Common ground. Common source. Common basis. We use these words interchangeably when we talk about our data, but few companies have achieved it.
It’s impossible difficult to make good decisions as a team if you don’t agree on the data.
If we agree, we get the chance to discover new insights, new patterns, new relationships, and new metrics that we never knew existed because we share a common understanding of the data.
In construction project cost benchmarking, this means extracting data from operational sources, such as estimating, cost management, and project management systems into a common data source that’s available to all. It means developing and publishing standards for all to see. It means cleansing, normalizing, and validating data to ensure the source data conforms to the standards. It means developing standard attributes or characteristics, metrics, KPIs, key quantities, and elemental WBS code libraries. It means quick access to graphs and charts that visually tell a story about the data. It means having a common, unbiased view of the data upon which objective decisions can be made.
And now the real work begins.
When the data is finally consolidated, a remarkable thing happens. You start to realize the consistency of the data isn’t what you thought it was. The metrics that the preconstruction estimating team was tracking were fundamentally different than what the project controls team was using, yet they shared the same name and were loosely referenced as if they were based on the same values. This realization often makes you question prior decisions you based on that data. All along, you thought you were looking at the same data as everyone else in the room. And now you realize you weren’t all on the same page. There was no common ground.
No successful organization works this way. It’s hard to imagine a well-functioning team where there’s no agreement on the data, but you won’t know until you dive in.