How many workers are active in the construction industry? Who are they, where are they employed, how much do they earn and what training do they receive? Constructiv, the service provider of and for the construction sector, has access to enormous amounts of data. Recently, they have been able to unlock and use it optimally thanks to a powerful and user-friendly BI platform.
From financial support and training to advice and even policy support for sector organisations, trade unions and government authorities, Constructiv's range of tasks is extremely diverse. The brain behind this service is the study service. Experts monitor the economic situation in the construction sector, collect and analyse information and compile studies, notes, reports, and statistics for both internal and external use. The basis of all their insights: data.
Accessing and using data intelligently
Until recently, this data was scattered across different systems and even departments. Accessing data was complicated. Analysing and obtaining accurate insights from them was, if possible, even more difficult. The manually applied way of working was also very time-consuming. That's why Constructiv went in search of a solution to centralise all the data and to be able to work with it quickly.
A comprehensive market study led to Cegeka. "There were three suppliers on our shortlist. Cegeka proposed a solution based on the Microsoft Data Platform. Their offer stood out because of their approach," says Marina Deroulou, ICT Manager at Constructiv. "First of all, they immediately showed their willingness to cooperate very intensively with a number of key users of our study service. This was crucial for us: we wanted to involve the engineering department intensively in the project so that the result would be embraced by the entire team. In addition, they were very hands-on: they asked specific questions, defined the scope together with us and, after a short preliminary phase, immediately proposed a proof-of-value."
“Cegeka works very hands-on: they asked specific questions, determined the scope together with us and immediately proposed a proof-of-value after a short preliminary process.”
Marina Deroulou, ICT Manager at Constructiv
The power of proof-of-value
"At Cegeka, we have been working in this way for years: we prepare an example in a short space of time so that the customer can see and feel how the solution can work", explains Kaat Van de Waeter, account manager at Cegeka. "For this data story, we proposed a perfectly delineated proof-of-value. We collected data from a number of data sources, merged them and showed how users can effortlessly browse through that data and create dashboards and reports using the Microsoft Power BI platform. The demo proved convincing. We quickly got everyone on the same page."
In close cooperation
The teamwork and enthusiasm continued during the implementation. The Cegeka experts worked closely with Marina and two key users from the Constructiv study department. "We collected all the data, gave constant feedback on Cegeka's proposals and helped with the testing," says Marina. "That went well. The Cegeka project team thought along with us and made a lot of suggestions."
Gijs Hompes, project manager at Cegeka, confirms: "The cooperation was very transparent. If something was not going smoothly or if Constructiv had a different opinion, we could openly talk about it. As a result, all possible obstacles were immediately removed. Of course, our agile approach also ensures that everyone was closely involved in the project. The daily scrum meetings and the weekly team meetings enabled the whole team to pick up on issues quickly."
Stable data foundation thanks to reference architecture
In May 2020, the BI solution went live. Constructiv now has a stable, central data foundation, based on Cegeka's data platform reference architecture. "Cegeka implemented a reference architecture that bundles best practices, tools and features. This architecture forms the basis for all data projects and is an excellent starting point for new data initiatives," explains Gijs Hompes. "For Constructiv, the data foundation consists of a data warehouse and a set of self-service BI tools to analyse and visualise the data. Data governance ensures that all data is synchronised, accurate and up-to-date.
Integration with a CRM system leads to better service provision
Thanks to the user-friendliness of the platform, hardly any training was required: the users - about 50 Constructiv employees - were able to start working with the new solution straight away. While the management primarily gets new insights thanks to the board tables, the integration with the CRM system helps the regional managers and advisors to improve their services. "When they go to customers, they immediately have a real-time overview of that customer's history and can also compare certain KPIs, such as the number of training courses attended, with construction companies in the area," Marina explains.
Better decisions through unified insights
The biggest advantage of the data platform? There is now a single version of the truth, across departments. Marina explains: "Constructiv has two pillars: BiB that focuses on social benefits and BoP that focuses on training. We all work with and for the construction industry, but that did not always show in our data: everyone had their own files and interpreted the data in their own way. That has changed now. Every user has access to the same up-to-date data. This way, we start from the same base and can also cross-link data to get better insights, not only about the past but also about the future. For example, the calculation and simulation capabilities proved useful soon after the go-live to predict the impact of the corona crisis on our sector and on our own organisation."
“The simulation capabilities were very useful in predicting the impact of the corona crisis on our organisation and the entire construction industry.”
Marina Deroulou, ICT Manager at Constructiv
The benefits of digitisation
"The new BI landscape came about at the request of the research department, and they have really met their expectations. They not only gain new insights but also save a lot of time. Every user is therefore asking for extensions. We discuss these regularly with Cegeka, which also continues to support us in the further expansion and maintenance of the BI platform."
"Constructiv strongly believes in the power of digital for the construction industry. So, we want to set a good example. This BI platform clearly demonstrates the benefits of digitisation," concludes Marina.