The Benefits of a Data Warehouse in the Construction Industry
by Matthew Sprague | August 25, 2022
In the era of digital transformation, working with data-driven insights is key. Here’s how a data warehouse helps in the construction industry.
Picture driving with a paper map. It gets the job done and helps you to get from point A to point B. But now imagine a navigation app on your mobile phone that has added options: It has knowledge of current road conditions and suggests alternatives if there is too much traffic ahead. Both versions of the maps have data about the route but the latter has additional data streaming in, and in the right context.
Watch: e-Builder Enterprise is crucial to centralize all information about your construction projects
A similar process applies to the construction industry. Managers and other stakeholders responsible for capital projects need to make informed decisions about the status and pace of large-scale projects with many moving parts. Helpful data to aid the process might be available but they’re too often corralled in separate ERP or CRM systems. Besides, static data on a sheet does not tell you much, especially when projects are under a variety of pressures–like labor force shortages or supply chain delays.
A Data Warehouse is the driver for data-based decisions, inputting all relevant data in the right context and delivering easily visualized business analytics.
A data warehouse solves these challenges. It is the driver for data-based decisions, inputting all relevant data in the right context and delivering easily visualized business analytics. A data warehouse is a solution that aggregates all enterprise data–schedules and process information documents for example–into one intelligence platform that allows executives to customize reports unique to their organizational needs.
How Do Data Warehouses Benefit a Business?
In one construction company for example, a data warehouse was pressed into action to analyze and improve invoice approval times. When hundreds of millions of dollars run through your organization, you want accounts to move smoothly. The company opted to use a data warehouse to query their process log report to identify common causes of delays.
In the process, the company discovered many voided invoices that could be cleaned out. But more important, contractor revisions to invoices, if any, took a really long time, frequently up to two weeks! Finding the cause of the problem helped the construction company talk to their vendors–equipped with real data. After all, if contractors complained about delayed payments, they would need to bear some of the responsibility if they were filing invoices late. And there was proof to back it all up.
Similarly, the data warehouse pinpointed the source of bottlenecks in engineering reviews: Queries found that contractor design reviews took much longer than internal ones so the company knew where to look when working to make processes more efficient.
These improvements could have been made with traditional queries and enterprise systems but a data warehouse saves time and delivers insights in a format that’s transparent and easy to understand. It’s a valuable business analytics tool that moves at the speed of business and that has a whole host of additional advantages as outlined below.
The Advantages of Data Warehousing
Data might be the currency that drives the construction industry today but it’s not of much use if it does not deliver insights you can work with. Data warehouses have various benefits:
1. Funneling All Data into One Pipeline
CRM. ERP. Asset management software. Construction companies have all the necessary information needed to make informed decisions but too often they don’t have them in one easily accessible place. A data warehouse funnels all relevant data in one place so relevant stakeholders don’t need to worry about transferring insights from one system to another.
2. Digesting Historical Intelligence
Data about the now is useful but historical records are especially important to place the numbers you’re seeing in context. A data warehouse works with a repository of records so users can compare and contrast current trends against past realities and verify whether their observations are anomalies–or not.
3. Delivering Information Adapted to User Location and Needs
A data warehouse adjusts to the way business is conducted today. Enterprises might need an on-prem, cloud, or hybrid solution and a data warehouse can be modified to meet those needs. Equally important, the data warehouse can scale up and down depending on the size of the repository and querying capacities needed.
4. Making Data Usable
Anyone who works with data from multiple machines and software systems knows the difficulty in getting them to one compatible format so you can actually use them to generate insights. A data warehouse homogenizes unstructured and structured data so the information systems gather can actually be used.
5. Increasing Trust in Processes
The numbers don’t lie. Having data-backed statements to verify the source of inefficiencies in construction industry processes increases trust among all stakeholders. This is especially so if they can all access the same centralized source of truth at all times.
6. Delivering Compatibility with Business Intelligence Tools
A data warehouse can be compatible with business intelligence tools and deliver insights in easily visualized formats through a single pane of glass. Spreadsheets of information are not very useful, especially if accessed through mobile devices on the road. Having data warehouses compatible with BI tools not only delivers relevant insights but also in a format that is readily digestible.
7. Avoiding Strain on Live Databases
Sometimes teams want to query databases but a live one is all they have. A data warehouse that frequently updates caches can be used for more intensive queries all while avoiding strain on in-house live databases. Think of a data warehouse as a source for deeper analysis and insights.
8. Making Room for Enhanced ROI and Efficiencies
Uniform, homogenized and centralized data delivers an ability to do more, especially with automation. Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms take out much of the grunt work associated with data processing and can find patterns in large sets of information.
Consistently late shipments during a specific window in a quarter for example or inaccurate reporting of bill of materials over time can surface as bottlenecks, which teams can address and solve. With greater data transparency comes greater visibility into problem areas as well as new insights into revenue generation.
A data warehouse can be transformative for a construction company that is looking to keep track of project health and stay one step ahead of the competition. Digital transformation is here to stay and making numbers-driven decisions using a data warehouse is an impactful way to keep one step ahead of the competition.
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Key Topics Covered: Data Warehouse