Making The Numbers Work: Reconsidering How We Manage Data

Written By: Harri Vivian
September 7, 2023
3 min read

2023 continues to be a challenging year for the construction industry with rising costs, material shortages and planning delays slowing down development. Generally speaking, real estate investors are taking their time to make decisions as to what projects they’ll invest in, so they can weigh up whether it’s likely to be profitable or not. Unfortunately, many developments already underway are facing significant delays due to unplanned changes to regulation, efforts to decarbonise and additional unforeseen costs.

In order to tackle these challenges and navigate the current climate, organisations have continued to look at new ways to handle data - to reduce efficiencies and streamline processes. It starts with a good understanding of what data is generated, how it is collected and what it can be used for. While larger real estate organisations have hired experts to look into this for them, many construction contractors and project managers do not have access to funds for this level of expertise. As a result, there are still obstacles to overcome when they are delivering large projects.

Data collation and management impacts every stage of construction, it is collected from the design stage and is used for procurement, reporting, scheduling, cost and building management.

Traditionally, the construction industry has been dependent on spreadsheets and manual labour to keep projects and data up to speed. However, a number of technology companies have brought new products to the market, which aim to reduce manual input in this process. While this is a step in the right direction, recent industry research found that many in the construction industry thought the uptake of technology had been slow – but there is appetite for it. If companies want to reduce inefficiencies, and consequently cost, project managers need to consider how they can rework their data management strategies to encourage collaboration and bridge communication gaps that often lead to oversights. Using data, project managers can learn from previous mistakes, when losses have been made due to data inaccuracy or when they’ve failed to keep on top of market trends. Better data management allows companies to anticipate the hurdles they need to overcome to deliver.

Those working on each stage of the construction process tend to sit in their own silos. For example, contractors often aren’t consulted in the design stage of the project, meaning they find it difficult to spot errors when they receive specific instructions during the building process. Project management tools that collect data aim to address this issue by allowing project managers to look at all the deliverables holistically - in one place. This makes it easier to spot the mistakes early on. Storing data using technology gives project managers a large amount of information that is easily accessible too, consequently it often makes decision-making easier – which helps them avoid delays.

As a sector, the construction industry is ambitious and forward-thinking. Those who work in it are often passionate about the delivery of their product. If the industry is going to achieve its goals, collecting and storing data manually cannot continue. Net zero targets, rising costs and labour shortages still present significant challenges and calls for a standardised approach to tackling the data problem. And while data management is becoming a priority for many, there is still work to be done.

Experts believe using technology to collect data will allow teams to work more collaboratively and more efficiently. Given the current economic climate and the challenges many are facing across the construction industry – this is more important than ever.

Written By: Harri Vivian

Harri Vivian is a Senior Manager of Regional Marketing (UKI) at Quickbase.

Never miss a post — subscribe to the Quickbase Blog.

Sign up to receive the latest posts on everything from Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation.