Construction Stakeholders Are Suffering from Project Data Disconnect, Study Finds

24 Sep, 2019 By: Cadalyst Staff

Surveys of project owners and contractors point to problems arising from the use of disparate software applications to manage construction projects.

A new study by Dodge Data & Analytics indicates that the majority of construction project owners and contractors recognize the advantages of a connected platform that integrates data for construction, but less than half are satisfied with the current state of data connectedness, defined as how well project data comes into and moves between solutions and parties.

The study, “Connecting Owners and Contractors: How Technology Drives Connected Construction,” was conducted in partnership with e-Builder, a Trimble company, which provides construction program management software. The company’s e-Builder Enterprise product is a project management information system (PMIS) that spans project stages from planning through operations, supporting such tasks as centralizing building information modeling (BIM) information for design review and storing as-built documents and BIM reference materials for facility maintenance needs.

Project owners are increasingly adopting project management software, and benefiting from it. But according to the study, when owners and contractors use disparate software solutions without automated data exchange, the mis-match and resulting effort duplication can increase costs, risks, and time needed for project completion.

“The need for contractors and owners to use their own project management applications has always been there,” said Steve Jones, senior director of industry insights from Dodge Data & Analytics, in a press release. “The problem is, [the two applications] have not worked together well. The data in this research quantifies the impact of the data silos between contractor and owner.”

PMIS: Whose Gets Used?

The “Connecting Owners and Contractors” study is based on two 2019 online surveys, which gathered data from 112 contractors and 98 public- and private-sector building owners, respectively.

The study indicates that the vast majority of the contractors (90%) have had to use an owner’s PMIS, and of those, only 16% reported that it is frequently the same as their own; 42% of contractors reported using both the owner’s project management application and a specialized project management application designed for contractors.

Using an owner’s PMIS forces contractors to either perform redundant work to enter the data in two places, or to omit the project from their own PMIS. A high percentage (73%) of contractors reported medium to very high levels of negative impact on workers’ productivity due to entering construction data twice.

“This not only has cost and productivity implications, but it also can lead to a loss of valuable data for the contractors, and in this era, analyzing data is becoming increasingly more important for contractors to remain competitive,” the report stated.

With these numbers in mind, it’s not surprising that less than half of respondents (45%) are satisfied with the current state of data connectedness. More than half (65% of owners and 51% of contractors) see high or very high value in a single data platform that all parties can use for collaboration and sharing. The common, shared platform was very highly valued by respondents more often than other top methods for improving data connectedness across the project team, including:

  • Better integration between software solutions
  • Better definition in advance of expected data workflows between parties
  • Better definition in advance of expected data deliverables
  • More training to help field staff be more effective with technology.

A complimentary version of the Connecting Owners & Contractors SmartMarket Brief is available at Trimble's Connected Construction site.

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