10 Keys to Understanding Construction Data Analytics
Construction sites these days have no shortage of data: design and BIM data from the planning stages of a project, jobsite data collected by wearables, mobile devices and sensors on equipment/materials, accounting and job progress data from the office, project management data and much more. Many contractors are practically drowning in data and don’t have the right tools to parse and analyze the data in ways that would have meaningful impacts on their projects.
That, however, is changing. Data analytics and business intelligence have become hot topics in construction as firms are seeing the benefits other industries are realizing. The industry as a whole is looking for ways to help contractors get smart about data. So what are the major ways you can become a truly data-driven contractor and benefit from the data available to you?
How to Benefit from Construction Data Analytics
Better understanding your project data can help significantly boost productivity and profitability on current projects, as well as better plan future ones. Here are 10 key ways that you can become a data-driven contractor and use data analysis in your construction projects.
1. Technology Commitment and Organizational Buy-In
In order to become a modern, data-driven contractor, your organization needs to embrace leading technologies. This commitment starts at the top and leverages technology advocates within your organization to work directly with end users to facilitate progressive process changes. A tech-committed contractor stays on top of the latest technology trends and researches how they can best help the organization. The key here is involvement—soliciting and listening to end users’ needs and desires and showing them first hand how modern solutions can improve their lives.
2. Cloud Construction Management
Your construction data is only as good as its timeliness, accessibility and relevance. That’s why many contractors have already moved their construction management processes to the cloud to take advantage of real-time data that is fully accessible to users beyond the walls of the back office. This includes easily providing data in formats relevant to each end user and deploying data via modern communication means like mobile and web applications.
3. An Integrated, Construction-Specific Software Suite
If your current construction management processes relies on multiple, disconnected software programs, you’re probably working harder and ever to make sense of your disconnected data. Having a truly integrated software suite in place provides you with a single source of data truth across all departments and functions, and makes it easy to automate workflows and streamline construction processes. And, make sure your solution is designed for construction as most “one-size-fits-all” solutions don’t provide the flexibility or specific functions you need to be successful.
4. Building A Sound Data Strategy
Having all of the technology bells and whistles in place won’t mean a thing if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Start with what you know—and what you know that you don’t know—to develop a plan for what you want to achieve as a data-driven contractor. Come up with a wish list of data your users want to see; learn how each department or user best understands data; consider creating benchmarks and comparing your results with industry benchmarks; talk to industry peers to learn what data drives them; and set realistic goals and milestones along the way.
5. Using The Right Data Analytics Tools
A key part of your connected, cloud software suite, having the right data analytic and business intelligence solutions in place can give you the power to gain powerful construction data analytics in just seconds. The right solutions pair powerful data warehouses with intuitive easy-to-use data segmentation and analysis tools that allow end users to self-serve their own data queries—without having to be a data scientist, or even necessarily tech-savvy. By leveraging the cloud and uniform data, these tools put you in the driver’s seat, allowing you to visualize data virtually any way you want: from charts and graphs to automated dashboards to detailed line-item reports to geographical and statistical maps.
6. Commitment to Data Governance and Security
With great data power comes great data responsibility. That’s why protecting your data at all times is critical to your data-driven success. If you’re not hosting with a trusted technology vendor or relying on in-house hosting methods like maintaining servers, that diligence is going to be needed 24/7. However, by hosting your data with a proven cloud software vendor, you can take a lot of the burden off your plate. These companies stay abreast of the latest security threats, implement the latest protections and provide reliable automatic backups of your data to ensure business continuity. Of course, that data security commitment also extends to your teams and end users, which should be following sound data security and protocols on their end as well—at all times.
7. Tracking Jobsite Processes and Productivity
Now that you have the right tools and strategies in place, it’s time to implement them in the field. Contractors can improve workflows, find ways to automate tasks, find efficiencies, cut costs and much more by streamlining and analyzing data collection from job sites. And true construction data analytics is more than just tracking traditional job costs and cash flow. For example, by analyzing data about employees’ movements (either collected from wearables or smartphones), you can see how much extra movement takes place in the course of a day. One contractor did just that and used the information to place materials and equipment in the most logical locations to cut down on all this movement, saving a lot of time.
8. Tracking Jobsite Risk and Safety
All data-driven contractors should track data related to safety issues. Injuries, safety inspections and other information must be recorded and in some cases submitted to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. But going a step further and analyzing data that can help you identify high-risk tasks and dangerous conditions can help prevent future incidents and reduce risk for your business.
9. Using A Data-Driven Bidding Method
Closely tracking things like job costs, change orders, material and equipment usage and worker productivity from your projects can help better forecast future work and lead to smarter bidding. While many companies already do some version of this, having more complete and relevant data can provide a fuller picture of how jobs fare and where improvements can be made. Analyzing data also ensures your bids are more accurate for future projects, while the increased efficiencies and on-time, on-budget delivery of projects will lead to a solid reputation for your firm, helping you land even more work.
10. A Move from Analytics to Predictive Analytics
Part of being a data-driven contractor today is planning ahead for what may come tomorrow: we call this predictive analytics. Ideally, you won’t only assess what happened on a project after the fact. You want data to help you make smarter decisions based on models of what will happen in the future. Your data can help you develop these models. Moving to the cloud has allowed contractors to begin exploring new data-driven processes like machine learning, artificial intelligence and more, all of which may also fuel the move to predictive models in construction.
Your data analytics tools should be forward-looking, encouraging your leaders to continue to find new ways to operate, rewarding innovation and scaling for the future. Keeping pace with technology trends and continually developing and building out your cloud-based, data-driven solutions can provide a healthy leg up on your competition.
How Trimble Construction One Empowers Your Construction Data Analytics
Now that you’re ready to become a modern, data-driven contractor, you should look for a technology partner you can trust will work with you every step of the way and is just committed to your success as you are. Trimble Viewpoint has been on the forefront of leading technologies for more than 40 years and offers Trimble Construction One, a suite of integrated, cloud-based solutions meant to meet the demands of today’s modern contractors.
Unlike software that solves a single need for customers or compels them to work within the restraints of a larger, out-of-the-box ERP solution, Trimble Construction One provides a complete, integrated software suite that seamlessly manages your people, projects and processes. The Trimble Construction One solutions were designed specifically to help you take control of your construction data and better understand your projects—in the easiest ways possible.
Our integrated Viewpoint Analytics solution lets you smartly manage and analyze your data in a centralized, secure cloud environment. Let your teams self-serve their own data needs by easily creating custom reports and dashboards, powerful data visualizations and much more with simple drag-and-drop features. Instantly share data analysis with others throughout your organization. Leverage your data analysis into direct action and processes in the field to realize greater productivity and profitability now and for the future.
To see first hand how Trimble Construction One and Viewpoint Analytics can help you become the next data-driven contractor, contact Trimble Viewpoint today!