The Diary of a Construction Manger in Love with His BI Tool

Hi, my name is Bob and I am a construction manager. I oversee all aspects of managing the operations of a construction project, including budgets, staffing, and the compliance of the entire construction project.

In 10+ years of my experience, I have never had a Business Intelligence (BI) tool. I had to create spreadsheets to track daily activities, calculate risks and build formulas to measure impact. Given the size of the projects I worked on, this was extremely complex.  As a result, I would spend a lot of my time putting out fires to problems that I knew could have been prevented if I had the right information.

Recently my company introduced BI to our team. Since I’m using BI for the first time, I decided to create an activity log similar to a diary of my project.

Let me share some highlights with you:

October 28, 2011

We are 4 weeks into the project. We have the crew working on the ground. The foundation is done. The structural engineer has finished his design. We are ready to roll.

January 11, 2012

This morning I received an alert about my Preventative vs. Corrective Maintenance. My monthly work mix by type looks like this: preventative 36%; repair 24%; rebuild 5%; and modify 35%. My preventative costs have gone down from an optimal 40% to 36% and my repair costs have increased correspondingly.

When I drilled down into the repairs, I see that we are responding to higher than normal number of heating and insulation work items. I am going to talk to Edward – my HVAC contractor – about it.

February 29, 2012

I have been monitoring our electrical work. Our average Cost per SQ Foot is 13% less than industry average. This is a breakthrough thanks to the changes I have made monitoring the project with BI and making data-driven decisions. It lets me monitor these costs on an ongoing basis, so I can take preventative actions to stay below industry average to protect our funding and even justify additional headcount.

March 16, 2012

Productivity Rate is one of my favorite indicators – because it truly provides me with real-time info about the performance of my team. On average, our productivity rate stays on optimal levels. However, the plumbing trade group’s actual cost is exceeding the estimated costs. This will affect my cost-to-complete and margins, as I have to pay overtime for this contractor.

But I don’t have to worry… my BI tool lets me drill into this indicator to see whether the reason is ‘labor’ or ‘supply’ related. Drill-thru was something a spreadsheet could never let me do.

March 30, 2012

Two weeks have passed since I shifted resources for plumbing. Our productivity rates have improved since then and the project is looking on time and on budget.

With 40 more days to go, I want to make sure we deliver on time and meet our SLA with the building owners. I see no bottlenecks. Cycle Times – the average time to complete an activity – shows me that we are actually 4 days ahead of the schedule.

May 21, 2012

I’m very happy to report that we are done with the construction. The ROI on this project was greater than we expected and my client is very happy. Next weekend is the Memorial Day weekend. I have the time and money I need to take a nice vacation with my wife and son.

-As told by Bob, a fictional construction manager.

Even though the story is fictional, it’s based on reality. Business users and project managers – such as facility managers, supply chain logistic specialists, even dairy farmers – use Pentaho business intelligence to make their jobs easier and to make smarter, data driven decisions – just like our fictional friend, Bob.

Who knew BI could be so handy for construction managers?

What is your secret BI story? Drop me a line.

– Farnaz Erfan, Product Marketing, Pentaho

This blog was originally posted Smart Data Collective.

Strata Conference – What Were People Excited About?

Last week, Pentaho was a sponsor at The Strata Conference in San Francisco, California. Over the two-day conference our booth was constantly packed with attendees. As I chatted with these eager visitors, I was pleased to hear comments such as: “My boss has asked me to look into Pentaho,” and “We currently have product X and we are looking into solutions that are easy to use and don’t charge an arm and a leg for it.” As I was demoing the Pentaho BI Suite Enterprise Edition, one thing was clear … the line between business users and technical users is fading fast!Everyone wants access to data, but not everyone has it. Technical users, the ETL and BI developers, spend all their time on working with data, integrating, cleansing, standardizing, and analyzing it, but the business users need their data in a different way. Data gives these business users power. The days of traditional BI when IT was building standard reports and pushing it out to business users are over. Canned reports are too slow to arrive, too limited on the information they provide, and often are too far out from what the business needed in the first place.Business users want the power and flexibility to work with their data, and to compare and contrast anything to everything. But they want an intuitive and easy way to work with their data, similar to the tools they are most familiar with such as Excel pivot tables. This became all very clear as I was demoing the Pentaho BI Suite Enterprise Edition. The reaction of people to Pentaho Analyzer was right on the money. Pentaho Analyzer has the same look and feel as Excel spreadsheets, with an easy drag and drop capability to pull business data (customers, sales, orders, payments, time, region, territory, etc.) up to the canvas and slice and dice it to the heart’s desire. “Why not Excel?” one attendee asked me. The answer is simple….Because you can see the changes that your colleagues or IT staff make to data, immediately, without having to cross-check, guess, or ask about. Your Excel data is as good as it once was!

Pentaho Analyzer’s easy to use and intuitive ad hoc analysis capabilities, with hyperlinks for drill through to detailed transaction data behind the scenes, along with its strong charting capabilities and the flexibility to turn your final analysis results into Excel, PDF or any other popular format, topped it all off. I was pleased to see a lot of nods as I was demoing the software, a confirmation to Pentaho’s focus, strategy, and roadmap.

For a free 30 day evaluation of the Pentaho BI Suite (including Pentaho Analyzer), please go to http://www.pentaho.com/download/

For additional highlights from the Strata conference read blog by Ian Fyfe, Thoughts on last week’s Strata Conference.

This blog was originally posted on Business Intelligence from the Swamp.

Last week, Pentaho was a sponsor at The Strata Conference in San Francisco, California. Over the two-day conference our booth was constantly packed with attendees. As I chatted with these eager visitors, I was pleased to hear comments such as: “My boss has asked me to look into Pentaho,” and “We currently have product X and we are looking into solutions that are easy to use and don’t charge an arm and a leg for it.” As I was demoing the Pentaho BI Suite Enterprise Edition, one thing was clear … the line between business users and technical users is fading fast!Everyone wants access to data, but not everyone has it. Technical users, the ETL and BI developers, spend all their time on working with data, integrating, cleansing, standardizing, and analyzing it, but the business users need their data in a different way. Data gives these business users power. The days of traditional BI when IT was building standard reports and pushing it out business users are over. Canned reports are too slow to arrive, too limited on the information they provide, and often are too far out from what the business needed in the first place.Business users want the power and flexibility to work with their data, and to compare and contrast anything to everything. But they want an intuitive and easy way to work with their data, similar to the tools they are most familiar with such as Excel pivot tables. This became all very clear as I was demoing the Pentaho BI Suite Enterprise Edition. The reaction of people to Pentaho Analyzer was right on the money. Pentaho Analyzer has the same look and feel as Excel spreadsheets, with an easy drag and drop capability to pull business data (customers, sales, orders, payments, time, region, territory, etc.) up to the canvas and slice and dice it to the heart’s desire. “Why not Excel?” one attendee asked me. The answer is simple….Because you can see the changes that your colleagues or IT staff make to data, immediately, without having to cross-check, guess, or ask about. Your Excel data is as good as it once was!

Pentaho Analyzer’s easy to use and intuitive ad hoc analysis capabilities, with hyperlinks for drill through to detailed transaction data behind the scenes, along with its strong charting capabilities and the flexibility to turn your final analysis results into Excel, PDF or any other popular format, topped it all off. I was pleased to see a lot of nods as I was demoing the software, a confirmation to Pentaho’s focus, strategy, and roadmap.

For additional highlights from the Strata conference read blog by Ian Fyfe, Thoughts on last week’s Strata Conference.

For a free 30 day evaluation of the Pentaho BI Suite (including Pentaho Analyzer), please go to http://www.pentaho.com/download/

Farnaz Erfan
Product Marketing Manager
Pentaho Corporation