6 Ways Construction Firms Can Bring The Digital Transformation To The Forefront Of Their Business
Construction firms are facing a number of challenges. Over the last few years, the industry has had to navigate a growing labor shortage and increasing tariffs on foreign-made construction materials. But another, perhaps less obvious challenge has begun to impact construction professionals across the country: the digital transformation.
Emerging technologies are transforming construction job sites everywhere. Several firms are leveraging building information modeling, which helps them plan and build products virtually. Others are experimenting with radio frequency identification, which provides location and tracking services, making processes more accurate and less manual.
Many in the industry have yet to fully adopt these solutions. More than half of construction managers spend only 2% or less of their revenue on information technology, and only 42% of construction managers have a dedicated IT staff, Capterra reported.
These companies are missing the benefit emerging construction technology can bring to the job site.
From prioritizing consistency to leveraging data, technology can help construction companies stay on time and under budget. Here are six ways construction firms can prepare for a technology revolution.
1. Get management buy-in
Plans to implement new technology and other organizational changes are rarely successful without leadership willing to take the reins. A company’s management team should be prepared to execute and sustain digital initiatives, according to RSM.
To succeed in digital adoption, a leader must be able to create a strategic road map and introduce IT solutions that make business operations more efficient and cost-effective.
A good construction manager uses technology that can sustain a company in good times, but also help them prepare for the next economic downturn.
“At forward-thinking construction firms, periods of prosperity are viewed as something more than just an opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labor,” RSM partner Leslie Garcia said. “These firms use periods of high work volume to determine which methods — and people — are producing the most revenue. At the same time, they work to put their financial houses in order. They use strong cash flow to build up reserves, pay down bank debt and other notes payable, purchase equipment, cross-train employees and improve technology.”
2. Make sure technology is consistent
When it comes to business, maintaining a level of consistency is critical to success. When employees are on the same page, they communicate faster and more efficiently. Technology must also be standardized to ensure companies are reaching their goals.
It is up to a company’s leadership to put these practices in place. This means deciding which technologies should be used across the company, training employees on these tools and holding staff accountable when they veer away from the standardized procedure. Creating rules and regulations for technology and implementing specific software use ensures each team is communicating most effectively, saving time and money by creating a better organizational structure.
3. Create a road map
Before implementing a new technology strategy, construction firms need to create an application road map that ensures tools and platforms can work together to support the business. Once company decision-makers create this plan, they need to decide what types of systems and software to purchase. It is important for firms to weigh the pros and cons of each tool before they decide to purchase.
This decision is made based on a variety of factors and requires a deep understanding of the company’s business and budgetary needs.
4. Implement a mobile enablement strategy
Mobile technology has come to redefine the way people do business, and the construction industry has experienced this transformation firsthand over the last several years. Four out of five construction managers use smartphone devices to manage their projects, and 72% of contractors use smartphones on the job, according to a survey conducted by Texas A&M. More construction firms are integrating mobile enablement into their strategy, allowing workers to access tools and systems from their phone, no matter where they are.
This strategy allows for ease of use and helps workers to do their jobs more efficiently. But there is also a business case for the implementation of mobile technology. Real-time access to project data helps workers minimize errors and work more productively. This makes workflows more efficient. In the past, the use of paperwork caused delays between project managers on the job site and back-office staff. Mobile enablement improves this process by allowing project managers to sign off on documents using digital signatures.
Mobile enablement also gives companies the opportunity to expand their reach. It allows staff to communicate and collaborate from different locations.
5. Embrace the cloud
As construction firms expand their geographic reach, cloud technology helps keep workers on the same page, whether they are in the office or on the job site. The cloud offers a way for workers to access reports and project documents, from time sheets to change orders.
The cloud also comes in handy in the event of a natural disaster. Unlike printed reports that sit in a filing cabinet and can be easily destroyed by a hurricane or fire, the cloud provides access to important materials in the wake of a disaster or unforeseen circumstance.
6. Analyze your data
To make effective business decisions, construction firms must have accurate and up-to-date data at their disposal. Once managers create a plan to capture this data, they need to establish key performance indicators that they can use to measure success. This information can serve a variety of functions, from writing trend analysis reports to developing business projections.
By bringing data to the forefront of their business model, companies can make more informed decisions about their business and their workers.
This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and RSM. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.