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The Four Crucial Steps in Creating the Foundation for a Construction Project Data Strategy

Look, I get it—nothing is ever easy. Especially when it comes to data and extra-especially when it comes to the black hole that is information on a construction project. But however complex accessing useful construction data may seem, done correctly, the juice is always more than worth the squeeze. Most organizations struggle with “bad” construction project data: incomplete, missing, untimely, untrustworthy, and often just plain wrong. Conversely, having access to timely and accurate project insights can help you make informed decisions, improve productivity, and reduce risk. But with so much data available, it can be challenging to know where to start. 

That’s why a successful data strategy initiative needs to focus on four critical steps… Sounds easy, right? RIGHT!

Step One: Select a Key Point of Focus

Selecting a single, business-impactful focus point is the first step in any successful data strategy initiative. Trying to tackle too many problems at once can lead to confusion and overwhelm, making it challenging to make progress. Instead, choose one area of your business that you want to improve and focus on that. It could be anything from improving safety to reducing costs or increasing productivity. Once you’ve selected your point of focus, defining what success looks like is essential. Be specific about what you want to achieve, and set measurable goals that you can track over time.

Step Two: Paint Success In Order to Get Buy-In

Getting buy-in from all stakeholders is essential to the success of any data strategy initiative. Your team needs to understand why you’re collecting data, how you will use it, and the benefits it will bring. To reduce hesitancy, you must create a compelling story that everyone can relate to. Paint success and be explicit in why it matters to the business and to them. Start by explaining the current state of your business and the challenges you face. Then, explain how data can help you overcome those challenges and achieve your goals. Be transparent about the data you’re collecting, how you’re collecting it, and who will have access to it. Encourage questions and feedback, and be prepared to adjust your approach based on what you learn.

Step Three: Standardize Your Data Capture Across All Projects

Once you have buy-in from all stakeholders, determine what data is essential to have across all projects. Standardization is critical to ensuring your data is accurate, consistent, and valuable. Start by defining what data you need to collect and why. What is the data element, where does it come from, and what purpose does it serve? Your data capture form should be easy to use and intuitive, providing clear guidance on what data to collect and how to manage it. Investing in training your team is tantamount to ensuring they understand the “what,” “how,” and “why” of the standardized construction project data.

Step Four: Keep Project Data in a Common Environment

The final step in a successful data strategy initiative is to keep project data in a dedicated environment. This means utilizing a consistent data repository that everyone on your team can access. A common data environment for your construction project makes data accessible and available to the project and operations teams. It serves as the data foundation for finding, analyzing, and sharing information and insights across all projects in a more timely, consistent, and future-ready way. It also helps to ensure your data is secure and protected from loss or corruption. When choosing a data repository, make sure it’s easy to use, scalable, and integrates with other systems you may be using. You may also need to invest in data analytics tools to help you make sense of your data and turn it into actionable insights.

By following these steps—and yes, I know it’s easier said than done—you can collect, analyze, and leverage data to make informed decisions, improve productivity, and reduce risk. 

Remember to be patient and persistent—building a data-driven culture takes time, but the rewards are worth it. Better yet, that data-driven culture is closer than you think. Check out our Data Strategy Development service at the link below. I can guarantee you that your data strategy is right around the corner.