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How to understand construction data analytics

In the modern construction industry, there is a clear gap forming between companies that use construction data analytics and those that don’t.

The companies that use data analytics in construction effectively aren’t just adapting to ride the industry-wide digitisation trend – but are realising the positive effects of well managed data on their project’s profits.

And, for all construction businesses right now, profits are often hard to come by. Studies show construction project profits have been steadily declining over the last six years, and are now at an average of only 1-2%. On top of this, around 91% of projects tend to go over budget, and the industry expects nearly half of projects to be unprofitable.

But for ambitious companies looking to use data analytics for construction to boost project performance, it takes more than just ditching Excel and whiteboards.

In this guide we’ll look at:

  1. How big data and analytics are transforming the construction industry
  2. How data analytics in the construction industry is currently being used
  3. What is the problem with data management in construction?
  4. Why connected, real-time data is the answer to effective construction analytics

Ready? Let’s go. 

How big data and analytics are transforming the construction industry

Big data analytics in the construction industry is a way to more effectively manage the hundreds or thousands of jobs to be done (and tracked) on each project.

Big data analytics in construction refers to the vast volumes of data generated from various sources, like:

  • Project management tools 
  • Building information modelling (BIM)
  • IoT devices on-site 
  • And more 

Ambitious construction companies are realising that this data, when effectively analysed through digital tools, can offer deep insights into every facet of a construction project, from initial planning to completion.

So what are some of the trends that have brought on this push to digitisation and data analytics?

How data analytics in the construction industry is currently being used

Despite the fact that some still operate on whiteboards, excel, or pen and paper, construction companies of all sizes are starting to see the positive capabilities of using digital tools to harness construction industry data analytics.

Effective project data gathering and tracking helps improve project management, by giving project managers more visibility into things like:

  • Project planning
  • Time reporting 
  • Work order management
  • Field reporting
  • Budgeting
  • Revenue forecasting 
  • Tendering and invoicing
  • Resource planning 
  • And much more

Not only that, but when the data from these project aspects are connected in real-time, you can see how one small change in a project can affect everything else, giving more control over project performance.

Regulatory compliance

The shift toward digital tools is further spurred by tightening regulatory requirements. 

In the UK, for instance, the concept of the “golden thread” as outlined in recent building safety legislation emphasises the importance of transparent and accessible digital records throughout a building’s lifecycle. 

This initiative aims to enhance building safety by ensuring all safety information is readily available and up-to-date, pushing companies towards digital solutions that can manage and maintain such detailed data efficiently.

Younger generations pushing for modernisation

As younger, tech-savvy professionals enter the construction industry, there is an increasing expectation for companies to leverage technology. 

This demographic is adept at using digital tools and expects their workplace to utilise technological advancements. Their influence is catalysing the adoption of technologies such as machine learning, AI, and IoT in construction processes, which not only streamlines operations but also attracts new talent who are eager to work in a modernised environment.

Sustainability initiatives

With environmental impact a growing concern, construction data analytics help in planning and executing construction practices that are more sustainable and less damaging to the environment.

But the boom in construction digitisation and data analytics has left a lot of ambitious companies scrambling to keep up – and this leads to rushed approaches.

The potential of data analytics in the construction industry is consequently being wasted.

The problem with data management in construction

Getting access to data is one thing, but the key to success is effective data management in construction.

Construction data management ensures that the project data you gather and use isn’t poor, because poor construction data leads to bad construction planning and project management.

But the rush to keep up with digitisation has created a self-fulfilling prophecy of poor data management, plunging construction projects into deeper anarchy than the times of pen and paper.

  • Construction companies buy separate digital tools

As the potential of digitisation and data analytics has been realised, a multitude of digital construction tools have flooded the market, covering every aspect of the construction process.

Suddenly presented with all of this choice, construction companies often purchase a different tool for each use case across a project lifecycle. So that means one separate tool for:

  • Project planning
  • Time reporting
  • Progress reports
  • Price lists, quotes and invoices
  • Work orders
  • Photo and document storage 
  • And more

You end up with a confusing construction tech stack, each system having a different owner, used by different employees and stakeholders with multiple login portals.

  • Construction data gets stuck in silos

When digitisation is done by purchasing separate systems, data from all aspects of a project is locked in silos.

This leads to fragmented data that isn’t easily shared and a lack of visibility that can delay decisions, hinder collaboration, and increase the risk of data errors.

  • Static construction data causes inefficiencies

Most of the point products on the market are only designed to provide after-the-event snapshots of project data, nearly always aggregated to a high level. 

They’re optimised to manage static construction data that is out-of-date by the time it’s analysed. This only shows a basic picture of your project, not the hundreds or thousands of moving parts within it. This kind of construction data management will never allow construction companies to improve project performance.

If ambitious construction companies want to grow, there has to be a better way to manage and analyse construction data.

Why the best construction projects run on data in motion

In the ever-changing landscape of construction projects, success hinges on effectively managing the flow of data in motion. 

Unlike static data, which offers a snapshot of a project’s status after events have occurred, data in motion captures the ongoing interactions and tasks as they unfold in real time. 

This dynamic approach allows project managers to see not just isolated events, but the interconnected movements of every component within a project.

Understanding Data in Motion

Every construction project is a complex web of tasks, with thousands of jobs performed daily. These tasks are interdependent; a delay in one can cascade through others, potentially derailing the entire project. 

Real-time visibility into these dynamics (data in motion) enables project managers to proactively adjust schedules, resources, and priorities to keep projects on track.

This approach transforms how projects are managed by allowing for immediate reaction to changes and integrating data across different stages and aspects of a project. Real-time data streams help identify patterns, predict potential issues, and provide actionable insights that can significantly enhance decision-making and project efficiency.

The advantage of seeing Data in Motion

By harnessing the power of data in motion, construction companies can avoid the pitfalls of outdated information and static data analysis. This proactive approach reduces risks, cuts down waste, and significantly boosts project performance.

Embracing data in motion is not just about keeping up with technology, it’s about staying ahead of the curve in project management, ensuring that your projects are not just completed, but completed successfully and profitably.

Next: Optimised for Data in Motion

Recognising the limitations of traditional tools that manage ‘data at rest’, Next has been developed to specifically cater to the needs of modern construction management. Our platform excels in capturing and utilising data in motion, offering tools that integrate seamlessly across various project aspects.

With Next, data from across your entire projects is not only collected but connected. This connectivity provides a holistic view of a project in motion, allowing for a level of control and insight previously unattainable. 

Next’s technology ensures that project managers can see the impact of each job done on the overall project in real time, transforming potential chaos into a well-oiled project machine.

This allows you to not only keep projects within budget and on schedule but also enhance their overall profitability and competitive edge in a challenging industry.

For a deeper dive into your project’s financial health, our platform feature, Next Insights, allows you to gain real-time visual feedback and AI-powered analytics into your project finances across all projects. 

This powerful tool streamlines financial data visualisation and project management, allowing you to make strategic adjustments on the fly, ensuring your projects are not just managed but profitable as well.Want to see Data in Motion in action? Book a demo with us today and one of our expert team members will take you through how to get started!

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