New Report Reveals Data Strategy is a Key Advantage in Construction

New Report Reveals Data Strategy is a Key Advantage in Construction

Discover key findings in infographic below

Advances in construction technology continue to accelerate what’s possible for the industry at large. The challenge with all this new technology is the sheer volume of project data it generates.

In fact, over the past three years alone, our research shows that new project data has doubled industry-wide. Couple that with common industry challenges in capturing, managing, and analyzing data, and we find a startling $1.8 trillion in cost impacts to the construction industry globally due to “bad” data. This is notably associated with the impact of bad data on decision-making. 

This is where a clear data strategy can change everything. 

In today’s construction landscape, working fast is a competitive advantage. Whether you’re coordinating with stakeholders, generating designs, or managing a jobsite, the speed at which you make decisions can make or break your projects. 

With the right data management systems and strategies, construction teams can easily get the information they need to make good decisions that move projects forward at minimum risk. 

A new report from Autodesk and FMI, Harnessing the Data Advantage in Construction, reveals the fundamental need for proper data management in construction, and the surprising cost of inaction. It also identifies current roadblocks and practical, actionable steps to implementing a data strategy that can make your projects significantly more profitable. 




Read on to get a glimpse of some key findings you’ll pick up from the report. 


Harnessing the Data Advantage in Construction Report Infographic




Key report findings and how they impact data strategy

Finding #1: Too much of your data is likely unusable or bad 

Data is only as good as it is useful. So when it comes to construction data, true value lies in quality, not quantity. Having a lot of information isn’t necessarily a good thing, and that’s especially true if you’re looking at bad project data — i.e., your data is inaccurate, incomplete, inconsistent, or untimely.

In our research, 30% of the survey’s respondents indicated that up to 50% of their organization's data are considered bad.

Having poor project data comes with consequences. Without accurate information, you won’t be able to make the best decisions, which can ultimately hurt your projects. In our research, respondents indicated that bad data led to poor outcomes in a third of their organization’s decisions. 

As for the causes behind bad project data, our research found that the top contributors include: 

  • Inaccurate/Incorrect data (24%)* 
  • Missing data (24%)* 
  • Wrong data (21%)*

So, what should construction professionals do to address the issue of bad project data? One important step is to tighten up your data entry practices. Inconsistent data entry is the largest cause of bad data. So by standardizing how you capture information, you can prevent bad data from permeating throughout your organization, and negatively impacting your bottom line. 

*Please refer to the full report for detailed definitions of bulleted items


Finding #2: Making field decisions using data is critical, but often undervalued 

We’ve already established that having good data is essential to making sound decisions. However, this has serious impacts in the field because these are your frontline decision-makers. It’s your project management and field supervision staff that are collecting, managing, and analyzing data every week.

The biggest reason behind the lack of data-driven decision making, according to respondents, is the urgency required when making a decision. And when accurate data isn’t readily available, we’re forced to move forward even when we don’t have all the information. Here are the top three risks to project decision-making:

  1. Time constraint or urgency of decision (43%)
  2. Lack of reliable data (36%)
  3. Lack of experience with similar project decisions/issues (36%)

You can already see how good data serves to resolve major concerns associated with making critical decisions in the field. Read the full report to see the complete list of risks to decision-making. 


Finding #3: Simply put, formally implement a data strategy

From the report, “The first step to supporting project staff who are tasked with data management and analysis is implementing a formal data strategy. Having a framework in place will lift the burden from busy supervisory staff and it will improve data consistency and insight moving forward.”

The problem for those without a strategy in place is that project data is not consistently informing decision-making. Only a fraction (12%) of respondents say that they always incorporate project data in their decision-making. Over 50% of survey respondents indicated they use project data when making decisions only occasionally, or even worse, not at all.

Our study found that respondents who "always" or "often" use project data when making decisions are more likely to have a data management plan or strategy already in place.

What elements should your data plan include? When asked about their own strategies, respondents highlighted they include the following components:

  • Sources and collection methods 
  • Standards for project data formatting and processing
  • Identifications and descriptions of data 
  • Methods and platforms for collecting, accessing, and sharing project data 
  • Archiving data 
  • Formal data management roles and responsibilities

The report also reveals what organizations put effort into when committed to quality data. Respondents said the following investments ensure decision-makers in the field can access actionable, high-quality data:

  • Regularly reviewing data at set intervals for quality purposes (40%) 
  • Having established data reporting and monitoring practices, both at the time of collection and use (38%) 
  • Structuring data in a common data environment (38%)

Our findings clearly lead to the importance of implementing a formal data strategy for project data, but we found that only 55% of respondents have done so themselves.


Finding #4: Buy-in from your entire organization is vital

According to the report, “Even if organizations understand the benefits of having a data management strategy, the path to implementation may be littered with roadblocks. Clearly, project management and field supervisors should require a plan to collect, manage, and analyze data. However, without knowing what investment is required or where to begin, leadership may not back the project. Obtaining buy-in from all key stakeholders is necessary for the successful roll out of a data management strategy.”

When asked what is holding respondents back from implementing a formal project data plan/strategy themselves, the top three concerns included:

  • Cost/required resources (40%)
  • Not sure about where or how to start (36%)
  • No leadership/organizational support (36%)

Further, organizations with revenue over $500 million were more likely to suggest “No leadership/organizational support” as a reason for not implementing a formal data strategy. This may be tied to how challenges manifest in a large construction firm compared to a smaller one, according to findings.

In the report, we also share key learnings associated with the lack of understanding benefits of a formal data strategy. There’s also the factor of workforce training. What do you do with all your data? Who manages it? How do you create consistency in entry, management and use of data?

We provide insight into those questions, and so much more, in Harnessing the Data Advantage in Construction, an in-depth report made in partnership between Autodesk and FMI. You can download it right now at no cost.




Download the report, Harnessing the Data Advantage in Construction, for actionable insights on the vital nature of a formal data strategy

At the end of the day, when equipped with good project data, construction stakeholders can rest easy knowing that they have reliable information at their fingertips to make important decisions quickly.

Accomplishing this requires having a formal data strategy in place, and one that’s executed by skilled team members. With these two components in place, you’ll be in an excellent position to leverage quality data for meaningful project decisions.

Download the report, Harnessing the Data Advantage in Construction: Why adopting a data strategy can bring firms a competitive edge.

If you'd prefer to listen and learn, you can download the audiobook version of the report as well.

Eric Thomas

Eric is a Sr. Multimedia Content Marketing Manager at Autodesk and hosts the Digital Builder podcast. He has worked in the construction industry for over a decade at top ENR General Contractors and AEC technology companies. Eric has worked for Autodesk for nearly 5 years and joined the company via the PlanGrid acquisition. He has held numerous marketing roles at Autodesk including managing global industry research projects and other content marketing programs. Today Eric focuses on multimedia programs with an emphasis on video.