In 2021, scrutiny on taxpayer dollars will be tighter than ever. We can thank the productivity cataclysm of 2020 for that. Oversight boards, elected officials, and community residents alike will rightfully insist on knowing that extremely limited tax revenues are being put to prudent good use and spent in the most exactingly efficient way possible.
If there ever was a presumed sense of mild public forgiveness for imperfectly executed projects, that time is gone for good. The public sector project owner’s unique compact with the taxpaying public means working with tools proven to optimize project delivery.
In terms of time and budget, construction is a high-risk activity. Still, despite the acknowledged role of technology in minimizing construction waste, spend, time to completion, and personal danger on the jobsite, many public jurisdictions are still lagging behind in adoption of construction technology (compared to the private sector). It’s in the interest of CIP jurisdictions to be doing whatever they can to streamline project delivery and reduce risk, so the public can get on with the business of safely enjoying the places they’ve paid for – and digitization has a major role to play here.
Your Digital Stewardship of Taxpayer Dollars
Without a digitized construction management process, the deeper complexities of your projects are largely hidden from view, as are the various efficiency gaps that plague them. A digital construction management solution may be thought of as a sealant you pour down through the layers of your project’s processes. It finds and seals the project leaks you didn’t know were there.
Digital construction management is not a trend, neither is it a new model still finding its feet in the industry. Today, it’s an accepted methodology as plainly useful as the claw hammer. Construction’s fragile margins need protecting. Digital construction management provides that.
The Unbroken 40-Watt Bulb
What exactly is broken with old school construction processes? Nothing. But it’s like working in a dimly lit room. A 40-watt bulb isn’t “broken,” but 150 watts will brilliantly illuminate the work at hand. The digital construction management solution brings a truly unprecedented clarity to the project, at the same time conferring consistency and standardization that connects project teams and contractors through a shared platform.
Where taxpayer dollars are concerned, the saying “you can’t be too careful” takes on a very literal meaning. The project owner’s absolute visibility into the real-time details of the evolving project—even remotely—helps eliminate the errors and surprises that could otherwise cause delays and cost overruns with public monies.
The digital construction management solution automates time-sensitive reminders, tracks individual and team ball-in-court accountability, and boosts productivity by raising and sharing ongoing project status between field, office, and owner. These elements of the digitally illuminated project assure that public monies are being as tightly overseen as possible.
The Belt-Tightening Magic of ”One”
The benefits of a digital construction management system rely on—and flow from—a powerful central feature; a single platform that unites data, process, and people in one transparent, integrated, digitized system. When every aspect of the project is consolidated in a shared virtual space, communications are streamlined, collaboration becomes seamless and transparent, and inefficiencies become starkly visible and easy to address. In other words, the public project is optimized across all fronts.
Given that, why are public sector project owners hesitant to adopt a digital methodology that has resoundingly proven itself? It may have less to do with industry consensus on the technology itself, than with the asymmetries of internal blockers and internal champions in the public project ecosystem. There may also be, on a case by case basis, a lack of clarity in the decision chain.
The fact is, it has always been easier to stop an initiative cold with a “no,” than it is to initiate movement from a standstill. Advocacy is only as effective as it is accurately conveyed, and to the right parties.
You are the Champion, My Friend
There are few who want to hear the words, “Hey, you’re the point person!” So think of it this way; Hey. You’re the point person. Don’t worry. This is a simple matter of doing a little homework, and making your case to the person in your department best suited to the margin-widening good news you’ll deliver.
First you’ll have to vet your options. What should you be asking—not only in the RFP to vendors, but also to yourself—to make sure the “solution” you broach is the right one for your company? Here are a few foundational questions.
Is the digital solution you’ve found going to break down the project data walls and end your company’s information silos to create a wide open collaborative environment? Are your field teams up to the task of adopting a digital mobile solution in the field? (Hint: the right solution will have an intuitive interface that even the tech-averse will embrace).
You-centric innovation: Is the vendor willing to listen to your users’ feedback and make actual product adjustments based on your specific needs? Or are you looking at a static, unchanging product that will age out and have to be replaced?
What’s the time to value? How long will it take to roll the thing out and begin enjoying its benefits? Does the vendor offer dedicated, unhesitating support during this process?
Is the product all about collaboration? Will this solution seamlessly connect the entire project— from field to office to external contractors to project owner—in a single collaborative ecosystem alive with free-flowing, real-time, shared project data?
Does the vendor include with the product access to an in-house app marketplace, where integrative third-party innovators offer an array of plug-in niche solutions to address any conceivable project issue?
It’s important that the system you’re considering provides a solution whose power is in its simplicity, such that you can neatly answer the question, “what does this solution actually do?” If you can’t sum it up in a concise 30 seconds…this is probably not the solution you’re looking for. It’s also important to get your head completely around who the approvers are, what the process is you need to work within, and what the financial thresholds are for purchase.
Lastly, the vendor you want to do business with will be eager to provide you with resources to answer any and all questions about the product and their process – from ROI, to deep product details, to very clear guidance on the buying cycle. The right vendor will want to make it easy for you to provide answers to your internal team’s questions.
Look, none of us were “built” for 2020. It was a year of mostly unpleasant surprises for which we were ill-prepared. But this is 2021. Let’s ensure you’re built for what’s next.