Successfully managing construction projects is highly dependent on the quality of the data that’s captured about those projects. Whether you’re using the data to manage costs, bill your clients, pay your subcontractors, determine progress – or all that and more – the quality of that data is crucial to the success of the project. Current, Accurate and Complete – these are the key cornerstones of quality information. What’s more, getting quality data right from the start – i.e. from when it’s first entered into the system – saves organizations tremendous time, money and effort in executing on projects. Not only that, it reduces the chances and effects of any potential claims, disputes, safety issues and delays. Mistakes and omissions bleed energy and money from your organization. The result is not just costly, it’s often embarrassing – and you are particularly vulnerable if you have any manual “double-entry” of data from system to system.
Let’s look at all this a little more closely to see why it’s so important.
Current – Getting Real-Time Data
Getting timely data only makes sense. The sooner you find out that something is going wrong, the more effective you’ll be at taking corrective action. The longer it takes you to find out – the more expensive and time-consuming it will be to correct. And it’s not just about corrective action; it’s also about getting your billings out the door, payroll done and subcontractors paid. Not to mention the value of having real-time knowledge of your current project spend against budget and the ability to forecast remaining hours & costs to complete. It’s this kind of real-time knowledge that enables project managers, project controls and procurement staff to be effective in their jobs.
Using a dedicated software system for project controls and construction cost tracking will inherently provide you with real-time data and the powerful reporting to enable your teams to analyze that data to keep your projects humming to plan.
Accurate – Eliminating Mistakes, Typos and Errors
People are prone to making mistakes when entering information – whether it’s into a spreadsheet, a system or on paper. These mistakes can cost you a lot of time and money, and your reputation. Errors that get entered in from, for example, the jobsite, and get passed down the food-chain, only have about a 30% chance of being caught and corrected before they become an artifact that incorrectly represents your business.
When you take into account that data captured for construction projects is not typically entered by professional data entry people – it’s most likely entered by site personnel after a long day on the jobsite – the error rates jump staggeringly. If your process also includes re-keying that data into another system by another person, your exposure to error increases by another factor.
The key point to bear in mind, is the hard costs to your organization in chasing mistakes. The costs to you increase the later they are realized. Each mistake that is pushed downstream to be hopefully corrected later, has an exponential cost the further down the chain they go. Failure to take notice of course, can be catastrophic.
Solutions that are designed for construction project data capture have built-in validations, rules and preconfigured values to reduce and eliminate data errors from the start. If, for example, a site admin put in 80 hours instead of 8 for an employee, the system would reject that value. And that’s just a simple example. There are many checks and background quality measures that the software can do for you to eradicate costly and time-consuming errors. Equally significant is doing away with any duplicate entry of data – it’s entered once, safely and correctly.
Complete – Wipe Out Time-Wasting Data Gaps
It’s critical to eliminate that all-too-common behavior of certain personnel doing a half-baked job of data capture, and throwing it over the wall for someone else to fill in the gaps. This wastes time and introduces errors and delays. Had everything been fully entered in the first place, it would have taken a fraction of the time to complete. The time and effort for someone else to have to pick up the pieces and complete the missing parts is exceedingly inefficient and unnecessary. This is where construction cost tracking systems (or LEM Tracking systems) come into play. They can be setup to fill in most of the information for you, so that your site personnel only have to enter a minimum amount of data. Not only that, but the cost tracking system can be configured with mandatory fields that force users to complete before they can submit it for approval. This goes beyond just entering in required fields – you can also configure the system to check for things like Minimum Hours – ensuring that people aren’t forgotten; Mandatory Logs – to guarantee that the Site Foreman captures Daily Log details; and much more.
Get it Right From the Start
Your project data is a precious commodity that serves multiple purposes and will reside with your organization for years – becoming a historical record and audit trail that will follow you and define your business. The importance of ensuring your data gets entered correctly from the very start can’t be understated. Too many organizations neglect to invest in cost-saving software solutions that guarantee quality data that saves critical time, money and effort in the overall data collection and management for your construction projects.