InEight Transforms Capital Project Planning Using AI
For years, construction has been held up as an example of an industry that has been slow to adopt technology. The times are changing dramatically, though. In the last five years, technology spending in the construction industry increased 50 percent. Stakeholders in capital projects from contractors to owners to engineers are starting to see the benefits of how technology can help them deliver projects on time and on budget.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is emerging as one technology with tremendous potential to change how capital projects are managed positively. Companies are quickly finding that AI is well-suited to improve the planning process for capital projects and can help them create more realistic project schedules. By using AI to develop more pragmatic project plans and schedules, companies are putting themselves in a position for success at the start of a project and positioning their teams to be able to execute successfully.
InEight, a developer of software for capital projects, is leading the way in creating an AI-based solution for the project planning and scheduling process. The company has developed a solution called InEight Basis, that enables companies to put their historical knowledge to work for them, combined with expert opinions, to drive schedule and cost realism.
Starting Projects with a Realistic Plan
Traditionally, most planners begin each project with a proverbial blank sheet of paper. They essentially create the entire project plan and schedule from scratch based on the experience and knowledge they’ve gathered over the years. This is often supplemented with a mass of (often unstructured) data that their company has accumulated over the years.
AI is completely transforming this process. InEight Basis uses an AI engine and machine learning to develop a project plan for planners to evaluate and adjust. This initial plan brings together insights gathered from past projects, as well as industry standards, which could take human planners a month of Sundays to comb through and understand how they could impact plans.
This information is quickly distilled by InEight Basis’ AI-based engine to provide planners key learnings and inferences and guide them with suggestions based on past projects that go as far back as to when records started being taken. It provides project planners with alerts on where their plan may be out of alignment with past results. For example, it can alert planners that one crew is faster when pouring a foundation for a parking garage; or grading for a certain geographic region usually takes a team two weeks longer than normal because of soil conditions.
Alerts and suggestions like this are presented to the project planner. This allows them to determine how they want to integrate the information into the project, all with the goal of creating a plan with the best schedule and durations possible, so it can be successfully executed in the field.
Capturing the Human Intelligence Factor
While AI can be used to process and gain insights from data and past projects efficiently, there is an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience that lives in the minds of any project team. As InEight developed its AI tool, the company knew it was critical to find a way to tap into this expertise as well and that the human element, or “human intelligence” of a project plan could not be overlooked, and is just as valuable.
To leverage the knowledge of a project team, InEight Basis offers a simple-to-use platform on which all team members and stakeholders can share their feedback and opinions on the plan, including issues like risk and opportunities. Change requests and feedback are captured in real time, and the lead planner vets how and when the feedback percolates into the overall plan. Consensus and potential issues are then visualized in InEight Basis.
By capturing human intelligence, planners not only have a much stronger and more realistic plan, they gain another critical benefit, too. Project members that have weighed-in on the plan now have skin in the game. They’ve given their commitment to their aspects of the plan being achievable, which can help avoid issues as the plan moves into execution and keeps everyone working together collaboratively as a team.
The power of AI and InEight Basis is a game-changer in project planning. Now, planners can build an initial project plan based on the company’s history and experience on past projects, which can then be easily adjusted to meet the specific needs of the project at hand. Planners can also easily have their team members weigh in to build consensus, get buy-in and tap into team members’ expertise. The breakthrough combination of AI and human intelligence means you can take the most exciting step forward in project planning in the last 20 years.
The last word goes to Dan Patterson, Chief Design Officer of InEight (author of a great whitepaper on the issues discussed here):
“What is different is that planners are now able to focus their time on the ‘smarts’ of planning and not get bogged down in the mechanics of, say, determining activity logic or trying to calculate typical durations of activities. AI is helping with some of the mundane building blocks, enabling planners to focus their efforts on the more strategic aspects of planning and ensuring the forecast they are building is as achievable as possible.”