With the arrival of the new year, it’s the ideal time for construction leaders to take the opportunity to conduct an annual analysis of their live field data.
Zooming out on the past 12 months and shining a light on the data collected gives critical insights into overall business performance, including projects completed, labor statistics and equipment usage, to name a few. Of course, data collected and analyzed throughout the year is insightful, especially when job costing and monitoring budgets. But a year-end analysis presents the opportunity to see patterns emerge — and that presents many opportunities for companies to learn and grow in the year ahead.
Jeffrey Nesbitt, CliftonLarsonAllen’s national director of partnerships, has a warning for companies that aren’t yet learning from the data and information they’re collecting today. They’re the ones that “won’t be around tomorrow,” he says. “We used to be in a market where we could throw more people at a problem and fix it,” he adds. “We don't have that today. [Now] you're a data management company and a learning organization. If you're not, you need to be, because your competitors are.”
Following are three data insights that companies need for analyzing performance in 2021, and adjusting for a better 2022.
Companies can draw on live field data on equipment usage, performance, location, maintenance, productivity and scheduling to better prepare their teams and projects to meet performance deadlines and maintain project profitability. With this data stored and accessible remotely from a centralized cloud platform, there’s no reason to have lapses in equipment service schedules or maintenance schedules — avoiding surprise breakdowns, added expenses and project delays down the road.
Now is the time for your company to review its complete inventory, one piece of equipment at a time. Ask questions like: Was it effective? Did it have any issues? Was it properly serviced? Were the costs of ownership worth the increase in productivity? What equipment was used the most and the least? Which piece of machinery broke down the most? These can all play into a decision on whether the equipment you own is serving the company's needs, or if it would make more financial sense to rent certain machinery instead of owning it.
If ownership is the right route for your company, then scheduled service on equipment is the most cost-effective way to properly maintain your fleet. Utilizing equipment data, you can schedule out maintenance when projects are slower, or when a particular piece of machinery will be unused. Moreover, equipment data can be used to review asset losses. Now, when equipment goes missing, data can help you determine if it was stolen, misplaced, or inappropriately “borrowed” by someone on the crew. It can also help raise a red flag if there’s a pattern to your company’s lost equipment. Having this information on hand will help you eliminate costly negative patterns and keep a close eye on all of your company assets.
Project Completion Stats
One of the greatest indicators of a company’s annual performance is the number of projects it has completed. Digging deeper into these stats to analyze data on individual projects, tasks and costs can give you valuable insight into company-wide productivity. Knowing where improvements can be made will make your operations more efficient moving forward. How, then, can you best collect this valuable data?
Today’s construction technology stack is loaded with software that can help companies collect, store and utilize data. One of the most impactful applications is a mobile workforce management platform, which tracks labor hours, projects, tasks and assets in real time, stores all information in a cloud, and integrates with accounting and other systems. As a result, companies get an in-depth look at live field data, at any time and from anywhere.
Utilizing this detailed data, you can get a more complete picture of your company’s overall productivity, down to how many hours it took employees to complete certain tasks. This allows you to identify errors, bottlenecks and roadblocks on projects, as well as the types of tasks that could use more resources. Best of all, it will identify those types of projects are most profitable, so that companies can focus their efforts on where their time and resources are best spent to deliver the most bang for their buck.
By analyzing your yearly data on projects, tasks and labor hours, your company can discover ways to finish individual tasks and entire jobs with the utmost efficiency. For example, tracking asset location, usage and maintenance can ensure that equipment is firing on all cylinders and is where it needs to be with advance notice. Employee time and attendance tracking gives companies the ability to know which employees are working, as well as when, where and on what task. This allows companies to make informed scheduling decisions and divert staff to where they’re most needed. Not only can this effort help with active projects, but it can also help to predict and better plan for future project needs.
Accurate live labor costs and task completion tracking allows companies to run real-time earned-value calculations regularly. You can keep track of precisely how much work has been completed on a project, and whether a team is operating over or under budget on a daily basis. This can also alert you to any red flags as you progress through the project, and make it possible to take corrective action on any negative trends.
With critical data in hand, companies can set loftier goals for 2022, and know how to avoid the pitfalls that surfaced in 2021. They can use this data to better control more desirable outcomes, using greater predictability to break down projects into stages and keep a running score in real time of every job's success moving forward. By implementing these systems and processes into the daily operations of your business, you can achieve your most profitable and successful years ever, while decreasing the inherent stress and frustrations that come with the guesswork of running a business.
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