In the fast-paced and intricate world of project management, having the right tools and technologies can make all the difference. Hodari Africa, a leading project management firm, recognised the limitations of traditional document-sharing platforms and sought a more robust solution to enhance their construction workflows.
As an independent, agile, and client-orientated professional services consultancy, Hodari provides bespoke development management and project management solutions to real estate and infrastructure clients across Africa. With offices in Cape Town, Hilton, Johannesburg, Mauritius and Nairobi, Hodari’s growth directly results from accelerated change across the built environment.
Supported by one of their key clients, Gateway Real Estate Africa (GREA), Hodari has been on a journey to digitalise its construction processes. Deric Van Staden, Lead Design Manager for Hodari Africa, acknowledges the investment GREA made upfront in its commitment to excellence.
“As a developer, identifying the benefits of housing all project information in one platform is a bold move but a strategically wise decision,” reflects Deric.
The Hodari team have always used various project management software solution but found that most of these did not interface well with their project management processes After attending a webinar on Autodesk Construction Cloud hosted by Autodesk gold partner Baker Baynes, Hodari decided to adopt Autodesk Build – Autodesk’s construction project and site management software.
Hodari decided to put the technology into practice on a mixed-use development project based in Tatu city, Nairobi. The project involved the construction of 27,500m² commercial office space, and comprises of two office towers, two basements, commercial units and over 600 car parking spaces.
Before the team started the design process, Hodari faced a significant challenge with their project, as the MEP services consultants were based in Nairobi. At the same time, the architects and structural engineers worked from South Africa. The geographical separation made sharing information and coordinating efforts a constant struggle.
Recognising the need for a central hub that could bridge these distances, Hodari turned to Autodesk Build to help. By establishing a Common Data Environment in the Autodesk Construction Cloud platform, Hodari successfully connected their remote teams on the project, enabling them to communicate on preconstruction processes.
“I had used Autodesk Construction Cloud’s BIM 360 solution in a previous role and found it extremely simple to use,” says Deric. “Having all information in one place is invaluable, so I knew I needed to share this learning with the project team on the project,” he continues.
Miscommunication and lost information are recurring issues in the construction industry, leading to errors and delays. Hodari quickly realised that establishing digital working methods with a centralised source of project information was crucial to overcoming these challenges.
By adopting Autodesk Build, Hodari created an environment that eliminated fragmented communication and was the foundation for improving team collaboration. Internal and external stakeholders were expected to communicate solely through the Autodesk Build platform, significantly reducing the number of emails and messages exchanged.
This centralised approach improved transparency and saved valuable time previously wasted searching for missing information.
“It’s not always easy to change established ways of working,” says Deric. “We had an example on the project where one of the consultants issued PDF quality reports via email; immediately, we saw the opportunity to establish this workflow inside of Autodesk Build to keep everything accurate and up to date using the issues feature.”
Using the issues feature in Autodesk Build means Hodari can communicate with their consultants and contractors, and have an added layer of visibility on the status of an issue and ascertain easily whether it is on track to being resolved.
“We can get an instant view of our project. We know who is lagging, who is sharing information and who isn’t; it’s allowed us to gauge the health of our projects much better,” states Deric.
The quality assurance aspect of construction is paramount, and Hodari recognised the need for a solution that could ensure rigorous quality checks and provide an indisputable record of due diligence.
By utilising the photos feature in Autodesk Build, Hodari’s team can now upload photos and videos directly from the construction site, guaranteeing that every aspect of their work is documented.
“Traditionally, our teams may go on-site to conduct inspections, manually take photos and upload them to their devices when they return to the office. They would then download them and insert them into a manually compiled report that could have taken two days to produce – but now this can all happen instantly within Autodesk Build,” shares Deric.
From light fixtures to concrete beams, Autodesk Build is the central source of truth, allowing Hodari to address errors and issues swiftly while safeguarding its reputation. In the past, project managers and contractors could mark up plans but might do so by email or on different versions of a PDF, meaning they didn’t see each other’s mark-ups. This meant project productivity suffered due to duplication of efforts.
“Email to me is 1990s technology. Information is risked on email – it goes missing and can get lost,” says Deric.
And when it came to reviewing key project documentation, Hodari’s project managers found the platform invaluable in reviewing construction drawings before commissioning the project to go live on-site. This gives the team an extra level of reassurance that project information has been reviewed and has aided the preconstruction phase.
“We plan to bring Autodesk Construction Cloud’s BIM Collaborate tool into the preconstruction phase of all our projects,” says Deric. “We can see the value of connecting all of our data across the entire lifecycle of the project to reduce the number of clashes we have when we arrive on site and ultimately reducing the amount of time we lose to mistakes and rework,” Deric continues.
Additionally, the ability to centralise mark-ups on drawings, communicate about approvals, and establish workflows directly from Autodesk Build means quality control is constantly improving and communication gaps are reducing.
Overall, the most significant advantage Hodari discovered with Autodesk Build was the ability to have all project information in one location, accessible to everyone involved in the project.
This centralised data environment creates a clear and comprehensive overview, eliminating the need for disparate systems and fragmented communication.
“The golden ticket of Autodesk Construction Cloud is that everything is in one place. It’s chalk and cheese between anything else I’ve seen on the market, and I’ve worked with various systems throughout my career.”Deric Van Staden, Lead Design Manager, Hodari Africa
The platform’s forms feature simplifies data collection and analysis, helping Hodari to transform into a data-driven company. “Keeping information in Autodesk Build means it’s alive and is usable,” Deric continues.
And looking to the future, the dashboard feature is something Hodari’s team is keen to implement. “Capturing, managing and accessing data for better project outcomes is the end goal when it comes to digitalising our ways of working,” affirms Deric.
Deric emphasises the ongoing learning and growth facilitated by Autodesk Build. With access to comprehensive materials in Learn ACC, Deric and his team stay up to date on new releases and use them as a refresher to enhance existing knowledge.
Hodari also enlisted the support of Autodesk gold partner, Baker Baynes, to provide training tailored to their specific needs.
“Having the team at Baker Baynes available for a quick phone call to sense check our knowledge or help with specific features has been invaluable,” says Deric.
“Autodesk Construction Cloud is simple and yet multifaceted; there’s so much more we have to learn and to use,” Deric continues. For Hodari, continual business growth means continual development when it comes to evolving ways of working for the changing needs of the built environment.
“It’s an exciting period of change in the industry, and with the help of tools like Autodesk Build, we’re confident we can meet our new and evolving client needs,” concludes Deric.
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