By {{Article.AuthorName}} | {{Article.PublicationDate.slice(6, -2) | date:'EEEE, MMMM d, y'}}
{{TotalFavorites}} Favorite{{TotalFavorites>1? 's' : ''}}

A lot has changed over the past few months. How the world lives and works has been abruptly shifted as a new reality spurred by COVID-19 pandemic settles in. Among the biggest impacts has been instability in economies across the world, as significant business disruptions have occurred in virtually every major market and vertical. 

In the construction space, contractors in every discipline are either currently dealing with or preparing for significant work stoppages as federal, state and local government agencies implement varied orders for businesses to close and citizens to stay home in order to try and stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Though some have been deemed as “essential businesses” and allowed to continue operations (those working in the medical or healthcare industries and service contractors needed to maintain critical heating, cooling and plumbing services, for instance), most contractors are facing uncertainties about both their current balance sheets and their futures.

Short-term business impacts are becoming clear, but longer-term impacts to construction firms—including how they’ll need to operate in the future—could be harder to predict. That’s why it’s even more important for contractors to be collecting and analyzing all the data they can in order to make the best business decisions possible. 

The Digital Advantage

Thankfully, living in the digital age, more and more businesses today have the means to allow at least a core set of their employees to work remotely during this current disruption. In construction however, where the end product is a physical asset like a building, road or bridge, significant portions of contractors’ workforces don’t have that luxury. They need to be in the field, building together. When restrictions are ultimately lifted, contractors need the ability to get back to work quickly—and be more productive than ever before.

Many contractors have already embraced leading technologies to improve processes and scale operations to be sustainable in downturns by moving to integrated, cloud-based software suites. By removing manual, labor-intensive processes from their daily operations and providing the ability to work in time, these contractors are much more agile and can make immediate businesses decisions based on real, measurable data. Of course, there are still thousands of contractors still relying on manual processes and outdated, disconnected software systems to get by. But getting my may not be enough anymore as project owners are increasingly requiring contractors to work with the latest technologies to collaborate in real time, increase productivity and mitigate risks. As business returns once this current disruption dissipates, this could become even more widespread as a new industry standard.

This digitization of construction operations—whether spurred by modern business demands, recent business disruptions, or contractors own desire to be more productive and profitable—is leveraging the cloud to fuel growth and performance capabilities. Cloud-based, interconnected software expands data beyond the back office—allowing virtually anywhere, anytime access to information, powerful software workflows and functionality to extended project teams. Every project stakeholder can work with real-time data rather than information that is weeks or months old. This means project decisions are more informed, productivity is boosted, risks and delays are mitigated and work gets done quicker and correctly the first time. For many contractors, moving to the cloud has netted significant cost savings and higher profit margins. 

And when business disruptions occur, they’re better suited to adapt. Project teams can use collaborative cloud workspaces to continue working together to plan project phases, or detailed reporting and data analytic tools to dig deeper into current project progress, identify trends and find new ways to boost productivity once workers return to the jobsites. 

Now Serving: A Construction Data Transformation

Data—and the tools to parse and look at it in relevant formats—is the fuel that powers construction projects. For those contractors that have modernized their technology stacks and taken advantage of the cloud, the focus now is on how to improve the quality of data collected and better evaluating it to make smarter project and business decisions. This data intelligence revolution represents the next step in the construction industry’s tech-aided metamorphosis. As projects—and construction firms—become larger and more complex, the need to better leverage data has become a priority.

That’s why the next wave of construction operations is being powered by detailed data and business analytic solutions. Business analytics applies algorithms to data in order to predict project and business performance with time to mitigate the risk. Business analysis solutions find previously unknown data relationships to help guide future business decisions.

The most effective business intelligence solutions for construction today consist of a data warehouse and a data analysis platform integrated into a larger, cloud-based construction ERP solution. By integrating directly with the ERP, the data warehouse is automatically refreshed with live construction data, organizing the information into logically organized data cubes. Once the data is aggregated, the data analysis platform lets users view or manipulate the data to glean the information they seek. 

It might sound complex, but contractors don’t need a team of advanced data scientists or hours upon hours of labor-intensive work to get to this level of insight. These software solutions do the heavy lifting. Thanks to automated data collection and analysis processes, end users can largely plug-and-play, easily moving information between data cubes or running advanced data queries in a few clicks. These analytic tools make it easy for virtually anyone to look at their own data in new ways. 

Once the reports or data visualizations contractors want to see are achieved, users can quickly share them with individuals or extended teams within the organization. Through public and private folders and dashboards the intelligence can be quickly delivered to ensure that those that need to see information relevant to them have it directly in front of them. And these reports can be configured to automatically populate and share information out on certain schedules.

Protecting Contractors’ Tomorrows 

And it’s not just digging deeper into current project data. These powerful data analytic solutions have predictive tools that can spot trends and better forecast what might happen with future work. Contractors can use these tools to easily run an advanced simulation to show how both projects and cash flow will look if workflows, costs, productivity rates and more stay at current levels or if they’re improved. And predictive analytic tools can also help identify where gaps or shortcomings might exist, allowing contractors to better plan ahead, ultimately producing more efficient, higher quality projects—and ultimately win more work.

A good use of predictive analytics is in the area of profit fade, which has been an ongoing challenge in construction. By comparing current and historical cash flow data with other data like equipment usage metrics, labor and material costs and productivity metrics, contractors can predict if there will be profit fade with time to mitigate and possibly reverse the trend.

This is just the beginning of the data revolution. Advanced robotics, virtual reality artificial intelligence and machine learning (think of equipment knowing when and where to begin working without human interaction) are all leveraging the cloud and data to redefine the construction landscape by automating tasks and giving construction teams more powerful resources to make their jobs more productive … and easier. 

As we move into a potentially brand-new tomorrow, there’s no better time than today for contractors to be modernizing their own systems to help them get back to healthy business and scaling to better weather the next unknown.


 Comments ({{Comments.length}})

  • {{comment.Name}}


    {{comment.DateCreated.slice(6, -2) | date: 'MMM d, y h:mm:ss a'}}

Leave a comment

Required! Not valid email!