Technology in construction is here to stay. Apps, wearable technology, augmented reality, and A.I. is commonplace on most projects these days. These once futuristic applications are now proliferating throughout every tier of the industry. Cool tech once reserved for the biggest and most well-financed projects and contractors is now available in the App store!
More and more construction businesses are required to adopt the use of technology (ex: hardware and software) to streamline their organizations to keep up with the times and their competition.
Why is it that the construction industry is continually ‘late to the dance’ when it comes to adopting and integrating technological advancements? Particularly when technology has become a proven solution to reduce costs, improve collaboration, and tackle more complex projects by increasing efficiency, productivity, safety ratings, and profits.
Well, for one thing, technology changes fast, and let’s face it, the construction industry tends to be a culturally stodgy industry. Because we're an old-line industry, we don’t like change. We’ve been building buildings basically the same way for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Engineers and construction professionals are a conservative bunch. We like things (designs, means & methods, etc.) that have proven track records and that we know will work.
Traditionally, if we don’t understand how it works, we avoid it and stick with what we know. Many of the technological innovations of the past decade look like magic to some of us that remember a time before computers were commonplace. Some of us in the industry may be intimidated by new construction technologies. The Generation X'ers and the late Baby-Boomers in the industry are old enough to remember when there were no computers in construction. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, there might have been one computer in the whole company. Now we have robot dogs patrolling projects. Young people entering the industry (crafts, skilled trades, and professional class) have never experienced a time when they didn’t have a computer of some form in their hands.
Investing in new hardware or software feels risky. Time is money, we need our crews productive, and learning a new system will slow them down, right? Even when we know long term it is the right thing to do. Small businesses don’t have the time or resources to make a mistake. It is especially stressful when we are looking at our sales pipeline, manpower, production rates, and cash flow. In our line of work, we often hear, “We don’t have time to figure out a new software.”
How can you, as a business owner, get over these fears and do what is right for your company? A deep look at your company from top to bottom is a healthy first start. An analysis of your current structure, skills within the organization, and how you go about your business can help you to prioritize your needs and develop actionable plans to close gaps and get better.
As far as tech is concerned, I’m not suggesting you immediately run out and invest in a robot dog. Rather, ask yourself the following: Do I have a central location, easily accessible for all project files? Does my accounting system easily communicate with my Project Management systems? Do my project teams have accessibility to project cost reports to help them make decisions? Do I have easy access to project productivity and financial reports to understand the health of the projects?
If you answered ‘No’ to any of the above questions, it may be time to start thinking about adding, upgrading, or enhancing your software solutions. Technology is not slowing down, and the next generation of construction professionals (from trade workers to project managers to company executives) are requiring it from their companies.
No one wants to have to walk to the job trailer to look at the drawings anymore, and paper, in general, is becoming obsolete. Digital is the new frontier in construction management, and those who don’t change with the times will eventually become outdated and obsolete.
If you're ready to start working on your business, let's talk!
Ascent Consulting’s mission is to Build Better Construction Companies.
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Construction expert Jeff Robertson brings 30+ years of industry knowledge to his consulting projects. Sectors he's worked in many sectors ranging from healthcare and retail to multi-family and senior living.