In recent times, the term “big data” has become ubiquitous. But what does it truly entail, and how does it relate to the engineering and EPC sectors?

According to Wikipedia, “big data” refers to datasets that are too extensive or intricate for conventional data processing software to handle. Although it’s commonly associated with sales and marketing data in retail and similar industries, its significance extends to the engineering sector, particularly in the context of engineering workflows and the voluminous data generated during these workflows. In large projects, this data volume can be overwhelming, necessitating specialized software known as Engineering Document Control Software (EDMS). EDMS serves the critical function of transforming the mass of unfiltered data into easily digestible visual representations. These visuals are readily accessible and comprehensible to all project stakeholders.

In this scenario, an effective EDMS goes beyond data collection (which naturally occurs during process digitization) and focuses on refining it into a usable and dependable format that aids in informed decision-making at the management level. Software that presents data visually, such as graphs and charts, is well-suited for managers, enabling them to swiftly identify specific issues and bottlenecks in need of improvement.

Let’s delve deeper into how Document Control software, commonly referred to as EDMS in the engineering field, uses data management to influence the outcome of construction projects.

A robust EDMS offers numerous advantages, including a well-organized digital file structure, which enhances collaboration among document stakeholders. This, in turn, bolsters security, compliance, and the ability to maintain control over document versions—addressing a significant challenge in modern engineering and construction projects.

Now, let’s explore the data itself.

If we set aside the complexities of “data mining” and other aspects of big data and focus solely on the data, we find that it originates from the everyday processes and workflows of engineering projects. While the collection and organization of data become more streamlined as processes are digitized, distribution and meaningful utilization do not necessarily become easier.

Today, the abundance of customer usage data often leads organizations to rush in search of “insights.” In this process, they may overlook valuable opportunities because they focus on the wrong data. Similarly, in engineering or construction projects, it can be challenging to identify the “right” data within the vast volume available in digitized processes. The issue lies not in finding or analyzing data (through methods like full-text searches, heuristic search algorithms, workflow reviews, and audit trails), but in discerning which specific file and piece of data within that file holds the key information for analysis.

In the engineering context, this is referred to as “management by exception.” The software should filter, or enable individuals to filter, data meaningfully, flagging anything that deviates from specified parameters. This ensures that decision-makers concentrate only on the tiny fraction of exceptions that might signify potential issues, rather than being overwhelmed by the vast majority of data that can be safely disregarded.

In essence, despite advancements in monitoring work progress with accurate data in the EPC industry, and improving workflow efficiency with readily accessible data, the challenge is to enhance business processes and decision-making by focusing solely on pertinent data without inundating managers with excessive information.

This can be achieved by implementing the right filters and metrics, and ensuring the software generates timely and relevant notifications throughout the workflow. By configuring your EDMS system accordingly, you empower your organization to enhance productivity, foster improved relationships with clients and vendors, and maintain control over costs.


Andy is renowned as a servant leader in global ERP and Enterprise solutions. He combines powerful communication and negotiation skills with deep business insight. Proficient in steering complex projects to success, he is always focused on the broader enterprise value. Currently, he is spearheading business operations at Wrench Solutions in North America.