Live Field Data Challenges
Why Your Data Collection Methods are Your Biggest Obstacle
When we surveyed 134 contractors this year to publish our Live Field Data Usage Report, the majority of contractors are using 3-5 apps to collect field data. It was disappointing that 25% of those folks were using 3-5 apps to collect field data AND paper and spreadsheets.
We wanted to know more about the six types of field data with the biggest impact on project performance. First, let’s look at the types of field data that covered in the survey:
- Employee Time Tracking
- Safety Reports
- Job Cost Allocation
- Tool and Equipment Tracking
- Daily Log Reports
In the Live Field Data Report, only 34% of contractors collect live field data for safety. Only 21% collect live field data for equipment and tool tracking. It’s surprising that just 19% collect live field data of labor hours by cost code. Here are the top 3 live field data challenges:
1. Too Many Ways for Employees to Collect Field Data
Everyone hates doing the administrative parts of our job. It’s not the thing we get out of bed and get excited about, right? Based on the results in the Live Field Data Usage Report, 40% of companies are asking their employees to use three to five apps. Of those using 3-5 apps, 25% of them use paper forms and spreadsheets to track their field data. Field Operations Teams need all six field data types listed above to mitigate cost, schedule, and safety risks. When employees use up to 7 different ways to track field data, you’re asking a lot from them.
This is why collecting live field data is such a challenge. Employees have to learn the nuances of each app and how to use them. Each user interface is different and menu items aren’t the same. This drastically reduces the likelihood that they’ll be proficient on each app. Field employees also have to remember all of their logins and passwords to each app. Twenty-five percent of companies also require employees to complete paper or spreadsheet forms. You’re asking employees to spend a substantial amount of time on administrative tasks that they hate. This is a pretty big live field data challenge.
2. Manual Processes Make Live Field Data Almost Impossible
Any time manual intervention by humans is required to manage data, it’s yet another live field data challenge. It moves you further away from realizing the benefits of live field data. In the Live Field Data Usage Report, 14% of companies are exclusively using paper and spreadsheets to collect field data. Of the 134 contractors surveyed, 52% of the contractors used a combo of paper, spreadsheets, and apps. Paper and spreadsheets require human intervention and manual processes.
For example, the field employees have to leave their work area to get a safety form to fill out. Typically, forms are in the job trailer. After a safety form is filled out, the supervisor delivers the form to the corporate office. The forms have missing data and illegible handwriting which require another manual process. The safety manager makes calls and sends emails or texts to gather the missing information. The next manual step is entering the paper or spreadsheet data into an application or spreadsheet to be able to analyze trends.
Additionally, once the data is in a spreadsheet or in an application, the safety information has to manually be emailed to the right people in the organization to be informed of what they need to know. All of these manual steps delay the data sharing and analysis of critical business data. Live field data is an enormous challenge if not impossible when you’re using manual processes.
3. Lack of Confidence in the Data
When contractors use multiple apps that may or may not integrate, it’s probably the biggest live field data challenge. When the project teams meet to discuss the project status, they rely on work-in-progress reports, daily log reports, safety reports, and projected and forecasted cost reports. The data for these reports require them to compile data from up to 7 different data sources. Additionally, there’s always a time gap when apps aren’t integrated and you’re also using paper and spreadsheets.
For example, data has to be extracted from the time tracking system to get accurate man-hours to compare them to the plan. They also have to get the quantities completed from daily log reports. These individual reports are compiled to tally the total quantities to date for accurate progress reporting. All of these reports are likely done in a spreadsheet and we all know spreadsheets are error-prone. Almost 90% of spreadsheets contain errors.
It’s very common in project status meetings that different project stakeholders show up to the meeting and have completely different numbers on their reports. It could be due to discrepancies for the date ranges or missing reports. Rarely is everyone on the same page and they don’t know how accurate the numbers on the reports are. Often, project status meetings are spent reconciling reports rather than solving any budget or schedule issues. And all the while, the project team is spending time making decisions on old data that could be a day, week, or even a month old rather than using live field data.
Now that You Know the Challenges, How Can You Overcome Them?
From the Live Field Data Usage Report, only a small only a minority of companies are utilizing live field data to optimize their projects. Even if they are collecting live field data, it’s typically only one of the six types of field data and not all six types. Your field data is much less accurate if you’re not using live field data and you’re making your field workers and operations team much less efficient. Those two factors can have a big impact on productivity, profitability, and the project schedule.
If you’re looking for the one thing you can do for your business to increase productivity and lower costs as a result, you need an integrated platform like WorkMax. WorkMax overcomes the live field data challenges described in this blog and has one app to collect all six types of live field data to make it easy for your employees, digitizes all of your field operations, and gives you confidence in your project field data. To learn more about how these live field data challenges are no longer an issue when you use WorkMax, schedule a demo today or download the full Live Field Data Usage Report.