Five Ways to Improve Project Predictability and Success with Historical Data
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Five Ways to Improve Project Predictability and Success with Historical Data

A Black experience in construction

Construction project teams are recording data — whether it's intentional or simply a by-product of the job as project decisions, changes, delays, and costs are documented throughout the course of each build. Great general contractors stand out, however, when these data points are not simply shared in various email exchanges, siloed conversations, and spreadsheets that are discarded when a project ends. Instead, those companies document these project details in a way that allows all stakeholders to access and ensures the company is building a thorough set of historical data. 

The first step towards being able to leverage that historical data? Ensure every stakeholder is recording the relevant data points, including all project decisions, changes, delays, and costs, in a cloud program like Join, which allows easy data entry and keeps data accessible in real-time. This data should also be available to everyone involved in a project, creating greater transparency around how each person's work impacts the project as a whole. 

Why it’s important to leverage historical data

Once stakeholders are inputting project information, that historical data can then be leveraged to make better decisions on similar projects in the works, or on projects they are considering pursuing. By implementing better labor and material forecasting through data-driven decisions and leveraging well-documented decision history, a company can reduce project costs and overrun, while increasing profitability. Data-driven decisions also improve project predictability, which increases win rate and helps companies secure more repeat business.  

Forecast labor costs more effectively

Labor typically consumes at least 50% of a project's overall cost, while its unpredictably can be an even greater stressor. With historical data, smarter scheduling decisions on each job are possible.


Past project data allows contractors to create stronger and more reliable project roadmaps and plan labor accordingly. Additionally, by accurately tracking past project data, contractors will develop a better understanding of trade partners capable of the scope of work and schedule.

Let's take a micro look at how these two major learnings can impact a decision maker who is utilizing their own historical data to streamline work. If a firm has completed two business high-rises in the same city, and is working on a third, said decision maker can confidently base their new project on the past two. Because of this, they can identify as early as possible when they will need an electrical subcontractor, the scope of work, what specialties that subcontractor will require, and how long they will need them. By accurately forecasting this scope of work, an efficient team structure will be in place from the outset and labor costs are reduced. 

Forecast material costs more effectively

Just as a contractor can compare past projects to accurately predict and schedule specialty contractors, the data from comparable projects enables effective material forecasting. Returning to the example of a construction company planning its third high-rise in the same city, a contractor can compare their last two projects' data to gather an accurate picture of the material needed at each stage in the project. 

Not only does this provide reliable information around how much money to budget for each material, but it allows the contractor to confidently order materials in advance to avoid potential delivery delays or escalating prices without concerns of inaccurate ordering that could lead to material waste. 

Calculate escalation costs

Businesses who are accurately tracking project data are easily able to calculate the escalation costs of past projects and apply those learnings to future projects. For example, construction companies can make informed, data-driven decisions before pursuing a new project by reviewing similar past projects.

Additionally, transparency in cost reporting empowers project owners to make informed decisions when faced with escalation. Not only do they have a clear understanding of where all facets of the current project budget stands, but they also can compare this to past projects to make stronger decisions of how to adjust in order to stay within budget. 

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Understand and utilize decision history

Decision history is a crucial piece of each construction project's dataset. By tracking why decisions were made, contractors develop a framework to understand how and why that project data can be applied to current or future work.

With a well-documented decision history, a company can better compare similar projects and make more informed decisions on each subsequent project. It also allows teams to store the knowledge and expertise of each specialist who touches a project, which can be invaluable in making decisions early in future projects — often before those specialty subcontractors are even brought onboard. 

More overall project predictability

Accurate cost forecasting empowers construction companies to create the most accurate estimates possible. By reducing miscommunication and enabling transparency through real project data, companies forge trust with their clients; this leads to more winning work and repeat business. Additionally, by building upon historical data, companies can more confidently make accurate estimates to win work, and also protect profitability by ensuring costs are predictable. 

How to track and analyze historical data

Potential clients choose your firm because of your bid, yes, but also because of your project history. You bring to each job your expertise, developed through each construction project you have won, planned, and completed.

Competition is growing and cost differentiation is shrinking in the market so every pursuit is being judged on new criteria. Capturing historical data and using it to communicate your expertise to guide owners through their projects is your strategic advantage. If you are not properly tracking those projects, however, you are leaving much of that expertise behind when you wrap a construction job. 

By utilizing Join's cloud-based decision-making platform, stakeholders at each stage of a construction project are able to capture data and decisions to leverage their expertise and apply it to future jobs.

Not only does Join provide a streamlined place to track labor and material costs, but it's also the destination for each stakeholder to record decisions made and the reason behind the choice, ensuring you keep valuable expertise of subcontractors and employees from past jobs.

By utilizing Join's Project Comparison feature, you can compare projects side-by-side and make cost adjustments based on location and project, empowering you to make informed data-driven decisions, while increasing profitability and client trust. 

Learn how other general contractors like Barton Malow are using Join to eliminate errors and leverage their data. Read the case study > 

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