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Technology Alone Won’t Save Your Project — Here’s What Will

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As the industry moves toward an automated future, companies that are able to streamline their operations and support their people through the process will have a competitive advantage over those that continue with business as usual.

The statistics likely are familiar by now: construction is behind almost every other industry when it comes to using technology. To put it in perspective, out of twenty-two industries, construction comes in at a whopping second-to-last place for digitization — above only agriculture and hunting — according to a study by McKinsey & Company. Construction’s productivity has trailed overall economic productivity, and even declined in some areas since the 1990s, according to McKinsey.

However, organizational mindsets are changing fast when it comes to buying technology. Venture capital investment in construction technology in 2018 was over $1.05 billion, an increase of thirty percent from the year before according to a report published by professional services firm Jones Lang LaSalle. According to the report, collaboration software is the most active category, closely followed by off-site construction and project management.

With a widening pool of technology solutions to choose from, many contractors are currently developing their adoption strategies as the consensus around the benefits of digitization grows. While this is a positive development, it’s crucial to remember that technology alone won’t solve the industry’s productivity problem. The right people and a goal-oriented mindset need to be in place in order to get the most out of these tools, or these investments won’t pay off.

The Right Tools and the Right People

While adopting technology can provide a business with enormous gains in productivity and profitability, it’s imperative that the teams using it are empowered to succeed through comprehensive training and demonstrations that focus on realistic use cases and challenges. It’s also crucial that teams are made aware of the benefits the business is seeking to get from using a given tech solution — if they aren’t, success will be very difficult to measure and define, and buy-in will suffer.

  • Common Pitfalls

According to a 2017 report from McKinsey & Company, common pitfalls include a lack of resources to manage and update software and train employees on how to use it. Another frequent obstacle is the incompatibility of new technology with legacy systems that companies have in place. When researching tools, be sure to check out more than the actual software. Ask about onboarding processes and time, review support documentation and availability, and note any integrations with other tools.

  • How to Choose

Choosing software that’s difficult to use or access will also discourage user adoption. Technology is pointless if it isn’t used, so the easier it is for people to learn and put into practice consistently, the greater the likelihood of widespread use and a positive return on investment. Look for intuitive software that’s easy to learn, and your team will be up and running in no time. In case a problem does arise, make sure that your technology vendor offers responsive customer support services that users can quickly consult to resolve any issues and optimize performance.

  • Who Can Help?

Support from leadership is a critical component of any technology initiative. If the C-suite isn’t invested in a new solution and closely tracking its impact, any gains are likely to be minimal. A successful implementation requires a clear goal driving the initial adoption, sustained reflection and feedback once use has begun, and consistent benchmarking of progress with a view to continuous improvement. It’s worth noting that leadership doesn’t always come from the top down; sometimes the most actionable improvements come from the jobsite trailer, not the board room.

Get Started Now

Whatever technology you’re considering, now is the time to plan implementation and put it into motion. As the industry moves toward an automated future, companies that are able to streamline their operations and support their people through the process will have a competitive advantage over those that continue with business as usual. To ensure success, make sure to dedicate sufficient resources not only to getting started with a new tool, but for ongoing training, updates and feedback from the team. Finally, be sure to identify key individuals who can take the lead in mentoring others and maintaining momentum around the rollout to help boost ROI and increase employees’ commitment to new technology.