Design and construction companies often have a bad relationship with their data. Do any of these troubles sound familiar?
1. Data, data, everywhere. You can collect data from various sources, but it’s not practical to do anything with it because of the complexity, the time involved, and the expense of manipulating it.
A good example is a large company that needed to get better at predicting the performance of its many vendors. Also, reporting to project owners was inefficient and time-consuming. Data simply came from too many sources! In both examples, there was plenty of data for specific point tasks, but marshaling it for other purposes was difficult to the point of impossible.
Similarly, a design firm had information scattered across the three different project management systems that a customer had asked them to use for each of their last three projects. As a result, the firm couldn’t answer the most basic questions about their customers or vendors, such as “How much did we pay Vendor Y in 2013 versus 2014?”
Each of these companies needed to consolidate and display data in a way that was practical in terms of cost, time, and usability.
2. The Human Era: You know there’s value in your data, so you assign a person (or persons) to gather and assimilate it. Manual integration takes a lot of time, isn’t repeatable, and introduces human error.
Example: A large, multidisciplinary general contractor relied heavily on metrics to evaluate and track performance of people and projects. That was a great use of data, but their method was lacking. They manually moved data from a range of existing systems into Excel spreadsheets to generate reports. This approach failed in every way:
- It yielded data that was too little and too late to be really useful.
- It tied up key information technology and finance personnel.
- It generated inaccurate information due to errors in moving data.
Companies who want to capitalize on their data need to automate the process, because manual processing is simply too inefficient and error-prone.
3. Lost in translation: You have a general business intelligence solution but it’s not purpose-built for the design and construction industry. As a result, it either neglects industry-specific data sources such as project management systems, or is expensive to adapt to your needs.
As an example, a provider of diverse construction services looked at a major BI platform suggested by their ERP vendor. They found this “Big BI” solution to be too expensive to implement and too time-consuming to use. And despite its expense and sophistication, it lacked industry-specific functionality!
Competing products suffered similar shortcomings. They demanded the company to:
- Connect to the data sources.
- Extract the data.
- Tie the data together in a meaningful way (known as data modeling).
- Present it to users in a meaningful way.
In this industry, very few vendors know how to do all of this. Or if a general BI services company is used, they have to be taught the metrics relevant to design and construction companies. This usually leads to consultants asking their clients what they want, instead of recommending what they need.
Lantern Data Systems is a Newforma partner.
Lantern Data Systems is a business intelligence consultancy specializing in design and construction companies. Lantern combines data from Newforma Project Center, business systems, and other resources into one intuitive platform, enabling you to avoid problems and improve performance.
For more about the ways Lantern Data Systems facilitates data-driven decisions, visit lanterndata.com.
Marc Krichman is the president of Lantern Data Systems, a specialist in business intelligence for design and construction companies.