from our thousands of projects to analyse trends. Hopefully, we can use this information to understand how to become more efficient and what has made improvements to projects. Each project is unique, but we hope that over time we can get useful metrics from this data.

Although Warboard is fully developed as an issue management and collaborative platform, our intention to innovate never stops. One idea is to integrate a 3D model viewer enabling us to use BCF in Warboard to allow links back to the model. This would mean you could click on a clash on Warboard, then click on an element, and that would then take you to that element in Revit for example. That would be extremely useful and powerful once implemented.

There’s a lot of competition in the marketplace, but some of our functionalities – like the output of our reporting function – is better than any competitor. And, as we work with different people on more and more projects, we get a great deal of feedback. This live feedback helps us to focus on what any new development should be and to push Warboard forward as much as we can.

We are on an innovative and interesting journey. Warboard is an essential tool in our business and has enabled us to save a great deal of time and to be more collaborative. But, as I’ve alluded to, technology is always pushing forward so it’ll be interesting to see how Warboard will develop over the next five years.

The possibilities could be endless.

 

Ben Malone, Director, BIM. Technologies