There is no shortage of data on construction jobsites beginning with design and BIM data during project planning. Jobsite data is collected by mobile devices, wearables, and sensors on equipment and materials. There are also accounting and job performance data collected from the office and project management inputs. Unfortunately, subcontractors and general contractors (GCs) are seemingly drowning in data. They are not equipped with the right technology tools to parse, assess and analyze the reporting in meaningful ways for the right stakeholders on projects.
However, this is fortunately changing, and data analytics and business intelligence (BI) are hot topics with large expectations on changing the game for construction firms. The construction industry needs to get smart about using data for firms across all sectors to remain in the game. Continuing on the same path that has worked for decades will end up pushing non-adopters out of business.
This article discusses important data analytics that contractors need to start leveraging and improve their construction project management performance. Remember, collecting data is one thing, but asking the right questions allows you to realize the advantages for improvement.
A Deeper Dive into Construction Data Analytics
Properly capturing construction field reports and the supporting project data can boost productivity and profitability on current projects. In addition, the results of enhancing operational processes on the field can produce significant signals for future project planning:
1. Improving productivity & processes on the jobsite
Improving workflows is imperative for contractors. You need to find manual tasks that software can easily track and automate. This brings efficiencies, cuts costs, and streamlines collection from job sites, and provides an easy way to analyze data trends to improve construction project management. One example is to collect data on employee movements vis-a-vis wearables or smartphones on the job site. The right question to ask is, “how much extra movement occurs during the day for certain employee types?” By answering this, your team can adjust the logistics for placing equipment and materials at strategic locations around jobsites to reduce employee movement, save time, and increase productivity.
2. Increasing safety and reducing risks in construction project management
Tracking construction data related to safety issues is crucial, but manual paper-based efforts produce mistakes and take analysis and optimization off the table. Even if you’re using Excel and stitching an analysis together, the accuracy is most likely questionable. Also, the effort can be intensive for the staff. Safety inspections, injuries, and related information must be manually recorded and submitted to OSHA in many cases. How are these risks, tasks, and dangerous situations impacting your business if you have no way to analyze this critical data? A digital strategy will make it easy to track and visually search for trends to help mitigate mistakes.
3. Win more work with smarter bids
Closing the gap to track job costing data, change orders, equipment and material usage, and worker productivity on individual projects and across your portfolio leads to smarter, more accurate bidding and winning future work. Many contractors are beginning to use software for collecting these types of data. Having a much better picture of projects from start to commission enables you to continue to improve processes and bottom-line performance. With increased efficiencies and on-budget, on-time delivery of projects, data analytics can help you improve your reputation and win more work. Analyzing data and having intuitive dashboards that are persona-based help stakeholders take relevant and meaningful action when it matters.
4. Maturing to predictive analytics in construction project management
The above data analytics trends are starting points that eventually can lead to establishing predictive analytics. One important aspect of leveraging analytics is evaluating what’s happening during the project to mitigate issues during project delivery. Another critical aspect is project analysis after project completion to more effectively predict future issues.
Predictive analytics involves using data to help make smarter decisions based on models to improve the future state. The data you collect today can develop these models and feed into machine learning and artificial intelligence technology available to construction firms. As a result, predictive models in construction can be very beneficial to contractors.
Using data analytics software for construction project management can help you analyze your data but should be purpose-built for construction.
To take advantage of the power that data analytics and business intelligence can provide, you need the right construction tools for the entire team. In addition, data across the organization—from project management to accounting to document collaboration to operational workflows—all need to be uniform to streamline data analysis.
Great Systems of Record; Not So Great at Real-Time Risk Management
Construction ERP solutions can collect, store and provide you with data. Still, these systems of record are typically producing construction project management reports that don’t benefit the real-time needs of contractors on the jobsite or give them the ability to take action when it matters – during the week of a project. It would be best to have persona-based dashboards (Field, PM, Operations, Accounting) and comprehensive reporting to help all stakeholders better sort and interpret data to keep projects profitable.
Having the right field-first cloud-based solution comes with built-in data analytics tools to provide business intelligence and enable better construction planning for future projects. They also help you unlock the true potential of data by making it easily accessible in real-time to everyone in your organization who needs it.
The real challenge is what you do with that data, which is why more and more contractors are relying on new powerful technologies designed for field construction. As a result, these contractors are at the leading edge of an industry transformation and truly improving their construction project management processes.