Autodesk and FMI Consulting released a study on Sept. 14, 2021 on the prevalence of construction data usage and the losses resulting from data errors. It estimates that bad data in 2020 may have caused $1.8 trillion in losses worldwide and was potentially responsible for 14% of avoidable rework, amounting to $88 billion in costs.
The survey highlighted the effects of “bad data” being defined as incomplete, inaccurate, inconsistent, or untimely numbers. While 55% of the 3900 construction professionals who responded to the study, said they implemented a formal project data strategy, 30% indicated that more than half of their project data was “bad,” providing no valuable insights.
Today, organizations are adopting technology, but the study illustrates real opportunity and substantial dollars left on the table when there are no data strategies in place for more positive project outcomes.
The root causes of bad construction data are typically not malicious actors, hackers, or other criminal reasons. Instead, much of the bad data results from simple human error. 24% of data was inaccurate, such as a five entered in a field where a six should be. Another 24% was missing data, like blank fields in a spreadsheet. According to the study, a further 21% of the data was wrong, such as when an employee believes they were recording one aspect of a worksite but instead covered another.
The Power of Good Data
There are positive outcomes from good construction data and financial damages to the construction industry from bad data. For example, the study found that intentional data strategies supported more consistent, data-driven decision-making. According to the release, 12% of respondents said they always incorporate project data into their decision-making strategies like regularly reviewing data for quality, standardizing data collection, monitoring practices, reporting, and centralizing access by structuring data in a common data environment.
The study also found that construction managers highly value data skills, and 60% of respondents said that the presence of data management and analysis skills were essential for construction teams to work effectively. This article illustrates the immense value of selecting the right connected software and putting frameworks in place to both capture and manage data.
Construction firms that implement formal data strategies stand to gain the most ROI from their technology investments, so it is essential to collaborate with vendors and determine how to best use the data collected to make it more meaningful.
Big data throughout the Construction Lifecycle
The sheer volume and reliance of project data are ever-increasing within the construction industry. Therefore, retaining all project data from start to handoff is crucial for general contractors (GCs) and project owners. As construction projects become more complex, they involve more stakeholders with more data and data systems to address.
During different project stages, various stakeholders require additional software. By the time the construction project is complete, it is estimated that up to 30 percent of the data is lost at commissioning. However, the trend here is different. This is a significant problem because all the data collected during a construction project’s design and build phases are required to operate the building beyond the handover and commission phases effectively.
The solution is to remove “differences” from the equation and maintain all project data in one system or software platform. This dramatically reduces the amount of data loss throughout the project. As a result, data is captured in one platform throughout the entire project and accessible to every stakeholder, streamlining commissioning and handover processes.
Data Silos Caused by Systems
Every construction project involves data silos because many different players at work use their software, systems, and methods to get the job done. For example, architects have software that focuses on creativity, while engineers utilize software to ensure designed elements have tolerances, available materials, and safety regulations. In addition, the project owner may be using another software system to ensure that all parties working on the project stay within budget and on schedule.
Construction data silos create unintended walls and difficulties in collecting all information in one central place. There’s also no easy way for these silos to share data causing data to be lost or inaccurate. Data transparency becomes an issue because each team member cannot view the same (or complete) data set.
There are many types of data involved in the construction process, including:
- Financial data; Project Reports, and Meeting Minutes
- 2D drawings and 3D engineering data
- Project Documentation & Schedules
- Change Orders and Daily Logs
- Submittals and Requests for Information (RFIs)
- Asset, Materials & Equipment Information
Design teams are the first experts to work on a construction project before passing their data to the GCs. First, architects work to design the building and its stylistic elements in software that allows them to create blueprints that are handed off to the GCs for bidding.. Similarly, engineers use AutoCAD software to turn an architect’s designs into 3D models that account for every nut, bolt, and cross member in detail. Lastly, a bill of materials (BOM) can be created using engineering software for costing purposes, a substantial part of the bid.
Ultimately, data is handed over to the contractors who use the blueprints, BOM, and engineering drawings to construct the building. On top of that, because only specific drawings, documents, and files are typically shared at the end of the design process, critical data used by the design team is lost when handed over.
Arguably the most prominent manager and driver of data on a construction jobsite, the GC relies on access to the latest data throughout the project. Unfortunately, most GCs’ software to manage their projects is primarily found within the office and not accessible on the jobsite. This is a significant problem because 60-70% of the data is field generated. In addition, on the construction jobsite, accessing real-time project data is crucial for the general contractor to review with collaborators using mobile devices. Lastly, most project management tools don’t lend themselves to commissioning and handover stages and transferring the data efficiently to project owners.
Trade contractors are frequently limited to operating within the GC’s system (or no system at all). As a result, trade contractors are inclined to rely on their own systems to track project time, labor, materials, and progress. In this scenario, they are inputting the same data in two systems. If they don’t have their own system of record, the data implemented into the GC is lost for trade contractors
The issues here are not trivial and leave much risk in the arrangement – not having a paper trail or good process for managing and tracking changes by project management, engineering, or other stakeholders throughout the construction project. Risk and liability affect the delivery of the project in both quality and schedule. In addition, decision-making and accurate estimates are challenged without having accurate historical project data to use for the next bid.
Operations and Owners
Owners have specific tools and software systems to manage the day-to-day operations of their facilities. For example, owners often use Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) that take the building data and help operations teams work efficiently.
CMMS tools integrate with other data sources and software systems such as asset management and work order management. However, the mobility of these tools may not always enable staff to access all the information on the job. In addition, more unique software platforms create silos that require integration and may cause additional research and work during and after the handover and commissioning.
A Better Way to Move Forward
Rather than having siloed groups using different software systems, the solution is for all groups to use one platform across the entire project lifecycle. This ensures no construction data is lost between project phases and handoff procedures, delivering complete data transparency. As a result, all stakeholders in each group, including design, engineering, GCs, subcontractors, owners, and operations teams, have access to accurate data to do their jobs.
Construction firms that implement formal data strategies gain the most ROI by adopting complete lifecycle software systems. It offers transparency, seamless communication, and collaboration among stakeholders through each phase.
There are purpose-built software platforms designed for the construction industry, integrating design needs, GCs, subcontractors, and owners, but adoption rates remain stagnant. Data transfer, loss, and project tracking exist because software systems do not integrate. It’s reported that 30% of construction and engineering firms use software that doesn’t integrate or communicate with other tools.
While their involvement in selecting and implementing a lifecycle construction software platform may require learning and growing pains, there is a quick ROI. Project data is preserved in a web-based central location and readily available data for project teams and stakeholders to communicate effectively and make better decisions.
Connected Data: Keeps everyone on the same page.
Today, cloud platforms and data exist to keep everyone on a construction project connected through every project stage. The data should be uploaded in one place – a life cycle software platform from the first back-of-a-napkin conceptual design sketches to handover and commissioning documentation.
Project owners must specify all stakeholders’ software during the bid process. The workload will be frontloaded, and all parties will upload all data to one platform. The owner and GC have the answers at the project start and throughout the project lifecycle because the data is accessible. There is no transfer between old software systems. A massive uptick in productivity can be seen here because teams working on the project have access to the data they need.
More work upfront gets everyone on the same page to bring greater collaboration through the end of the project. All project data is captured in one system and handed over to the owner. Lastly, this smooth project close-out process means facilities can operate faster and earn the owner money.
When selecting a connected lifecycle software platform for your next construction project, ensure it’s device-agnostic and enable all construction personnel to store and find data and communicate on any mobile device.
- Easy to use in the field; email is the default for cell phones and tablets
- Interfaces and user experience on the platform maximize adoption in the field
- Mobile-friendly meeting the needs of all project experts
Connecting the Project Lifecycle
The Autodesk Construction Cloud™ is a platform that enables multiple stakeholders to connect the project lifecycle – bringing planning, design, building, and operations teams together. The Autodesk Construction Cloud is a use case to increase efficiency, minimize risk, and significantly reduce mistakes in completing projects. The need to connect customized workflows, stakeholder groups, and purpose-built construction software for each project team and make critical project data and documentation available to all workflows.
One example of connected software is MSUITE’s capabilities to connect BIM, Fab and Field teams to increase visibility, productivity, and accuracy in fabrication.
MSUITE’s BIMPRO integrates with BIM 360 Docs so designers can see their BIM 360 models and sheets directly within BIMPRO. This eliminates the need to print PDFs, provides instant access to the latest models and sheets saved in BIM 360 Docs, and reduces the risk of employees in the prefabrication shops or the field working from outdated information.
MSUITE with Autodesk Forge Viewer allows customers to create fabrication spools in Revit file formats that can be viewed directly in FABPro or FIELD Construction teams to improve their prefabricated building efficiency by enhancing paperless shop floors, empowering field workers, and automating data capture and documentation.
Mitigate Risks During Projects and After Closeout
Proper work documentation is required to mitigate risks during the project lifecycle and after project close-out. Connected software solutions provide the framework to document work and communicate, including:
- Scheduling and Resource management
- Reporting and Submittals
- Change orders and Proof of payment
For example, documentation is essential for trade contractors working on maintenance and service contracts, and accurate data is documented to mitigate liability, such as properly documenting change orders on work delivered. In addition, the trade worker in the field needs access to all this data, so they are not necessarily held liable.
Owners need to push for lifecycle software.
A construction lifecycle software platform should be a requirement demanded by the owner throughout the project. This will help all project groups collaborate, track, and communicate data more effectively and ensure a smooth project close-out. In addition, this ensures that all the data, tracking, and paperwork required for a successful close-out have been captured, dramatically shrinking the time needed to complete the project.
Harness the Power of Predictive Analytics
Construction GCs and owners can glean important business insights by capturing big data within one lifecycle platform. In addition, intelligent software tools can provide feedback on the project’s efficiencies and areas for improvement. Predictive analysis can even be applied to a construction project’s handover and commissioning phase.
Machine learning capabilities offer teams the ability to identify potential project risks and resolve issues to avoid costly mistakes or project delays.
The Right Software Drives Better Quality Projects – From Planning to Close-Out
Construction projects involve massive amounts of data, and without a centralized location to capture all project information, close-out, commissioning, and handover become disjointed, labor-intensive, and laborious efforts. Choosing the right software that manages the entire construction lifecycle will:
- Speed Up Handover – Historical records and information are at your fingertips, so no more wasted time packaging handover documentation.
- Facilitate Faster Operations – Reducing the time needed for the administration and logistics of project handover, GC can expedite projects much faster.
- Organize Information – Having a single source of truth makes all project information easily accessible, organized or directly exported to the owner.
- Enhance Project Visibility – Owners and GCs will have transparency into project status for the project’s duration, meaning there are no surprises at close-out.
- Save on Cost and Schedule – Without data loss from one phase to the next, teams can access relevant information to make timely and informed decisions that may help manage overall cost and schedule impacts.
- Improve Estimating & Bidding – By capturing data throughout all phases of the project it allows for a feedback loop that can improve future estimates and bids.
Once the right software solution is implemented, all project personnel are on board with using the software to collaborate with much greater efficiency. Data is preserved, separate project groups require no export/import processes, and everyone can easily access the data needed to do the job right. The software has already done much of the data collection and organization to accelerate handover. Streamlined handover and commissioning lead to faster and more effective project close-outs and foster better relationships between all parties.