Construction projects rarely stick to the plan.
Changes to projects occur for several reasons, including budget issues, lack of available materials, client requests and other unexpected issues. The only thing that’s absolute is that change in the construction industry is inevitable.
Because change is the name of the game, everyone must be able to make adjustments in real time when changes happen. To achieve that high level of adaptability, all project stakeholders need to have access to project data so they can make quick, informed decisions about how best to implement changes with minimal disruptions to the project.
What’s absolutely critical to that decision-making is that everyone on a project has access to the same data. Centralized construction project data is the cornerstone of every successful project because it enables stakeholders to make project decisions based on the most up-to-date information available. Without it, projects suffer the consequences of disjointed decision-making.
When Data Isn’t Centralized, Problems Occur
Centralized data is not a luxury in the construction industry; it’s a necessity.
When companies still use pencil and paper for project documentation, their data is often kept in multiple different spreadsheets and file folders so different teams own and have access to different information. This disjointedness leads to a number of problems on the job, such as:
- Inefficient labor allocation. Labor is one of the most important assets on a project, yet it can also be the biggest hindrance to productivity. Do you have your best people on the job? Are you overstaffing or understaffing jobs? According to a 2023 FMI Labor Productivity Study, contractors lost between $30 billion and $40 billion to labor inefficiencies.
- Miscalculation of job costs. Job costing is critical to project success, yet too many construction companies struggle with miscalculating job costs. “Incorrect estimates are usually caused by poor estimates/forecasts, incorrect accumulation of actual costs, or incorrect revisions due to change orders,” writes the Irvine Bookkeeping team.
- Lost hours. Project changes and delays often lead to lost hours for workers on the job site. This lost time costs you money and makes it difficult to accurately measure productivity on the job so you can identify labor inefficiencies.
- Project delays. Delays are all but guaranteed on a construction project and they can wreak havoc on schedules and budgets. The severity of that impact depends on how flexible you can be with the project plan and how quickly you can make decisions.
- Conflicts and decision delays. When everybody is basing decisions on different or outdated information, conflicts are going to arise. Those conflicts will lead to delayed decision-making which can snowball into greater project delays.
- Waste and cost overruns. When you order too much material, you waste money. Erroneous project costs estimation, poor planning, and unexpected scope changes are the biggest culprits of material waste, explains the team at Blackridge Research and Consulting.
- Rework due to miscommunication. Rework is a common problem and negatively impacts project costs, schedules, and productivity. This isn’t new: According to a 2018 PlanGrid and FMI survey, “miscommunication and poor project data account for 48 percent of all rework on U.S construction jobsites.”
Each and every one of these problems is caused or exacerbated by decentralized data. They can all be solved by centralizing project information so all parties have access to the real-time project data. The result is smarter decisions and better project outcomes.
Centralized Data Helps You Make Smarter Decisions
There are copious amounts of data associated with construction projects.
Information related to time sheets, change orders, material costs, labor costs, field notes, purchase orders, and endless other data points are collected on every project. When all of those data points are spread out across multiple spreadsheets, digital tools, and file folders, teams lose the ability to collaborate effectively and manage projects efficiently. Project quality ultimately suffers.
“Inaccuracies and poor quality information can be responsible for wrong decisions, reworking, waste, rising costs, poor quality and customer dissatisfaction,” writes Mark Johnson, national accounts manager at C A Design Services.
That’s why data needs to be centralized.
When data is centralized, it is entered and stored where everyone can access it. Whether they are on the job site or in the office or somewhere in between, all stakeholders have access to the same real-time insights. That can help everyone on a project make smarter, more-informed decisions.
Access to accurate data is where Ground Breakers Construction has seen the most benefit from their centralization efforts. “Being able to have live, up-to-the-minute data in the palm of your hand is essential,” says COO Marty Siebe. “Having real-time costs and labor data at our fingertips helps the Ground Breakers team make quick decisions that save time and money.”
There are other benefits as well. William Delong, writing for Software Advice, notes that data helps construction companies do the following:
- Create more accurate bids.
- Reduce human errors that lead to waste and conflicts.
- Make adjustments to hit deadlines.
- Mitigate risks to workers on the job.
- Predict potential problems on projects.
And that’s true for all projects, no matter how many are being juggled at any given moment. Centralized data makes it easy for companies to manage multiple projects simultaneously.
Casey Freedom-Izdepski, operations manager at Lake East Landscape, says centralizing data has made it possible for his company to expand and juggle more crews. “Once I figured out how to get the data running with one or two crews, managing seven crews was no different,” he writes.
All of these data capabilities are facilitated through the use of construction project management software.
Construction Project Management Software Enables Data Centralization
Centralizing data and making it easily accessible to everyone is nearly impossible without cloud-based construction project management software, like eSUB.
“Analog data collection and storage may have worked in the past, but the industry is changing, and it’s impossible to keep up with the demand with obsolete techniques,” writes Evelyn Long, founder and editor-in-chief of Renovated. “Project management software is designed to collect and consolidate all the information and data a company generates, turning it into a useful tool.”
This technology works because everyone on a project can input and access data remotely or in the office. Once data is input, the software analyzes the information and provides you with insights that enable you to make better, faster, and more-informed decisions. So why isn’t every construction company using this technology?
It’s well-known that the construction industry is slow to adopt new technology. A survey of employees conducted by purchase-to-pay software developer Yooz shows the “construction industry was perceived to be the least technologically competent.”
A number of factors contribute to this hesitancy, particularly cost, integration, and user adoption. Addressing these issues is key to successfully implementing any new technology, and eSUB makes it easy to eliminate these barriers. The cloud-based tool is customizable to your needs and integrates with other tech solutions. It’s highly intuitive and easy to use, so anyone can learn how to incorporate it into their daily work.
In short, there’s no good reason not to use the technology, especially since your future success may depend on it.
Data-Driven Decision-Making is Critical to Future Success
Predicting the future based on current data is essentially how construction teams adapt to change. Those predictions, however, are only as good as the data that is feeding them, which is why data centralization is so important.
Predictive analytics is a powerful tool that can help you make smarter decisions that will drive business growth and improve operational efficiencies, but it requires plentiful, powerful, and accurate data.
“In order to use predictive analytics to accurately forecast needs, firms must start with data — and lots of it,” explains construction consultancy Linesight in a report on predictive analytics in the construction industry. “The more data that is inputted into the system, the more accurate the resulting information will be.”
That’s why it’s so important to utilize technology to input and store data in one central location. Every data point that is input into the software is used to build predictions. The more accurate those predictions are, the better your decisions will be and the more sustainable your business will be over time.
What this all means is that your business can no longer afford to maintain the status quo of disjointed data collection. Without centralized data, you will not be able to compete on bids, quickly adapt to changes, or monitor projects at a granular level.
While it may seem like an overwhelming or impossible task to bring so much information together into one centralized location, it’s not. Construction project management software, like eSUB, is designed to do the hard work for you.
Schedule a demo of eSUB Cloud today to learn more about how this intuitive, easy-to-use software centralizes your project data so you can make smarter business decisions that drive better outcomes.
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