Ains Group has just released a digital service that radically changes the way construction projects are managed. The concept consists of a new management process, a command center, and a situation awareness portal for project decision-makers and partners. It aims to make every project reach its goals.
Ains Group has long been a trailblazer in the use of digital technologies, such as BIM, Virtual Reality, and Algorithmic Design. The company has now used their knowledge and skills to develop a completely new, visual project management solution called VisualLeader. The system supports decision-making, collaboration, and risk management. It has the potential to make successful projects a norm.
The game-changing feature of the new concept is the VisualLeader portal with dashboards that visualize the leading and forecasting project indicators.
“In practice, we offer an exhaustive picture of a project’s condition: where we are, how we came to be here, and what are our prospects are for success,” Jaakko Jauhiainen, the CTO of Ains Group, explains. “The information is in the cloud, available wherever and whenever you want.”
From Reactions to Predictions
With 60 years in the construction management and engineering business and a portfolio of over 1500 projects annually, Ains Group knows what makes a project thrive. They’ve also seen how things can go wrong if the client and the project team are not paying attention to certain early warning signs.
“Traditionally, you have a rear mirror view of a construction project,” says Jyrki Keinänen, the CEO of Ains Group. “Project forecasting methodology is underdeveloped, and the piles of printed monthly reports that are generated nowadays don’t actually give a manager a comprehensive insight into the total situation or the project future.”
Ains Group has identified several factors that can indicate a project’s success. Among these are the quantity and value of ideas and innovations, eNPS, the pace of payments, and emerging risks.
“Project staff work spirit is one of the key decisive barometers. There’s a big difference between the performance of low-spirited and happy professionals. Teams in a flow state can be five times more productive,” Keinänen asserts.
VisualLeader retrieves data on the key indicators and turns them into easy-to-comprehend dashboard visuals. You can drill down them to find opportunities for cost and time savings or to analyze root causes of eventual problems.
The New Language of Engagement is Visual
Drawings are generally not the best way to communicate the design intent with clients and users in a construction project. Ains Group uses CAVE technology to create immersive spatial simulations. This allows the client, users, consultants, and contractors to step into a real-size virtual building or environment, make observations, and discuss issues that need attention.
CAVE is the heart of the VisualLeader Command Center, a three-dimensional virtual reality equivalent of the Big Room. All the project information is accessible through the center, and it has a video theater extended with three additional displays. Hence why it’s referred to as CAVE3. The software lets you take part in meetings remotely and to link several Command Centers with each other.
“For the Tallinn railway tunnel project, for example, we could have interconnected Command Centers both in Helsinki and Tallinn for collaboration,” Keinänen says.
He demonstrates the power of visualization with a metro model for this project. We drive the metro train down the tunnel, stop at a station, and watch trains come and go according to the timetable. It’s a completely different experience from trying to make sense of traditional floorplans or static renderings.
A New Way to Manage Projects
Of course, digital tools and data alone won’t guarantee that a project will meet its original goals and business intent. You need a process that makes use of the advanced project management tools and techniques, and the data that the participants provide.
“Whether a project succeeds is often a question of management,” Jauhiainen reminds. “Just think of BMW. With lean management, they have been able to cut down factory construction time by 50%, without adding costs.”
A-Format, a new management framework, is the third pillar of the concept. The model is compatible with the world-leading project management standard the PMBOK®. It ties together project phases and tasks, methods and services, and the client’s decision-making milestones.
Among the methods included in A-Format are clients’ needs and business targets, Monte Carlo analysis, takt production, and the eNPS–employee Net Promoter Score
An In-House Development
Jauhiainen calls the newly launched VisualLeader a “minimum viable product.” It’s an in-house development that is already being used in first projects, and more are in the pipeline.
The software runs on Microsoft Azure and will integrate with project management tools, jobsite apps, and enterprise systems. Currently, VisualLeader has an interface with Scudo, risk management tools, and Congrid, a jobsite safety and quality audit app. Integration can be created between VisualLeader and any other system, such as SAP, when needed.
The user interface of VisualLeader is well-designed, and void of distractions and gimmicks. It is intuitive for any manager to use.
A Tool for a Global Clientele
“We think VisualLeader will mainly act as a safeguard for the investor. They will know where their money is going and if they are getting what they ordered for,” says Keinänen. “An investor doesn’t have to rely on a monthly report. Instead, they can keep tabs on a project anywhere and anytime, whether in Singapore or on a trip to Los Angeles. With CAVE3, they can even develop the project in real-time with the project team.”
Ains Group’s cumulative, project-specific Net Promoter Score is 73, which is considered “world class” in any industry. It gives weight to their promise to create value, collaboratively and better, and always on schedule with VisualLeader.
The company has won many international accolades for their various projects around the world, spanning 70 countries to date. VisualLeader opens new opportunities for Ains Group to expand its operations worldwide. Their mission to improve the productivity of construction resonates well with the aspirations of clients and construction managers all around the world.