Business Intelligence for Construction Firms: Best Construction BI Tools

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Last week our topic was field data collecting for construction firms, and we gave you some practical advice for how to make that happen. In case you didn’t read that post, which you really should, here’s the breakdown: in order to get good BI for construction firms you need to be collecting data from your field. The best way to do that is with a mobile app. We even gave you the top 5 apps to get you started.

Today we’re going to talk about the step that just about everyone pictures when they think of business intelligence- the analysis.

I don’t have enough data/I have too much data to analyze.

This is an incredibly common question when it comes to any BI project, and not just construction. Some people call this this data management or data massage, either way it’s what happens to your data before it actually gets to a point where you can analyze it. Either have too little of it and can’t make any meaningful sorts of conclusions from the data you do have, or you have too much of it and can’t make heads or tails of all the information. Once you actually get the data you need if it’s all being kept in separate places (a spreadsheet here, an app there) then it’s impossible to analyze.

The good news is that if you read our last two posts on where construction data comes from and how to collect field data then you’re already well on your way to collecting all the information you need and keeping it in one place. Odds are, if you use one of the five top tools for the construction field we talked about then if anything you are collecting too much data. Having all of your information in the same place makes it easier to analyze, that's we made sure Raken integrates with construction management tools.

Wait a minute, what about Quickbooks? Why do I need this other stuff?

This is a valid question- Quickbooks and other accounting software are great tools for keeping track of the big questions when it comes to your firm’s profitability.

But here’s the thing- those programs can only show you the big picture. We have seen thousands of Quickbooks sheets and the information is pretty plain to see, but again and again GCs and Pos run into the same problem: I see that the firm isn’t profitable, but I can’t see how to fix the problem.

That’s because accounting software doesn’t gather and analyze data from the field. It’s in the field, where your processes are happening, that your firm is making or losing money. If you were in any other business maybe Quickbooks would be enough but you’re not- you’re business is construction and it is a lot bigger and more complicated than other enterprises out there. You need special tools to understand it, and that’s why there are construction management software applications and field data reporting tools to help you out.

Okay, I’ve got construction management software and a field reporting tool. Now what?

The first thing you need to do is make sure that you have all your data in this single system. We can’t tell you how frequently a BI tool goes nowhere just because a company was trying to pull data form disparate sources and analyze it in various spreadsheets.

Get your data in one place!

There's an ideal way that this works out- over the past few weeks we've told you how important it is to gather good, accurate data from the field, because it's in the field that your money is earned and lost. The best way for this to work is for your field reporting tool to do the field data analysis for you without having to connect it to a separate tool. This way not only is all of your data in one place but you've got a specially designed solution that can analyze those changes in real time. 

That way your construction management software tool can be used to analyze the big-picture in the office while your field reporting tool can make the field more efficient- it's the best of both worlds. That and the fact that many construction management and even construction BI tools don't have the capability to analyze what happens in the field efficiently because they are focused on what they were designed for: the big picture.

Luckily at Raken we are rolling out our BI for the field application sooner than you think.

Which Construction BI tool should I use?

That’s a great question, and there are some powerful options out there. We’ll give you our top two construction BI tools and let you choose between them. 

Construction BI- This one is an obvious choice. It uses Microsoft’s Power BI on the backend and uses that powerful architecture to break down construction-specific information found in Procore. You can look at your entire data set, end-to-end, broken down by the most meaningful key performance indicators (which we’ll talk about next week) all gathered in an incredibly slick and easy-to-use interface.

Anterra-  A powerful construction BI tool, Anterra excels at breaking down the data to create over 200 customizable dashboards. You can mix and match these dashboards as much as you like to create an experience where your most valuable information is always right in front of you.

No matter which tool you choose you can’t go wrong with making an investment into Construction BI. With these three tools in place and talking to each other (which is made easy when they all sync and integrate with a single management application) your firm is now ready to start tracking the most meaningful KPIs to start seeing ROI.

Just one problem- what are the most important KPIs for a construction firm to track?

Join us next week for the answer!

Find the rest of our Business Intelligence for Construction Firms Series here: