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By Duane Craig
November 14, 2016
There is much talk about data in the business world these days. While the raging data storm is only going to increase, it doesn't have to be overwhelming. Data has always been there, what's different now is that there’s not only more of it, but ample tools to help you analyze it to achieve meaningful insights.
Here are five ways your data will offer you more value than you’ve ever found before:
Data captures detail. Data can tell you the who, what, when, and wheres of a construction project and bring anything else important to your attention. These are all fragments of a much bigger story that data allows you to understand. To collect all of these pieces for analysis, its you can:
Without the who, what, when, and where, it’s difficult to gain new insights about your business and your portfolio of projects. Next are the “whys” and “hows”...
Once you have the basic data in a usable form, you’ll find comparable insights. When you compare the results of safety reports from one year to the next, you can quickly see whether safety issues are increasing, stagnant, or decreasing. Same goes for fuel usage. If you keep your data well-segregated, you can even compare fuel use between different types of equipment.
Using data to draw comparisons applies to nearly every business function and every aspect of a construction project. When you see that one type of project is consistently more profitable than another, you've made an observation that can radically affect your business’ bottom line. Or, if you discover that a material from one vendor costs consistently more than the same material from another vendor, you have valuable information for making decisions about how you source materials. But read your data with a grain of salt––data can be misleading if you under or overestimate its importance.
An important way to get value from your data is by distinguishing what is important from what isn’t. Weigh the value of different pieces of data. This is an ongoing process because sometimes what is unimportant today, becomes very important tomorrow. You can use sophisticated data analysis tools to sift through your data by looking for the most important aspects for you at any given time. But in most cases, you can very quickly determine the importance on your own when viewing limited sets of data.
As you process through your data, you may find things that are alarming or trivial. You could also discover that the data you rely on isn't suited to be used for the decisions you make. There's even a strong possibility that you’ll find that the data you’re collecting has very little return on investment. But, you may also discover new business and project insights that run deeper than a cursory comparison of data. You can predict where to increase or decrease the amount of hours to spend to maximize efficiency.
Your data holds the answers to many pressing business and project problems. These are all problems that require decisions to resolve them. Data supplies the necessary raw material for making better decisions that work well and quickly. You can expect to see many types of business and project decisions become more aligned. You and your team will make better decisions about the allocation of resources and time management. It's also highly likely that you will see people making better decisions about safety and risk. All in all, you will gain new insights and understanding as you see the results of improved business and project decisions.
The data that you collect, compare, assess, and use to make better decisions ultimately helps you understand. It helps you to understand the business world you operate in, as well as the project world where you spend so much time. That understanding delivers the ultimate promise of your data because once you understand it, it becomes knowledge, and knowledge is power. What you learn from your data lays the foundation for staying competitive, and for evolving your business to the next level.
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