Sector - Software & Technology

2020 Taught Us to Digitally Transform

Matt Zilli was appointed CEO of Clarizen, a global leader in collaborative work management software, in April 2020. He has over 15 years of experience in go-to-market execution, building and leading world-class customer-facing teams, and directing global marketing, sales and customer success campaigns for some of the world’s most recognisable B2B software brands. In this article, Matt shares his insights on the technology that will move the needle for the construction industry in 2021.

COVID-19 brought unprecedented challenges to the construction industry, changing the way companies work and communicate with one another on an extraordinary scale. Some companies are more adaptable than others and continue to work effectively, but for the vast majority of businesses, COVID-19 has left significant gaps in efficiency and productivity.

Being prepared

2020 has shone a light where companies genuinely are on their digital transformation journeys, and it’s clear that for many in the construction industry it’s not very far. No one could have predicted the global pandemic, but the crisis has highlighted how important it is to be prepared for the unexpected.

The UK Government’s Construction 2025 report noted that two-thirds of construction contracting firms are not innovative, which is inhibiting technological progress in the sector. On top of the impact of COVID-19, the ongoing failure to deploy new technologies is having an adverse effect on many construction firms, causing significant delays in meeting timelines and hampering visibility across projects.

The inability to track project variables such as whether materials will arrive on schedule and the right workers will turn up onsite, along with the additional impact of social distancing and other safety measures, are compounding challenges the industry faces around productivity and effectiveness. The result is that the slow digital transformation is hampering firms’ ability to complete projects on deadline and within budget. What’s more, the ongoing uncertainty of what Brexit will bring means that construction companies need to take new approaches and employ new technologies that ensure they are more agile than ever.

As business owners look ahead and plan for 2021, it is vital to implement a strategy to make them efficient and more collaborative. Utilising tools that improve business agility and allow companies to progress on their digital journeys will mean that they are far more likely to gain a competitive edge and succeed.

Moving to a modern method

The construction industry must move to a more technologically-driven approach to become more streamlined and productive in 2021. Deploying robust project management technologies is critical to achieving this aim. Work management and workplace collaboration solutions enable construction companies to address all aspects of a project’s lifecycle, starting when a project lands on a stakeholders desk through to when crews begin onsite and complete the work.

A great deal of planning goes into any project before construction can begin. Using a cloud-based work project management tool streamlines enterprise planning processes, and provides the necessary context and visibility required to facilitate collaboration among all parties involved in a project. Within the construction industry, project portfolio managers and others engaged in the planning process gain the ability to evaluate whether a company or team can take on new projects, and then prioritise them based on the company’s strategic goals, resources and financial position.

Technological tools enable portfolio managers to track progress on all aspects of a project, including schedules, risks and financials, while providing real-time status updates to other stakeholders.  Cloud-based project management solutions are not new to the construction industry, but companies that have dragged their heels in adopting digital technologies now face a greater urgency than ever after facing tough year in 2020 and further hurdles in 2021 – such as continuing issues due to COVID and the impact of Brexit.

Facilitating more collaboration

Project management tools allow for greater and more productive collaboration within project teams, among stakeholders, in individual businesses and across the industry. A work management platform gives everyone a clear view of all ongoing and completed work — including tasks, priorities, resourcing and deadlines. It can also provide senior management with oversight of critical projects, helping feed into tactical and strategic decisions. The ability to share all relevant and timely information helps make work processes smooth and enables efficiencies.

In addition, work management tools help prevent silos from developing within organisations in which the workforce is spread, and team members isolated – which has become more of an issue during the COVID crisis. This is vital to ensuring that opportunities are not missed, goals remain aligned, business continuity is maintained, and productivity is kept up.

Embracing technology to meet the demands of a rapidly changing world

The UK construction industry needs to position itself at the forefront of smart construction now. Adopting innovative technology will enable business owners and project managers to have full visibility and understanding of the performance of their assets, both during construction and through the entire project process. The result will be more jobs completed on time and on budget and in a secure way.

There has never been a more critical time to invest in tools to unlock a new depth of productivity and cost-effectiveness across the construction sector. In an era where embracing uncertainty seems to be the only choice for many companies, business leaders must look at technologies that enable them to adapt quickly to both positive and negative changes. The future is becoming less predictable, and the construction industry must do everything it can to prepare for and succeed in a rapidly changing world.

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