The challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has required the construction industry to turn to digital tools to successfully adapt to the crisis and maintain productivity. This disruption has boosted construction’s use of technology and adoption. In an industry historically known for its low productivity growth rates, only 1% growth annually over the last two decades worldwide, this is a shift that is very much needed.
During a recent Know it All podcast, Jason Barber, former VP of Industry Solutions & Strategy at ViZZ Technologies, and Nate Tockerman, Partner Manager at Procore, discussed the importance of adopting technology to help improve productivity and empower better decision making. They also shared insights on how data can help construction companies improve best practices and processes.
Let’s dive into some of their top pieces of advice for construction companies:
Productivity Requires Buy-In from Everyone
Productivity touches all stakeholders and requires multiple eyes and inputs to understand what’s happening across the business.
Information capturing is a critical part of driving productivity as it helps teams know exactly where the project is, including what’s been manufactured, where materials are, and more. It’s critical for all departments to keep information updated in order to provide a complete picture.
On that same token, it’s important to have alignment on what information is being tracked, terminology being used and who is responsible for updating – otherwise, you might have a classic case of data overload and disparate formats that are difficult to navigate. Teams must create standard tracking formats with timely, accurate information so a clear picture emerges.
Construction technology is a great way to make sure that data is structured in a way that provides easy access to real-time analytics.
Unite the Office and Field
There’s long been a divide between the two groups working on a construction project. While the office team might be focused on hitting production milestones and ensuring they remain profitable, the field team is much more focused on the speed and quality of their work. They have a sense of pride in their work and craftsmanship. As we’ve learned, the field really drives productivity for a project, so ensuring that they have the tools, information and material to be successful should always be top-of-mind.
“I feel like the most successful projects I’ve worked on are the ones where we treated the foreman or the field supervisor as the end customer. That is who we were serving as the office – from the engineering standpoint, architects, owners – up and down the supply chain,” said Barber.
It’s important that the office understands how to unlock the potential of the field team and identify what goals resonate with them.
It’s Time to Prefab
Prefab and offsite construction remain the way forward for those companies looking to deliver projects in a timely and safe manner. This means that 30% to 50% of the install is done offsite beforehand. When teams are just managing the final install on the jobsite, it can eliminate a lot of the typical challenges.
“If you’re not planning on prefabbing, being more efficient, saving those 30% hours, being safer and lowering your EMR, more competitive in your labor insurances – if that’s not all baked into your empirical data on how you’re going to build, then numbers that you’re sending out the door are going to be wildly different than your competition,” Tockerman said.
Companies are beginning to identify a strategy for which components of a project they always prefab, and they have goals to continually increase this list. Gaining this consistency ensures that projects are better planned and executed.
The Plan is Everything
For any company looking to optimize productivity by adopting new technologies and processes, it’s critical that they first establish a structured plan that aligns with their business objectives and goals. With this, they can determine where their effort will start and continue to add more elements as they become comfortable and efficient.
Adopting this kind of change management process is critical and key for success.
“There should be somebody that is dedicated to the change management process and has their eye on that prize,” explained Tockerman.