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The most successful companies in history have gathered, analyzed, and reacted to the data that is most critical to their survival and success.  In retail, Walmart extended this to a whole new level by grabbing real time sales data and transmitting that to all of their managers.  The success of the company was in part due to the fast analysis of data and the retailer's ability to change their current actions to improve their results.  So what do we do in construction?

Most contractors do not get or analyze data that can provide for quick changes to their business approach.  Sure there are monthly financial reporting packages and the WIP provides a snapshot of where a project sits, but is it timely?  Does it contain the information you need to improve the business?  Does it contain information that can be related to other projects or divisions?  Typically it does not.  The monthly forecast of a project shows what happened, but it is at such a high level it is hard to ascertain what you need to do right now to improve your results.

The other issue with data analysis is the ease in which you view it.  Do the reports come in books with 8 point font?  Some companies do a decent job gathering the data, but it then spits out so much data that it is virtually useless to the managers that must make heads or tails of it.

Conalytics is a term we are coining to define the convergence of construction and analytics.  In order to improve, there must be data capture and analysis.  This should not be an exercise in forensics for failures, but a daily occurrence where analysis can occur quickly and results can be spread throughout an organization to improve all operations.  Walmart did not leave each store to their own analysis of product placement and pricing schemes.  They took the analysis of a highly successful manager and provided it to everyone.  When a store could not move a box chocolates off of the shelves, they took action by moving it and when they found that it worked, they shared it with all of the other stores.  Does your analysis work like this?  Are individual project managers left to their own data collection, analysis, and reaction?

There is a critical point that must be made again, conalytics is not about forensics!  If you use it only to tell what happened, you are bound to make the same mistakes.  Sure it tells the story of what is happening, but it should lead you to the next question of "Therefore What".  What do you do now?  If your data acquisition system is set-up correctly and your reporting scheme is easy (i.e. charts), it will give you more time to perform analysis and the most important step reaction.  If your team is taking in sales data (i.e. sales hit ratios by client), performing analysis on what is really going on and how things should change for the better, and the reacting to that data to improve the numbers, you will win.

I encourage you to sit back and decide if your company, team, projects, and departments are performing conalytics or just letting the world happen to them.

About the Author

Craig Pierce

Craig Pierce has been working in the construction industry for the past 25 years helping subcontractors master their trade. Currently he is President of Atalanta Enterprises which provides consulting services to contractors And software solutions through ConstructionMonkey.com.