Always have a plan in business intelligence

5 Tips for Getting Started with Business Intelligence in AEC

In Insights, Musings by Marc Krichman

In today’s competitive construction landscape, where speed and agility in decision-making are critical, a comprehensive business intelligence plan is essential for organizing and understanding your data. But creating and implementing a strategy can be a bit daunting, particularly if it’s your first foray into BI. So how do you get started with business intelligence?

Here are 5 Tips for Getting Started with Business Intelligence in AEC:

1. Understand Your Needs.

Always have a plan in business intelligence

Always look before you leap in planning Business Intelligence initiatives

What kind of data does your organization deal with? Which kinds of insights are you looking for? What overall problems are you looking to solve with your business intelligence plan? Many companies simply jump headfirst into business intelligence because everyone tells them it’s something they need, without knowing exactly what they intend to use it for. They can spend hours combing their data sources in order to get the reports that they want. In order to understand your needs, it’s important to understand where that time is being spent with regards to data. This can in turn help in creating a plan that suits your needs. Outline your business intelligence needs first, and then look for a platform that’s geared towards meeting those specific needs. There are a lot of generic platforms out there that try to be all-purpose fixes, rather than understanding the specific industry that their users are in and gearing it towards them. It’s much more helpful to find a vendor who knows your business and has experience in your industry, so that their solutions can be tailored to the specific needs you’ve outlined.

2. Set Goals

Always set specific, quantifiable goals so you know when you're successful

Always set specific, quantifiable goals so you know when you’re successful

Once you’ve determined the needs you need to meet with your BI strategy, you can set goals that will help you meet those needs. As a general rule, start with small goals and work your way up to larger ones, and avoid vague statements like “increase revenue.” Instead, set specific, quantifiable goals, such as “decrease RFI and submittal turnaround time.” These goals will keep your strategy on task, tracking the specific data that’s relevant to you, rather than trying to track every data stream that presents itself, and ending up with a jumbled mess.

3. Look for Trends

Once you start tracking the right data, your BI platform can help you spot current trends, and forecast future ones, as well as identify risks that you wouldn’t be able to see otherwise. This can in turn help you get a head start on solving problems in your organization before they begin. For example, you can assess your project and overall staff performance in order to identify potential trouble spots, or areas where your team may need help. Spotting these trends can also help you grow your company in a number of ways, providing you with insight towards new services or new markets in which you could be successful.

4. Get Everyone Involved

Business intelligence begins with data, which means the more data you have at your disposal, the more effective your business intelligence strategy can be. Though as we said before, it’s counterproductive to try and track all of your data at once, it’s still good to have a wide selection to choose from. Implement a system wherein everyone shares data, across departments,

Plug into as many data sources as possible for a wide selection to choose from

Plug into as many data sources as possible for a wide selection to choose from

in order to keep the rest of the company informed. Whether they realize it or not, everyone from executives to interns has important data that may prove useful somewhere else in the company. Make sure that that data is properly shared and properly utilized, to improve the overall efficiency of your entire company.

5. Evolve

Developing and implementing your business intelligence strategy isn’t just a one-time ordeal. Your needs and your goals will continue to change over time, as will the types of data that you have at your disposal. Continually be reexamining your BI strategy to see if it still meets your company’s needs, and change both your strategy and your goals as needed.

Use Lantern Data Systems

Business intelligence can be a little daunting at first. There’s a lot of data to deal with, and it can overwhelm you if you’re not careful. But if you go in with a plan, and really understand business intelligence and the strategy that you’re implementing, you can turn that plethora of raw data into real, usable information that can grow your company. That’s where Lantern Data Systems comes in. We specialize in business intelligence solutions for the construction industry. We’re experienced in both BI and construction, and can provide the specifically-tailored solutions that construction companies need.