Info on schedule, cost, staff hours and more is helping contractors save money and increase productivity.
Improved data gathering, analysis and reporting is helping construction companies — especially larger ones — complete projects at or under budget and boost productivity according to a recent SmartMarket report from Dodge Data & Analytics and Viewpoint Construction Software.
In the report, “Improving Performance With Project Data,” 64 percent of contractors surveyed noted an improvement in their data gathering and analysis capabilities over the past three years. Among those who did, the top benefits they identified were, in order:
- Better ability to complete projects at/under budget
- Greater productivity
- Great profitability
- Better ability to complete projects at/under schedule
The highest-value data, according to the survey, were:
- Project performance data (schedule, cost)
- Payroll and manhours
- Productivity data
- Safety data
- Equipment tracking data
Collection of equipment tracking data “is still emerging,” according to the report. Specialty trades were more likely than general contractors to rate equipment tracking data as having high or very high importance. More than half of contractors and 60 percent of specialty trades reported generating equipment management reports, with the majority relying mostly on automated systems to do so.
To collect project data, a significant percentage of contractors have moved on from paper and spreadsheets and are using or planning to use commercial software or custom-designed software. Contractors were most satisfied with data gathered from commercial software.
While data collection is improving, contractors identified the ability to gather accurate data from the field as the most important capability to improve over the next three years. The capability rated next-most important was the ability to do trend analysis across projects.
Increasingly, data collection and analysis is critical to success in the construction industry — to improving operations, streamlining projects and saving money. Timely, accurate and detailed data is key to strategic decision-making.
As the report notes, the field data that’s most important to collect and analyze will vary from company to company, but when it comes to advanced approaches to data collection, including software and cloud storage, “Non-participation is no longer a viable option in order to remain competitive in your market and attractive as an employer.”
United Rentals is making it easy for companies to use data, particularly data on project equipment, to work smarter and save money. United Rentals’ Total Control®, a cloud-based worksite management solution, leverages telematics on both rented and owned equipment to allow contractors to see their worksites in real time 24/7, including the location of every piece of equipment, from a desktop or mobile device. Such visibility can save manhours as well as reduce overspending on equipment.
Total Control also allows for tracking equipment utilization on projects and across projects and visualizing utilization improvement over time. Benchmarking based on years of stored data shows United Rentals customers how their equipment consumption compares to those of their peers.
Data on its own won’t move the construction productivity needle, but when used strategically to make better decisions, it can prove to be a powerful agent of positive change.
Marianne Wait is an editor and writer who creates content for Fortune 500 brands.