Getting serious about investing in technology is not something contractors do lightly. Construction’s margins are small as it is and the growing complexity of projects is only adding to the cost pressures. With costs and revenue always top of mind, businesses expect results from their technology investments.
However, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about digitization. The best implementation in the world won’t show results if it’s in the service of the wrong piece of technology. Conversely, the best construction technology for a business could fail to gain traction with poor adoption. Whether it’s a new piece of hardware, a new software tool, or a new way of communicating between the office and the field, you improve the odds of seeing the technology work if you create an environment where it’s most likely to thrive.
What follows are seven tips to set yourself up for maximum return on your technology investment, both financially and functionally.
1. Choose the Right Technology
“Shiny object syndrome,” or the human tendency to be distracted by and drawn to every new thing that comes along, has doomed many technology efforts from the start. Just because a piece of technology exists doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a fit for your business. In order for implementation to be successful, it must address a specific ongoing problem. The sheer volume of options for tech solutions out there today means there are solutions available for everything from bidding to fleet management to scheduling. When it comes to new technology, you should never be trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
2. Have a Way to Measure Success
Sometimes technology investments can be deemed a failure prematurely because the results were looked at in the wrong way. From the outset, you should decide what to consider the progress made or a pain point solved. Have realistic timeline expectations. Otherwise, your gauge for measuring success will be based on flawed assumptions. The best way to do this is the good old-fashioned scientific method: Establish a baseline for key metrics you’re looking to improve and measure them against future outcomes over a course of weeks, months, or whatever makes sense.
3. Identify Specific Business Pain Points
Nobody knows the difficulties your business faces daily better than you. Before even considering a capital expenditure on the scale of a major technology implementation, you need to do an honest self-audit. Every business has room for improvement, and by looking at your firm’s shortcomings through an unbiased lens, you’ll better understand the root cause of the most pressing concerns. With that information, you’ll be better able to tailor-fit a technology solution to address them.
4. Get the Team On Board
Initially, adding new processes is almost sure to garner at least an eye roll from most workers who are in the groove of doing things a certain way. Technology investments live or die on the strength of the workforce’s support, so companies need to be evangelical about the multitude of ways the technology will make their jobs easier. Workers do care about results—be prepared to articulate exactly why the new process is needed and how it will benefit them. Fostering enthusiasm about the endeavor will also make it easier to train users before it’s woven into your processes.
5. Choose Technology with Flexibility in Mind
The last thing you want is to get locked into a multi-year contract for a service or piece of equipment that will be abandoned after a few months. If it is clear your research failed you and you made the wrong choice, ensure you have the freedom to pull up stakes and try something different. Ideal technology solutions are not only scalable but modular. Having optimal customer support available is key to helping you fine-tune the technology until it does exactly what you need it to.
6. Stay Informed About the Technology
After making a substantial investment in technology, you’ll want to stay up to date on any changes to the product, particularly when it comes to enhanced functionality. It should be an ongoing learning experience; useful new features may come along, making the product even more valuable than when you first started using it. Providers will offer free webinars or other educational content to enable easier introduction of the new features. Some services have robust online communities dedicated to sharing knowledge, reporting bugs, and more. By learning as much as you can about the new solution you’ve chosen, you’ll get the most value out of it.
7. Broadcast Your Success
At the end of the day, when you’ve measured your results and find that your instincts were correct, don’t keep the good news to yourself. Part of keeping the team engaged and involved is sharing the good news. Let everyone know your plan has worked. This will make workers feel like they have skin in the game and will stoke their desire to learn more about the technology, creating a virtuous cycle in which future implementations are met with eagerness instead of suspicion.