How do you use information during a construction job to optimize results? How can you personally gain insights from data to avoid financial risk?

Everyone involved in construction has questions they want answered using information gathered from the job. While there are people who can analyze your data for you, there are times when unique insights – like minimizing risk – are important specifically to you and your construction company.

It takes an investment of time to learn how to get answers to your questions. Having the skills in your job to find certain statistics – for instance how much the project is over budget on lumber – starts with setting the key metrics you want to track.

The best approach is to start with questions, not the data. Then you can use the raw information you gather to answer those questions. If you don’t start with a question you’re looking to answer, reviewing raw data can be overwhelming and messy. But if you decide what you need answers to, you can be strategic in collecting project data and making it work for you.

Starting with an overall vision – perhaps avoiding delays on the project – helps narrow down the information that needs to be collected and which sources are key. Even if you don’t know how to collect the information you need, focusing on your end product is a good place to start. Knowing what you’re looking for will help you structure your project data.

Strategic business intelligence is a tool that has many uses in construction and might involve the use of machine learning or artificial intelligence. Compare this to the old standby: paper records or spreadsheets. While they may hold an abundance of information, accessing it can be slow and frustrating.

Technology can make information available across an organization, so it can be leveraged for better efficiencies. Envision each department having an individual dashboard to track specific metrics that affect their area of responsibility.

A number of emerging trends are affecting the kind and amount of data being collected on jobs, and that will grow exponentially in the coming years. They include blockchain, predictive modeling for safety, time tracking, drones, robots, predictive analytics, machine learning, automated plans, 3D printing, and transitioning construction into a factory environment.

Technologies will be increasingly interoperable – for instance drones collecting data, feeding it into predictive analytics and enabling machine learning. The potential for improved projects will emerge from the ways these innovations collect information. You may have drones hovering over the project site comparing the model to what’s taking place on the jobsite. They will be searching for discrepancies between what has been installed and what the specifications are in the model or electronic design for real-time risk mitigation.

There are many innovative ways information will increasingly be used to gain insights and optimize construction projects. Tune in to Bridging the Gap Podcast episode 133 with guest Justin Fellows to hear about using data to minimize exposure to disputes and financial risks on construction projects.

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