The digital construction dossier in use at KIBAG

At the beginning of last year, KIBAG was able to put the new digital construction dossier into operation. An implementation project is usually followed by complex and time-consuming migration projects. Read in this article how, thanks to the digital construction dossier, KIBAG is now carrying out the data migration on its own, with the aim of decommissioning the old platform by the end of the year.

You will also learn about the requirements 1stQuad was confronted with and how we solved this challenge with a digitization blueprint architecture.

Why the digital construction dossier?

The digitalization of the construction industry is advancing rapidly and poses requirements that can no longer be meaningfully met with an on-premises platform. KIBAG has recognized this trend and responded by introducing a solution that meets the needs of the modern working world:

  • Any device, any time, any place: The IT infrastructure should no longer dictate who can work where and with which device. Especially in the context of Corona, this requirement has gained massive weight.
  • Reliability & Platform as a Service: Platform operation should be outsourced to a service provider.
  • Governance: IT and business departments should be equipped with a toolbox that enables them to introduce and enforce standards and thus enable secure and reliable operation of the platform.
  • Collaboration with external parties: Collaboration with external parties should be initiated by the business without IT involvement, but still provide governance tools that enable IT to ensure its standards.
  • Connectivity & Interoperability: In the age of interconnectivity, solutions are needed to ensure that a company can make information available in a controlled manner within its own organization and to external parties as needed. API First!
  • Integration as a gamechanger: Employees are often inundated with a plethora of applications that they need to manage their daily business. With targeted integrations of peripheral systems, automated workflows and contextually provided tools, employees get ONE central application that provides them with the functions they need.

What were the requirements for the solution?

KIBAG came to us with a list of specific requirements and needed a wide range of services.

  • Template-based Microsoft Teams workspaces (apps, structures, permissions, configuration).
  • Workspace creation should take a maximum of 2 minutes – time is money 😉
  • Master data from Abacus should be available in the application as meta data and inherited from the workspace to documents
  • Live update of master data from Abacus
  • Submission documents should be able to be created at the push of a button
  • Lifecycle of the workspaces should be controlled by the ERP system
  • Search & Find – Find all submission documents for a customer in 2 clicks. Keyword Enterprise Search
  • Modern communication channels with social features for any requirements (corporate communication, department, team, among each other)
  • Personalization of content
  • Integration of blue collar workers via mobile devices
  • Easy collaboration with external parties (e.g. in ARGE’s)
  • Digitization booster – A basic architecture is to be developed on which future digitization projects can be built.
  • As well as numerous other…

Project phases

KIBAG had already created a requirements specification, and the approach in carrying out the upstream consulting project was to verify the use cases in detail with the specialist departments, condense them, and jointly develop a technical solution. The goal of the consulting project was to create a strategy & roadmap document that can serve KIBAG as the basis for a tender.

Such an approach also offers both parties the opportunity to get a “feel” for the project and to gain initial experience in working with the project participants, which is certainly a weighty criterion for a possible contract award.

“Within a short period of time, 1stQuad has succeeded in establishing a cooperative partnership that has helped us to develop a forward-looking solution concept.”

Yves Stucki, IT Manager, KIBAG Dienstleistungen AG

We won the subsequent tender and started the implementation project in February 2020. With a team of up to 5 people at times, we developed the solution in an agile approach.

Technology

At the heart of the solution is Microsoft Teams, which was functionally extended with numerous apps and system integrations to cover KIBAG’s requirements.

The integration of the surrounding systems was implemented on the Azure platform and deployed in Teams within the app framework. This approach allows us to provide users with an equivalent user experience regardless of which device they are working on.

Das Herzstück der Lösung ist Microsoft Teams, das mit zahlreichen Apps und Systemintegrationen funktional erweitert wurde

In addition, the Azure platform enables system integrations with other business solutions through Power Automate (Flow), Azure Logic Apps and AgilePoint. These features can be used to integrate data from other surrounding systems, for example in cases where different departments need access to the same data within teams.

Future-proof architecture?

To ensure that our customers are prepared for future requirements in the area of digitalization, we always implement our solutions with the big picture in mind. Mobile first, flexible working models (home office) and the associated increased need for security have raised the demands on IT and the connectivity of the application landscape to a new level.

Based on the existing Azure maturity level, we implemented an API-first approach with KIBAG based on a microservice architecture. The focus was on making existing and new services and applications available via an API layer controlled by KIBAG.

API-first-Ansatz auf Basis einer Microservice-Architektur

A central component of the solution and the key factor for future integrations is the API layer. Based on Microsoft’s API management platform, this architecture opens new doors for KIBAG.

  • All API’s of KIBAG have a common governance (authentication, additional validation, user defined headers etc.).
  • External access to the KIBAG API’s can be realized with a few clicks if needed.
  • Traffic management
  • Performance tuning by caching static and little changing content
  • Logging and warnings
  • And much more

The business logic is implemented in individual independent microservices that communicate via messages and events. In general, events play a very important role at KIBAG.

Abacus, as the best example, produces events for every change to a relevant entity (project, customer, trade, employee), which end up in the central event store of KIBAG and are then consumed by our microservices and processed accordingly. But more about that later.

ERP as leading system

ABACUS is the leading system at KIBAG when it comes to master data (projects, customers, employees, trades, etc.). The integration of ABACUS in Microsoft Teams had corresponding weight.

In addition, the master data was to be made available to other systems in a company-wide metadata layer in order to avoid redundancies and media discontinuities and to support future digitization projects.

With the new solution, updates from ABACUS are now transmitted live. This is where the event-based integration architecture can show its strengths. ABACUS events are immediately pushed to KIBAG’s event store and processed by the corresponding microservice, which transfers the master data to teams so that every document in linked workspaces ultimately inherits this master data.

“Thanks to the event-driven architecture, ABACUS live updates are transferred to teams in real time. This eliminates waiting times of up to one day for our employees and all changes are immediately available to our staff.”

Yves Stucki, IT Manager, KIBAG Dienstleistungen AG

With this event-based approach, countless use cases can be realized. For example, KIBAG also controls the life cycle of project teams via ABACUS events. A project workspace in teams linked to ABACUS is immediately archived as soon as the status is changed in ABACUS.

The solution

To enable users to take advantage of these integration solutions, 1stQuad has enhanced Teams with corresponding contextually appropriate apps. These apps allow data from other applications to be easily used in Microsoft Teams.

“We can generate and store submission documents directly in the team, thanks to the app integration as a tab. This is incredibly helpful for our employees, because it saves time and makes work easier.

Martin Som, Project Manager Digital, KIBAG AG

Provisioning

A central component of the solution is “provisioning”. Teams workspaces with ready-made structures such as channels, folder structures, apps, permissions, standard documents and much more are provided by Kibag on a template basis.

Provisioning-Prozess in Microsoft Teams

The user can select their desired template in the Provisioning Teams app and is guided through a wizard where they can enter metadata for the project. After submitting the order, the user is notified directly in Teams when their workspace is ready.

Integration of all employees – Intranet in teams

The KIBAG intranet is integrated directly into teams and also scales beautifully in the mobile app. Employees on the construction site who were previously only informed via notices or personally by supervisors can now be reached directly. This is a great advantage for these employees and the app also ensures that they are only provided with the most up-to-date information.

Automate processes – create template documents with one click

With our solutions, we want to support our customers where they work. With context-relevant apps, we support and automate (sub)processes directly on site. At KIBAG, submission documents are created at the push of a button.

For this purpose, we make the submission app available to users in the area where the application information is processed. Reference sheets, resumes and other documents can be created directly in the respective context at the push of a button.

Thanks to the integration of ABACUS master data via the master data layer, the information is pulled directly from the ERP and is always up-to-date.

Search and find – Enterprise Search

Unlike Sharepoint, Teams does not provide a search function that enables enterprise-wide searching. Numerous roles, such as those of an estimator or a project manager, rely on being able to quickly find specific documents across all of their projects.

Since KIBAG enriches workspaces with ABACUS master data and this information is inherited by all documents in the workspace, numerous search scenarios can be mapped elegantly.

Filtering by metadata such as customer, project, work type, organizational unit and others enables KIBAG to quickly and reliably find the desired information.

From old to new – migration

When a platform is replaced, it is usually necessary to transfer the (extensive) data to the new platform. In the case of KIBAG, this is not only a matter of copying data masters, but it must also be ensured that the migrated project spaces are linked to ABACUS and the corresponding metadata is transferred from the documents.

During the migration, the API-first architecture is already proving itself again. The provisioning solution, which is also available for KIBAG’s peripheral systems via the API layer, is integrated into the automated migration. This ensures that the new workspace is already preconfigured and provided with the appropriate metadata before the data is migrated.

“The automated migration not only saves us a lot of time, but also ensures that the workspaces are already pre-configured and provided with the appropriate metadata before the data is migrated. This allows us to migrate the existing data quickly and independently.”

Martin Som, Project Manager Digital, KIBAG AG

This approach enables KIBAG to migrate the existing platform independently.

Conclusion

KIBAG has laid a solid foundation for future digitization projects. A state-of-the-art collaboration platform for teamwork and project management with an intelligent, extensible API-first architecture that enables highly adaptable integration with new or existing systems such as ABACUS.

KIBAG offers a state-of-the-art collaboration platform for teamwork and project management that enables highly adaptable integration with new or existing systems such as ABACUS in future applications. With the digital construction dossier, KIBAG has created a solid foundation for future digitization projects and can continue to drive the API-first strategy.

1stQuad – Your recipe for success for the introduction and use of Microsoft Teams and integration of peripheral systems

Would you like to learn more about our industry solution #DigitaleBauakte or our comprehensive offer for the introduction of Microsoft Teams in your company? Then contact us now!