The Diary of a Construction Manger in Love with His BI Tool

June 7, 2012

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

Top Five Questions (and Answers) from the Pentaho BI 4 Live Demos

July 5, 2011

To promote the launch of Pentaho BI 4 last week, we hosted two live demos to showcase the great new features bringing ‘Power to the User’ in our latest release. By the volume of questions we received during the demos (which had record attendance) – we can tell that everyone is just as excited about this release as we are! Although it was impossible to answer every question during the live demo, there was a trend of common questions asked by the audience. Here are the top five most asked questions and answers:

Q: Which Internet browsers does Pentaho support? Is there a preferred browser?
A: Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Chrome are all supported by Pentaho. We do not have a preferred browser – any of these are fine.

Q: Does Pentaho offer training or classes?
A: Yes, Pentaho and our partners offer a wide range of online and in-person training classes all over the world. Visit our training page or contact your account rep to learn more. Also, we plan to host a live demo of BI 4 for more technical users within the next month. Check back to the events page on our website for more information. We often share discounts to our Facebook fans and Twitter followers.

Q: What are the different editions of Pentaho BI 4  and how much do they cost?
A:  Pentaho BI 4 is offered in three different editions: Basic, Professional and Enterprise. Read the What’s New in Pentaho BI 4 overview to see what is included in each edition. We don’t publicly state our pricing for competitive reasons, but you can request a quote online here.

Q: How do I migrate from my current version to Pentaho BI 4?
When the GA is available in the next 4-6 weeks we will provide documentation for Enterprise customers to migrate to Pentaho BI 4. This will be similar to past migration documents.

Q: Is there a mobile version of Pentaho BI 4 that will allow me to access my information on an iPad or phone?
A: Yes, Pentaho’s interactive analysis tool, Analyzer, is fully supported on the Apple iPad.

If you’re still looking for an answer to your question, please contact us. And if you missed the live demo, watch it online here.

Coming Soon – Pentaho BI 4

June 20, 2011

This week we will launch Pentaho BI 4 Enterprise Edition. This major product launch has exciting new and improved enhancements for casual business users, business analysts and developers/administrators. We can’t give too many details away today but we encourage you to register now for the live demo on June 23. Be the first to learn about these exciting new features (hint: reporting, data discovery, UI, self-service).


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