Five Processes Accurate Field Data Can Improve

If a construction firm is looking to improve its processes and profits, field data is the place to start. Field data tells the most accurate story for any project. Better collection of data from the field directly translates to more accurate documentation and forecasting—two crucial factors to any company’s success.
By Kyle Slager
May 6, 2020

Data is any business leader’s most powerful tool, and in the construction industry, the quality of data often translates directly to a company’s bottom line. Although it’s common to associate data primarily with the office, it’s equally as important to look where the data is actually being created: the field. By looking closer at the field and the data it produces, construction firms can learn valuable insights to improve processes and create efficiencies.

Here are some of the high-impact things for which leaders should leverage field data.

Budget Projection

This one shouldn’t come as a surprise—the work that happens on jobsites directly impacts the budget of a project (and whether it’s achieved). Collecting accurate data from the field allows contractors to compare the actual to the budgeted amounts for every aspect of a project, thereby giving them the ability to improve their future budgeting and spot any potential savings. Whether it’s expenses for equipment, materials or payroll, having all the data in one consolidated place makes it easy to create reports and track the project’s budget in real time. That way, contractors can flag and mitigate any potential budget overruns as they’re happening, not after it’s too late.

Project Status

Communication between the office and the jobsite is critical to keeping a project on schedule. If field data isn’t coming through to the office staff on a daily basis, the company won’t have full transparency to the status of the project. Knowing in real-time any delays or incidents that happen in the field allow for quicker responses to avoid letting small problems turn into bigger ones. Field data that’s incomplete and inconsistent leaves the firm vulnerable to being liable for delays. Rather than relying on the memory of the field crew later on, real-time data provides a clear record of every occurrence as soon as it happens.

Bid Accuracy

Without the proper data collection tools in place, it becomes a guessing game to create new bids for projects. Using historical data helps a firm pinpoint more accurate predictions, bringing their bids closer to reality. This not only helps the bottom line of each project, but also builds a reputation for staying on-budget and providing reliable bids. Seeing a high-level view of a project’s entire dataset gives a leader the advantage of identifying any inefficiencies to implement solutions for the future. Without that window into what happened, it’s easy to carry on as usual and never improve. Plus, if the data comes directly from the field it’s likely to be more accurate than if it needs to be input or transferred multiple times. The less chance of human error in entering and analyzing data, the better.

Protection from Disputes

Now more than ever, construction firms need to protect themselves from any potential future lawsuits. Instead of searching through loose papers and binders, accurate digital field data provides one source of truth that can be easily found and referenced if disputes arise. By properly documenting everything that happened in the field each day, a company has a credible, stored record at their disposal. It replaces the “he said, she said” with documented facts of what happened and when—giving business leaders peace of mind and protection.

Process Evaluation

One of the most important factors that impact the quality of field data is the ease-of-use of a firm’s data collection tool. Simply put, if the selected tool isn’t easy to use or is too time-consuming, field crews won’t use it. The easier it is to send daily data to the office, the more likely it is they’ll do it. Having a difficult system adds extra time at the end of the field crew’s day, and the last thing they want to do is stay longer to fill out paperwork. Implementing a tool that collects data as they walk the jobsite each day is the best way to get the most accurate data directly from the field. If a construction firm notices a dip in the quality or quantity of data from the field, it’s a signal to re-evaluate the tools in place. A complex solution may give the office advanced capabilities, but it’s essentially useless if the field can’t or won’t use it. Finding a tool the field loves to use may seem like an extra investment, but having accurate, real-time data creates an ROI that directly impacts productivity and profitability.

If a construction firm is looking to improve its processes and profits, field data is the place to start. A company’s field data tells the most accurate story for any project. Better collection of data from the field directly translates to more accurate documentation and forecasting—two crucial factors to any company’s success.

by Kyle Slager
Kyle Slager founded Raken, a mobile first, field management software for the construction industry, in 2014. Today, Raken serves nearly 4,000 clients in 92 countries and has been utilized on over 350,000 projects. The cloud-based SaaS solution boosts productivity and safety by streamlining workflow processes such as daily reporting, time tracking and safety management. Before founding Raken, Kyle co-founded Acacia Living and worked at Brandes Investment Partners, a leading global value-based investment management firm, where he was responsible for investing more than $120 billion in assets under management. Since founding Raken, Kyle has been featured in Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, and named San Diego's Most Admired CEO by the San Diego Business Journal. 

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