Getting daily real-time data from the Jobsite on your construction projects is like finally driving with the lights on. Having detailed information today on costs, activities and progress that happened today, gives you tremendous power to act swiftly on that information.
Contrast that with finding out about project issues weeks or months after the fact, when these issues have had time to get their hooks into the project, forcing you to unravel them and start over. This is where serious delays and cost overruns occur; and it all is completely avoidable by enabling Early Identification of Issues by providing the project team with real-time jobsite cost tracking.
The Power of Real-Time
The power of real-time data can’t be understated as it unlocks visibility and control that otherwise wouldn’t be accessible by your project teams. This is especially true on ‘major’ projects. Any project with a critical mass of size, complexity and risk will necessitate good information capture to feed project controls so that the appropriate level of governance can be applied to the project.
People are getting more and more accustomed to real-time in their daily lives. Think about real-time news feeds, Twitter, Reddit and many other platforms that have people locked-into their phones even as they drive the kids to soccer practice. Unlike construction projects however, social media doesn’t typically deliver critical information that can help avoid mistakes that cost millions.
I don’t think many would disagree that real-time project data is important. I suspect however, that many organizations – contractors or owners – just don’t know how to get there. We often come across companies that have concerns about introducing too much technology to their site staff for fear they may start a revolution. They would throw up barriers and resist, or simply do a poor job of the data entry thereby making it a wasted effort. Many are under the impression that paper and spreadsheets are about as far as site personnel are willing to go. Resistance to change, resistance to technology, resistance to anything that doesn’t actually get the job done.
Most contractors have top-notch construction managers and site foreman at their jobsites that are exceedingly skilled at getting the Job Done without a lot of computers around. While this approach has worked for centuries, times have clearly changed. Technology is having an enormous impact on construction. It’s no longer sufficient to rely on a ‘disconnected’ jobsite. Disconnected jobsite?
When you have progress updates coming in the form of phone calls and stacks of paper – and cost information coming from weekly expense reports from accounting; there’s a big time delay and disconnect between what’s happening at the jobsite, and the information delivered to the project staff back in the office. Project controls and project managers are heavily dependent on reliable information coming from the jobsite to make key decisions, apply corrective action and report accurate costs to complete to all stakeholders.
People today are working in teams. I mean TEAMS. I mean, collaborative teams that include both field and office personnel working together, sharing information and making decisions together. This is the world we’re now living in. This is our reality. This is the revolution. We’re all connected and dependent on real-time information to improve how we do things. To make the leap into this new interconnected world, we need to stage a revolution and demand that project information be treated as a valuable asset that can make-or-break project success. Maybe that sounds a bit dramatic, but honestly I don’t think so. With good information, you have power to make decisions. Without good information, you have chaos.
To get your field personnel to get on board with the urgency of tracking real-time information, it has to be driven by self-interest. People are inspired by what’s in it for them. If using technology results in the field personnel having better tools to do their job, they’ll be very motivated to tap into that technology and make the best of it. On the flip-side, if they’re simply told to do it without any evidence of tangible benefit to them, they may be less inclined to focus their energy on it as an integral part of their job.
Everyone wants to be part of a success story. There’s no question that technology is changing the face of construction. Getting on board with it is no longer optional.