During the last five years, the construction industry has taken great strides in adopting web and mobile technology. In the beginning it was, in many cases, a piecemeal effort with great gains in some areas and paper still blowing around in others. Disparate software systems and resistance to change often created gaps in gathering and reporting on critical project information. For example, digital timecards provided some basic data, but because they are often disconnected from other data sources, such as budgeted time, jobs, and phases, the value of that data was not much higher than produced on paper. That said, taking the important first step of creating the information digitally provided the initial benefits of reducing administration time and standardizing data input. These important first steps also provided the much-needed structure to begin mining for the real, gold-performance metrics.
Data visualization is one of many new buzzwords making its way around the construction industry. In simple terms it just means representing information in the form of a chart, diagram, or picture, but when it comes to a construction project it means much, much more.
Data visualization in construction means collecting real-time, meaningful data from the company’s spectrum of operations and activities, and cross-referencing it to measure and analyze productivity, efficiency, and overall operational excellence (or lack thereof). Once you’ve mined the required data, it provides you with the information you need to focus on projects and operational areas that need your immediate attention, which helps keep even the toughest jobs on time and on budget. In short, the end result is solid, actionable information provided in real-time.
So, how do you start mining your data? It starts with digital data, no paper and no spreadsheets, (spreadsheets are only marginally better than paper when it comes to good data sources). The next step is connecting data sources – think accounting and ERP (enterprise resource planning) software – so everyone is pulling from the same source whether it’s timecards, work orders, material lists, etc. Once all the connected data is flowing you can pull information into tools such as PowerBI and Domo Data Visualization and start asking it questions such as, how are projects, jobs, and phases performing in terms of labor, materials, and cost? You can dig deeper into that information to find specific areas where the project overall or specific operations are coming up short or making big gains against estimates.
At BuildCentrix we understand the real-world benefits data visualization offers our clients so everything we do is built on the premise of creating and connecting data. Whether it’s inside the platform itself or it resides in remote software systems, we can help you mine your data and find the answer to both simple and complex questions about your business. ■