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Why actionable data is the key to unlocking higher levels of productivity in construction

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Productivity in the construction sector has been stagnant for two decades, leaving contractors and project managers struggling to meet client demands. In a recent survey, over 60% of respondents cited ineffective communication, inefficient schedule management, and low-quality documents as reasons for poor productivity at the job site.

As technology begins to bridge gaps between stakeholders, construction companies can now access new ways to become more productive and to encourage collaboration across business silos. These methods include embracing cross-platform and mobile-friendly applications to move data to the cloud for easy storage and retrieval of information.

However, these techniques are not always executed effectively, resulting in continued productivity issues for the business. Here are three ways data silos prevent companies from achieving their productivity goals.

The challenges that data silos present to productivity

1.   Siloed data acts as a barrier to coordination and collaboration

Smooth information flow between departments is crucial to cross-silo collaboration. Data stored in disparate folders, email chains, and spreadsheets form barriers to information sharing. This makes it difficult for employees to gain a holistic overview of the company’s ultimate goal and, therefore, forces them to focus on department-specific goals without understanding their role in the grand scheme of things.

Referring to silos, Go Nimbly Co-Founder and CEO Jason Reichl said, “there are too many individual boats…it’s really hard to push them towards this one goal.” Construction companies, notorious for being deeply entrenched in business silos, must find ways to allow smooth information flow across department lines.

Business leaders that succeed in doing so will create a work environment that encourages and facilitates better communication and collaboration between teams.

2.   Stored information is often inaccurate and incomplete

As the digital transformation sweeps through the construction industry, new information-gathering technologies such as IoT and BIM enable business leaders to collect data from all corners of the project, both from the office and from the project site.

One drawback is this data is often low quality due to inaccurate and inconsistent entries. While companies invest heavily in data gathering, often less consideration is given to the quality of that data, despite business leaders recognizing the impact that poor data has on their operation. In a recent survey by Prove, 68% of respondents cited data quality issues as a barrier to digital transformation. Until construction companies can ensure that their data is complete and accurate, they are likely to make poor business decisions and spend excessive amounts of money fixing avoidable rework.

3.   Unstructured data provides no insight into the project

Between compliance reports, safety data, and information generated by connected technologies, construction companies collect large amounts of on-site data daily. The amount of data stored by businesses has ballooned to an astonishing 44 zettabytes in the last decade. However, collecting data does not mean that companies automatically gain better insight into their operation.

The construction industry continues to rely on outdated communication techniques such as email, chats, paper, and spreadsheets to share information with stakeholders of a project. This creates a challenge for business leaders who must extrapolate important information from this fragmented and unstructured data.

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How centralized data banks and actionable data increase productivity and improve operational efficiency

Make highly informed, data-driven business decisions

Cost estimations, project timelines, and compliance activities all rely on data that is assumed to be accurate and complete. Any change in the data must be reflected accurately in real time for business leaders to make informed business decisions. On average, construction workers spend over 14 hours a week dealing with issues related to conflict and rework. This takes time away from important, high-value tasks and increases the likelihood of projects incurring additional costs to fix these issues.

A centralized data bank acts as a single source of truth for all project data and is updated in live documents that display the changes in real time. This provides project managers the most accurate and up-to-date information, empowering them to make informed decisions and deliver accurate cost and schedule estimates to all project stakeholders, from clients to contractors.

Receive and react to stakeholder feedback efficiently

Contractors, sub-contractors, suppliers, office staff, and on-site workers are constantly providing insight into operational issues they are facing on the job. Business leaders, in turn, should transform this feedback into real and measurable change on the ground. However, this is challenging when the feedback received is unstructured and incomplete.

With integrated communications software, cloud-based data storage, and advanced data analysis tools, employees and stakeholders can share insight and feedback in a manner that is productive and conducive to informed decision-making. Project managers and business leaders can also use technology to open communication channels that will allow them to evaluate the effectiveness of new policies they design based on the initial data sharing.

Increase cross-department communication and information sharing

Collaboration can act as a driver for productivity within an organization. Companies that promote workplace collaboration can be five times as productive as their competitors who lack a collaborative work environment.

Business leaders must ensure information is shared across department lines so disparate pieces of data can be brought together to give each employee a holistic overview of the organization’s goals and shortcomings. Business leaders can gather feedback individually. However, these opinions are usually department specific. Giving employees access to additional contextual data can help them make informed suggestions to their managers.

Ultimately, productivity in construction is limited by the extent to which business leaders can gather, structure, analyze, and share high quality data. With integrated software, construction companies can combine the data gathering capabilities that already exist within their business and empower employees and managers to improve the way they work.