The Key Reasons Business Intelligence (BI) is Important for Construction Businesses
Running a business is often a series of trial and error decisions. You try out different marketing ideas, accounting systems and employee schedules, all in an effort to figure out what works best. While some of this is unavoidable, you can save time and money by collecting information about your company’s operations first. This practice is called business intelligence (BI) and it has far reaching implications for your company.
What Is Business Intelligence?
Put simply, business intelligence is the practice of using data to grow your business and improve efficiency. “Business intelligence takes your data and helps you understand what it means for your business at this moment,” explains Lantern Data. It involves collecting “data in order to create a clear picture of what the state of your company is currently. For example, how many days are there between potential change orders and actual change orders? What is the total contract value for one particular supplier?”
Business Intelligence in the Construction Industry
Crunching numbers is second nature in construction. “It’s an industry where 35% of costs are accounted for by material waste and remedial work,” explains Forbes contributor Bernard Marr. “So counting the cost of every screw could be the difference between delivering on budget and bankrupting an organization (or several organizations) financing a build.” However, the tech-forward nature of business analytics has meant that construction as an industry has been late to move into the sort of real-time analytics that has become the norm in so many other fields. But it is exactly that sort of software-based business intelligence that can help construction companies control costs and identify opportunities most.
One major BI opportunity in construction is handling cost estimates. You might think of business intelligence as something that happens after the fact, and it can, but by including cost details and having them easily accessible, you can save yourself time and effort. For instance, imagine that your client wants to see how the project changes using different materials or if the design is tweaked. Using a BI software solution, you can make those changes and see an update to your cost estimates in real time.
BI is also important for project management. Obviously, business intelligence plays an important role in overseeing costs and helping project managers make sure they are on budget, but BI can do more than that. The right software can help these managers keep a proactive eye on safety, equipment information and overall performance while helping them spot potential problems well in advance.
Return on Investment
In addition, business intelligence also lets you oversee how profitable your efforts actually are. BI software can give you faster reporting and better awareness of where your costs go so that you can find operating costs that could be reduced and identify which projects are the most profitable for your company.
Choosing a BI Software Provider
While business intelligence is only as good as the information entered and collected, the software provider you pick is just as important. You will need to make sure that any BI software solution you select is flexible. It should integrate seamlessly with your existing business systems. Otherwise, you risk duplicating efforts, and that does nothing but cost time and money, and introduce the risk of error. Also, you will need to make sure that your business intelligence software provider offers mobile access. This is especially important in construction because you may not spend your days in an office. Finally, your BI software provider should provide a solution that is simple enough that you don’t need extra training to use it.
APE Mobile integrates with a number of business intelligence solutions, including Wink Reports, which enables you to connect a multitude of cloud apps in to a single, customized dashboard.