Is it a serpent or an elephant? The parable of the six blind men and the elephant is one of the world’s most widely-known parables. It illustrates that we should not mistake a part for the whole and importance of keeping an open mind to different points of view. It also conveys the importance of perspective and the value of closely examining complex ideas and issues.
And, while it may seem as though I’m going out on a limb -- this parable also makes for a teaching moment in the construction industry.
More than ever before, the construction industry is learning to use Business Intelligence tools to extract data from construction projects for real-time decision making. The challenge: the construction industry needs to draw accurate conclusions from the huge datasets that are being generated and avoid the conclusions of the blind man feeling the elephant’s trunk and declaring it a serpent.
To help construction companies extract and leverage accurate data from all its data sources, B4 Consulting is building Integrated Frameworks for Construction. We call it -- IF4C – and it allows applications to become interoperable (see http://blog.b4-consulting.com/blog/how-to-achieve-interoperability-in-construction). We believe that this interoperability has a positive effect as well on Business Intelligence. Consider this real-life case: I want a report on the health of one of my self-perform projects, and I want a report on the trend line of the labor productivity of one of the major work packages being performed.
In our experience, this is a typical scenario and here are just a few of the questions and issues that prevent the quick, efficeint and accurate generation of such reports in a lot of construction companies:
- Do I need my estimating data to make this comparison?
- If my CBS structures have little or no relationship to my WBS structures what does it mean?
- How timely are the actual installed data being imputed into a system for trend analytics?
- How accurate are the data being entered and are they entered into the correct WBS structure?
- Do I need equipment run time data to interpret the data correctly?
- Do I need ECM data such as pictures, daily logs, weather reports, etc. to make the correct decisions?
B4 Consulting believes that Business Intelligence is architected correctly when it goes beyond the esthetically pleasing or even intellectually stimulating. Business Intelligence must be actionable and create the opportunity for increasing productivity. See http://blog.b4-consulting.com/blog/outsidein-and-the-ooda-loop-–-transforming-construction
The architecture’s defining characteristics include:
- Front-end mobility component to initiate real-time possibilities.
- Ability to draw datasets large enough (remember the elephant!) and across pertinent applications to drive value.
- Presentation to the correct decision makers in a timely and intuitive manner to advance better field decisions.
The well-architected Business Intelligence framework gives the construction industry the proper information to make the OODA loop work and inform them for competitive advantage.