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Cost Estimation creates Big Data

I’ve traveled extensively around the world over the past year and have met with dozens of Engineering, Construction, and Facility Operations companies in every region. One theme, or systemic issue, that seems to be top of mind for the Operations side of these businesses is a lack of availability and insight into Estimation data once the project is underway. Companies typically have an Estimation department on one end, a Business Development department in the middle, and Operations sits on the other side. But the connection between those three groups rarely happens once the project is won and underway.

At SAP we have given considerable thought to this this paradox and have rapidly been building solutions to connect these lines of business into a seamless, bi-directional flow of information that is relevant to the business and makes them more efficient and profitable.

I don’t think anyone would argue that more timely access to pertinent information when decisions are being made is a critical success factor during any project or operations activities. However, how to make this happen seems to be shrouded in mystery over the years and as a consequence, companies often simply don’t address it and continue business as usual. In the real world of “hard bid, read ’em and weep” competition for work, a small error in estimation or project execution can make the difference between a profitable project, and “self financing” the work. Good decision making is made easier when you have access to all relevant information. Having the ability to see all past cost and past estimation data when creating an RFP response or bid, can help construction companies function in a more “manufacturing” like way and create an environment of repeatable construction and repeatable success. The old adage of “experience is what you get, just after you need it” is never more true than on a fast moving, complex, construction project. Companies can ill afford to continue financing this experience gain at the cost of decreased profit margins.

SAP has made strides to bridge this gap, and over the next few weeks I will write a series of blogs that detail just how SAP customers can take advantage of this opportunity and make their companies more profitable, safer, and more efficient.

The one byproduct of this effort will be the creation of large amounts of data. Big Data, can be an expensive proposition to handle if you approach it in the traditional way of buying more and more storage. This complexity is not an enabler, but an inhibitor. SAP HANA is the answer to this problem.

In the diagram below, you will see just one example of how large amounts of design data from multiple sources can create a huge strain on a typical IT infrastructure. But by making this data resident on SAP HANA, you eliminate the need for multiple storage and database platforms and have instantaneous access to all data without impacting performance on your productive environment. The days of “query bombs” will be a thing of the past and you will be able to enable your teams to access data in real time without having to wait on batch processing to Business Intelligence platforms, or reports to run and be distributed.

HANA for Design data.jpg

How does SAP HANA work?

SAP HANA is a revolutionary technology that allows all of your data to reside “in memory”.

In-memory computing is a technology that moves data from disk to local memory so that the results of complex analyses and transactions are available at your fingertips – and business decisions can be executed without delay.

Next time we will discover how you can take design data and integrate it into Estimation and ultimately project execution. The third installment will be about bringing that data back from project execution to estimation and design.

Talk to you next time,


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