We see it everywhere we look: technology adoption is growing with break-neck speed. Everywhere, that is, except the construction industry. According to a 2016 report by McKinsey & Co., the industry’s productivity rate has only grown about one percent per year for the past two decades, compared with 2.8 percent labor-productivity growth in the general economy. In fact, some sectors of construction show declines in productivity rates, and a lack of operational and management tools are an important factor in the proliferation of disorganization and inefficiencies.
Productivity loss in construction costs the global economy $1.6 trillion every year. Only 25% of projects are completed on time and North America’s labor shortage will only add to the burden. While there are many reasons for the lack, there is an important co-relation between industries demonstrating increased productivity rates and also using technology. Surveyed constructions firms in the United States reported only 27% can receive integrated, real-time date on projects; fewer than 30% use mobile devices to monitor projects; and less than a third use any type of automation or robotics.
According to contech (construction technology) blogger Grace Ellis, there are three main roadblocks to adopting technology in your construction firm: using management-only software; choosing software that is difficult to use; and not leaving enough time for training. Ellis says while software implemented at the management level can save a company time and money, integration with the field can significantly boost your return on investment. In fact, field integrated software can improve the ROI on management productivity by as much as 50% alone.
Choosing software that is easy to use requires focus, because it generally means avoiding bells and whistles and looking solely at functionality. (There is a reason Steve Jobs tested iPad functionality with 10 year olds.) Be sure to choose something powerful, robust, and flexible, preferably something that integrates all your management and field tasks into one place. If a provider doesn’t have every function you need, ask whether that feature will eventually be under development.
Finally, don’t forget that choosing technology is a commitment, not a fling. It will take time and support to get the crew on board so budget time for the implementation phase. Train your keenest workers first and have them assist the resisters. This will smooth out the process and lead your company into a brighter technologically-driven and productive future. ■