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.

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From Convicted Felons to Wall Street Investors – Business Analytics Is For All

US Politics Today just published a story about how NYC Department of Probation is using Business Analytics to gain visibility into the lives of 35,000 convicted felons, helping them get back into their communities and building productive lives under a monitored probation program.

At the heart of NYC Department of Probation’s mission to “restructuring lives” is powerful analytics, giving the department access to over 84 GB of data, including information on the background of the men, women and young people being supervised, the types of crimes that they have committed and their progress.

This is a vivid example on how powerful analytics is empowering public sector and government organizations improve their performance, streamline their administration services, and ultimately help the public. Business Analytics is no longer a novelty, specifically built for investors, financial analysts, and executive managers. Today business analytics serves all.

Growing populations, presidential budget proposals, and new economic developments calls for smart investments in business analytics in all areas of the government including:

  • Health and Human Services
  • Social Security Administration
  • Defense
  • Treasury
  • Criminal Justice
  • Transportation
  • Education
  • And more….

To find out more about Pentaho Business Analytics customers please visit our customer success page@ http://www.pentaho.com/about/customers/

Farnaz Erfan

Product Marketing

Pentaho

The New, Game-Changing Rules of Enterprise Software

The rules of the game have changed for enterprise software. In Aaron Levie’s recent article on TechCruch, “Building An Enterprise Software Company That Doesn’t Suck”, he breaks down the changes in enterprise software business into three categories. Levie details how differently enterprise software is developed, sold, and supported today versus just a few years ago.

I found Levie’s perspective interesting – especially because it matches the model that we have followed at Pentaho to achieve great success.

1. How enterprise software is developed today.

It’s no longer about products that are feature-bloated merely to get into RFP wars and win multi-year, large contracts. Those days are over – all they produced were complex technologies that had no real usage.

Now what drives demand is the real business application of software. Success is in user adoption, not in feature checklists.

This is exactly why an open source business model has been successful for enterprise software. The products are developed because there was a real business need for them. Many features are implemented and submitted by the community members, because real users need these capabilities in their business applications. This is a true outside-in, end user focus.

2. How enterprise software is sold today.

Long gone are the days of interruption marketing and trying to sell to every poor soul who happens to pass by. The buying process is much more bottoms up today. As Levie puts it, “With web-delivered, freemium or open source solutions, we’re seeing viral, bottom-up adoption of technology across organizations of all sizes.”

The open source model allows users to buy into the software (aka use it) before actually paying for it. Rather than knocking on every door to find an interested buyer, which is the model many enterprise software companies still follow, our sales organization is focused on actually helping customers navigate their options, providing consultative support and knowledgeable market advice.

3. How enterprise software is supported today.

In a traditional software licensing model, the customer pays a hefty upfront fee, just to get entitled to use the software. In addition, the customer has to pay for an annual subscription and support.

Luckily, buyers have realized that there are better options out there. As Levie rightfully notes, “The unstoppable trend toward ‘renting’ vs. ‘buying’ software, means the vendor gets paid only as the software continues to solve problems for its customer.”

At Pentaho we are committed to our customers’ success and our high customer retention numbers speak to this.

Interested to find out more about our software? Download it now.

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

User Stories Behind User-Driven BI….

Can BI be so simple to use that it becomes the daily productivity tool for even the most casual user? Here at Pentaho, we are certainly seeing this side of BI in our customers. Here are their stories in their own words…

  • Boyne Resorts, the largest family run four-season resort in North America, is using Pentaho everyday to better understand its customer behavior and loyalty. Their Pentaho Dashboards shows Boyne’s top 50 customers grouped by city and state. These color-coded dashboards show the concentration of customers in a given city, allowing Marketing Managers to gain immediate visibility into local market activities such as customer’s time spent in resorts. This information helps Boyne design a better mix of resort offers and loyalty points for its customers. Boyne also allows Resort Managers to optimize their operational excellence by using Pentaho Dashboards to assess profits from food and beverage, lift tickets, and lodging. Noah Meister, BI Director of Boyne Resorts, highlights Boyne’s transformation to this user-driven BI approach, in his remarks:

“We’ve advanced a major step forward for our business users by leveraging Pentaho. Boyne has a long history of being first and pursuing innovative ideas and implementing a fully functioning business intelligence application across our network of resorts follows that tradition.”

  • Delta Dental of Virginia, a member company of Delta Dental Plans Association, the nation’s largest dental benefit carrier, is using Pentaho BI to enable its 4,000+ knowledge workers to become a truly data-driven organization. Pentaho Reporting is integrated into company’s web site, and is a key component of DDVA’s customer service program. The web site tightly integrates claim processing systems and allows Knowledge Workers and Claim Managers to pull up accurate reports and claim status information on a daily basis. In addition, Pentaho Dashboards provide Underwriters with insight into fraudulent behavior. This new user-driven BI paradigm has been so successful that other Delta Dental member companies have asked for the same software. John Sheffield, Director of Software Development at Delta Dental of VA, marks this achievement by saying:  

“Pentaho has precipitated a cultural shift at Delta Dental of Virginia toward a knowledge worker paradigm. Once we had a BI platform that everyone could use and people understood its capabilities, they were transformed into knowledge workers who can look to data to answer their questions. As a result, people rely on data, not anecdotes to drive the business.”

  • ControlPay, world’s leader in freight auditing with presence in Netherlands, Ukraine, and USA, is using Pentaho to provide its customers deep insight into the most cost-effective logistics and transportation options. With Pentaho BI, this true B2B company is now able to provide an e-platform to its clients, some of which include world’s largest manufacturers such as Bridgestone, Proctor & Gamble and Schlumberger. The e-platform allows Distribution Managers, Supply Chain Managers, and Partners to assess variances in costs due to factors such as location, distance from distribution points, and contractual rates of regional carriers. A more drill-down analysis into less obvious costs such as weight per pallet, loyalty discounts, road tolls, and regional tax regimes, gives ControlPay a huge competitive advantage over other logistics suppliers. Pieter Kinds, Chief Operating Officer of ControlPay, speaks of this innovation by saying:

“Logistics is a major cost incurred by many businesses. Understanding the most efficient route to market across decentralized networks is a distracting challenge for organizations trying to satisfy global markets. Using our e-platform with Pentaho BI, brings disparate knowledge into one transparent hub, which means ControlPay customers have oversight on one screen of logistics data from many sources. This is a breakthrough!”

It is fascinating to see how BI has come such a long way from the old days of IT-centric report building. Interested to find out more about Pentaho’s User-Driven BI? Check out this 4 minute video and see for yourself: http://www.pentaho.com/power-to-the-user/