If construction-sector productivity were to catch up with that of the total economy, it would boost the sector’s value added by an estimated $1.6 trillion, states a report by McKinsey Global Institute - that’s a lot money left on the table! Looking at labor within the construction sector, these stats also echo the fact that the industry is dragging its heels. Global labor-productivity analyzed over the past two decades has only seen growth of one percent year-on-year!
It is clear the industry battles with a productivity problem and is missing out on financial opportunities, but perhaps its reputation for technophobia and poor time management is no coincidence.
With the growing trend towards the digitalization of companies worldwide and the sizeable productivity gains yielded, much of the construction industry has been slow to embrace digitization. Construction is among the least digitized sectors in the world, according to MGI’s digitization index. In the US, construction comes second to last, and in Europe, it’s in the last position on the index.
Many factors could be driving this slow growth in productivity, but underinvestment in technology is partially responsible for this trend. Without effective project management tools at one’s disposal, it is difficult to reach the level of organization required to compete with leading construction companies.
Only 25% of construction projects are completed on time, says KPMG, and those delays cost money. The right tech and software solutions make a huge difference in many aspects of a project because smart project management helps contractors stay on track and on budget.
What then is the industry missing and how can construction management software be utilized more effectively to record much-needed growth? Read on.
Taking a Layered Approach to Construction Software Implementation
If software implementation is to be successful and leaders are to meet productivity challenges head-on, a layered approach that considers all angles needs to be executed.
All-in-one approaches are tempting but really not the answer for sustainable success. Construction leaders need to understand that as with major construction projects, implementation needs to be rolled out in phases. Setting precise, achievable, and measurable goals during the adoption process is of vital importance.
Expecting your team to master management software from the get-go is unrealistic and such pressure placed on them is a sure and fast way to burn them out. While teams can be slow to adapt to new technology, this is not due to overt resistance but rather a fear of the unknown, a tendency across teams in all industries.
This is why it makes sense to get specific workers up to speed on specific areas of the software - only the aspects that they need to know in order to complete a building-related task. This will allow them to gradually familiarize themselves with the new tech, without disrupting their workflow and without being overwhelmed with information overload.
Starting off small not only leads to better adoption of the software over time, but also saves on training costs by focusing on relevant workers who will retain knowledge better and put that knowledge into practice.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Employee Buy-in
Leaders need to include the software into their vision and strategy to see long term gains, and this strategy and vision need to be communicated with the team at every level, from designers to accountants to sub-contractors – everyone should know why the digitization of the company is important and how it impacts them. Clearly outlining how digital solutions align with the company’s vision is a big step in the right direction.
One could also think in terms of team buy-in – going from the individual worker who is starting to see the perks for themselves, such as rewards based on effective adoption, to a collective realization of how tech affects and benefits others. Laying out the financial spin-offs from adopting a tech approach can also help win over workers. When employees understand that an efficiently run company leads to more projects, which translates into more profits and thus better pay, the more likely they’ll warm up to digital.
If you have a particularly anti-tech team, you may need to think smart in order to secure the buy-in you need to boost your bottom line. Successful adoption may be as simple as identifying the tech-savvy members in your team and gearing them up to lead the others in a tech takeover. The best and lasting type of change often happens from within.
Take a Bottom-Up Approach to Implementation
John Albert, the founder of Unified Building Group, makes a compelling case for adopting a bottom-up approach when adopting new tech: "You can purchase software that has all the bells and whistles but then if no one uses it... it doesn't work.”
“That was always our challenge; we could never get our folks in the field, who we really need the right information from, to get it back to accounting or the customer and get a true reflection. It could be the Ferrari of software but it's useless if no one can drive it.”
Adopting construction software efficiently starts at the top. For executives, instead of thinking about how many reports they can get out of the system, they should think about the downstream workers who are generating each of those reports. The best solutions do not just entail stakeholder satisfaction but significant value adds for all members of the responsible parties and teams. A top-down approach can be tempting for executives but it just doesn't work.
A bottom-up approach has proven to be a successful construction management model because it focuses time and attention on the site rather than on the head office. The field is where the workers, equipment, and materials are. That's why you need clear insights into what's happening on-site and a complicated, top-down construction management platform is just not going to give it to you.
Management must put themselves in the shoes of a worker and consider whether the safety reports or RFIs are easy to fill, can they send them off fast, are day-to-day admin tasks taking more time than its worth with hard-to-navigate, and unnecessarily complex fields to fill in.
By focusing on how easily workers can adopt and navigate construction software, leaders move from what is best for management to what is best for the project. A bottom-up strategy may seem more time-consuming for executives but in terms of ROI and sustained implementation, this approach will be most effective.
Explore Software Implementation with Salus
With the economy buzzing again after the gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions, demand for construction work is picking up and the scale of projects increasing. US construction firms need to swiftly adopt project management technology and other digitization tech in order to keep up with these increasing opportunities, realize better profits, and grab a piece of the $1.36 trillion industry pie.
With labor costs rising, the case for productivity-enhancing technology only becomes more pressing. The idea of a new software suite can be daunting and implementing solutions can be complicated, but the Salus team will ensure your operations run efficiently by bringing a laser-focused approach to your business. Our software is built around real construction management challenges and developed with the hands-on user in mind. With Salus, you get a dedicated Customer Success Manager infused with a company culture that embraces change.