We asked some of our Jovix System Coordinators (JSCs) who are in the field every day to share a favorite tale from the field. Kelly, a JSC in Canada, shared his story about his role as data manager on a project with a complex global supply chain.
A client once provided me with data from one of their corporate systems and told me “This information is 100% accurate.” The plan was to take the client-provided data and gently combine it with data from a supplier’s system. The resulting report would answer several high-visibility concerns and help guide project leadership.
Required Data…. Check!
Final Report Requirements… Check!
Data Consistency… Nope!
The data that I was asked to work with was not accurate. On a line-by-line basis, 90% of the report WAS accurate, but the other 10% was actually erroneous entries that discredited other lines assumed to be accurate. Upon raising my concerns to project leadership, I learned that I was not working with raw data, but rather a report that was ‘whipped up in Excel’.
The information from the two systems I was supposed to combine didn’t have any apparent common data between them.
It seemed to me that we could have benefited from a better understanding of the data: a dedicated Data Management Team.
So What is Data Management?
Data Management starts with understanding project goals, business processes, and all relevant applications used on a project. Data management professionals can use these details to map out the flow of information on a project and identify risks and opportunities. It’s important to understand where data comes from and how it is consumed by downstream processes as seemingly harmless changes on one end can result in completely unusable data on the other.
Understanding business processes and which applications are used along the way helps to put context around data and increases visibility into data manipulation, importance, and relevance. Understanding both the data and the business process allows a data management team to identify possible process gaps, opportunities for efficiency improvements, and ultimately provide accurate, reliable reports to aid in project decision making.
The value of data management doesn’t immediately present itself when a tag beeps from under a pile of snow to accurately identify an item. Nor does it immediately present itself when construction teams are able to execute work as per their intended schedules. A good data management plan is the grease that keeps the “project gears” smoothly turning. The value of a good management plan is noticed when generated reports are proven to be trustworthy and construction teams can focus on what they really want to do: build things. In other words, if the data management plan is working, you shouldn’t really notice it at all.
The fact of the matter is that maintaining the data required to successfully execute a large construction project doesn’t happen by accident. A dedication and commitment to data management will help to ensure that the many reports that will be created and distributed are accurate and trustworthy. In our quiet, behind-the-scenes way, we save the day.