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Like many organizations across industries, project-driven engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies are grappling with ever-growing levels of disparate data.

Construction projects, which traditionally have created an enormous amount of paperwork, are increasingly digital. This transition from paper to digital has created vast amounts of data trapped in silos across a multitude of different systems ranging from scheduling to accounting, finance, HR and many more. As more digital information is generated, there is an opportunity to harness the data and leverage it to make smarter business decisions. But with those opportunities comes challenges: Data can make or break multi-party collaboration. To execute efficient capital projects, EPC firms need to be able to effectively communicate and share current data with project owners and subcontractors, as well as internally throughout their own organizations.

Lack of control and visibility into the growing level of data often leads to capital projects going over budget and over schedule. In fact, a recent McKinsey report found that 98 percent of mega-projects incur cost overruns or delays. The average cost increase is 80 percent of original value and the average slippage is 20 months behind the original schedule. Construction productivity, which has remained flat for decades, is among the biggest causes of that poor record.

Innovation and productivity gains in the construction industry have been meager compared to the advancements of other industries, due to a number of factors ranging from poor organization and inadequate communication to flawed performance management, contractual misunderstandings and poor planning.

This is a troubling trend for EPC firms whose business model depend on executing projects on time and within budget. The lump sum contract, which remains dominant in the construction industry, defers risk into the hands of contractors. Capital projects that go over budget and behind schedule can have dire consequences for EPC firms, including loss of revenue and reputational damage.

The technology exists today--from analytics to mobile apps, Internet of Things (IoT), wearables, robotics and drones--to transform how the EPC market collects, analyzes, manages and stores data, and ultimately to enable productivity gains and stronger capital project management. Yet, while many EPC professionals see technological advancements as the top trend that will transform their business, a move to invest in these technologies has been slow compared to IT adoption in other industries. In fact, the construction industry spends less than one-third on IT compared to its peers in other industries.

So what are the barriers to mainstream IT adoption in the EPC market and how can the market overcome those barriers?

One of the common challenges of new technologies in the construction industry is information overload and confusion regarding who has access to which data. How effectively teams are able to manage growth of files and correspondence throughout their collaborative processes is crucial. Integration is critical as it helps to break down silos, enable greater visibility and extract key insights through analytics. However, a survey from JBknowledge indicated that only 4.1 percent of construction professionals have full integration across their software platforms and more than 30 percent said they have no software integration whatsoever.

Instead, some organizations continue to manage capital projects through Excel spreadsheets and a multitude of tools from data warehouses to project management tools that are inefficient to integrate and lead to wasted time and money.

Breaking Down Barriers with Enterprise Project Controls

One area where leading EPC firms across the globe are starting to embrace change is with enterprise project controls software technology, which enables process automation, data integration and greater visibility across their entire organization.

Leveraging enterprise project controls, organizations can integrate previously disparate data sources and enable real-time analytics so all project stakeholders truly have real-time project information at their fingertips. By integrating and analyzing data, construction companies can identify trends and create projections on anything from project profitability to company cash flow. With that information, they can leverage data to drive better decision-making.

Enterprise project controls bridges the gap between planning and execution. It combines tactical project cost controls with strategic enterprise-wide planning and state-of-the-art analytics. As a result, it not only helps EPC firms execute individual projects more efficiently, but it also enables organizations to select the right projects based on their strategic goals.

As projects continue to grow larger and more complex, it’s clear that EPC firms can’t manage today’s projects with yesterday’s tools. Enterprise project controls technology can help EPC firms free up resources to more effectively manage portfolios and individual projects, cutting unnecessary costs and helping accelerate time to revenue.

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