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“Project Closeout.” “Building Turnover.” “Transition.” “Contractor Hand-off.” 

No matter what it’s called, moving out of the construction phase into facility operations is one of the messiest aspects of any project. 

But does it really have to be that way? Not if the client and contractor agree on the data and document deliverables before the start of a project instead of waiting until the end. Or, as is common practice today, not doing it at all.

Document and data deliverables ought to be determined by the systems and processes a client will use to manage the facility once hand-off is complete. That includes ongoing preventative maintenance of mechanical, electrical, plumbing equipment and fire safety systems, as well as managing compliance with manufacturer warranty and local regulations. 

Instead of delivering boxes full of paper as-built drawings, operating manuals, warranty schedules and parts lists, the contractor could work to deliver the various materials digitally. This information could be uploaded into a geographic information system (GIS) enabled maintenance management system or facilities management system upon inspector sign-off. 

A Better Way

Life would be a lot easier for everyone if they did.

Using a streamlined GIS tied to facilities management platforms or work order management systems, maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) personnel can effectively start using the documents and data immediately – even before the handoff is completed. 

By including a GIS at the beginning of construction, perhaps paired with a document management system, owners can contextually access maps, documents and data easily and conveniently across their portfolio. So can emergency preparedness personnel, master planners and other third parties.
Although a growing number of owners prefer to organize their documents in a GIS, they are the exception rather than the rule.

Construction closeout typically remains a chaotic handoff. Rolled up drawings, CAD files, reports in a variety of formats, material and equipment specs, and warranties are turned over to the owner with no forethought about their future use. All of this information is of limited value if the owner can’t access the right information at the right time.

Five Key Benefits

For both owners and contactors, here are five reasons to use a GIS and facilities management system to transform the construction closeout process:

  1. A GIS can create a highly accurate map of the assets. Today, when owners take possession of the construction documents, they have limited visibility about the exact location of the assets associated with those documents. A GIS gives owners locational awareness of assets in real time as soon as they log onto the platform. With a GIS and facilities management system, owners can overlay other information to execute a wide of range of tasks. A GIS can be an engine of efficient workflow, including displaying additional construction work.
  2. A GIS provides facility operators with contextual access to non-graphical data. Contextual spatial access in a GIS provides granular detail about a facility or an entire portfolio, as well as macro level information. The net effect is that everyone involved in the lifecycle of a project can have access to the specific information they need to make smarter, more cost-effective decisions.
  3. Owners can build and maintain a digital plan room archive with the right GIS. Properly configured, a GIS can be a front end to accurately retrieve as-built drawings and other data and information in a relational database. The search capabilities of a streamlined GIS make it easy to find all of the individuals and third parties who worked on the project, as well as quickly identify objects by class – pipes, values, hydrants, lights, storm drains, etc. No more trips to the map room to look for documents.
  4. Incorporating all of the construction documents in a GIS and facilities management system makes them accessible 24/7, 365 days a year. With information in a GIS, multiple users in multiple locations can log in using any web-enabled device to see relevant information, access the supporting documents and data, and view reports in real time. Owners can specify who has permission to view information.
  5. A better process creates goodwill all around. Effectively collaborating with clients via a GIS and facilities management system at construction closeout is a differentiator for contractors. That forward-thinking approach creates goodwill and gives project owners yet one more reason to work with a savvy contractor next time.

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