Calibrating solutions to your problems: The first and most important step is data collection
The world of construction and infrastructure is beginning to harness the power of its data to improve industry outcomes. Several of the most progressive designers, contractors and owners have begun to consolidate the many sources of data within their organizations and within the projects or assets of which they are stakeholders. When this data is co-mingled property it allows these companies to make better decisions. Effectively, these companies are putting themselves in a position to better calibrate the solutions to their problems and to measure the impact of each calibration against data from future problems.
Getting to this stage requires continual improvement, with your first, and perhaps most important, step focusing on collecting the data that will best identify the problems your organization faces.
This problem data set can come from many sources. In fact, any deviation from a projected key performance indicator (KPI) within your organization means that some form of problem occurred that prevented your firm from meeting the project KPI as intended. Thus, the source of those problems should be collected, organized and analyzed.
One of the greatest sources of problem data is from the insurance sector. Insurance claims are a clear source of problem data in that something has occurred within your organization, or on your job site, which has caused you a loss — hence why you are seeking indemnification by making a claim against one of your insurance policies. By effectively capturing your claims data you can identify those events that are causing you losses. Put more simply, you are collecting some of the problems facing your organization.
A vital ingredient from this claims data is what is called the root cause of loss information related to the claim. It is one thing to know that you had a claim and it cost you $25,000 to cover the deductible and your insurance company paid $2.8 million above that deductible. It is something entirely more powerful to know that the total claim of $2.9 million dollars was caused by water damage due to faulty workmanship of a mechanical subcontractor in some of the bathrooms at a new multi-family high-rise you are constructing. That added level of detail is the root cause of loss data and it is gold when it comes to laying the foundation of a sound data strategy for your company and your projects.
Of note, you should not just collect the data on those events that are covered by insurance. You should be collecting data from all incidents that lead to a loss — whether it is something your insurance will pick up the bill for, or not. Further, you might even consider collecting data on “near misses” or events where no loss was suffered but a loss could have suffered if not for luck or quick remedial actions.
To begin this journey of collecting incident and claims data most effectively within your organization and on the projects that you are involved in, a strong first step is investigating the various methodologies and/or technologies you use to capture, aggregate, organize and display such data. There are many very strong technologies available that are user-friendly and can organize and display this data quite effectively, allowing you to build a clean and consistent set of data with strong/standardized root cause of loss capture. Some of these solutions are part of larger software packages, such as Procore, Viewpoint and Autodesk Build. Others, such as Origami, Aclaimant, or Riskonnect, are housed within individual incident/claims capture applications. You need to create a procurement process to identify all your best options and determine which incident/claims capture solution is ideal for you.
By orienting your company to better capture and organize your problem data, you will have taken the first steps down the larger path of creating a strong data strategy for your organization. The days of moving from one project to another and not holding on to all the data created from that project are gone. For the industry to truly improve its productivity, it needs to more effectively collect all the data from all its projects. Ideally, you would also want to collect all the data from all the stakeholders on all your projects — that data set would be truly impactful to your organization and would lead you to a destination of better decision making and greater productivity.
David Bowcott is Global Director – Growth, Innovation & Insight, Global Construction and Infrastructure Group at Aon Risk
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This column first appeared in the March 2021 edition of On-Site. Click here to read through the whole issue.