From compliance to enhancing efficiencies, a data-driven approach helps construction companies maintain a competitive edge in the construction industry. That’s why it’s more important than ever to adopt a system that visualises data for your teams, keeping all data fresh and helping to maintain its health and quality. As well as informing real-time decisions, relevant data can be used to predict trends and developments, such as the viability of subcontractors for projects or increasing costs, and enable firms to be proactive and responsive when change is required.
Data is also vital for decision-making, especially on projects that must comply with the Building Safety Act. It enables project managers to make more informed decisions that remain compliant and adhere to building standards. What’s more, evidencing key decisions with existing data helps maintain a clear trail of information and justification behind project changes. Data can also be used to facilitate informed decisions around operational activity on-site and company-specific targets.
Why is a Data-Driven Approach Important?
Astoundingly, around 96% of the construction industry’s data remains unused. Data-driven construction companies have a competitive edge that allows them to stay ahead of emerging trends within the industry. It’s a powerful tool to master and one that could drive success. A data-driven approach also enables firms to make more informed decisions throughout the lifecycle of a building project, from planning through to development and completion. Done right, this data can also be used to advise on similar projects in the future, helping guide a construction firm to improve processes and enhance performance indicators. With the right data available, firms can look at improving efficiencies throughout their supply chain, analyse KPIs to support future projects, and find ways to drive productivity amongst their labour force.
For the construction industry, data brings many fortunes and insights, especially when businesses work from a single source of truth. Rather than running reports from disparate systems, all data is centralised for full transparency and analysis. Visualising data in this way empowers construction firms to act and calculate their next steps. For example, project managers are able to approach tricky topics, like unexpected delays or increased material costs, and make the best possible decision for a build’s progression. Likewise, data can help the C-Suite understand operational on-site activity and find ways to drive productivity. As data can be collected at every stage, it can be used to support a wide range of individuals.
What are the Benefits of a Data-Driven Approach in Construction?
Construction companies can experience huge benefits from adopting a data-driven approach. Every stage of a building project can record data, enabling project managers to look back over both historical and real-time information to make accurate decisions about the next steps. Likewise, companies can collect, harvest and process business-specific data to better understand where inefficiencies lie. Using data ensures construction firms are able to provide and maintain a competitive edge.
1. Time Efficient
With around 96% of construction data remaining unused by firms, it’s clear there’s an issue with the way many firms store their data. If construction companies aren’t using a single source of truth, it’s always likely that any data they have stored isn’t visualised. That’s most likely where companies are losing five hours of project management time every week; spent searching for relevant project data that should be readily available. With easier access to data, through a central database, it eradicates the search process, allowing a speedier response from project managers who must make urgent decisions.
Using an ERP system to store your data, alongside Business Analytics and Project Information Management tools, enables firms immediate access to a central database, as well as centralised and visualised data. With data presented in a readable format, it empowers the user to use it for problem-solving means, such as boosting profits or making efficiencies across the board. Using an ERP system reduces any time spent searching for data as it’s all available on one system.
2. Supports Decision-Making
Decision-making is made much easier with real-time data. Presented alongside historical project data and previous performance achievements, it also allows key stakeholders to make decisions with all the data in front of them. Where project managers have a holistic view of the data, more informed decisions are able to be made with evidence to back them up. What’s more, the removal of manual paperwork and introduction of ERP enables real-time data to be presented and visualised, without the need to interpret it from disparate reports.
Cloud-based software, like ERP, aids key stakeholders in making decisions. It ensures stakeholders have immediate access to vital data, including those pulled from operations across the country, and even further afield. As it is presented in a visual format, it provides everyone from project managers to the executive level a holistic understanding of how a build is progressing, and can even highlight potential risks, such as a drop in performance or upcoming issues in the supply chain. This enables any urgent decisions to be made with the most up-to-date information available, allowing firms to be reactive to change.
3. Boosts Compliance
In line with legislative changes made under the Building Safety Act, construction companies must ensure they document every stage of a build clearly, including any decisions made along the way. Also known as the golden thread of information, firms must store and present all project information in a clear and concise way. What’s more, there is a greater onus for construction firms to use data throughout this process to justify additional or alternative decisions made that differ from the original scope of work.
4. Firms Can Be More Responsive
With responsive data presented on a real-time dashboard, firms can be proactive when situations that require urgent decision-making arise. As data is up-to-date, it enables project managers to tackle any real-time issues on builds, such as an increased cost of materials, with confidence. Responsive data is especially beneficial when analysing supply chains as construction companies can measure indicators such as supplier performance, stock levels and order status to ensure operations are optimised. If issues start to arise, firms are able to address these and make informed decisions based on the data available.
5. Demonstrates Sustainability Targets
There’s a greater onus for firms to deliver on sustainability to help the UK Government meet Net Zero Carbon targets. Admittedly, construction firms can use a data-driven approach to harvest and process this data, whilst analysing it to understand where their excess carbon emissions lie. This data can be presented as part of the tender process to prove a company’s commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2050. As such, firms that want to compete for high-ticket government contracts must demonstrate their efforts to reduce emissions and waste. Without this data, firms won’t be considered for such projects, leaving construction companies to adapt if they want to bid on projects worth more than £5 million p/a.
A data-driven approach enables firms to look internally, as well as at contractors and their supply chain, to understand where a considerable amount of carbon is generated. Once this information has been gathered, construction companies can determine their objectives to reduce their overall greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, firms can present this as part of the tender process when bidding on high-profile government contracts. In turn, they also build a benchmark to compare against and track their progress.
6. Reduces the Likelihood of Errors
Relying on disparate spreadsheets and historic reports only hinders construction companies, especially if documents are incorrectly stored without the right context to support them. Whilst at least five hours are lost searching for data every week, having disordered and disorganised filing systems is also likely to drive mistakes.
Having a centralised database ensures errors are reduced to a minimum, if not completely eradicated. Automated workflows can be added to systems to help filter out-of-date information. It also safeguards editable files, where information can be overwritten and removed, ensuring only approved and relevant data is available to review.
7. Offers Increased Visibility
With a central database, any data, supporting documentation and information can be stored centrally. Essentially, relevant stakeholders can access the data they need to make informed decisions or pass on status updates to their clients. It also ensures full transparency around business or project-critical decisions that need to be made, with evidence and data available to back it up.
Having a system like this in place also removes any ambiguity as the full context is available within the centralised database. Key metrics and KPIs can be easily tracked, reported on and analysed to understand both a project and a business’s performance. In turn, it ensures objectives can be set and actions put in place to help construction firms achieve them.
What Do Companies Need to Consider About a Data-Driven Approach?
The world is full of data, with around 2.5 quintillion bytes produced every day. Of course, some of this is irrelevant, out-of-date or corrupt, meaning construction firms have a job to sift through and find the data that actually matters. In total, 13% of working hours are spent looking through project data, which equates to five hours per week, per person. For companies to take advantage of this data, they’ll need a complete system that not only manages it but keeps it in good condition too.
Before construction firms can even analyse data, they must ensure they have the tools to start collecting it. That’s where an ERP system comes in. Serving as a single source of truth, businesses are able to collect data and store it in a secure location. With Business Analytics tools as well, they’ll be able to visualise and report on historical and real-time data. Ultimately, this holistic view can support decisions made around cost-saving, material use, chosen suppliers and more.
Need Help Managing Your Construction Data?
No matter how good data is, if it’s not stored correctly, processed or visualised, it will likely remain unused. At RedSky, our ERP system helps ensure your data is of good quality and located in a single source of truth. You can then enjoy the benefits of data reporting with our Business Analytics module, offering you the access you need at the touch of a button.