Reluctance to Incorporate Technology in Your Construction Business Costs You Hard-Earned Money Every Day. Use These 5 Simple Steps to Overcome "Technology Hesitancy"
With margins often running between 1% to 4% on large projects, investing in the hardware, software, and training necessary to onboard new construction technology is challenging.
According to a recent article in ConstructionDive.com, “technology hesitancy” is a significant challenge for the construction industry in the coming years. Any why wouldn’t it be? Costs are high, profitability is low, skilled workers are hard to find, and implementing new technology in the field and back-office seems like a backburner issue at best.
With margins often running between 1% to 4% on large projects, investing in the hardware, software, and training necessary to onboard new construction technology is challenging. Beyond that, everyone in construction runs full throttle, from sunrise till sunset and often late into the night. Who has the time?
But even simple technology systems can help your general contracting or sub-contracting business increase productivity, add to your bottom line, and demonstrate a healthy return on the initial investment.
When one poorly documented change order could cost your company thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of irrecuperable dollars, the ROI for construction management technology becomes evident.
If you are currently facing “technology hesitancy,” here are some simple steps you can take to implement new solutions into your business in a thoughtful and meaningful way.
1. Start by auditing and documenting your current processes
If you’re new to integrating technology into your construction business, a critical first step is to pencil out your existing processes. How do you currently set up project communication? How does information flow from the stakeholders to your on-site and back-office project management personnel?
If you’re a general contractor, how do you handle change orders from vendors or sub-contractors? How do you get that information upstream to stakeholders for review and approval? How does the financial side of the project flow? For example, can you quickly assemble the documentation you need for managing Pay Applications, or is it a last-minute scramble every pay period?
These different processes by which the critical project specifications, information, and financial documentation flow up and downstream can slow your business to a crawl and cost you significantly if poorly mapped out and managed.
This first system audit and documentation step is also a great place to bring in outside help. For example, an IT (Information Technology) or MIS (Management Information Systems) consultant can be a tremendous asset to building and scaling the right solution for your construction business. And it’s better if you bring them in early in the process and lean on their expertise.
2. Build a plan
Just like successfully building anything, incorporating new technology into your business takes planning. First, understand what you want your new and improved system to accomplish and visualize the result. For example, do you want to manage change orders more effectively?
How about your current hardware? Is it capable of running the new system you want to implement? How old or well-maintained is your equipment like laptops, tablets, mobile devices, broadband solutions, and more? Be sure to factor in any investment in new hardware required to implement the latest technology solution successfully.
Again, this is where an outside IT consultant can make quick work of a hardware audit and recommendations for any upgrades.
Even a simple technology decision like determining which system you’ll use to store and access job-site photographs can be daunting without a plan. For example, what storage system will you use? Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive, or something else? Who will manage the files? Who will have access, and how will you control access?
How will you name the files, so they’re easy to sort and navigate in the future?
How about managing critical job performance paperwork such as budget documents, plan revision versions, change orders, punch lists, and more? Do you scan and attach those documents to email? Or do you upload the files to your cloud-based storage system and distribute links to your team?
If you operate a large construction firm, you may have some primary types of productivity systems and technology solutions in place, well organized, and provide adequate training. These simple technology solutions can include cloud-based file storage, team communication tools, digital forms, and more.
However, your firm may have gone even further and implemented production and process management solutions for tracking, reporting, and integration into your office accounting system from the job site. If so, you deserve kudos. You’re ahead of the game!
3. Keep it simple
The next step may seem obvious, but if your construction business is behind the technology curve as many are, according to a recent KPMG survey, your best bet to change that fact is to start simple.
Jumping into a technology solution that is too complex and cumbersome for your team to learn and use every day is a waste of money. It’s a scenario that virtually guarantees a dismal return on the investment and potentially dissatisfied stakeholders and workforce. However, even if you are starting simple, hiring an outside IT consultant may still pay dividends.
Identify and plan for your most mission-critical processes first, those that are likely to cost you money if mishandled, like change orders and pay applications. Then, by starting simple and improving your technology-based systems and processes incrementally, in steps, you’ll be up to speed in no time.
Keeping it simple also pays dividends in reduced training time for your employees and onboarding new team members, less potential investment in hardware and software, and reduced ongoing maintenance and upkeep.
4. Invest in training your people
Often overlooked or underestimated, the key to any new system or business process is to train your team to be successful. Training is another area where an outside IT consulting company can make a huge difference. Another option is to have an internal staff member dedicated to the new technology systems and process and is charged with training your team.
Many of the construction management software solutions available on the market today offer ongoing training and support as part of their subscription price. Be sure to take advantage of any direct hands-on training, online walkthroughs, and videos, chat support, and more the provider may offer.
Training is also most effective when you start with your company leadership and management and train them as “trainers” on your new systems. Your frontline management personnel will be the first line of defense for any issues your team faces, whether in the field or the office.
Ensuring your leadership is well-trained ensures they can help answer any technical questions or quickly point toward the solution. Leaving your workforce to fend for themselves on a new technology solution is practically a guarantee for failure. Make sure your leaders are as invested in the system as you want your employees.
5. Manage your expectations
Adopting anything new takes time. And as technology solutions become more complex and can often encompass too many tasks, coming up to speed and being successful with it will take time. Everyone learns at a different pace and by various means.
Your team may face times where they struggle with the new systems and even revert to old methods, especially in the day-to-day firefighting that often accompanies construction management. Be patient. If a team member needs additional training, coaching, or encouragement, make sure they get it. And most of all, remember to acknowledge successes, even small ones.
Implementing new process management and team technology in your construction business can pay huge dividends in improving productivity and preventing lost time, money, and other vital resources.
If your firm has already jumped into the technology fray, congratulations. Your construction business has a significant competitive advantage and can offer greater value to your clients, stakeholders, and workforce.
Don’t put it off if you haven’t taken the pungle into technology solutions for your construction firm. Technology will continue to play a vital and increasingly integrated role in construction. So don’t let your business fall behind.
If you’re looking for a simple and cost-effective construction management solution, we, of course, recommend looking at CMPRO, Construction Management Software Simplified™.
CMPRO is simple to learn and use, which increases the likelihood your construction management team will use it every day to document and report on all critical aspects of the project. Because we come from decades of construction management experience, we have focused on the features your team needs to lower costs and increase productivity.
And because CMPRO is so easy to learn and use, it reduces the cost of initial training and the training required to bring new people on board.
CMPRO helps your on-site and in-office construction management teams manage mission-critical elements of every construction project, including:
- Pay Applications
- Pay Periods
- Change Orders
- Vendor Contracts
For your job-site team specifically, CMPRO has equally robust construction project management features, including:
- Daily Logs
- Punch Lists
- RFIs (Requests for Information)
Find out how CMPRO™ can help lower your operating costs while improving productivity by simplifying your construction project documentation, reporting, tracking, and communication. To find out more and schedule a demo, visit our website, or contact us at [email protected].
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