Feb 25, 2022 10:51:17 AM

A Guide to Collecting & Organising Construction Data

As someone working in technology, it's tough to uncover the data needs of an entire organisation. Every team and individual will have different requirements, and their needs will change over time. Keeping on top of these changes is a difficult task.

To help, today, we answer the five most common questions when developing data strategy in a construction company, including;

  • What data should be collected?
  • Where is data created?
  • Which digital tools collect data?
  • How can you integrate multiple data sources to find a single source of truth?
  • What data analytics tools are used in construction?

Collecting Data

In late 2021, SignOnSite partnered with Industry Leaders including; Fleetwood, PBS, Southbase, Woollam & WBHO to uncover the data needs of the construction industry. We found consistent data requirements that different business functions needed. These were noted in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Common Data Requirements

Business Function

Data Requirement

Project Management
  • Is our project on schedule?
  • What work has been completed?
  • What work is coming up?
  • What defects need fixing?
  • What are the total costs for a project/s
  • Are we running under or over budget?
Financial Management 
  • Where are we spending the most amount of money?
  • What are our labour costs?
  • What are our material costs?
  • What are our upcoming costs?
  • What is our company’s P&L?
  • What is our profit predicted?
Design & Building 
  • How can we ensure that our building withholds weight?
  • How can we test that materials are resistant to the environment?
  • If we were to use a different material, how would that impact the integrity of the building?
Safety
  • What are the safety risk indicators in our workforce?
  • How many injuries/ fatalities have we had?
  • Why are these injuries/ fatalities happening?
Field Operations
  • What's our percentage of labour downtime?
  • What's our percentage of equipment downtime
  • What’s our average revenue per hour worked?
  • What’s our downtime vs productive time?

Before collecting data, it’s essential first to identify where data is created. By doing this, you can put systems in place at the source to automatically collect data to distribute it across your organisation.

The vast majority of construction data is created where the work happens - on projects.
Data is made through a set of processes completed by workers or subcontractors. This data should then be stored and shared across multiple business functions, helping companies answer their most critical data questions (as seen in Figure 1 below).

Figure 1: Where Data is Created

Figure 1 Where Data is Created-min

Construction companies are now collecting data at the source with cloud applications. In doing this, gathering vast amounts of field data created by workers or subcontractors and sharing data across the organisation (all or close to real-time). The most common tools used to collect data are;

Organising Data

It’s excellent that construction companies have moved on from just replacing manual processes with digital solutions. But to harness the power of data, construction companies need a way to integrate multiple data sources. Construction companies have two options when looking at doing so.

Option A:  Connecting your Apps

It has become standard practice for software providers to offer integrations between different apps. For example, many construction companies now choose to use Procore as their Project & Financial Management tool. They can integrate it with SignOnSite, iAuditor, and a range of other applications to generate the required data. To learn more about Procore Integrations, head to Procore Marketplace

Option B:  Use a Data Warehouse

Another option is using a Data Warehouse. Imagine a giant excel spreadsheet with every data point you've ever collected. Using a data warehouse, you can integrate multiple cloud apps, extract any data and build customised reports.

It’s all well and good to have a method to collect data but making sense of it is another story. Construction companies now need the means to visualise data in a meaningful way to make both quick strategic and tactical decisions.

These Data Warehouse products usually offer an analytics tool, allowing construction companies to collect their data in one central location, integrate multiple apps, build customised reports and dashboards. The most common tools in the construction industry are BigQuery, PowerBI & Tableau.