Why Data Management in the Construction Industry is Critically Important
5 min read
To say that the construction industry involves very complex business operations is likely a bit of an understatement.
Not only do projects need to be carefully managed to guarantee that they're proceeding as safely as possible, but all work in the field needs to be meticulously recorded. Everything must be documented in a timely fashion and reported back to the home office, all in an effort to make sure that work is being completed properly - not to mention profitably.
But at the same time, different people within the organization will all have different roles - meaning that they also need to manage different types of data as well. This makes data management in the construction industry unique to them in a number of ways, all of which are essential to consider.
Building Construction Data
As stated, the various types of data in the construction industry are nothing if not unique - but businesses must effectively manage them all in an effort to improve operations. To get a better understanding of the types of data that are at play, consider this information within the context of a few different categories.
Just a few examples of job-related information include but are certainly not limited to ones like:
- Project Management Data
- Change Orders
- Equipment Tracking
- Field Support Services Data
- Foreman Reports
- Invoice Verification
- Jobs Data
- Client Data
- Materials Inventory
- Miscellaneous Requests
- Pay Items
- Personnel Data
- Police Department Billing Details by Town
- Scheduling Data
- Subcontractor Data
On the other hand, reporting is also important in the construction industry so organizations can track progress and ultimately profitability. Examples of this type of information include:
- Activity Reports
- Condensed Invoice Reports
- Credit Card Purchase Reports
- Crew Line Ups
- Equipment Reports
- Field Support Service Reports
- Job Specifics
- Material Vendors
- Materials Inventory Reports
- Open Invoices
- Payroll Job List
- Payroll Worksheet
- Police Details
- Profitability by Customer
- Profitability by Foreman
- Profitability by Project
- Subcontractor Reports
- Rental Vendor Reporting
- Rental Vendor Reconciliation
Finally, there are certain dashboards that will need to be customized for different user roles, all in the name of helping people make the most accurate real-time decisions possible. Each role is presented with only the information that individual needs to effectively do their job:
- Office Staff
Data Analytics in Construction
If a company isn't effectively tracking all of these various types of data, they don't really know where they are financially - meaning they also don't know if they're making or losing money at any given time.
Therefore, data needs to be stored and protected in an industrial strength database with Microsoft SQL Server being a prime example. At that point, analytics and operations must also be written in an application with ASP.NET in an effort to guarantee maximum performance moving forward.
By having all of this construction and project data stored in a single place and online, real-time data analytics can offer user roles with accurate, up-to-date and actionable information about how every project is going. Organizational leaders are therefore in a much better position to make changes and improve project performance and profitability as needed.
Workflow for Construction Projects
Oftentimes, construction projects have complicated contracts that require approval processes for invoicing in particular. This also requires a complex workflow process to help guarantee that all data pertaining to those invoices are being reviewed and approved by the right people.
It's important to keep in mind, however, that this needs to happen in a specific order - meaning that the right data needs to be reviewed by the right person at exactly the right time to approve payments and streamline cashflow.
Therefore, business leaders need to know exactly where projects are at any point in time and this information with embedded workflows enables them to not only see it, but act upon it as quickly as possible as well.
Accessibility to Construction Data While in the Field
Making data accessible to foremen and supervisors in the field is equally critical, as it allows them to capture project data as things evolve around them. This data is then available in real-time to workers in the back office who are responsible for processing, invoicing, scheduling and ultimately managing the project.
The major benefit of this is that it gives management a level of insight into what is happening on a project that has literally never been available before. Problems can be caught quickly, all in an effort to stop small issues now before they have a chance to become much bigger ones down the road. Scheduling can be far more streamlined. Overall, management can make informed decisions that have a positive impact on the profitability of a project - which in and of itself is perhaps the most important advantage of all.
Construction Management App Versus Paper
Unfortunately, many construction companies still use paper forms in the field - something that causes issues from a few different angles.
For starters, data capture using paper is inefficient by its nature and is prone to the dreaded human error. It's not that workers in the field don't want to do their best - far from it. It's just that there is a lot going on and conditions may be changing rapidly and, as a result, mistakes occur at the worst possible time.
Likewise, eventually all of that paper needs to be converted into some type of digital form - a process that also leads to additional data entry errors. Not only that, but paper forms can also be misplaced and lost, taking the data (and all the insight contained inside it) with them.
All throughout this process, management professionals have absolutely no visibility into that information - meaning that they couldn't possibly act on it even if they wanted to. When the information is stored in an application, however, it is available in real-time. More than that, it's also available on any device, in any location with an active Internet connection - leading to faster insights and faster results.
How Data Management in the Construction Industry Improves Profitability
Things are so beneficial that one client actually claimed the initial improvement in profitability was increased by a massive 3% almost immediately after deployment. To put that into perspective, it represented an increase in profit by $6 million in the very first year - a number that also improved every year after. All of this is because that organization now had the ability to see and implement other productivity improvements at strategic junctures.
All told, the software investments were easily paid for in that first year alone - all while still continuing to generate compounding value in the years after.
In the end, it's difficult to believe that with all of these aforementioned advantages any construction company would still rely on using paper in the field. Unfortunately, there are more businesses out there who are still operating in this way than you might think.
Likewise, not having a custom application to manage their business isn't just putting them at a productivity disadvantage - it's literally harming their competitive advantage as well. This level of efficiency can absolutely be a great way to differentiate yourself from other construction companies, which is why it's a move that is well worth embracing.
The best, not to mention the most scalable, way that businesses implement a custom data management solution involves the use of Microsoft ASP.NET and SQL Server database as the framework for a custom web application, specifically tailored to the company’s needs. Not only that, but they also commonly hire an ASP.NET development company to pull it all together for them. And that way, they can stop worrying about the limitations of their technology and start using it to their advantage - freeing up as much of their time as possible to focus on those matters that truly need their attention.
To find out more information about our ASP.NET software development outsourcing capabilities, or if you’d like to discuss data management in the construction industry, speak with Keene Systems' CEO, Lance Keene click here to book a call with him. You can also download our eBook - Why ASP.NET Development Services Fuels Business Growth - to learn more about this essential topic.