Construction Best Practices

How to Make Your Construction Company More Data-Driven


Your construction company produces volumes of important data — but how do you use that data to your advantage?

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ll know that we recently wrote about why connected data is key to running a successful construction business. In it we talked a little about the importance of being able to access the right data at the right time in order to see the full picture of your construction projects. And to get there, you need connected, cloud-based construction technologies in place that can streamline and drive the gathering of real-time data. Well, now we’re ready to take the next step in that journey by looking at what you actually need to do with the data.

Construction companies produce mountains of valuable data, and having all this data at your fingertips is great, but given the sheer volume of data, it can be difficult for contractors to manage their information, much less make it meaningful and useful. Once you’ve got all that juicy data, what exactly are you supposed to do with it?

The Importance of a Data-Driven Mindset

Having data-driven professionals in place and using the right connected, cloud software solutions can go a long way toward smarter-managed, more profitable projects.

Having data is important. Having someone who is able to understand and analyse it is invaluable. There’s no shame in holding your hand up and admitting that data analysis might be a little outside your wheelhouse, but if that is the case, finding data-driven professionals within your organisation, or even hiring or training folks that understand the value of data and analytics should be high up your list of priorities. The fact is, companies that don’t acknowledge the importance of these skills today, will end up having to fork out more down the line.

These “data evangelists” can play a fundamental role in the success of your construction company, by allowing you to both better manage current projects and potential risks, and effectively plan ahead for future work.

We know exactly how fine the margins can be in the construction industry, and coming in on time and under budget is a constant struggle. However, quality data analysis can help manage these risks by uncovering critical insights across the entire spectrum of a construction project. Real-time data and workflows that connected cloud solutions provide help you stay on top of issues as (or before) they happen, rather than weeks or months later when your project is in another stage and costly rework is required to correct problems.

Users of these modern, connected software solutions do not need to be advanced data scientists in order to run them.

And users of these modern, connected software solutions do not need to be advanced data scientists in order to run them. The powerful workflows of collecting, sorting, mapping and comparing construction data can be done with just a few clicks thanks to features built into these connected construction software suites. That heavy data lift is done on the back-end in seconds rather than your teams spending hours combing through information manually.

This means your data-driven construction professionals can see the bigger picture almost instantly—from trends to common issues, to work progression, to costs, and much more. And, the accuracy of your data should also improve, as cloud workflows help ensure information doesn’t fall through the cracks, or get lost through manual data collection processes.

Building a Strong Construction Data Plan

So, an information-first mindset and leading-edge construction software tools are two keys to a data-driven construction operation, but what sort of data should you be tracking? Here are a six areas you should focus on to start:

Equipment data like usage and maintenance can be vital to better understanding your machines and keeping these important capital assets running.

1. Labour hours and pay rates: Labour is one of most expensive costs on construction projects. How productive are your workers on projects, and are teams being used effectively? Are workers paid timely and appropriately? How are labour costs affecting project timelines and cash flow

2. Equipment usage and maintenance: One of your biggest capital assets, your heavy equipment, vehicle fleets, and other tools and equipment are the heart of your business. Are they being overused or underutilised? Is regular maintenance occurring? Do you know when to retire a piece of equipment and purchase a new one? Should you lease or purchase? These are all questions that connected real-time data can help answer.

3. Material costs and supply: One of the most pressing issues in construction right now, the cost of and supply chain for construction materials can be tricky to manage. Will all the materials you need be ready for your projects? Can alternative materials be sourced? Can you leverage better costs by waiting or buying ahead of time in bulk? How are costs impacting current and future work?

The more accurate and timely your data is, the better reporting you'll be able to pull for your teams and project stakeholders.

4. Job Costs and Work in Progress: Better understanding your projects’ costs can help you build better bid packages in the future. Are your projects costing too much out of pocket? Have you built in enough wiggle room with cash flow to meet demands and unpredicted changes? Are work delays eating into your company’s ability to get paid on schedule?

5. Change Orders: No project is built exactly as planned and changes are a common occurrence. They can be a boon for contractors to make additional money, but oftentimes, contractors can be left holding the bag financially if change orders are not effectively communicated, processed and managed. 

6. Reporting and other Requests: Modern day projects require a lot more compliance attention than they used to and regular reporting to owners, government agencies and others is a necessity. If these reports are inaccurate, incomplete, or not delivered in a timely manner, it can cost contractors both money and their reputation. Modern construction management software ensures that the right data is always available and easy to pull together to keep these tasks in the green.

A Single Source of Data Truth

A connected construction suite provides a single source of construction data, keeping everyone involved in your projects on the same page at all times.

We know we don't need to tell you this, but the fact is, things change quickly in the construction industry. Having a connected, cloud construction management platform in place provides a single source of truth that everyone can access at the touch of a button is a game changer, saving time and money and making your company more competitive.

Connected construction data pulls your company out of the siloed pitfall of disconnected solutions and manual workflows. This boosts collaboration across all project stakeholders—from the back office, to the field teams and subcontractors, to owners, engineers, architects, and beyond.

Last, but not least, understand that this is a marathon not a sprint, and while you will see immediate benefits, it will take time to master the art of data gathering and analysis. Don't rest on your laurels, continuous improvement can be achieved by iterating your processes and constantly reflecting on how you are gathering, what you are gathering and why you are gathering it. Hopefully, these few tips will help send you in the right direction as you embark upon a new and game-changing strategy for your company. 

Not sure where to start? Let Trimble Viewpoint help—connect with us today.

Posted By

Nat is the marketing manager for Viewpoint’s Australian office. With fifteen years of experience in the software industry and a passion for construction, she delivers the best solutions to the industry and helps builders get the tools to get the job done.