Surviving and thriving in today’s fast-paced business world requires more than just hard work and dedication. To truly stay ahead of the competition, embracing construction technology is a must. Despite its clear advantages, it’s not uncommon for companies to find themselves struggling to leap into the digital age. Whether it’s fear of leaving behind familiar but outdated systems or resistance from employees who feel they don’t have the time or desire to adopt new technology, the obstacles can seem overwhelming.
Successful tech implementation not only encompasses the actual installation, but it also needs stakeholder support, streamlined data integration, and executive leadership buy-in. Fortunately, there is help available to navigate these challenges.
At Procore’s annual Groundbreak 2022 conference, a panel of construction technologists and industry leaders spoke about the importance of digital transformation for contractors and offered some hard-won, practical advice. Here are four key takeaways for successfully implementing new technology.
1. Tech Buy-In Across Stakeholders
Implementing new tech is never a small thing, which is why digital transformation should start with getting widespread stakeholder and executive leadership buy-in.
“Make sure you’ve got representation across the board,” said Claire Elkin, Operational Excellence Manager at Renewable Energy Systems. “End users, as well as executive leaders, are going to help push the solution out into the field. Making sure that those people and our stakeholders are involved from day one is absolutely a necessity.”
Early buy-in ensures that expectations align about what the tech will do, what success looks like, and what steps are needed to get there.
“To start off, you need one champion,” Elkin explained. “And it doesn’t matter if that person is the admin on site or if that person is an executive; you need one. It never works when you say you’re doing it this way or, ‘I’m from corporate; I know what I’m talking about.’ Bring data and show them what the end result will be.”
A strong advocate will help soften the grip of old habits, stay up-to-date and in-the-know, and explain the benefits stakeholders can look forward to. This role also acts as a resource for anyone who has questions, needs additional training, or just wants to share their concerns.
2. Smart Data Integration
Implementing new technology in the construction industry can be a daunting task, especially when it involves overhauling long-established company systems. Still, this process doesn’t have to be as painful as it sounds.
One key step to a successful roll-out is ensuring all necessary data is integrated into the new system. This includes not only project data but also financial information, such as a chart of accounts, which is crucial for managing costs and tracking progress across multiple projects.
“[Restructuring systems] can be an unpleasant surprise, but it’s also a good opportunity to restructure things in a way that gives you aggregate subtotals and rollups across projects and portfolios in a meaningful way,” said Chris Lyle, managing director at The Roll Out Crew.
Data integration is also crucial for avoiding future problems that can delay construction or lead to costly mistakes. By ensuring that all data is integrated into the new system, companies can prevent the loss of critical documents or missing inspections, which can have a ripple effect throughout the entire project.
“I encourage companies to have a whiteboard with icons of their tech stack and have data flow mapping every single time anything comes up, especially when you’re acquiring a new piece of tech,” said Elkin. “If it doesn’t fit into this system where data can transfer freely, you should probably be reconsidering.”
It’s essential for a successful roll-out to choose savvy construction tech that supports and streamlines data integration from day one.
3. Replace Tech Resistance with Education
Construction is a long-standing profession that is set in its ways, but a willingness to adapt is critical to digital transformation. This can pose a myriad of challenges, starting with resistance to change.
“When you roll out change, people take it personally,” Lyle said. “If you don’t take a real concerted effort to think about how change management will be handled at your company at all levels and how culture supports that, it can derail tech projects faster than anything else.”
When company culture resists new technology, it makes it harder to implement new tech and hampers efforts to make these changes effective and permanent.
Resistance is often rooted in fear. Staff might not understand new technology or why things have to change, fearing that it will only add to their workload or make things more difficult. More seasoned professionals might also struggle with new systems to learn. They got by just fine for decades by relying on manual systems and other outdated methods, so it’s not uncommon for them to view the implementation of new technology as a waste of time and money.
The key to addressing these concerns is education. By providing comprehensive training on the new tech and communication about how their lives will be easier after implementation, you can help replace fear with knowledge and new skills. Companies should choose tech platforms that include training and continuous support to ensure stakeholders are never left in the dark.
4. Digital Transformation Is a Game-Changer
Most contractors don’t regret abandoning their manual systems for cutting-edge technology after the fact. Their companies often become more operationally streamlined, meaning less confusion and risk and more profit. Employees get more time back as outdated and time-consuming processes fall by the wayside. Construction management technology can improve the lives of construction professionals when it’s implemented, which is why it’s essential to make the change.
Thankfully, a wealth of knowledge and expertise is available to help construction professionals navigate these challenges.