Why we need Interactive Cost Reporting in Construction Projects
Cost reporting is an essential tool to provide information to the clients about project actual costs and forecasts during the project delivery. Cost reports are generally prepared by Cost Consultants and sometimes Quantity Surveyors to keep the client informed about the Project Cost. A cost report includes the costs incurred by the time of reporting and all the future costs (Forecast Cost) that is likely to be incurred during the rest of the project. There are several characteristics of the existing cost reports format that could improve the benefits of Cost reports and maximise the value of reports for all project stakeholders.
Data Transparency of Cost Reports
Traditionally cost reports are one-dimensional i.e., a Cost report contains a summary of all the costs which could be achieved by a summary of multiple facts. Clients won’t get the whole understanding of how data has been summarized.
Lack of Interactivity
Many Cost reports have been developed in Excel or Word and exported to PDF which makes the data static and the audience of the report have little chance of interactivity with the data. This could be challenged, Excel is capable of being set up to interact with and allows a high degree of flexibility. Where it is primarily limited in handling large amounts of data.
Real-Time Data Representation
Cost reports are developed at a given point in time. The length of time it can take to update the information and issue to the client and stakeholders; the report may not be a real-time representation of facts during robust construction projects.
Probability of Errors
A huge amount of data has been generated during complex and mega construction projects and programmes. This vast amount of data could be the potential input for the cost reports. This increases the efforts of handling the data from source to destination reports and increases the likelihood of errors.
There are multiple platforms available to take data from multiple sources and manipulate and transformed it into a dashboard that provides different insights about the project or programme. Key matrices of the project including cost reports and key performance indicators can be built-in into customised dashboards. These dashboards could be shared with clients and stakeholders for review and real-time interactivity with data.
Benefits of using data visualization for Interactive Cost Reporting
Building interactive dashboards in data visualization tools with an on-demand refresh of data provide information and client could easily monitor the different aspects of the project i.e. Cost, Budget, and H&S. Project stakeholders can see these reports at any time remotely.
Apart from static Excel, Word or PDF Cost reports project teams and stakeholders get interactive reports. They can see and dive deep into specific Cost elements and investigate the figures and how those figures are made. Multiple project teams can filter out the data according to their relevant domains and analyse it according to it. Interrogating the number in interactive and dynamic cost reports produced by Cost consultants or quantity surveyors provides transparency and identifies the anomalies in the Cost.
Reduced Reporting Time
Developing static Cost reports in complex projects takes a lot of effort and time. Manual collection of data from multiple sources and doing an analysis of that data and producing an actual forecast on the basis is that analysis is time-consuming. Interactive reporting cuts down the report development time and provides the flexibility to gather data in one place from multiple sources.
Reports refresh could be scheduled according to client requirements i.e. Hourly, Weekly, or Monthly. Whenever new data comes in, the dashboard is refreshed according to schedule. Changes can be seen in the dashboard by all the stakeholders. This helps to monitor the Cost and multiple elements of the project efficiently and the decision can be taken on the basis of the most recent data.
Better Cost-based decision
Multiple trends and analytics could be applied to that cost data which ultimately help for controlling the project cost. A dynamic cost dashboard can also help to find anomalies by analysing the different graphs and any potential hazards which could ultimately hit the overall cost of the project or ECC.
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