The Role of a Digital Collaboration

The Role of Digital Collaboration in AEC

When meeting new people, one of the first questions you may ask and receive is: “What do you do?” I have always had challenges answering it in a few simple words or even sentences. There is so much going on! Eventually, I decided to sit down and write down my role and responsibilities. This blog post is its record.

In the ever-evolving field of construction and design, the integration of digital tools and technology has become essential to streamline processes, improve efficiency, and enhance collaboration. At the heart of this transformation is the Building Information Modelling methodology and the teams responsible for its implementation in the projects.

I am working as a part of such a team on the New Stavanger University Hospital project in Norway (access a Case Study about this project here!). My position is called Digital Collaboration Coordinator, but this role can have different names: Digital Lead, BIM Manager, BIM Lead, Digitalization Specialist, and so on. On my project, we are a team of three. Our roles are different from the roles of BIM Coordinators.

What is digitalization and what are the tasks of the team involved in construction digitalization? Read on. 🙂

Table of Contents

Digitalization of Construction Projects

Digitalization in the construction industry is a fundamental shift from traditional, paper-based processes to digital tools and technologies that streamline and enhance every aspect of a construction project. Referring to the digitalization of the project I’m working on – New Stavanger University Hospital (translate to English and read more)- I would put us somewhere between BIM Stage 2 and BIM Stage 3 in the BIM development schema presented in ISO 19650. We are still a file-based project (as the whole industry still is), but we heavily rely on the databases connected to our model files.

BIM stages according to ISO 19650.

In essence, digitalization in construction means the comprehensive integration of digital tools, technologies, and workflows that enhance collaboration, reduce errors, improve project management, and enable the construction of a building without using paper drawings.

I observed, that this transformation encompasses several key areas:

Digital Project Planning

In contrast to the traditional project planning done with spreadsheets, here we employ digital tools for room function planning. These tools allow for more accurate and collaborative planning by providing a central database for all stakeholders to work together, and ensure the project aligns with its goals.

Design Integration and Automation

In the design phase, we aim for the adoption of various cloud-based tools for project and issue management. We are automating mundane tasks for clash control and model updates. This ensures that all design aspects are well-coordinated, errors are minimized, and the project proceeds smoothly.

Digital Construction

During the construction phase, digitalization involves the active use of BIM in full spectrum: starting from cost calculation, through scheduling and finishing on the use of tablets and BIM Stations on site.

Documentation and Handover

Digitalization extends to the handover phase, which involves setting up efficient digital processes for documentation collection, connecting models with product data, and providing training to contractors on documentation delivery. This ensures that the owner receives a well-documented and easily manageable facility.

Digitalization of Construction Projects

In our project, we integrate digital tools and technology to facilitate communication, cooperation, and information exchange among all stakeholders involved in a construction project. We call it digital collaboration. Where does it stand in the construction landscape? It exists at the intersection of several key aspects:

Technology and Tools

Digital Collaboration is closely tied to the use of technology and digital tools. It leverages software, communication platforms, and project management systems to create a connected ecosystem where project data and information flow seamlessly.

People and Processes

While technology plays a significant role, Digital Collaboration is equally about the people and the processes that underpin the construction project. It involves setting up and maintaining routines and workflows, ensuring that team members adhere to best practices. It involves a lot of training and ad hoc solutions to make project participants and software talk to one another.

End-to-End Collaboration

Digital Collaboration extends from the planning phase to the handover phase, covering the entire project lifecycle. It’s not limited to a particular side; instead, it serves as a bridge that connects architects, designers, contractors, owners, and all other stakeholders involved in the project.

This is probably the main difference from a standard BIM Coordinator role. Whereas BIM Coordination takes place mostly during the design and execution phase, our team has been involved since the planning phase, throughout the design and construction phase and we are still fully engaged in the project while it slowly reaches toward handover.

Digital Collaboration Coordinator responsibilities

So what are my tasks and responsibilities? I would start with a statement that Digital Collaboration Coordinators (or whatever other projects call them) are the cornerstone of successful digitalization in construction projects. They facilitate the correct use of digital tools, create procedures to follow and serve as the first line of support in solving technologically demanding problems that project stakeholders face in day-to-day work.

The spectrum of Digital Collaboration Coordinators responsibilities varies from phase to phase and they are involved throughout the whole lifespan of a project. Let me describe some example tasks depending on the stage the project is on.

Planning Phase

The planning phase of any construction project is its foundation, and it’s here that we lay down the groundwork for successful digital collaboration. This is here, where the standards are born. Naming conventions, standard equipment, room schedules, and requirement documents. We set up the room function planning database (in our case dRofus) and teach building and equipment planners how to use it correctly and in line with the project’s goals and prerequisites.

Design Phase

The design phase is a pivotal stage in any construction project, and it is the point where the digital collaboration coordinators truly come into play.

We set up tools for project management, issue management, and clash control, creating a robust foundation for seamless collaboration. Furthermore, we establish and maintain design routines and processes that encompass every stakeholder involved in the project: building owner, designers, contractors and suppliers. Quality assurance is another priority in this phase – our responsibility includes ensuring that models meet required standards and are error-free. Of course, our QA is only supplementary to this done by the BIM Coordinators from the design team. For example, I was only checking if model properties meet the project requirements.

Some of the routine tasks in our team are:

  • Overseeing a biweekly model update and distribution
  • Facilitating the transfer of data between different silos and software
  • Communicating bigger changes on the project to keep all project stakeholders up to date

Construction Phase

The construction phase represents the transition from design to realization, and BIM is a key component of digital construction. The Digital Collaboration team continue to be an important facilitator in the process. One of our responsibilities is setting up and maintaining software for BIM stations for all contractors to work effectively using models on-site.

Another core responsibility is configuring, maintaining and training in the use of various software tools needed on the paperless construction site for building, issue management, staff management as well as monitoring HSE.

BIM Station
BIM station on a construction site.


The final phase of the project is the handover, where the constructed project is delivered to the owner. The work for the digital collaboration team is far from over.

An organized handover is crucial for a successful project conclusion. We ensure that the process for documentation collection is in place for a smooth transition to the owner. Connecting the project information model with product data and MOM (Maintenance, Operations, and Management) documentation is one of the prerequisites for the digitalization of construction projects. Our team takes charge of setting up this process, ensuring that the database is capable of handling delivered data and connecting it to the models.


In an era where digitalization is reshaping the construction industry, the role of the digital leaders is undeniably crucial. They are the keepers of seamless collaboration, ensuring that all phases of the construction project run smoothly, from planning and design to construction and handover. As technology continues to play a pivotal role in the industry, the expertise of digital collaboration teams becomes increasingly invaluable in delivering successful and efficient construction projects.

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After reading this guide you will learn:

  • How BIM is used on the biggest projects in Norway
  • What were the challenges for the design team and how were they solved
  • What were the challenges on the construction site and what was our approach to them

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