Create a strategy for the most valuable tool on the job site—data.
by Laura Black, Editor
Constructech Magazine, May/June, 2014 – Data is one of the most valuable assets on any jobsite, but only if it is used effectively. Today, with the advent of smartphones, tablets, and apps, construction companies have the tools already on the jobsite that can help to harness the power of that data. It is simply a matter of developing a strategy for how to best access and manage that data in a way that makes sense for each individual company and project.
The bigger challenge today is that very few companies are taking full advantage of the information available on a job. Forrester Research, ww.forrester.com, Cambridge, Mass., estimates technology executives and decision makers are only using 12% of the data readily available to them. Still, respondents rate data as one of the top priorities when it comes to new investments because it provides deeper insights. For the construction industry, this comes in the form of being able to make real-time decisions at the jobsite, allowing for more accurate choices to be made in a timely manner.
For many, creating strategy for how to use mobile devices and apps has become essential in order to take advantage of all the information on a jobsite. Forrester Research also says more than 90% of global business executives believe digital will disrupt business in the next 12 months, and nearly 75% are taking action with a digital strategy. While many understand the importance of developing a strategy, not quite as many believe they are equipped already. In fact, 33% believe their approach to digital is correct, while only 21% believe the right people are in place to set the strategy. This shows that while there is an understanding about the importance of creating a mobile strategy, there are still many steps that need to be taken in order to follow through. Forrester suggests digital cannot just be a mobile app or bolt-on to a legacy system. Rather, it must be embedded across every department and every aspect of the business.
There are many companies that are already embarking down this path and are beginning to find success with using devices and apps on the jobsite. Several of them have a similar message for the construction industry: The key to mobility is developing a solid strategy for how to access and manage data at the construction site.
Deluge of Data
While there is a plethora of information at a jobsite, there is also a number of apps for the construction industry to choose from when it comes to accessing and managing that data. Some are apps that are designed to work specifically with a back office enterprise system. Others are standalone apps that make it easier to do calculation or other tasks at the jobsite. For construction companies, the big value in apps is being able to easily send information between the office and in the field.
For Robert Dye, vice president and CFO, Panorama Corp., www.panoramacorp.net, Alta Loma, Calif., a company that provides mass grading, fine grading, performance concrete, and asphalt paving services, jobs are spread out across far distances. As such, the company was having a difficult time getting the paperwork to easily flow back to the office.
Enter B2W Software, www.b2wsoftware.com, Portsmouth, N.H., which provides estimating and job-tracking software that can be used in the office or on mobile devices. The big benefit of using this technology for Panorama is the fact it is able to know the status of budgets- anytime and anywhere.
“Knowing where you are at on your job and your budgets from day-to-day, that is huge,” says Dye. “You want to know if you are making money or losing money. A lot of programs don’t give you that realtime feature of knowing until the end of the job. I think the best part of the system is it tracks everything.”
Having access to that information every day helps the construction projects stay on time and on budget, and if an issue does arise in the budget, the company is able to address it very quickly.