3 Signs It's Time to Invest in Better Construction Data

The following content is sponsored by Prophix. 

When it comes to the construction management software, you’ve been getting by on what you have – and why fix what isn’t broken, right? It may be time to reconsider that idea and find an alternative to Excel.

Data has the power to take the blinders off so managers can improve their construction operations. In order to do that, the information they receive has to be up-to-date, accurate, and synched between departments to optimize decision-making and facilitate quick pivots when required.

On the other hand, bad data can cost you big time, through inefficiencies like rework, material waste and schedule overruns.

What is Construction Data?

Construction data is all the information about your construction business and the projects you work on. It includes statistics about site workers and their skillsets, the amount of money you’ve made doing your work, your safety and compliance records, and any other tidbits about your company’s daily operations.

Clearly, construction produces a lot of this information, but the insights it can provide can only be realized if all those stats are collected accurately, stored where they’re accessible, and analyzed to improve future endeavours.

Following are some clear signs that it’s time to invest in better data for your construction company.

1)     You Feel Like You’re Micromanaging Your Workforce

Generally, work forces don’t thrive under a micromanager. When a manager checks in too often to make sure things are being done correctly, workers may feel untrusted, that no matter what they do is wrong, or that there’s no room for professional growth within the company. At a time when the rate of worker turnover is 21.4 percent industry-wide, you want employees to feel valued, not stifled.

What’s more, bosses don’t tend to like micromanaging. Managers have enough on their plates without doing the work of ten other people. So why do you feel like you have to keep close tabs on employees in order to keep everything happening the way it should?

Multiple calls each day to your project managers and superintendents could signal a data problem – you don’t know what’s happening on site, so you’re constantly worried about the status of the project.

Data management can keep you up to date on supply deliveries, worker presence on site, and current status of your next big milestone. When you have visibility, you don’t feel the need to constantly check in with managers, freeing up valuable time and head space in your day.

2)    You’re constantly over budget and behind schedule

It’s the same thing with every project you take on: you start out with the best intentions to keep things on track and rolling, only to have unexpected elements delay your schedule and cost more money.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone. An estimated 75 percent of projects run over schedule and a little less than a third make it within 10% of their allotted budget. It’s become something of an industry standard. But time is money, and money is money, and the loss of either eats away at your margins – especially if you wind up having to pay out liquidated damages on overdue projects.

If you have insufficient data, it’s like you’re trying to operate with a blindfold on. All you can do is try to hustle your team as fast as you can go and hope it all works out. But with better information that looks deeply into past performances, that shows clearly where your workforce is and when employees with appropriate competencies will be available to work on site, clarity is possible.

Accurate numbers that come from smarter systems than spreadsheets can ensure the planning that goes on before and throughout a project will be backed by true data. The resulting schedule and budget can offer realistic expectations, and you can feel confident in your abilities to follow through.

3)    You feel like you’re guessing when you bid

Bidding on a job should be precision work, taking into consideration site characteristics, material costs, labour and skill levels requirements, and many other factors. Without a frame of reference for predicting these costs, coming up with accurate numbers becomes more of a guessing game than a thoughtful calculation. Bidding can be even trickier when you don’t know when your work force will even be available to do the work.

Readily available historical data that isn’t tied up in Excel sheets, along with smart systems to tie the numbers together, can provide a truer picture of what the job entails so that bids can reflect what’s likely to happen on the job to come.

Instead of bids that feel like a race to the bottom as each contractor tries to come up with the lowest possible number to still succeed on the work, accurate bids with realistic goals can help avoid cost and schedule overruns down the line.

What Better Data Can Do For You

Most construction pros are collecting some form of data. They may have accounting systems, which capture information about past projects, like whether each made or lost money. Data on current projects may be kept in management software that helps keep track of schedules, current budgets, and workforce, while information about bidding lives in estimating software.

There are two problems with this system. One is a penchant for errors within these systems. One recent study estimates that bad data cost the global construction industry over $1.84 trillion in 2020. Accounting through Excel necessitates manual input of hundreds of formulae in a single document – and errors can mean making decisions based on faulty information.

Even if the data is correct, single strings of information on their own don’t provide depth and context you need for a full picture.

Instead, you need data that’s visible, tied together in a single place where you can drill into the details and get answers on demand. Prophix solves this data visibility issue, making it possible to make truly well-informed decisions.

What You Can Do to Get Better Data

Far from being the technology laggard it’s been in the past, the construction industry has woken up to the world of digital tools that put real-time information into the hands of decision-makers. Paper data makes collaboration difficult, while spread sheets are time-consuming, error-prone, and lack basic security measures.

Get more confidence in your decision making with Prophix, a data solution that illuminates possibilities by tying together past performance and real-time tracking.

Key Takeaways

  • Incorrect, incomplete, and inaccessible data, also known as bad data, can cost your company in time, rework, and missed opportunities
  • If you feel the need to check in on site crews constantly throughout the day, it’s likely because you’ve got a communication bottleneck that’s holding you back
  • Being over budget and behind schedule may be common, but that doesn’t mean it’s a foregone conclusion. Better data that comes from alternatives to Excel could help your projects stay on track.
  • Easy access to and thorough analysis of past and current projects should give you the insight to bid with confidence, rather than feeling like you’re flying blind.

To see Prophix for Construction in action visit here.