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Construction’s Data-Driven Future featured image

Construction’s Data-Driven Future

Over the past few years, I have had a conversation with hundreds of people in our industry at all levels, from C-level Execs to the field teams on-site.  I consistently hear every time that we need better collaboration but, at the same time, are all too afraid of transparency to create a common ground for collaboration because of the way we work today.

So, we continue to support our current way of working instead of taking a step back and seeing that nobody wins the way we currently operate. The key is to question and challenge how we go to business every day, from our strategy, process to implementation. Data undoubtedly are a crucial ingredient, but it has to be the correct data. The dataset has to be pertinent to the task you desire to improve. It also has to be clean, timely, accurate, unbiased, and perhaps most importantly, it has to be trustworthy.

What that means if you want to achieve a real data-driven company, it's vital to ensure you are making the right steps to get the correct data. A data-driven construction or roofing company culture has to exhibit the following elements.

Vigoriuos Data Collection

A data-driven firm must start with the right system processes and digital analytical tools to collect quality data. It must be:

  • Accurate – Without errors and mistakes
  • Real-Time – Continuously updated form the data source
  • Trustworthy – Usable as a decision-making means

You must also start thinking of data beyond just the numbers. Certainly, crunched facts and figures are great, but today's construction data also comes in from visual information like photos and videos of your project's progression. If you do not include those in your overall evaluation process, you will not get an accurate overall picture of your operational process.

Information Accessibility

Accessibility is one of the most significant components of any data-driven decision process. It needs to be accessible by everyone who needs it and when they need it from anywhere. No matter how good your data process is if you can't access it, it becomes useless.

Your data must also be structured so that it is easy to understand and make decisions. Proper training of your team to read and analyze the data will also be needed to become ingrained into your company culture.

Accessibility tools need to be:

  • Easy to use
  • Use dashboards and centrally organize
  • Your digital information should provide a snapshot of your decision-making process

Data Entry and Workflow Automation

To have good output, you must have good input. To eliminate mistakes and errors that will compromise your data's trustworthiness, you have to automate your data entry process and workflows.

Companies that are already using data effectively do not depend on manual data entry processes that waste time and put your projects at risk. They only use digital tools for functions like creating and managing the operational process in real-time.

Standardization of Technology and Data

It is common for owners, contractors, and subcontractors to use different systems to exchange information on projects. The result is not a smooth and well-run project, not to mention the inevitable profit fade from mistakes caused by ununiformed information being passed throughout the project. Even more alarming is the lack of standardization in a business between its divisions and departments. Whether on a project or in your company, incompatible systems and processes work against success.

This is where standardization comes in to get the highest quality and most reliable data. You want everyone to achieve the same goals, and using the same metrics, tools, and technology; you have significantly increased your chances of success.

Advanced Analysis

Data arrives before cleaning and formatting in raw data views, leading to a misleading look in this format. Advanced analytics will help you go beyond the raw data so you can make innovative and forward-thinking decisions. Data increases in usefulness and competitive advantage as it increases analytical abundance. If you want to be competitive, you will need to include all data sources and formats, not just some. See the chart below.

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Source: McKinsey & Company

Effective Risk Management and Decision Making

If you can not confidently say that your data is being used to guide your decisions and supports your team to bring your projects in, on or under budget, you have a problem. Because without useful data, you are not likely to go from a defensive strategy to a proactive one. Only with it can you address the risks and advance before becoming an unsurmountable challenge to your company.

Strive For Continuous Improvement

The collection of your data and analysis is an ongoing process and requires constant improvement. A data-driven company should never consider themselves at their ultimate peak of data conscientiousness, even if you have a competitive and market advantage. Great companies always know they can do more to improve their processes, efficiency, and overall profits.

Today is the day to begin your transformation into the future of data-driven analytics. Even if you consider yourself among the more advanced technologically driven companies or know you have a lot of work left to do, there is no time like the present to establish better systems and methods for using and managing your data. Don't let your competitors get the upper hand on you; instead, take your company's data seriously and make excellent use of it.

John Kenney has over 45 years' experience in the construction industry. John started his career by working as a roofing apprentice at a family business in the Northeast to operating multiple Top 100 Roofing Contractors. As Chief Operating Officer, John is intimately familiar with all aspects of roofing production, estimating, and operations. During his tenure in the Industry, John ran business units associated with delivering excellent workmanship and unparalleled customer service while ensuring his company's strong net profits before joining Cotney Consulting Group. If you would like any further information on this or another subject, you can contact John at jkenney@cotneyconsulting.com