How to Leverage Your Construction Data

It is really difficult, if not damn near impossible, to find data on how much data the construction industry gathers. Which is par for the course, right? Our industry is notorious for lagging in technological advancements. But what does that mean? 

It was in the mid-1990s that digitization was becoming the standard way to capture, store, and recall information. In 1996, according to storing data digitally became cheaper than storing information on paper.

So, essentially, we’re nearly 30 years behind.  

Why would there be data on what data and how much data construction has when we haven’t yet standardized digitizing that data?  

It’s not like we don’t have data. We have gobs of it. We just don’t gather, organize, or house it well. Yet, data is a huge deal. Senior estimators and preconstruction managers and directors store a lot of information in their heads and recall it every day.  

Can you imagine the outcome of a project if you didn’t use the information stored in your head? 

Data and big data aren’t just buzzwords anymore. Harnessing and leveraging your data is a necessity for general contractors to stay ahead.  

How do we know that? Because we know the ramifications of not leveraging our construction data 

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Fortunately, there is enough evidence to prove that utilizing your data will benefit you. 

BIM, artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, data-based estimating systems…the construction digital revolution is here! We sat down with Jeff Sample, Industry Evangelist at DESTINI Estimator integration partner, Join, to discuss how you can start leveraging your data.  

First, we need to define what we mean by data and big data. Jeff says, “We throw the term ‘big data’ around a lot.’ For him, big data in construction is all the information gathered in every aspect of construction. It isn’t just your company’s data—it’s every piece aggregating together.  

If you are just starting out in capturing and storing your data, you won’t have ‘big data’ yet, but that doesn’t mean what you have isn’t important. To begin, you need a single source of truth that captures and houses your data like DESTINI Estimator construction estimating software.  

4 Things You Can do Today to Start Leveraging Your Construction Data 

Embrace a cultural shift. From leadership all the way down, “the organization itself has to understand that data is their future,” says Jeff. Everyone needs to get onboard that data will drive and inform project decisions and grow the business. 

Understand what creating true data is. It’s not just “digital paper,” Jeff says.  

Be brave and be bold! Jeff says, “This industry has so far to go and it’s such an awesome place to be and you folks in preconstruction hold the keys to it. The idea behind new means and methods starts in preconstruction and it starts with you. 

Be curious and ask questions. Jeff says, “We can’t just look at data expecting it to give us the answers, you have to ask good questions, have good ideas and then use the data to validate or invalidate those ideas.”  

Focus your questions on finding what you did right and what you did wrong. Asking the right questions will help you identify and mitigate risk and problems before they happen and help your team predict what will happen on the next project. He says, “Ask if there is a better way and when there is, try it, measure it, and get better every time.”  

You are probably curious about what types of questions Jeff is talking about. Here are three good starting points: 

Are we estimating and coding projects in such a way that when we deliver, we can look back at how we’re doing on each of our different scopes and trades? 

Are these trade contractors our best partners? When you analyze your data, over time you will be able to see how those projects performed with that particular set of trade contractors. 

What are the commonalities between jobs that go well and that go poorly? What can we do to improve?  

Jeff leaves you with one last final thought on leveraging your construction data: “Think bigger. Think better.”  

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