We live in a data-driven world - and as construction projects become more complex, sharing vital project information across project teams and with key stakeholders becomes an essential building block for success. Yet, many organizations that engage in construction projects continue to work in disconnected, disparate systems, causing information silos between teams that should otherwise be working collaboratively together to maximize project success. When they don’t, this leads to disjointed processes, data inaccuracies and errors. This misalignment across project teams ultimately drives up costs, delays schedules and can negatively impact information accuracy and quality, which ultimately impacts the health of a company's bottom line. By both bringing people together into the same system – or by tightly integrating enterprise systems together – organizations can create a truly collaborative environment that elevates project transparency and minimizes errors and gaps to give project stakeholders the insights they may not have otherwise had. To better understand if information silos are creating a barrier to a holistic view of your company data, read on.
Most everyone in the construction business will go through a software evaluation at least once or twice in their career, where they’re part of a multi-discipline team appointed to pick the best software solution option on the market for their business. When it’s a smaller system with a limited enterprise footprint that’s being evaluated, this can be a relatively straightforward process. If, however, the requirements for the desired construction software system are such that they are lengthy and complex – and the system impact can span multiple departments – this process can be a significant undertaking.
As businesses, families and individuals continue to adjust to their new working arrangements both at work and at home, the whole world is trying to navigate a path forward to getting things opened up, restrictions relaxed, and projects ramped-up again. Thankfully these are all positive signs for those contractors and owners looking to get back to work, as construction projects in most geographies have been deemed as “essential”; and are either still in operation, or are part of the first phase of reopening. Nevertheless, there still remains a great deal of uncertainty as to how this will play out or how successful it will be, so we are all feeling a sense of anxious hopefulness that we can all get our lives back relatively soon. Although many may wish for a rapid return to normal, accompanied with a boom of new activity, this is highly unlikely as the overarching sense of cautiousness will prevail for the foreseeable future.
We’ve been researching and gathering a variety of resources we hope will help our clients, our industry and our community to navigate the current COVID-19 situation as best they can. We’ll be updating this and other documents as events continue to unfold daily.
The 4castplus team was out in full force at the Advancing Project Controls conference in Houston this past week. This is one of numerous project controls related conferences held throughout the year in various locations around the world.
It was exciting to see how well-attended this conference was and how important the role of project controls is becoming in companies of all descriptions. The majority of delegates we came across were relatively advanced in their knowledge of project controls and clearly embraced the role of technology as a key component of its application. There were a smaller number of delegates that were relatively new to the discipline and were eager to learn. Some individuals and companies were looking for ways to advance and upgrade their software solutions, others were looking for complementary systems to what they have; and others were looking for integration solutions to bind it all together. Following are some key takeaways.
Business Intelligence and data analytics are taking center stage in project controls. For the purposes of investigating and drilling down to identify root causes of issues, schedule overruns and cost overruns. Without reliable, accurate and current data, project controls professionals are in the dark as to what is happening on their project. Good data leads to good decisions, and the right tools to present that data become indispensable.
It may come as no surprise that the construction industry is one of last to embrace technology to improve productivity. According to McKinsey’s Digitation Report, the construction industry is one of the least digitized in the world (see Figure 1 below). Many contractors, about 40% of them according to the 2018 construction technology report, are still using a paper-based solution for documents, cost tracking, reports and other field-related items. This apparent lack of willingness to adopt newer, cloud-based solutions introduces productivity bottlenecks due to information delays, errors from rekeying data, missing data, lack of collaboration and wasted effort on the jobsite and in the office.
Figure 1 - McKinsey's Imagining Construction's Digital Future
Mega construction projects withstand a level of complexity like no other. More than ever, organizations are searching for ways to increase efficiencies, reduce costs, increase productivity, collaboration and automation on their construction projects. To achieve this, the project team needs to apply a significant level of rigor in the planning and management of projects and deliver key metrics and projections to all project stakeholders throughout its execution. Calculating a reliable month-over-month forecast requires that the project team has not only done sufficient upfront project planning, but they’re also performing ongoing monitoring, measurement and management of the project in order to produce an accurate report for the project's financial stakeholders.
Many CFOs and Controllers are reluctant to accept that there is financial activity going on in their organization that’s occurring outside their ERP finance system. While this is an understandable sentiment, the reality is that, for any company whose primary source of revenue is project-driven, there will always be project-based financial activity going on outside the ERP.