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By: Melissa Mullen on June 18th, 2021

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What is the Preconstruction Data Lifecycle?

Operating Insights | Takeoff & Estimating

Over the past decade, the world of construction technology has evolved at a breakneck pace. Not long ago, estimators were still calculating numbers by hand and performing 2D takeoffs on pieces of paper. Today, not only are these processes automated but they can even be performed all under the same roof if one wishes.

Thanks to the plethora of recent advancements in construction tech, one concept that has emerged is that of the preconstruction data lifecycle, or PDL. The preconstruction data lifecycle is essentially the progression of data throughout an entire project, from the time that the project is simply an idea to its closeout.

Challenges

While this might seem like an elementary-school level observation, estimating programs that recognize and work within the preconstruction data lifecycle are extremely critical to the success of future project pursuits and estimating efforts. Why? There are three major challenges that estimators face across the board:

  • Lack of data – unable to collect it
  • Lack of access – collecting data, but can’t easily get to it
  • Time cost – mining and organizing data is extremely time-consuming

One of the greatest issues with most estimating software available on the market is that while they may help estimators generate tons of data, they don’t necessarily help them follow through with that data. There are no ways to analyze or track the data.

If you’re trying to create a richer and more comprehensive preconstruction effort, not being able to analyze the numbers and assets that you’re churning out is a massive obstacle. Being able to work with your data at the beginning, middle, and end of a project means that you can identify lessons learned in past estimates as well as adjustments made on the project site.

This insight gives preconstruction professionals knowledge they can use moving forward. It also means that you can predict costs with greater accuracy. Therefore, your company can pursue and build projects on the foundation of a holistic combination of the company’s past experiences because the information in the preconstruction data lifecycle is beneficial to making better decisions across the organization.

How Does PDL Revolutionize the Construction Industry?

Estimating programs built with the preconstruction data lifecycle in mind are able to completely transform the way companies look at their estimating efforts. To begin with, preconstruction data lifecycle software eliminates the need for point solutions as well as binary files, and instead offers an expansive database that every estimator can access at any time. This increases efficiency and reduces error, and as a result builds trust between the contractor and the project owner, with the added benefit of capturing more project wins due to a reputation for quick turnaround times without sacrificing accuracy.

Perhaps even more importantly, preconstruction data lifecycle technology helps estimators achieve something that may have been next to impossible before, deep analysis of the data they’re producing. Analysis is the lifeblood of construction estimating. Anyone can come up with some quick figures if they need to, but it takes a truly skilled estimator to go a step further and analyze those figures in relation to the project, thus making more informed predictions both in the present and the future.

Preconstruction data lifecycle tools also provide valuable insight to estimators. When they’re able to track exactly what happens to their data from start to finish, they can start connecting the dots elsewhere, too. For example, an estimator on the East Coast is pulling information for a new healthcare project and a similar project in the Midwest that the firm just completed has good insight into material delays. The estimator can include that knowledge in the new estimate. Or maybe someone needs to find a specific line item along with its history. With a preconstruction data lifecycle platform, a user can locate a single line item and see its individual cost history, adjusting for time and regional differences.

Ultimately, this has ripple impacts on the entire construction industry. Because preconstruction data lifecycle technology offers a more comprehensive approach to project planning, this means that everyone involved with the project can make better decisions, resulting in improved infrastructures and communities. More importantly, adopting the preconstruction data lifecycle helps chip away at the old perception that preconstruction is an isolated aspect of project planning that doesn’t go any deeper than crunching numbers. The preconstruction data lifecycle helps contractors realize that their estimating efforts actually have extremely high value if invested in appropriately.

Looking to the Future

As the preconstruction data lifecycle is taken into consideration together with the development of other construction technology, expect to see the industry mine data much more quickly and efficiently, with the ability to pull up individual items at a moment’s notice and update them on the go—whether at the office, at home, or on bid day. Additionally, look for enhanced cross-departmental collaboration, especially between those groups that may have had a hard time communicating previously, i.e. preconstruction and design teams.

This is not a futuristic idea. The preconstruction data lifecycle is here and is making the construction industry more cohesive and inviting greater collaboration into the preconstruction process. Those who adopt the technology to take advantage of project insights from start to closeout will be the ones who set the standard for the built world.


melissaMelissa Mullen is a Marketing Specialist at Beck Technology. She is passionate about creating accessible content that empowers construction professionals to make better, more informed decisions no matter what sector they are in.