How Integrated Platforms Deliver Construction Data Intelligence
March 15, 2022
The construction industry continues to move further along the digital transformation continuum, driven in part by the increasing role data plays in better managing projects and their outcomes. Construction companies, eager to capture all the information their projects generate, traditionally have adopted technology in the form of point solutions that improve efficiencies in managing specific individual functions such as estimating, scheduling, forecasting, documentation and commissioning.
Yet while many of these solutions rely on the same data, connecting them is often not possible as they were not created to “talk” to each other in an integrated fashion. This is why companies further along on their digital journeys are turning to integrated platforms to connect their data. The main reason? Truly connected data intelligence yields better project outcomes. Let’s explore how.
Establishing data consistency
Managing substantial capital projects means you’re going to have a steady stream of data pouring in from a multitude of distinct sources. Individually, each piece of data has something to tell you. Collectively, they should give you deeper project intelligence that allows you to more efficiently manage your project.
And therein lies the challenge. You’ll only be able to make sense of it if it’s all in the same language; it has to be translated into a functional format that’s easier to interpret and use. Integrated platforms overcome this hurdle by converting data into a uniform structure that everyone on the project team can understand, share and interact with. This standardization introduces not only much-needed consistency among the vast amounts of data, but reliability on what that data indicates about project performance. Interacting with this more consistent, connected data structure enables team members and stakeholders to know what to focus on so they can more effectively collaborate and make reliable, data-driven decisions.
Delivering data-informed insights
Once there’s an established consistency in the structure of the incoming data, it’s then possible to extract actionable insights. But even with this standardization, how do you dig deeper into all that granular data intelligence for those insights? Turn to your earned value performance metrics. Two of the metrics to watch are your schedule performance index (SPI), which shows how well you’re doing in adhering to project timelines, and cost performance index (CPI), which indicates how efficient your project is from a cost perspective. They’re determined using numbers from your estimate as the starting point, then are updated as information is captured from the field about how much work has been done, giving you the most accurate data in real time.
These metric values constantly change in response to a variety of factors, both internal and external. How do you track them? Through real-time dashboards and reports available within the integrated platform. They consolidate all that information constantly coming in from the field and automatically calculate the metrics and present them in visually formatted dashboards for easy consumption.
So over time you’ll notice incremental dips or upturns in your SPI and/or CPI values, or you may receive alerts when a more abrupt deviation has occurred requiring immediate attention. This is where the insights you gain become actionable because now you have the opportunity to explore not just that something is happening, but why. You might find that a short-staffed crew led to a gradual dip in CPI as their productivity lagged. Or materials that went MIA were due to the supply chain interruptions beyond the vendor’s control, causing a sudden drop in SPI.
Enabling data-driven decisions
Armed with all these precision-based, data-informed insights means you now have a basis on which to make solid decisions on how to navigate around or through the hiccups, or how to replicate what’s performing above expectations.
Visibility into your project’s integrated data is key here. Stakeholders can view the same current information through those dashboards and reports through the cloud-based access of an integrated platform. So, the right people will have the right information at the right time. Cloud access democratizes participation by enabling real-time shared decision-making to keep the project moving, with transparency into status, changes and forecasts that involve multiple construction disciplines.
But where this really makes a difference is in problem-solving or risk-mitigating scenarios. Each stakeholder with access to the data has the opportunity to contribute their insights and interpretation based on the respective experience and expertise they bring to the table. This marriage of data intelligence and human intelligence can eliminate decision-making bottlenecks. More importantly, it results in a more well-rounded, thorough approach on how to best address a given challenge, whether gaining consensus on implementing a previously created contingency plan or evaluating and assembling one on the spot.
Drawing from historical data for project predictability
It’s true that sometimes the best way to see into the future is to look to the past. With past project data stored in your integrated platform’s centralized database, you essentially have a growing, ongoing source of information you can use to your advantage on all your capital projects to achieve more predictable outcomes.
Your past projects likely have no shortage of actionable data you can use. How can you leverage it all? For more predictable estimates, rely on it to more accurately plan for the type and amount of labor the project will require, as well as for other resourcing needs. Identify the anticipated and unexpected risks that occurred, then look at the performance metrics to determine how they affected your ability to meet the budget and timeline expectations. Show how you’d account for them now by developing accurate, risk-informed forecasts of their potential impact on cost and schedule and creating contingency plans around them. So, there’s predictability that comes from basing project planning on real-world past data, and predictability that eliminates surprises by proactively planning for what-ifs.
Integrated platforms like that offered by InEight help make sense of all the data capital projects produce and rely on, turning it into a connected stream of usable information that improves project execution and outcomes. Request a demo to see how it can deliver data intelligence for your projects.