Construction is a data-rich industry. The vast amounts of data that permeate all parts of the construction process from pre-construction to closeout present a serious challenge to anyone looking to leverage that data in a timely and repeatable manner. Historically we’ve relied on scraps of paper, the back of a hand, text messages, and whatever other creative methods we’ve come up with over the years to jot down important numbers, measurements, or observations. These methods aren’t very reliable and it’s clear they aren’t scalable. Disparate field data collection methods introduce inaccuracies, bring analysis to a crawl, and can present a serious risk to the business.
Creating a consistent and accurate field data collection process is more than just digitizing a PDF. It’s uncoupling every part of a workflow to figure out where there are opportunities to change and streamline the process with a digital solution. The true value of field data is when it begins to show all site-level data, not just a single workflow. The data from one workflow can be mined and will tell you a lot about a single process, but imagine the story it can tell when combined with multiple sources? For example, timekeeping information coupled with daily construction reports and production tracking allows project leaders and owners to slice and dice how workers are spending time and what other impacts they may experience that could be affecting their productivity.
Each workflow that is digitized has a corresponding savings; whether it be time, money, or something else. What if you could take the stepwise gains individual workflows create but transform them into consolidated workflows, and see exponential benefits? The advancements of a powerful platform that can digitize many workflows truly up-levels processes, data accuracy, and streamlines projects, all while providing a feedback loop to both workers on-site and in the home office.
Data collected at the source in real time serves many purposes, from tracking “budget versus actual” to spotting crew issues and more. But, the next step to utilizing that data, is to infuse it into continuous project improvements. This concept has been nearly impossible historically because just wrangling all the paper-based data would take weeks or months, not including the time to analyze it, and by then you’re halfway through your next project! With digital data you can start looking at trends and areas of opportunity the minute they come in, making continuous improvements and an actual feedback loop possible.
The power of field-level data is only as good as its connectivity. Too much of construction technology remains siloed. In order to make significant progress as an industry, we have to move towards a fully connected ecosystem. That means that software is built and developed with connectivity as a standard requirement, not as a “nice to have.” Long gone are the days of on-premise software as the gold standard; we’ve shifted to a cloud-based infrastructure. With this shift, the open API functionality has become essential for getting data out of one system and into another. It’s important that not only construction technology providers, but also contractors and owners, continue to push for a connected ecosystem, not settling for antiquated and out-of-date solutions but opting for new best-of-breed cloud solutions. Together we can harness the power of the second largest industry in the world and take field-level data online for once and for all.