The Danis Group: 3 Tips for Using Construction Data to Innovate On the Jobsite

March 6, 2019 Kristen Sylva

The Danis Group was founded in Ohio in 1916. From the beginning, they’ve had a strong drive to put the client first and to deliver the highest quality construction projects. Over the years, this drive served them well and they now have clients throughout the Midwest and southeast regions of the US, and are proud to claim a repeat customer rate of 85%. The foundation of Danis’ success is a builder’s mentality integrated with high-end experience to meet the needs of their project goals.

Not content to rest on their laurels and continue doing business as usual, Danis uses construction data to help them stay productive and vibrant. As a part of this commitment to excellence, Danis also encourages their clients to adopt digital tools and brings them into partnership with the integrated workflow that enables them to deliver truly collaborative projects.

“We see that our investments in technology are paying off as we are able to deliver higher quality projects, leading to stronger relationships with our clients," said Troy Erbes, Senior Vice President at Danis. "Our next step is to utilize the data generated from all of our technology to further improve efficiency and safety across all of our projects.”



Not content to rest on their laurels, Danis uses construction data to learn from the past and look to the future.


Construction Data: The New Measuring Tape

Current and ongoing research shows that businesses who collect and analyze data are able to gain crucial insights that can consistently improve decision-making. This is true for many companies and industries across the globe, but the construction industry as a whole has historically been slow to use data from past projects to look for opportunities for improvement. Danis is developing a proactive approach to using digital tools and software that are already available and taking this to the next level by exploring exciting new technology like AI and Machine Learning. With these technologies on the horizon, the industry as a whole will soon be able to reap the benefits of increased analytic agility.

Of course, there are already tools in place to use the information you are collecting TODAY to identify areas for improvement and set benchmarks against them. Building Information Management software has been in use for years and, indeed, BIM is already such a part of the culture that it’s rare to see a project that isn’t using some form of it. However, BIM has also been growing and responding to meet the needs of customers who want more from their digital workflow than 3d-imagery and schematics. Combining BIM with construction management applications that track documentation, change orders and safety concerns are now integral to the process, and digitizing everything on a single platform makes the analysis of this data fluid and fast. Easy analysis = better decisions and shorter learning curves for improvement.


“What we do have are a set of processes and standards in place that allow us to measure the historical data we do have and use it in a meaningful way. As Senior Vice President at Danis, my role is to oversee for our client’s support services and coordinate them operations field to better meet the needs of our client.”

Troy Erbes, Senior vice President, Danis



The Importance of Learning From Historical Data

You don’t have to be a carpenter to recognize that “Measure twice, cut once” is more than just a clever saying. Becoming adept at any skill requires learning from experience, both successes and areas for improvement. Danis knows that their ability to analyze information from all of their projects helps identify trends quickly, allowing their construction teams to work smarter and safer, and to produce the highest quality projects for their clients.

To this end, Danis depends on their digital workflow to better serve their customers’ needs. Throughout the building process, they carefully monitor jobsite activity to ensure everyone is safe and able to produce quality work. Danis is constantly using reports from Autodesk’s BIM 360 for safety, tracking incidents to identify potential risks. To facilitate this evaluation it is important to give everyone on the project team the tools to record issues and identify “problems” that need to be corrected - especially situations that could lead to safety risks.

The Danis team meets once a month with all of the safety managers to share these findings and any new processes or procedures they would like to implement to ensure everyone on the site is safe at all times. They also use the information to support their project review meetings, using reports to look at trends, gaps, and their internal safety auditing process. This data is also used to support our individual clients’ reporting requirements.


What Construction Data Can Teach Us


The Danis team meets with safety managers to share construction data findings and brainstorm new processes


“As a Senior Preconstruction Manager at Danis, one of my responsibilities is leading our ‘Lessons Learned’ initiative that we apply to every project. During this process, we talk about the success of the project and explore opportunities for improvement.” Said Annmarie Thurnquist

“What we learn allows us to establish best practices and identify subject matter experts. The essence of this program is to ensure continual improvement.” According to Annmarie, Danis’ decision to go digital in the field has allowed them to generate and gather project information that is  used during these evaluations. “We’re making sure all of our superintendents have iPads and use them to capture critical data from the field. The iPads also supply them with easily accessible, real-time data allowing more efficiencies, becoming more proactive instead of reactive. We’ve seen that, by implementing field technology to standardize and automate the repetitive things that our field staff have to do, thus helping them prioritize and plan.”

In the past, field teams were able to see an issue and document it manually via clipboard and paper. They have seen drastic improvements in the quality of information gathered accessibility and speed of information flow to others within the company. Now with the quality checklist, the information can flow up and get to the quality managers quickly with accurate information.

Coming full circle from their “Lessons Learned” program, Danis has integrated the requirement for technology into their front ends to ensure all subcontractor field leadership are using the necessary technology. Additionally, Danis works with their clients to help them leverage new technology so they can participate more fully in real-time. Clients who collaborate with Danis using digital tools have instant access to drawings, submittals, RFI’s, progress photos, and other project information. These clients will also have the ability to provide feedback to the project team in a more expedient manner.


Tips for Getting Started

Without getting lost in the trenches of how Danis has developed their digital strategy, they did think it would be beneficial to share some of what they have found to be best practices for where to start.

Tip 1: Corporate Support needs to be readily available. While large training sessions are certainly helpful to introduce new technology, project teams need to have quick access to support – not only when they are in the implementation phase, but on a continual basis. As with most new tools, fluidity comes with practical use. 

Tip 2: Information gathered needs to be used for improvements and advancements, not punishment. If employees think that reporting a problem will show them in a poor light, they will hide the problems. Project teams need to be praised for identifying problems, so they can be solved in a timely manner, and eliminated in the future.

 Tip 3: Realize that true change does not come from new technology. Technology should be a tool to reinforce the corporate culture, which in the case of Danis is a focus on safety and quality, and being a true partner to their clients.


Moving Forward

Gathering and using project information to inform future processes is still a somewhat manual task, but Danis sees this as a critical step for building relationships, engaging, and fostering open communication with their clients. Using technology to expedite construction information sharing allows their teams to move faster to meet the needs of their clients as well as their expanding markets. Technology has allowed many in the construction industry to set up processes that minimize repetitive tasks. Streamlining tasks allows Danis’ field management team more time to engage their clients and ensure that they are providing focus to the evolving needs of these complex projects. Danis is also looking forward, anticipating the need for predictive analysis. They’re excited to test some new projects in BIM 360 and having the ability to tie all of their data and technology into a single platform. For now, they’re learning from what they’re already doing to ensure their people are safe and that they’re delivering quality projects to their clients.

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