No industry is as ripe for digital transformation as construction. The need to quickly and efficiently capture data in the field is driving the industry towards implementing new systems, with the promise to enable fast adopters to become more competitive.
But there is an ongoing problem of risk aversion, which has made the industry hamstrung by a push and pull reaction to adopting new technology. Construction companies too often stick to old and outdated systems, especially in the field. However, as projects are becoming increasingly complex, there’s added pressure on documentation and reporting processes. These could be alleviated by introducing software to better capture data, share information and promote collaboration. In order to achieve success in implementing software, PeerAssist recommends that construction companies focus on three areas, as follows:
During the implementation phase of a new system, it is imperative that leadership at every level from ownership and managers to foremen buy in to the new system. It will be much easier for employees in the field to embrace change if leaders are setting an example, and much less likely for them to revert to old systems if there is support, direction and enthusiasm from the top. Research supports the need for engaged leadership to ensure profitability and success.
In order to understand their ability to absorb change, firms can assess themselves. Informal interviews with field superintendents and field managers can help gauge the temperature of the field and the willingness to adopt new procedures. Companies can then make sure they take extra care to guide management in more traditional departments during software implementation.
Technology-friendly culture can also be supported during the implementation process by:
- Hosting kick-off events and meetings to discuss the implementation and to review progress.
- Using special incentives to reward early adopters, such as bonuses or gift cards.
- Promoting employees who become in-house experts, who serve as invaluable resources for others.
IT needs to be 100% ready before the new software is introduced to staff. This means the technology infrastructure should be entirely in place. For instance, if moving to a tablet friendly system like PeerAssist, devices should be delivered and set-up with the app well before the project starts.
While training and online support is provided for software systems like PeerAssist, it doesn’t mean that field or office employees will always take advantage of such resources (or even have the time, which is a hurdle in itself). The infrastructure needs to be in place for training, which could include:
- Time and space set aside for training sessions.
- Online resources for training that employees can access at their leisure or during free time away from work.
- Training log books with milestones that must be completed.
- Competency tests to assess if training is sufficient, giving managers the opportunity to provide feedback to owners, executives, and/or managers.
A company that is persistent in its ongoing internal promotion to digital transformation is more likely to achieve success, and implementation won’t be a complicated and time consuming process. Companies can promote successful software adoption by having well-defined processes in place for implementation and long-term use. This additional effort will further support earlier defined processes, for instance:
- Ongoing educational opportunities, such as forums and internal case studies.
- On-boarding processes for new employees that includes software training.
- Checks and balances systems for managers and employees to check in on software use and provide resources to departments that are slow to adopt.
Firms will be better equipped to handle new tools that will get them ahead of the competition in the digital era with good planning and a commitment to follow-through. Only then can change be managed effectively, ensuring a smooth adoption of much-needed technology.