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Want Better Construction Collaboration? Start with Connected Data

How much damage can a simple data error do? In Edinburgh, Scotland, a seemingly insignificant typo in a spreadsheet delayed the opening of the city’s £150M children’s hospital and required £16 million of remedial work. This error resulted in what auditors described as “collective failure.” What made the mistake so harmful wasn’t the error itself, but the way data silos prevented staff from identifying and correcting it in a timely manner.

There are countless more examples of simple errors like this one that result in catastrophe, but the lesson remains the same: connected data is more important than ever to the way we work today. This fact is true in the construction industry, where connected data can serve as a key method for better collaboration and greater project efficiency.

What is Connected Data?

The construction industry is currently swimming in a pool of data. If you feel like you’re barely treading water, you’re not alone. While we have more data than ever, most of it is merely contained, rather than connected. In fact, 95% of all data captured in the construction and engineering industry goes unused. For data to be valuable, it must be accessible from a central location, updated in real-time, and connected across projects, teams, and organizations.

To best understand what connected data is, it’s important to first understand what happens when data is not connected. When these large volumes of data sit in silos, they lose value and create disconnects. Data silos also lead to more mistakes and lost information. A relevant example of this issue is the reliance on data from systems where data is not updated in real-time or connected to other aspects of the project, such as Excel. Teams working with this data only see a piece of the puzzle and it’s likely out of date. This lack of visibility may lead to  less strategic decision making and potential errors.

Connected data, by contrast, allows for more foresight and predictive capabilities. The value of data isn’t found in the data alone. Instead, it’s in the connections or the relationships between each piece of data. These connections increase the value of the data by providing links, context, and a greater understanding of the ecosystem as a whole.

How Do You Connect Data in Construction?

Connected data can help team members on-site and in the office make better, more effective decisions based on the latest information available. These decisions can help address some of the industry’s most critical issues, including rising costs and underperforming projects. How do you connect data in a way that works for construction?

  • Integrations

Collecting data through separate systems and technology? Integrate them to create a connected ecosystem.

  • Cloud 

Cloud technology creates a common data platform and central repository of up-to-date data, which is accessible across any device or location.

  • Connected Workflows 

Information can easily get lost when you move it across teams and processes. For example, if project issues and  RFIs are commonly related but hardly connected  Without a link between these two processes, you won’t be able to share the most relevant information to help the project move forward. Streamlined and connected workflows help connect your data.

  • Automation and Machine Learning 

Remove the manual aspect of data entry to prevent duplicates and mistakes. Automating these steps and related processes can increase the accuracy of your data. Machine learning can help you solve business problems by analyzing current and historical data.

Why Connected Data is Essential to Collaboration

People naturally tend to trust data and information that is presented to them. This blind trust can lead to serious mistakes, as demonstrated by the delay of the Edinburgh hospital opening. However, when teams have a central, accurate data platform to work from, they can increase collaborative efforts, transparency, accountability, and efficiencies.

More Efficient Work

Just knowing what to do and when to do it makes a huge difference in productivity. Team members will know which issues to resolve and have the information to make decisions faster. Connected data streamlines relationships; communications can occur on one platform where all needed data and information are available to facilitate conversations. With remote work becoming commonplace, teams need to be able to collaborate effectively from anywhere at any time.

Improved Designs

The benefits of connected construction on collaboration extend beyond productivity. They can also improve the output of your design process. Designers benefit from real-time visibility into project information and can coordinate activities across teams to create designs that meet client expectations. Similarly, construction teams will benefit from a shared understanding with the design department. Teams can plan effectively across teams for a comprehensive, rather than siloed approach.

Cost Savings from Reduced Rework and Fewer Errors

The error within a siloed spreadsheet not only led to a delayed opening for Edinburgh’s Children’s Hospital, but it also resulted in £16 million of rework. Connected construction will allow your team to identify and address issues throughout workflows, rather than at the end of the project. Immediate access to the most current data will empower workers to get it right the first time, avoiding costly and draining rework. You’ll also reduce administrative costs by eliminating the need for reams of paper and memory devices. All information will be readily accessible and searchable in the cloud.

Better Client Experience

Improved decision-making extends to the client-side too. Bring in clients at important steps during the design process to receive feedback and make adjustments as needed. During the handover stage, you can provide project insights and the associated data through an integrated technology platform. Doing so will help to enhance operational readiness. You’ll also have a structured set of testing, commissioning, warranty, asset information, and project data to serve as an audit trail, reducing post-completion disputes.

Enhanced Safety Planning and Management

According to OSHA, construction companies can save $4 to $6 in indirect costs for every $1 invested in direct costs related to safety and health. Connected data can help construction companies get a greater return on investment in employee safety planning and management. Improved designs and installation sequences will result in a reduced probability of on-site accidents and injuries. Preconstruction and construction teams can also leverage historical and current data to identify and mitigate safety risks. This information can also be used to develop more effective safety plans and checklists. .

Let Connected Data Drive Your Digital Transformation Journey

Is your organization on a digital transformation journey? Embrace connected data along the way to exponentially increase the value of the information you’re collecting and harness its insights for better project results, client experiences, safety standards, and business outcomes.

Grace Ellis

Grace Ellis

Editor in Chief, Autodesk Construction Cloud Blog