The advent of COVID-19 has led to many Australian businesses reassessing the way they do business. Gray Puksand is no exception. Gray Puksand National Design Technology Manager Jeames Hanley takes stock of the future of Design Technology strategy in a post-pandemic world.

What have we learnt?

Strategy is Key

They say if you fly by the seat of your pants, you’re sure to expect friction burns.

Without doubt, a well communicated Design Technology strategy with documented processes and workflows is the key to achieving consistency of direction and standards.

The remote working environment inspired by COVID-19 presented the perfect opportunity to ‘pressure test’ our existing Design Technology strategy to identify opportunities for ongoing improvement.

This has included developing and strengthening both new and existing workflows across a range of design technology platforms.

Training/Education = Adoption

As many Building Information Managers (BIM)/Technology managers will attest, developing new processes and standards is the easy part. The critical exercise is educating and empowering your colleagues.

Clear and consistent communication around why new methods have been developed and the value they bring to the individual, their team and the practice as a whole is key.

A training plan for all staff is a crucial part of driving adoption of software, processes and ultimately helps your strategy hit the ground running.

Virtual Design Tech Q&A training sessions hosted in recent weeks saw excellent staff engagement as new skills were developed.

In addition to facilitating the quick and easy roll out of more robust workflows, these virtual training sessions opened discussions about what we could do better, identifying opportunities for additional future improvements. Staff are able to have a voice, be heard and actively play a part in the digital transformation.

BIM 360 Implementation

Being open to new ideas and opportunities is key to the growth of any business. After long using Revit Servers, Gray Puksand conducted two pilot projects with BIM 360 which identified a number of benefits.

In addition to easy ‘anytime, anywhere’ access to projects for staff, BIM 360 offered enhanced project collaborating opportunities while mitigating a degree of risk through new workflows and model coordination.

We are now charting a course toward a wider BIM 360 implementation.

Shifting to a Laptop-Based Workforce

Having a mix of several different types of laptops and desktops has made it challenging to image all our computers with the same software, patches and general maintenance.

Like a lot of other businesses out there, we had the pleasure of packing up desktop PC’s and shipping them out to staff’s homes complete with network cables, monitors and the like.

This has seen our hardware strategy move to support the design technology strategy with a considerable purchase of laptops and an asset refresh strategy guiding our overall change to a laptop-based workforce.

We believe this will help the business provide the agility and flexibility to all staff in whatever the post-crisis work environment becomes.

Automation Platforms

We identified a need to free up design-based staff from mundane everyday tasks to allow them to focus on high-value work. We are now pushing ahead to take full advantage of software like tools to automate file exporting and drawing registers.

Using hardware left in studios as export servers to do all our ‘heavy lifting’ for file creation and exporting keeps our designers on work of higher value. Likewise, implementing a library of dynamo scripts tailored to our practice is already assisting our staff by automating work set creation, parking renumbering and more.

Dynamo training goes hand in hand with this one, but we are already seeing the benefit automation is providing to our company.

Centrally Managed Software

One of our highest priorities is ensuring our workforce of over a hundred design staff are equipped with the latest updates of Revit and other design programming essentials.

We now have an image built by the IT department that encapsulates the required versions of Revit, correct build versions as well as customised files.

This forward-thinking approach enables us to shift away from reactively updating individual PC’s and creates an opportunity to proactively train staff on design technology.

The end result? The peace of mind of knowing hardware is up to date and nationally managed. A national plan to manage ongoing updates throughout the calendar year is also in motion.

The Path to Past Success May Not Pave a Road to Future Glory

With the ‘business as usual’ environment is set to change, it’s important to take heed of the fact the way business was done in the past may not be the best way forward for the future.

That’s not to say existing plans need to be laid by the wayside. In our case, a carefully considered strategy review saw our approach to some priorities and platforms revisited without the need to completely rewrite the existing strategy or slow down its implementation.

What the COVID-19 crisis has reinforced is our existing plans to implement the latest technologies, with industry proven processes elevating the technology platforms that underpin our business.

Looking Forward

As we know, technology requires investment. While the economy is in flux Gray Puksand is taking great confidence in having a strategy in place to ensure we emerge a robust and resilient business on the other side.

An agile technology strategy that can readily respond to a changing business environment and shifting priorities will be a key driver of business growth now, and in the near future.

About the Author

Jeames Hanley
National Design Technology Manager

Jeames assists our National Leadership team in continuing to develop and implement our design and digital technology strategy. Jeames has a diverse range of experience having worked in leading firms in Australia, London and New Zealand and brings both BIM and digital leadership expertise. We are very excited to have Jeames join the team as he is an emerging industry leader and shares our vision for the future of Gray Puksand as a leading design practice.