Three Keys to Technology Adoption in Construction

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Robison Wells

A 2018 study from Fails Management Institute (FMI), a management consultancy group, reported that 55% of engineering and construction firms were “actively seeking new technology solutions.” But at the same time, a 2019 study from Dodge Data and Analytics found that 90% of the contractors surveyed “do not specifically budget for innovation.”

A report now from Construction For Pros now identifies three ways that construction companies can find innovative solutions:

1. Identify Inefficiencies. According to McKinsey & Co., the productivity gap in construction costs the economy $1.6 trillion annually (globally). They also found that only 25% of construction projects are completed on time, and determined that the industry needs to investigate reasons why overruns occur and find solutions.

2. Design Your Implementation Strategy. Once you identify inefficiencies, you may want to go all in on using technology to eliminate them. However, it's important not to let the pressure and need to boost productivity allow you to handle implementation poorly. It may be tempting to introduce several new programs as a means of cycling through technologies to find the right one, but taking commitment away from new technology integration can cause your entire process to fail. If you don't have a full program in place it will be difficult for employees to commit as well.

Keep in mind that technology doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Many platforms enable a layered approach to implementation, where the end user can be up and running very quickly. The best technology companies create plans that start with creating a platform that addresses the most painful challenges construction companies face. These are the inefficiencies you identified above. A good tech platform will then proceed with a staged implementation of features that continually build and will eventually allow for ongoing innovations in the field or office.

3. Make Sure to Have Employee Buy-In. The technology you purchase is only going to be as good as the employees that use it. User acceptance is always one of the most difficult challenges to overcome when implementing a new solution, despite the promised benefits and efficiency upgrades. Few people really like change,  when it disrupts accepted, workable practices and accompanies any measure of downtime or new training procedures. Most users do not enjoy being forced to move from their comfort zones after years of trial and error with present systems.

Technology implementation in the construction industry should not be painful, time-consuming and disruptive undertaking. Most of today’s applications readily merge with legacy systems to provide widespread information and instant access to accurate, up-to-date client, project and management information from a single, digitized location.

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