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5 benefits of smartly automating and digitizing construction contracts

5 benefits of smartly automating and digitizing construction contracts

Worldwide there are all kinds of standardized formats for building information, technical specifications and contract forms. If we look at the construction sector in the Netherlands, for example, STABU, NL/SfB, UAV-GC and RAW are used, while in the United States, for example, MasterFormat®, UniFormat®, SectionFormat®/PageFormat® and GreenFormat™ are used and there are many different standards per country. so there are many different standards to be found in each country.  In addition, we see that our customers from the construction industry are increasingly dealing with client-specific classifications and specification systems. 

The high variety of these documents and the fact that they are often only provided in PDF format means that contractors spend more time interpreting, analyzing and understanding their content.  In addition, it is not always easy to quickly relate information to each other. Much related information is described in documents from the appendices, ITT documents, drawings, or in the clarification documents. In some cases, it is also difficult to display the connection in a simple manner. Think for example of the Uniform Administrative Provisions for Integrated Contract Forms (UAV-GC) documents with a dynamic requirements tree where it is very difficult to navigate quickly from the PDF document between the parent and subordinate requirements. 

Brainial has come up with something clever. 🙂 We developed a solution to make it faster and easier to analyze and understand technical specifications and contract forms. We have ensured that the documents are digitized and can be accessed in a user-friendly interface with handy features and functionalities. Below we have described 5 benefits of smartly automating and digitizing specifications and contract forms. 

1. Information is easily searchable and comprehensible

The Brainial solution digitizes technical tender specifications and contract forms and automatically detects whether they are formatted according to a standard such as STABU or RAW or whether they are organization-specific custom formats. The user-friendly interface shows the dynamic or standardized layout of the document on the left side of the screen. Depending on the type of document, we can show multiple formats such as a requirements tree but also a format based on the chapters of the document. These layouts make it very easy to navigate through the document. Selections make it possible to show information combined on the screen. For specific layouts we have developed specific functionalities. For example, for UAV-GC documents we have made it possible to easily click through from parent to subordinate requirement or vice versa, and to display them together on the screen. Information from the documents is easily searchable in its entirety or by selection. Some tenders contain multiple specification documents and we have made it possible to show them separately or together. 

2 .Technical specification items are cleverly supplemented with information from main documents, appendices and drawings

The technical specification documents or other documents containing the technical requirements and specifications are not the only documents where the relevant information can be found. As an example, descriptions about cleaning, repairing and treating stone and concrete-like materials is not only found in STABU specification document, but there is also information about this subject in material statements, drawings, attached photographs and other descriptive documents. It is difficult to get an instant overview by type of work without first doing a lot of manual work to link all the information together.In practice, this means a lot of cutting and pasting for expensive knowledge workers with a lot of experience. Brainial has automated this work by displaying all relevant references from other documents of the same tender for each specification item. This immediately creates a complete overview of the work and its various components.

3. Technical inconsistencies are made immediately visible

Technical specification items are displayed together with references from other documents. If there are technical inconsistencies, they can be detected more quickly than if each document has to be searched and linked manually. When inconsistencies are found you can choose to ask questions about them during one of the clarification rounds. At the moment, as a human being, you still have to notice the contradiction yourself, but in the future we want the Brainial solution to help by automatically detecting and presenting contradictions (technical contradictions, but also legal, procedural, etc.).

4. The questions and answers from the tender clarifications are matched with technical specification items.

Many tender procedures include rounds of clarifications where bidding organizations can ask questions of the contracting authority. Often the answers to all questions are provided in a combined document to all bidding organizations. Our customers tell us that this is a very time-consuming exercise to match the questions and answers with the content of the tender documents. Brainial removes much of the manual work by matching the questions and answers that relate to the tender documents and drawings directly to the specific tender document item(s) and drawings or other attachments. This creates an instant overview and it is immediately clear whether any changes apply to each technical specification item.

5. Elements of the work can be easily bundled and exported.

In many cases, contractors work with subcontractors. These subcontractors are hired to take care of part of the work. The general contractor asks the subcontractors to provide a quote for a portion of the work. Currently, all tender documents are often shared with a subcontractor or documents are manually prepared describing the specific work for which the subcontractor may submit a price quote. Since the relevant information comes not only from technical specifications documents but also from drawings and attachments, it is quite a task to put it all together by the main contractor or subcontractor. Brainial can automatically bundle all relevant information. It is also possible to add tender items/requirements or other tender information and documents to a so-called marked set. The information and context is automatically bundled in one document where the relevant information is highlighted. This marked set can be downloaded and shared with subcontractors. This same functionality can be used to share relevant parts of a tender with an internal or external specialist. For example, all insurance information can also be exported and shared with an insurance expert.

Conclusion

The functionalities mentioned in this article were created in cooperation with construction companies. Anno 2021 there is still a lot of manual and repetitive work being done by people with a lot of experience and expertise. Now Brainial’s vision is to create an environment where knowledge workers are not occupied with these tedious repetitive tasks, but instead use all their knowledge and experience for human interaction, to be creative and to excel. At Brainial, we want to change the way people interact with tenders by creating the most intelligent, reliable and beloved digital tender assistant to get better proposals faster. The smart automation and digitization of technical specification systems and contract forms for the construction industry is part of this. We will continue to jointly envision and develop useful functionalities to save time, reduce failure costs, and ultimately increase quality and odds of winning. We are happy to engage in conversation.

Author: Fedor Klinkenberg is the co-founder and chief executive officer at Brainial. He leads the business strategy and the general and commercial teams. Fedor has >11 years experience working at one of the fastest growing tech companies in the Netherlands: Mendix. Fedor holds a Master of Science degree in Management of Innovation from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.