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Use case Management
ENCORD DBE position in detail

"to rise, we need to decent first and lay a foundation"

Abstract Architecture

Position paper 2.0 of the European construction industry ENCORD on
"Usecase Management" 

Proposal for a concrete and practical implementation of common definitions of use cases in the construction industry. 

In our inaugural position paper, we, as representatives of the European construction sector, underscored the critical role of use cases for collaboration by giving a clear framework for digitally linking process chains and integrating diverse IT environments.  
 

These use cases form the cornerstone of effective modular digitalization in the construction industry, fostering labor-divided digital collaboration that is adaptable, repeatable, and inclusive of all project stakeholders throughout the project's lifecycle. 
 

As a key player in the construction industry, we are committed to develop use cases from the perspective of the main contractor. Our goal is to publish and actively engage in dialogues about these use cases on a shared platform with essential market stakeholders. 
 

The objective of this second position paper is to offer tangible recommendations for both discussing and actualizing these shared use case definitions in construction. To this end, it is necessary to address three essential aspects: the definition of the use case concept itself, the establishment of a common methodology of work to identify, orchestrate and implement digital use cases among the stakeholders, and the outlining of a strategic plan defining the desired future scenarios and the key concepts to reach them. 
 

Furthermore, the user-defined, industry-relevant use cases serve as a foundation for liaising with the software sector to develop and supply necessary digital tools. They also facilitate collaboration with standardization bodies and legislative authorities to establish the requisite content and legal frameworks. 

Image by Peyman Farmani

A detailed common definition of 'what a use case is'.

Based on sharing the existing definitions and usages of use cases amongst members of ENCORD we agreed on the following definitions and statements:

“A Use Case (UC) is a standardized description of a scope of work related to the project phase including the relevant stakeholders, associated digital input, output and exchange requirements, the process as well as the prerequisites to achieve a specific goal on a project. In doing so, the use case abstracts from specific solutions.”

“A Solution describes the project-specific or standardized realization of a Use Case. A concrete approach is hereby defined. The Solution can be technology-, software-, method- and/or trade specific.”

UCM UC-solution.png

It was seen as helpful to delineate the difference between a Use Case and its Solutions, as this allows us to differentiate between what should be shared knowledge and what is company specific know-how.

Bridge

Contextual statements & impact

Given the importance of this topic for a sustainable growth of digital adoption in the construction industry, a few contextually important statements have been made to better understand the topic and its impact on the construction industry.

“We see Use Cases as the preeminent way to define any digital process to be incorporated in construction.”

“Standardized Use Cases are the means to minimize efforts and misinterpretations in the transmission of digital information along the supply chain.”

“Use Case description should form the basis for a contract encompassing BIM- and or other digital services.”

“Like other break-down-structures, Use Cases can be formulated on different levels of abstraction to meet practicable usability in different stages and phases. They should be laid down and underpinned with appropriate solutions in an execution plan or method statement.”

“A concept of interdependencies between use cases and the possibilities for categorizing them is needed to enable digital connected processes trough phases and stakeholders.”

UCM gen-sol-eir-midp.png

Picture2: relation and interaction of use cases with main components of digital collaboration framework

Image by Tim Graf

Need for a methodology

We seek a methodology to identify, optimize, orchestrate, and implement digital use cases among stakeholders to support project goals. Simply sharing a set of commonly agreed-upon use cases does not address the challenges we encounter.
We need a methodology and software supported journey of choosing, communicating, and implementing the right use cases and solutions on construction projects.

- The method needs to directly address aspects like: 

  • the stakeholder engagement process gaining a common insight in; the project characteristics, shared and conflicting interest, use cases, capabilities and past performances.

  • clarity to which project aims, requirements, risks and opportunities individual and the sum of use cases is contributing. 

  • best practice business cases contribute to convincing, informed decision making and during execution new data is collected. 

  • proper selection, configuration, testing and training of technical solutions is addressed. 

  • creation of an overview of activities and deliverables, identification of use cases, its ordering, structuring, dependencies and optimization, and identification of information exchanges. 

  • clarity in roles, tasks, responsibilities reflected in the execution planning and contracts. 

- The methodology can deal with different legal frameworks, project types and digital maturity levels.

- Eventually the methodology should adopt to more automated and autonomous capabilities of platforms to orchestrate, plan and detail use cases. Avoiding digital logical, procedural and information transfer errors in the definition of digital collaboration in a project, as well as providing an audit mechanism for the impact of change. Independently of what solutions are used

 -The methodology should incorporate and build upon the framework and findings of like:


- Iso 19650 BEP, MIDP, mobilization / test plan, supply chain improve pathways 
- Building Smart Usecase management UCM -  Information Delivery Manual IDM
- Devops methodology from IT delivery / Agile manifesto principles
- Steps deployed in solutions like NBS toolkit  / BIMQ  / DIGIGO ILS configurator / ... 
- Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) – Lean principles
- EU R&D like Bim speed UC selection, RYM project Knotworking, Hesmos IDM improvement,  

UCM methodology draft2.png

Picture3: Methodology to to identify, optimize, orchestrate, and implement digital use cases among stakeholders to support project goals is required 

Strategic  framework for effective use case definition and implementation in the construction industry

A. Framework for use case integration

  1. Short-Term objectives: Establishing fundamental use cases.
    Our immediate goal is to lay the foundation for industry-wide standardized use cases, vital for our stakeholders. This includes:

  • Developing a clear and unified methodology for describing use cases, applicable across different sectors within the industry.

  • Creating a set of initial use cases that are applicable widely per construction market, setting a standard for project implementation and solution development.

  • Enabling the creation of interoperable solutions tailored to these foundational use cases.

  • Building a framework for connecting use cases to, ensuring consistent service throughout all life cycle stages.

  • Guaranteeing the fully needed information per use case suitable for digital processing, reducing the time and effort needed for digital transformation.

  • Defining clear responsibilities for the development and application of use cases.

  • Identifying the necessary functionalities for use case platforms to connect to stakeholder processes as well as IT infrastructure.

  • Supporting or providing a functional use case platform or a connected framework of these.


 

  1. Long-Term aspirations: Establishing an integrated IT framework.
    In the long run, our vision includes:

  • Encouraging the adoption of adaptable plug-and-play solutions and services.

  • Facilitating the seamless integration of various use cases through the life cycle.

  • Enabling AI-driven analysis - based on structured use case data - to enhance decision-making, create alternatives, and support (semi-)automated services.

B. Essential elements of data models mainly driven by use cases

Use cases are crucial for managing digital information, setting the stage for vital data model specifications, such as:

  • Data Model Alignment: Ensuring that data models align with specific objectives and support the required analyses or predictions.

  • Structural Comprehension: Gaining a thorough understanding of the data model’s structure, including the significance of objects, their relationships, and standardized definitions.

  • Data Integrity: Maintaining complete, clean, and consistent data.

  • Resource Utilization: Using (delivering) appropriate tools and resources for data manipulation, such as analysis software and database systems.

  • Format Compatibility: Guaranteeing compatibility of the data model with existing software and tools, enabling information transformation and API access as necessary.

C. Stakeholder engagement in use case definition and management

Collective approach and responsibility: We advocate for collaboration among construction sector stakeholders to develop a common methodology, organizational structure, and working environment. This joint effort aims to:

  • Formulate and deliver well-defined use cases with clear responsibilities and aligned objectives.

  • Identify and select the most suitable parties for the definition and management of use cases.

  • Evaluate the feasibility of a single platform versus multiple platforms to host use cases, weighing the pros and cons of each to ensure compatibility and functionality.

  • Outline the necessary functional and organizational requirements for effective use case administration.

Status and recommendation for action

We recognize the importance of users independently establishing use cases to facilitate a practical digital workflow in the construction industry.

It is imperative that the associations representing the various stakeholders pro-actively define their members' digital working focus. Additionally, they should engage in active coordination with other market participants to implement digital process chains.

This endeavor can only be successful with a shared understanding of “what use cases are”, a common strategy and the coordination and application of a unified methodology.

Also, to promote market-responsive use cases grounded in these shared principles, we suggest the pro-active creation of one or more-use case platforms. These platforms should be equipped with the necessary functionality and organizational structure to support this initiative.

We are committed to proactively reaching out to individual organizations for dialogue, and we also welcome and look forward to being approached by them for discussions.

The aim is to develop the common use case methodology and to integrate it into a framework by enabling the modular development is to provide small steps with quick wins. This will show that the ideas of the methodology will lead to benefits – in the beginning to the small ones (but very quick), in the end the more challenging ones with greater effects. It will include drawing and to showing the whole picture right from the beginning to explain the Dream-State, and to provide a deeper understanding to all stakeholders.

In parallel we will start discussions to achieve concrete implementation of industry use cases on a functional use case management platform.

ENCORD March 2024

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