Infrastructure projects need data-driven decision-making, now more than ever

The benefits afforded by new technologies in terms of planning and delivering infrastructure projects have never been more relevant than they are today. Emerging trends in the infrastructure sector are being driven by a rapidly changing, increasingly complex and uncertain world market that’s under pressure to plan for a sustainable future.

KPMG declared 2019 “a year of data-driven enlightenment for the infrastructure sector” in its annual report, Emerging Trends in Infrastructure. Governments and authorities, it says, “are starting to recognise the true value of their data in driving insights, operational performance and broader innovation”. Meanwhile, “technology is providing the scope for radically different solutions to infrastructure needs, and often much more cost effectively”.

Major infrastructure industries (transport, energy, communications and water) account for nearly 10 per cent of Australia’s GDP, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE). For infrastructure owners, operators, developers and investors, the opportunity to respond to industry trends and make evidence-based decisions – thereby delivering better results for the Australian community – is an exciting one.

Data sets have never been particularly sexy, but they’re invaluable now as a basis for more objective, far-sighted and efficient decision-making.

Tech solutions provide better data and analytics

Technological transformation across all industries has gained momentum over the past two decades. Now, advanced software and analytics are becoming commonplace because they deliver clear benefits.

Here are some of the capabilities that are transforming the way we work:

  • Live tracking: Mobile and cloud-based technologies are driving improvements in productivity and communication by allowing teams to track costs, quantities, resource usage and progress on projects. Real-time data collection cuts out inefficient double-handling and makes up-to-date information available to all stakeholders instantaneously, while predictive analytics allows more control over projects by alerting teams to safety risks and cost blowouts.
  • Cloud-based documentation: Reducing paperwork in favour of centralised, cloud-based data storage systems eliminates the lags associated with spreadsheets and paper. Mobile apps can access project plans and related documentation (such as permits), so that project teams have round-the-clock access to the information they need to work efficiently.
  • Integrated solutions: Digital products are allowing organisations to tie together multiple systems, from the back office to the front line. Allowing these data sources to speak to each other can eliminate the duplication and fragmentation that commonly plagues complex infrastructure projects. By streamlining processes and automatically analysing multiple datasets, integrated solutions provide a single channel of communication and useful, actionable guidance for decision-makers.
  • Communication platforms: Integrated, cloud-based systems for data collection and analysis are also improving collaboration across siloed teams and multiple stakeholders. Task management and scheduling software products, for example, enable transparency, accountability and vital information-sharing.

Data is key to responding to sector trends

These new capabilities in data collection, reporting and analytics dovetail with many of the infrastructure sector’s most prominent trends in 2019. Of the 10 trends KPMG identifies in Emerging Trends in Infrastructure 2019, most are impacted by – if not entirely reliant on – data-driven decision-making.

The report notes a widespread shift in governments worldwide towards “a much more analytical and evidence-based approach to the way they plan and prioritise their infrastructure investment”. Increased data availability and analytical capabilities are behind this shift, but it is also a response to “an increased recognition that technologies, models and citizen/user/customer expectations are rapidly changing”. Data is allowing governments to plan better and respond to the needs of the community more effectively.

According to the research, data is also driving the following:

  • Operational efficiency: “Planners will use data and analytics to not only create much stronger alignment between supply and demand, but also to improve the overall effectiveness of the planning process. Regulators will be using data and analytics to better govern and oversee infrastructure delivery. And investors will use it to assess the value and resilience of their investments.” Rule-of-thumb planning is giving way to predictive analytics and evidence-based decision-making.
  • Better management of megaprojects: As projects become vastly more complex, demanding collaboration between governments and across borders, they are becoming more challenging and riskier as a result. But data and analytics provide a way to navigate this. “In this environment, we expect to see project owners find a new thirst for benchmarking, analysing performance and learning lessons from other successful projects globally as they seek to defend projects against political and financial pressures.”
  • Competition for new technologies: Rivalries around new technologies look set to intensify, with startups in developing markets just as likely to triumph as leaders in the developed world.
  • The rise of the customer: Technology is giving infrastructure planners and owners unprecedented insights into customer patterns and expectations. It’s also leading customers to demand a greater say in their infrastructure options. In the future, infrastructure planning may rely on real-time and predictive customer insights rather than historical patterns and expert opinion. Ultimately, this should lead to a massive democratisation of infrastructure planning; those that recognise this fact early and embrace it will reap the benefits.
  • The growth of interdependent infrastructure: How do infrastructure planners approach interdependent infrastructure needs (electric cars that rely on road, transit, power and distribution networks, for example; or navigation apps that integrate public and private transit options)? Planning effectively for such projects necessitates addressing the problem of siloed departments, as well as considering “multiple long-term plans, supported by robust scenario-planning capabilities”. Sophisticated approaches to analysing and sharing data are therefore vital.

This year sees the infrastructure sector on the crest of an exciting, powerful wave of technological capability. If harnessed wisely, these capabilities represent enormous opportunities to change the way we plan and work. The data that we generate, collect, share and analyse will determine the infrastructure that is delivered into the future.

User experience feedback from MGN Civil

We sat down with Guy Schweitzer, Director of MGN Civil to hear about his experience using sitemobi.

“sitemobi has saved our business valuable time and effort, which has allowed our Directors to focus on what is important. Since adopting the software, we have experienced substantial growth from $2M to $18M turnover. We would not be able to cope with the workload using our old systems.” 

How were you first introduced to sitemobi?

Through Tony at Keller – he suggested we trial it. We were a relatively small operation at the time, so we thought it would be worthwhile getting a trial. Joel came out to site and gave us a demo and then we trialled and signed up for the software.

Which construction management systems did you have in place prior to trialling sitemobi?

Excel spreadsheets and paperwork, for example handwritten diaries at site. These were sent to me in the mail and I manually input the information. There was a lot of double-triple checking and the possibility of errors being input.

What made you decide to trial the software?

We took it on full time from February 2017. With the projected growth of the business, I wanted to adopt a more efficient way of working. Now we have 20-25 men on the ground and 20+ pieces of equipment across all projects.

Which construction management challenges does it solve?

Our number of projects has now ballooned, so use of the old systems wouldn’t be possible with the amount of work that they have on now.

Since using sitemobi, what have been the key benefits to your business?

Saving a heap of time by reducing or eliminating data entry processes and increasing accuracy of information. This has allowed me to focus on business development and more important aspects of the business. For the first few months, I was double checking the numbers more, but I barely do it now as I trust the system and that he data is not lost.  I have faith in the system and it takes less time now that I’m familiar with it. All of our staff feel quite comfortable with the software. They see the value of getting the data right and inputting it in a timely fashion, as it is a much more efficient use of time, and the business partners have a vested interest to see profits.

Would you recommend sitemobi to other construction businesses? Why/why not?

Yes, absolutely. We are at the point that we don’t want to change out of it. I really enjoy using it now; it sure beats data entry! Data entry takes so long, and as an engineer, I’m no good at it.

3 ways for engineering and construction companies to go digital

As engineering and construction (E&C) companies increasingly turn their attention to digital, one of the most pressing questions is “How?”

How should E&C companies be adapting in order to integrate digital technology in their businesses?

There’s no neat, single answer to this question – every company is different and the industry itself is known for its complexity – but here are three crucial considerations for E&C companies that want to get serious about digital:

1. Digital strategy

“While technology can certainly assist you in hitting your targets by helping organise processes, integrate systems, allow for better communication, identify efficiencies, boost productivity, cut costs and more, it’s not as simple as adopting a basket of one-off technologies and then the problem is solved. To go from current state to totally transformed (no one is there yet), many factors will come into play but, without question, you cannot get there without a well-planned strategy.”

This observation comes from EY’s 2018 report, How are engineering and construction companies adapting digital to their businesses?, which surveyed companies in the E&C value chain. Of the respondents, 98% agreed that digital solutions will be critical to the future viability of their company, but only a quarter of them claimed to have a digital strategy and agenda in place – and of those, many still felt that they weren’t highly prepared for a digital future.

What emerges from these findings is that there is still a long way to go for many companies in terms of embedding digital into their strategic approach. Those who do so successfully will have a competitive advantage.

EY also suggests that a paradigm shift is necessary around the nature of digital generally:

“In reality, there is no end to learning and preparation; all digital strategies must have flexibility incorporated into the design to help ensure their ability to adapt to a rapidly changing future. Essentially there is no ‘there’ to get to — the target continues to move.”

2. Digital transformation

 

Leadership and talent

Fostering curiosity towards new technologies and openness to change is crucial for E&C companies. Transformational leaders need to embrace and model this receptiveness within the organisation.

The next task is to either train up existing employees or hire new recruits to fill gaps in talent and execute the digital strategy – companies should choose which option is best for them.

Innovation

Part of an organisation’s cultural transformation should be developing its willingness to innovate. EY found that 63% of respondents feel that digital innovation is very likely to transform their business but 67% of respondents are spending less than 1% on research and development (R&D) in digital as a percentage of turnover.

Ramping up R&D within organisations should be a priority in any digital strategy. This requires building in time for project managers to research and trial new technology. Companies that fail to capitalise on the digital opportunities available now and don’t invest in ongoing innovation risk being left behind by their competition.

3. Digital tools and systems

Gathering reliable data and getting value from it relies on the integration of multiple systems.

Duplication, fragmentation and confusion are common side effects of having systems that don’t speak to each other. Conversely, notes EY’s report, “connectivity and interoperability of systems allow for streamlined processes, often flowing through one communication channel and back to multiple stakeholders to allow for real-time information sharing and producing actionable information for decision-making”.

At sitemobi, we recognise that the major concerns of E&C companies are likely to remain centered on risk management, cost management, safety and time management.

We envision a future where E&C projects run more efficiently, safely and profitably, and we continually hone our software and support its users in their digital journey.

Our fully integrated, cloud-based software streamlines:

  • daily operational performance tracking
  • live cost tracking and forecasting
  • document management
  • quality control applications
  • contract management
  • safety and environment monitoring.

Talk to us today to find out how we can help your company go digital.

Harness the power of real-time data to take back control of your construction projects

Unlock complete control of your commercial position

The potential for greater efficiency, visibility and better communication is in the hands of industry personnel, as most construction workers use smartphones or tablets on the job. However, the majority of project systems are not designed to be used on these devices.

Harness the power of real-time data by using sitemobi to capture and proactively manage three cornerstones on construction projects: time, cost, and quantity.

Drive improvements in productivity, mobility and transparency

Our daily diaries capture the events in a work shift across multiple activities, providing a comprehensive summary with live tracking of:

  • costs,
  • production quantities,
  • production rates,
  • activity progress, and
  • resource usage.

Your construction program, cost and production register, project forecast, cost and risk graphs are automatically updated as a diary is approved.

Keen to take your projects to a whole new level? Find out how.

5 tech trends driving construction in 2019

In 2019, there’s no doubt technology solutions have become entrenched in every aspect of the construction lifecycle – and they’re not going anywhere. In fact, construction technology startups received $1.05bn in investment from venture capitalists in the first half of 2018 – a record high.

5 construction tech trends to watch

Here are some of the key trends in construction tech that are changing the way projects are being planned, managed and executed.

Data, data, data

Notorious for generating huge amounts of data and then discarding it – or not even collecting it in the first place – the construction sector is finally beginning to unlock the value of its data.

Construction software like sitemobi’s construction program management software is enabling real-time collaboration, data capture and data sharing in unprecedented ways.

What has emerged as a result is a data ecosystem, where construction companies can integrate on-site and back-office systems onto a single platform. Joining all of these dots amidst the complexity of construction projects is a step forward that’s revolutionising performance, productivity, safety and decision-making.

BIM for the win

At the forefront of conversations about innovation is Building Information Modelling (BIM) – a process for managing all the information belonging to a construction project.

The output of this process is the Building Information Model, the digital description of every aspect of the built asset that can form a reliable basis for decisions during its lifecycle. Essentially, BIM provides a method for generating and exchanging data and information between various parties on a project.

BIM is still a hot topic in 2019, as it not only heralds an era of greater accuracy in the building process but could also hold the key to improved sustainability and safety in construction projects.

GPS growth

Already in use on many projects, GPS tracking solutions will continue to be applied in various ways, from surveying sites to managing fleets and personnel. These solutions enhance safety through real-time situational awareness and are handy for finding lost and stolen equipment too.

Experts predict that the construction sector will benefit in future from ever more sophisticated GPS-based applications – think wearable technology and autonomous vehicles, for starters.

Mobile on the move

A construction workforce armed with mobile phones and iPads is a reality now. Mobiles bring together GPS and cloud-based data, giving teams access to plans, schedules, costs, documentation and more – all in real time, regardless of whether they’re on site or in the office.

Mobile tech engenders dynamism, democracy and collaborative possibilities for construction projects that simply aren’t possible with paper, whiteboards and spreadsheets.

Cloud collaboration

Cloud technology is working hand-in-hand with mobile solutions to transform construction projects. Real-time reporting and access to data stored in the cloud allows multiple teams to access relevant information from anywhere.

Cloud-based solutions are enabling a level of connectivity that has never existed before in construction, and companies are reaping the benefits of better communication, visibility and accountability.

The cloud will continue to be an indispensable element in construction tech.

Looking ahead with sitemobi

Investing in a fully integrated construction program management solution such as sitemobi – which covers real-time cost capturing, cost forecasting, document management, collaborative dashboards and reports for the construction phase of a project – has never been more important.

Our software capitalises on the latest developments in mobile and cloud-based tech to provide construction projects with clear, reliable data for operational and strategic decision-making.

Simplicity, efficiency and sustainability are at the core of everything we do at sitemobi. Our engineering, development and support teams are always looking to the future, providing solutions and leadership as technology continues to transform the construction industry.

Construction tech: digital tools save lives and money

The safety of workers and the profitability of construction projects are paramount concerns for any construction company. Bosses who put off investing in construction tech, claiming that they need to save money or it’s too hard to overhaul their systems, place their businesses – and their workers – at a significant disadvantage.

As pioneering computer scientist Grace Murray Hopper famously declared, “The most damaging phrase in the language is ‘We’ve always done it this way’.” While the construction industry has been slow to embrace technological change, the companies that are taking the plunge and implementing construction management software are reaping the benefits.

What technology?

The tools being used by smart construction companies utilise:

  • on-site GPS, Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile applications
  • cloud-based data management
  • automated reporting, alerts and forecasting
  • integrated back-office systems for accounting, finance and human resources.

What benefits?

The tools we’ve just listed are transforming the construction phase of projects in three key areas:

  • On-site execution: everything can be tracked in real time, including performance, variations, risks, costs and documentation.
  • Digital collaboration: teams have mobile access to project documentation and can communicate across distances and adapt plans when necessary to avoid safety risks and increasing timelines and costs.
  • Back-office integration: integrating accounting, finance and human resources systems can help companies exploit valuable project data on finances, costs and schedules.

Everyone wins

Choosing to invest in digital tools and making sure they’re integrated with the company’s business culture is a win for everybody. A more profitable project doesn’t have to come at a cost to worker safety; and worker safety doesn’t have to compromise a project’s bottom line. Ultimately, these new technologies enable a scenario where safety and profitability go hand-in-hand.

Think about it. The factors that make sites safer actually dovetail with the factors that make sites more efficient:

  • better planning
  • improved on-site coordination
  • better communication
  • reliable performance monitoring
  • real-time data capture
  • mobile access to data and documentation
  • less admin
  • fewer manual systems
  • predictive analytics
  • automated reporting.

At sitemobi, maximising worker safety and company profits are at the heart of what we do.

We’ve developed products that simultaneously address on-site execution, digital collaboration and back-office integration. This makes us one of only a handful of companies to have developed a comprehensive digital solution to the most pressing problems in construction today.

McKinsey & Company noted in their 2017 report, The new age of engineering and construction technology, that startups like ours are making headway on issues that have plagued the industry for decades:

“Such improvements could not come at a better time, since construction projects are becoming increasingly complex and expensive, putting managers under greater pressure to improve costs, timelines, and efficiency.”

Interested in how we could help your business? Feel free to get in touch with us to find out more.

Construction projects need data-driven decision-making. Here’s why.

Given the complex, changeable and costly nature of construction, excellent project management decisions are vital. Without them, construction sites become disorganised, inefficient, expensive and unsafe.

The technological leaps we’ve seen in recent decades can seem dizzying at times, but the reality is that they offer us unprecedented potential to improve the way we plan and execute construction projects.

In construction, basing operational and strategic decisions on data that has been consistently collected and analysed can unlock extraordinary benefits.

Better decisions

Here are some of the most compelling reasons for using big data when making decisions on construction projects.

Objectivity

Reliable data that spans multiple facets of a construction project over time can give the most accurate overview of how things are working. It provides a foundation for decision-making and strategising that is informed and unbiased.

Immediacy

Live tracking of everything – from the progress of work, to locations, costs and documentation – has been made possible by GPS, mobile and cloud-based tech. Never before have we had access to so much real-time information to guide decisions.

Dynamism

Construction workers with mobile phones have become frontline gatherers of data on projects. What this means for decision-makers is that they have the best possible oversight of what’s happening on site at any given time, allowing them to be more responsive to actual circumstances and variables.

Connectivity

Real-time reporting and universal access to cloud-based data means that different teams can draw on integrated information (relating to performance, documentation, costs, safety and more) that’s always up to date. This enables better communication, better collaboration, greater accountability, and – you guessed it – better decision-making.

Efficiency

Automated reporting, alerts and forecasting use data to create efficiencies. Reducing the need for manual systems saves on time and project management resources, as well as minimising the risk of human error. These consistent, reliable reports and forecasts create clarity for decision-makers.

Measurability

Going forward, decisions and actions can be measured against strategic objectives. As more data is collected over time, decision-makers can see what works and what doesn’t, allowing them to plan better for the future.

Data-driven decisions with sitemobi

Our sitemobi cloud-based, real-time construction management solution includes:

  • daily operational performance tracking,
  • live cost tracking and forecasting,
  • document management,
  • quality control applications,
  • contract management,
  • safety and environment monitoring.

Our software streamlines all of these elements in one integrated, easy-to-use system, so that management teams can optimise efficiency, safety and performance on construction projects.

We can help you make better decisions – get in touch with us to find out more.

Tech innovations for the construction phase

Tech innovations for the construction phase

McKinsey & Company’s 2017 report The new age of engineering and construction technology has identified that most tech start-ups (about 1,000 companies) in construction and engineering are developing products targeted at the construction phase of projects.

The report found that the uses of new technology products in the construction phase fell into three “clusters”:
• on-site execution
• digital collaboration
• back-office integration.

Construction-phase clusters

On-site execution

One of the largest areas of difficulty for engineering and construction (E&C) companies, on-site issues range from low productivity to delays in material shipments. Tech for on-site execution includes:
• field productivity tools that track crew deployment and activities, helping companies to manage project staffing and on-site productivity
• safety monitoring tools.
• quality control applications.

Digital collaboration
Online collaboration tools allow multiple E&C stakeholders to communicate across distances and adapt plans when necessary to avoid increasing timelines and costs. They include tools for:
• design management, enabling changes to be made to project documents on site, rather than in an office
• contract management
• performance management
• document management.

Back-office integration
Integrating accounting, finance and human resources systems can help companies exploit valuable project data on finances, costs and schedules.

Cross-cluster tools and solutions
The report established that many start-ups were developing tools for multiple uses within the same cluster, but only 13% were developing cross-cluster tools.

Siteoffice.mobi falls into this 13% of groundbreaking start-ups whose products address on-site execution, digital collaboration and back-office integration simultaneously – making us one of the few companies developing comprehensive solutions to the most pressing problems in E&C today.

Construction’s digital future: how can we get there faster?

Technology has already facilitated vast changes in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector, but there’s still a way to go.

We posted recently on where construction tech is headed next. Research is showing us how technology is affecting our industry now and how it stands to develop in future – but how do we respond to these changes and accelerate our journey to a digital future?

McKinsey & Company addresses this question in their 2018 report, Seizing opportunity in today’s construction technology ecosystem. They include some useful action points for the coming years for AEC firms and tech providers.

How to fast track digital progress

AEC firms

  • Invest in talent and skill building by:
    • hiring people with technical expertise
    • upskilling your existing employees in new technologies and earmarking funds for capability building.
  • Engage with the startup ecosystem by:
    • investing directly or indirectly in startups
    • partnering with them for piloting or co-developing solutions.
  • Establish conditions of success for piloting and scaling by:
    • setting aside funding in order to experiment with technology
    • bringing in outside startup expertise when needed.

Tech providers

  • Listen to the end user and adapt products by:
    • working out ‘real needs’ of customers versus ‘nice-to-have’ applications.
  • Plan for the journey to integration and consolidation by:
    • finding ways to evolve towards integrated solutions that cover multiple use cases (such as on-site execution, digital collaboration and back-office integration)
    • strategising for ‘co-opetition’ (i.e. simultaneously collaborating and competing with other startups).

Looking to the future with siteoffice.mobi

At siteoffice.mobi, we’re one of only a handful of startups whose products span on-site execution, digital collaboration and back-office integration, which puts us ahead of the majority of other construction tech providers.

Our cloud-based, real-time construction management solution includes:

  • daily operational performance tracking
  • live cost tracking and forecasting
  • document management
  • quality control applications
  • contract management
  • safety and environment monitoring.

Our software streamlines all of these elements in one integrated, easy-to-use system, so that management teams can optimise efficiency, safety and performance on construction projects.

As builders, engineers and software developers working together, we have genuine insight into needs of the AEC sector. We’re confident of our trajectory into the future as we collaborate to solve real problems in construction.

Think we can help you? Chat to us today.