Think strategically to prioritize your purchases.
The construction industry is enjoying an explosion of cool, exciting new technology — drones, virtual reality training systems, project management software with amazing capabilities, and so much more. Go to a construction trade show and you’ll be bombarded by new tech that promises incredible improvements and efficiencies for your construction business.
It’s easy to fall prey to “shiny object syndrome,” in which you buy a tempting new tech toy, play with it for a while and then decide you don’t need or want it. But there is a way to get past all the hoopla and make good decisions about which technology should be at the top of your purchasing list.
The key is to think strategically, said Tim Goggin, founder and CEO of Sappington, a Seattle-based company that guides businesses through the process of choosing and adopting technology.
Goggin noted that construction companies are well behind other industries when it comes technology adoption. “That’s a big challenge. The industry hasn’t been investing in tech, and now there’s a lot of pressure to make investments because of all the tech innovations in the industry,” he said.
Although contracting companies have a strategy for things like safety and environmental matters, most haven’t developed a technology strategy. “They don’t have a vision of how they will use technology as a strategic advantage; they have no guiding principles around technology,” Goggin explained.
He recommends taking these five steps to develop a strategic roadmap for technology adoption.
1. Start at the top of your organization.
“Senior leadership and ownership has to believe and to communicate that technology represents a strategic advantage and that it represents a strategic asset to the business,” he said. “If they don’t buy in and believe it, it’s not going to go anywhere.”
2. Establish a vision for how technology can advance your business.
Your vision might be to use technology to become the most efficient general contractor in your region. So you might want to use tech, for example, to create new ways to interact with your customers, share information and provide more transparency into project performance, or to expedite invoicing.
“You can reimagine your products and services using technology,” Goggin said. “You can use technology to completely transform how construction projects are built.”
3. Communicate that vision across the company.
Share how your company will focus on technology. “Let [employees] know that technology matters, that you’re going to treat it like a first-class citizen, just like safety and environmental issues,” said Goggin. Make them aware that technology is one of the most important things that your company will be working on.
4. Identify the right technology initiatives for your company.
“It’s critical to establish a digital roadmap, to prioritize the technology investments that you need to make in order to move forward toward your vision,” said Goggin. If more efficient project management is at the top of your list, you’ll want to make sure you allocate your resources accordingly.
5. Communicate with employees throughout the process.
Tech can represent big change for your company. “You’re going to be asking people to do things differently. The worst case scenario is when you make a big investment in tech and the people who should be using it refuse to adopt it.”
To avoid that scenario, involve key stakeholders early. “Keep them informed along the way and allow them to participate in the implementation of the new technology,” Goggin advised.
Contractors need to change their mindset when it comes to adopting new technology. Said Goggin, “They need to realize that it’s not a technology project; these are business initiatives and we’re using technology to make it happen.”
Freelance writer Mary Lou Jay writes about business and technical developments in a variety of industries. She has been covering residential and commercial construction for more than 25 years.