Taking a Bite Out of
Cost Overruns with Data Analytics
May 18, 2022
The world has seemingly become transfixed with capturing data and measuring performance in just about every aspect of life – personal and professional. Because of the influx of data that is being collected, we can find efficiencies and draw conclusions we could never previously fathom.
Technology has allowed us to take a proactive approach to problem solving rather than a reactive approach. By understanding the past and using it to inform the future, there is no question about the limitless possibilities that technology has and can afford the construction industry. And capturing construction data to closely monitor your project performance, more than ever before, is arguably one of the most significant.
But what does that “monitoring” look like, exactly?
A Window into Your Construction Business
Collecting and reporting operational construction data will give you access to know what is happening on your project in real time. Start by employing descriptive analytics to understand how your teams are performing each day. This will enable you to catch and solve issues before they become big problems that impact your overall cost and/or schedule.
Consider crew productivity, for instance, identify performance issues in your daily reporting and drill down into the cause to address the issue before it progresses. Understand if the crew is facing weather delays, scheduling conflicts, lack of materials, or lack of manpower and adjust your work planning before it is too late. With this approach to data analytics, the timeliness of your construction data is key. The real benefit of operational analytics, however, comes from systems that will report in hours or days, not weeks or months.
From a more strategic perspective, think about transforming your bidding process by assessing attributes of bids that you did and did not win. Then, of the bids you won, what are the characteristics of the projects that had a positive outcome? Use that information to make smart decisions when chasing future work.
The Power of Predictive Analytics for Risk and Scheduling
But what if you could actually predict potential roadblocks to your project before they happen? Which work plans will be short staffed? Will your equipment be ready to be onsite when required? What is the exact amount of concrete you will need? Or when may you face schedule delays because of inclement weather?
Predictive analytics take the guess work out of anticipating roadblocks on your job. Recall the bidding example above. What if the construction data from a project was captured and could be linked back to the bidding phase? What if you could predict if you would win the bid? Or, what if you could predict the outcome of the job; should you win the bid? This would allow you to understand what you are up against before an estimator submits your bid.
Now, imagine using construction data from your schedule to run simulations that answer your questions about how changes in activities will impact their respective dependencies. If you push the start of a task a week or even a day, know instantly how that will impact the overall project schedule. This will allow you to have a more realistic look at the timeframe your work can be completed as well as maximize the efficiency of your schedule by most appropriately allocating your resources.
A Prescription for Success
Furthermore, inspection checklists contain a large amount of data that can be analyzed and harnessed for future projects. Consider being able to leverage the text from these forms. It could be analyzed to power alerts indicating specific maintenance may be required. Or, utilizing safety checklists and forms, minimize safety incidents on your projects by capturing construction data and using this to warn future jobs with similar risks. This is where machine learning and artificial intelligence start to come into play. That is not to say we should be completely reliant on technology, but it can significantly improve efficiency of the human decision-making process.
Prescriptive analytics move past simply predicting what might happen, and become a tool that assists with answering the question of “How do we anticipate and overcome roadblocks?”
An important key to enabling any kind of data analytics for your organization is to realize the benefits of an integrated project controls platform. Integrated systems eliminate multiple points of data entry. Oftentimes these data entry points are also manual. This improves your chances of quality data analytics, which is crucial to reporting accurate metrics.
Of course, it takes organizational maturity and data capturing to be able to achieve the more complicated data analytics. It may seem overwhelming, but the most important step is to just to start. Think about the scenarios where your organization experiences cost and schedule overruns today. What do they have in common? And what could you start tracking to bring visibility to that? It is a long road, but the benefits will far outweigh the hurdles once you get further down that road.
Ready to take a deeper dive? InEight can help get your projects where they need to go and help you create a solution or view that matches your needs while leveraging your teams’ existing strengths. Let us show you how.