Choosing the right construction technology is a complicated business – there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Surprisingly, 19% of UK construction firms in a 2020 report noted that they are still entirely paper-based. Each firm, and thereby the projects they undertake, have specific needs that require a myriad of tools to automate established processes, or standard operating procedures (SOPs).
It’s inefficient for decision-makers to sift through available technologies and their capabilities to choose the right solution. There is also the risk of the technology underdelivering. One particular tool may work for one process but not another or can’t integrate with other solutions and ends up sitting in a silo.
In this article, we speak with Ronen Vengosh, VP of AEC at Egnyte about how you can revolutionise productivity with an agile, integrated construction tech stack.
Successful construction companies need a perfect blend of human expertise and a well-defined set of digital tools – or tech stack. Expertise is required to manage the data output, connect with other solutions, and assess the feasibility of those solutions to maintain end user buy-in.
Harnessing the many moving parts of the tech stack is no easy feat for construction project leaders, as only 16% of firms report having a truly integrated tech stack. Here are a couple of key approaches to take when integrating solutions for optimum business outcomes:
Start with a tech audit
Construction businesses need dedicated technology that delivers beyond ROI. Typically, if one solution doesn’t deliver as expected, more software is piled on to build a bespoke solution that bridges the gap and delivers the expected outcome. However, this complicated merging of solutions adds complexity for users, and it also seriously detracts from the planned ROI as goals and planned metrics go out of the window – making success an unknown quantity.
To address this, organisations should first conduct a technology audit to identify clear and measurable goals, as well as areas for improvement. The following key questions should be asked, depending on the application, to identify goals currently being achieved:
- Are end users getting the full potential of the technology, and are they fully trained for this? If not, perhaps the solution provider has some responsibility to bear.
- Does the technology correspond to current SOPs, or have the SOPs been retrofitted to the technology?
- Are end users’ needs being equally considered, or is there a feedback loop from key stakeholders who stand to benefit?
Maintain vendor engagement
At this point, connecting with vendors is a sensible approach. A vendor should be a trusted partner that demonstrates a true understanding of a company’s business and challenges. In addition to engaging with the vendor, a customer-centric philosophy should be implemented to help the end user quickly realise the full value of the technology, rather than leaving them to their own devices.
Establish a ‘champions group’ aka tech or innovation committee
End user adoption means everything, especially in construction. Experience and the appetite for doing more with less have a bearing on how the solution is received. In addition, tech leaders must avoid inadvertently building a culture of mistrust or indifference. Create a “champions group” – a collaborative task force that has a 360-degree view of business needs with members from IT, field staff, and the C-suite. This identifies the needs across the business while handling the training and rollout to help achieve end user buy-in, as well as keep everyone updated and engaged.
Clearly stating the rationale for this software before implementation will enable the technology to positively impact end users’ work lives. For example, software that helps employees to do their work remotely while spending time with family – rather than having to stay and work late in the trailer – will have a direct impact on work-life balance. It will also help attract new tech-savvy employees and improve employee retention.
Avoid silos by centralising data management
The reduced cost of storage has seen companies retaining vast amounts of data, yet studies show only a fraction of it is ever really accessed. The ubiquity of mobile devices coupled with advanced technologies, such as 4K drone footage, laser scans, and 3D models, are some of the main culprits. End users also naturally tend to save data where it’s easiest, creating data silos. When it comes to then consuming the data, it can lead to a lot of wasted time in locating the correct repository in which it is housed. In fact, 13% of construction professionals spend their workday looking for project data and information.
If companies proactively recognise data management issues and adjust accordingly, they avoid wasting valuable time and resources due to content sprawl and retrospective problem-fixing. Having data centralised and readily accessible via phones or tablets enables field staff requiring access to react accordingly.
The future of construction technology
Increasing adoption of advanced technologies like robotics, AI, and VR will accelerate the trend toward more data and being able to access it from anywhere. Building an agile, integrated tech stack in the construction industry is all about ensuring that the various systems are connected and work in tandem with one another. Firms must remember, though, that in order for the technology to be most effective, they should not lose sight of the actual problem(s) they are trying to solve.
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