In an age when cutting-edge technology is transforming countless sectors from banking to transportation, the construction industry has been relatively resistant to embracing new innovations
Builders have long been creating on-site reports and making use of information dashboards, but the traditional process of pen and paper, manual entries and the risk of rework was cumbersome, expensive and often required a third-party consultant.
In a bid to meet the changing tech climate and solve some of the industry’s most pressing challenges of fragmented communication and workforces, complicated technical processes and the skilled labour shortage, practical construction software solutions are making headway with changing how construction businesses operate.
The widening efficiency gap between non-digitalised firms and those that fully embrace business enabling technologies will soon make it impossible for construction firms to ignore the potential of new software
Builders are still at the beginning of their digital journey moving towards a workforce that is supported by popular tools, such as tablet devices and platforms such as Procore, a cloud-based construction management platform designed to bring together all vital project communications in a single dashboard to digitise their communications and enable collaboration.
However, with an industry reluctant to shift, it is important to note that effective change management isn’t just a top-down mandate. “It’s about getting to a more proactive workforce, as opposed to staff being more reactive,” says Brandon Oliveri-O’Connor, director of international sales at Procore.
“Construction firms should ask themselves ‘How can we save time when carrying out day-to-day activities, like automating hyperlinks in drawings?’ or ‘How do we leverage the data we are collecting to make smarter business decisions?’ Enabling customers to access real-time insights in a much more accessible way can dramatically change how a general construction professional works.”
Despite working in a highly competitive industry, many construction companies have strong professional relationships with other builders. When one industry leader adopts a construction software solution, it doesn’t take long for the benefits of the tool to catch the attention of partnered firms, playing a central role in boosting adoption.
In just a few short years, the awareness and adoption rates of construction software have increased rapidly. “It only takes one or two individuals within an organisation to drive change. It’s really up to construction software providers to find the right people and support them through their evaluation which, if carried out correctly, can show robust return on investment,” says Mr Oliveri-O’Connor.
“We’re freeing up more time in the day that is typically spent on emails and calls to enable firms to focus on getting high-quality products built. In my experience, construction professionals spend more than half their time on either finding relevant information or trying to disseminate information out to their team.”
With another key focus on labour, we’ve seen labour productivity levels rising in the majority of industries over the past two decades, but productivity in construction has flatlined. In fact, a recent McKinsey report found that 98 per cent of mega-projects experience cost overruns or delays, with the average cost increase totalling 80 per cent of the original project value. It’s clear the industry is in urgent need of solutions that can improve organisation and communication, and ultimately reduce unnecessary delays.
“Efficiency is key,” says Mr Oliveri-O’Connor. “Being able to take on more projects with fewer workers is becoming extremely important due to the skilled labour shortage. We’re also seeing some firms take a step back and focus on delivering quality projects rather than prioritising growth.”
For builders who have already made some advances in the digital space, there is a growing trend of using virtual design and BIM (building information modelling) with a focus on getting ahead of the potential problems on a job site using software and digital visualisation tools. For construction firms that have already adopted collaboration systems, this is the next stage of investment.
Yet, there are still challenges to getting management buy-in for new technological tools. Mr Oliveri-O’Connor explains how the three different generations of construction professionals in the workforce all have a different understanding and comfort level with technology. Getting across the benefits of construction software to leaders that have a “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” approach can be hard to overcome, at least in the short term.
“It all comes down to the individual company as for some, new software can be an extremely difficult sell and for others, it’s a perfect fit immediately. For example, we recently signed on a new client where the manager had been working in the industry for over 40 years and he gave the green light immediately. If you have a great leader and someone who understands that the industry is changing, then it’s easy to move past minor objections,” says Mr Oliveri-O’Connor.
The widening efficiency gap between non-digitalised firms and those that fully embrace business enabling technologies will soon make it impossible for construction firms to ignore the potential of new software. Delivering a project on time and under budget is critical as the market gets even more competitive.
In leading the drive to create a more efficient and productive construction industry, Procore is actively tailoring its platform to the unique needs of various regions and doubling down in localised support by opening four global offices in Vancouver, Toronto, London and Sydney in the past 18 months. The software company is continuing to build out their platform to reach a global audience and help better service their customers in more than 150 countries.
“We’ve created an open platform that can cater to an unlimited number of users, and manage all communication and collaboration from both the field and in the office, all in a single system. This enables us to help builders reduce their administrative burden and free staff up to do what they need to, in order to deliver the highest quality product,” Mr Oliveri-O’Connor concludes.
For more information please visit Procore