Study: Digital Workflows Could Aid State DOT Projects

A new study of infrastructure owners, architects, engineers, and contractors by the Dodge Construction Network, in partnership with Trimble, finds that 54 percent are either integrating software solutions or using a single, connected construction management solution as part of ongoing efforts to create “digital workflows.”

[Above photo by Pxhere]

For public sector owners in particular, such as state departments of transportation, this is creating a “perfect storm of market dynamics,” helping them accelerate digital project delivery and drive further digital workflow adoption.

Image via Trimble

“The fundamental advantage of digital delivery is that it enables project stakeholders to collaborate in ways that facilitate efficiency, visibility, and transparency,” explained Cyndee Hoagland, senior VP for Trimble’s public sector and enterprise accounts, in an interview with the AASHTO Journal.

“According to the study, 66 percent of owners using digital workflows report that they frequently result in better-informed decision-making on their projects,” she said. “For state DOTs, these workflows facilitate the handover of data as the project progresses from one phase to another as well as between stakeholders.”

Hoagland added that more than two-thirds of owners in the study said they contractually require contractors to use some digital documentation and practices.

“If a state DOT adopts technology within their process and specifications, the industry will follow,” she said – noting that the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA, enacted in November 2021, contains a specific technology-related grant program dedicated to advancing the use of digital construction management systems.

“That [could] help state DOTs to access funds to help them implement and support proven technologies that will improve the productivity, safety and sustainability within their digital delivery process,” Hoagland added.

For example, AASHTOWare Project – a software package available through the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials – is a solution used by 44 state DOTs to address their digital workflow needs from planning estimates through construction management.

Other trends revealed by the Dodge/Trimble study include:

  • Owners said the benefits from digital workflows would help drive further engagement as 66 percent of owners using digital workflows report that they frequently result in better-informed decision-making on their projects. Fortunately, this is also the top potential benefit that small to midsize owners report would be likely to drive them to increase their use of digital workflows.
  • The findings reveal why owners using digital workflows are able to make better decisions, as they are far more likely to be able to trace the root causes of delays and errors on their projects back to specific activities than those that do not use digital workflows.
  • About 60 percent of owners report that they have digital workflows for at least half of their project data between departments within their organization. However, only 28 percent report a similar level of digital data exchange with external companies. This experience with internal digital workflows has already helped drive their appreciation of value of them and can provide valuable experience for helping them transform traditional processes into digital workflows in the future.
  • Owners recognize a need to improve the flow of communication and data between themselves and other project team members as 59 percent report frequent breakdowns in communication between themselves and other project team members. Less than half (45 percent) report that they are satisfied with their connectivity with those external companies.
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