Meet Tannis Liviniuk, CEO of Trillium Advisory Group, one of the fastest-Growing BIM consulting startups

Interview conducted by Mohcine Sadiq.

CanBIM: Can you provide a brief introduction about your professional background?

I am Tannis Liviniuk, the CEO of Trillium Advisory Group. I have 20 years of experience in the construction industry.

I started my career working in the field; I spent over a decade working on-site, starting in the trades and then moving into construction planning. I have worked for contractors, EPCs, and Owner Operators in various roles, from project-specific support to portfolio planning management. I have extensive experience in project performance improvement, industry best practice deployment, and digital transformation, assisting clients in developing and deploying programs and practices that drive quantifiable project improvements on construction projects of all sizes.

I am an active industry advocate and regularly speak at global events and University classes on topics of digital project delivery, leadership, innovation, and improving opportunities for women in construction.

I have a master’s degree in Business Administration and am certified in project management by Stanford University's Center for Professional Development. I am also an active member of the Construction Industry Institute (CII) and was recently recognized in the Top 40 Under 40 in Canadian Construction.

CanBIM: Can you provide a brief introduction about TRILLIUM ADVISORY GROUP and its notable achievements.

I started Trillium Advisory Group 3 years ago to fill a gap that existed in the Construction Industry. There are a plethora of organizations working to transform their operations through the deployment of industry practices or digital tools; those organizations can benefit from trusted Advisory services that understand the dynamic nature of construction projects and have extensive experience in program deployment.

Trillium Advisory Group provides specialized services and support in best practice implementation, process optimization, and digitization to construction organizations and project teams, thereby helping them improve operational outcomes. We also offer analytics and business intelligence services that assist companies in building a data-driven culture, thereby providing strong foundations for those best practices and digital tools.

We support clients across construction sectors, including commercial, energy, infrastructure, heavy industrial, and road and rail. We work on projects of all sizes, supporting short-duration remote consulting needs to long-term on-site or embedded roles in client teams.

Trillium is truly invested in industry thought leadership. Our Advisors support construction committee initiatives and research teams globally. Some of the communities that we are involved in include the Construction Industry Institute​ (CII)​, Canadian Wind Energy Association, and CanBIM.

Recently, Canadian Business ranked Trillium Advisory Group No. 28 on the 2020 Startup List, the definitive ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies.

CanBIM: Can you tell us more about the development of your consulting group and areas of focus for the future? What major industry challenges are you seeing through your client projects?

Construction projects are complex. There are many moving parts where conditions can change rapidly. Our Advisors have a drive to help project teams plan efficiently, manage change effectively, and avoid roadblocks before they appear. Our mantra is Build Better; we continue to attract the industry’s top talent who share our vision.

As we move into the future, we have a strong understanding that every organization and project is unique. Standard processes are not going to be a fit for every situation. Our expertise as a consulting company lies in working with stakeholders to understand how they work and the challenges they have. We dig into their goals to decipher what outcomes they are working to achieve, then devise the most practical and cost-effective solutions to meet or exceed those targets.

In the coming years, digital project delivery will become more of a central focus for project teams and executive teams alike, not only as a strategic differentiator but as an imperative in the hyper-competitive market. We will continue to focus on digital transformation as we work closely with our clients as trusted advisors, boldly navigating the future of construction. BIM, enhanced planning programs (Advanced Work Packaging, Lean, etc.), business intelligence, and data analytics will continue to be our core areas of focus for years to come.

One of the major industry challenges we see on today’s projects is the deployment of technology without process alignment, proper training, or stakeholder engagement. Teams are too often selecting the technology first in the process, which results in the ‘shoehorning’ of processes to fit the solution. This can lead to extremely inefficient workflows. Further, too few teams are engaging the right stakeholders in the decision-making and deployment processes, and too many are cutting training for project personnel. There are three pillars to any successful technology deployment: People, process, and technology. Supported in that order, teams have a much better chance at deployment success.

CanBIM: You have been nominated recently as part of the 40 under 40 in Canadian construction? What does this nomination mean to you?

I had a difficult journey early in my career. I was told by a few trusted advisors that I should pursue a career in another industry; that construction had a glass ceiling that would be extremely difficult to break. Well, I tend to be a bit stubborn and I don’t like being told that there is something out of my reach. This advice caused me to dig in and pursue my chosen path with more conviction and rigor.

I have been lucky to have several amazing mentors throughout my career, both men and women. These individuals celebrated successes with me, provided guidance, advocated for me, and pushed me to innovate, even if the innovation failed. Through those successes and failures, I learned how to prototype, try new things, and pursue those that worked, driving mass adoption and scalability.

I am honoured and excited to be recognized as one of the Top 40 Under 40 in Canadian Construction by On-Site Magazine and SitePartners. There is no shortage of talent in Canada’s construction industry and I am proud to be mentioned among other accomplished professionals moving our industry forward. To be recognized for leading the way in Canadian construction, supporting new initiatives and programs that are forging new paths for the future of Construction in Canada means a lot. It is my personal goal to inspire the next generation of women in construction.

CanBIM: What are your thoughts on major industry challenges and trends relating to technology and innovation in the industry and how is your company addressing them?

I see three major challenges relating to technology and innovation facing the construction industry today.

As I mentioned earlier, the first major challenge is the lack of integration between people, processes, and technology. All three must be properly developed and supported in the successful implementation of new technology. First, ensure that you engage, support, and train the people that will be using the innovation or technology. From a process perspective, know what you want to accomplish and which parts of the process you’d like to improve or augment. Then, focus on desired outcomes and evaluate the potential success from the technology that you are considering. And lastly, partner with a solution provider that will best support your goals. What I often witness within the industry is that at least one piece of the puzzle is missing or out of sequence, creating confusion and diminishing program value.

The second major challenge is that too many novel or unique ideas are crushed at a single node on an org chart. For example, an employee has an idea to innovate a process which would improve efficiency for another department. The supervisor for the employee’s team may not see value, so they fail to act on the idea. Siloed decision making can be a substantial roadblock for innovation and process improvement. Organizations need to find ways to give employees a voice. And no, I don’t mean by creating more suggestion boxes, although they’re better than nothing if you don’t have anything else.

And the last major challenge is the untapped potential of construction diversity. Women comprise less than 20% of construction professionals; that number is even lower in the skilled trades. When you picture a construction worker, what’s the first image that comes to mind? I don’t even need to call it out; it’s time that we redefine that image and tap into the knowledge and skills of an underrepresented group of innovators that can help drive our industry forward.

CanBIM: What is your view regarding the work CanBIM is doing, and what are your expectations from this collaboration?

CanBIM is helping advance Canada’s built environment through digital transformation, technology adoption, and innovation. We are thrilled to be a part of the CanBIM team.

CanBIM’s think tanks offer a great opportunity for like-minded industry-leading practitioners to come together and discuss ideas and share their pain points. Learning from other’s successes, challenges, and mistakes creates shared understanding and help elevate the performance potential of all stakeholder parties. Education and advocacy on how to do things more effectively and efficiently are exactly what we all need to focus on. The work that they think tanks are doing will benefit members and industry alike.

We have a passion to help industry stakeholders step into the future of construction project delivery. As such, we support industry not-for-profits and organizations that share this approach. My expectations from this collaboration are that we will be able to share insights, learn from member organizations, and contribute to initiatives that will increase value for the industry as a whole. When we act collectively as true champions of innovation and digital advancement, everyone benefits.

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