How to Prepare for Adopting Digital Construction Tools

Posted by Robert Armbrister, President/CEO of SPARK Business Works on May 14, 2021 7:45:00 AM

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Construction companies are finally embracing technology (you can see why here) and realizing how it can drive efficiency and growth. It’s an exciting time in the industry with countless opportunities to improve processes everywhere you look. 

But it’s one thing to understand you can benefit from a digital transformation and another tp make it happen.

A lot of leaders we work with know they need to change, but they’re unsure where to start. That’s why we put together this simple but actionable plan to get you started.

Download this free checklist to use alongside this step-by-step guide to help prepare your team for a successful technology project.

STEP 1: ALIGN YOUR TEAM AROUND THE BIG PICTURE STRATEGY

Before you dive into a digitization effort, you should establish the why of the project first. Ask your stakeholders questions like: 

  • What’s the big picture strategy? 
  • What are we trying to accomplish? 
  • Can software help us do it? How can software make an impact?

Be sure to think of your why as a long-term strategic vision. A common culprit of failed digital transformations is leaders only considering short-term goals or instant gratification. 

While there can be some quick wins in the beginning, a digital transformation is a never-ending process of adoption and improvement with technology. 

As you put together a strategic vision, all stakeholders must agree it’s the best path forward to efficiency and profitability. 

To get buy-in, ask stakeholders (of different job roles) what changes would make the biggest impact on their daily work. Document ideas that can save time or improve collaboration and accountability through data. 

Involving different users in the project early gives them a sense of ownership. And they’ll give you insights into your operations that you might have missed otherwise. 

STEP 2: FOCUS ON BUSINESS IMPACT

After you have buy-in from team members, outline your current processes and identify what pain points to change first. Ask questions like: 

  • How can we eliminate double data entry? 
  • What are the biggest bottlenecks?
  • What are the most time-consuming processes?

If you’re new to digitization, focus on small changes that align with your vision and make an impact on your business. You don’t need to tackle every single process right out the gate. Digital transformations take time and incremental changes set you up for long-term success. 

Being successful with small ideas first will also create champions for change on your team. These champions will influence other team members to embrace the new normal and provide valuable ideas for the next steps.

STEP 3: UPDATE YOUR IT INFRASTRUCTURE

When’s the last time you thought about your IT infrastructure or updated it?

Trying to digitize your operations with outdated infrastructure and hardware is like planting new crops in arid and depleted soil. New seeds aren’t going to grow and thrive in weakened conditions. It would be a waste of your time and money planting them. 

Before implementing new digital tools, you might need to: 

  • Upgrade your infrastructure or networks to the cloud
  • Update hardware like laptops
  • Double down on cyber security
  • Replace existing software for CRM, accounting, payroll, etc

According to a Net One Tech report, 32% of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) find that the construction and manufacturing industries are targeted the most for ransomware attacks. If you’re putting more technology into users' hands, you want to be sure that it’s secure. Employees can unintentionally be the weakest link in a strong infrastructure. 

Don’t have a full-time internal team to help with IT? That’s okay. It’s common to outsource IT to a MSP to get the support you need cost-effectively.

STEP 4: SELECT THE SOFTWARE YOU NEED

When it comes to choosing software, you’ll find plenty of options from off-the-shelf to custom solutions. 

Should you buy or build custom software though? Each approach has its pluses and minuses. When you make your decision, use your project’s why to guide you. What software will serve you in 3 to 5 years, not just the next few months?

With this mindset, more construction companies are opting to build semi-custom or custom business management software instead of off-the-shelf solutions. Why?

Every construction firm has its own workflows from job to job. The main advantage of custom construction software is that you can dictate exactly what it does. You also control (and pay) for the features you need and can add more functionality at your own pace.

WHAT CONSTRUCTION TECHNOLOGY TO ADOPT FIRST

Choosing the right software is an important step in the digitization process. 

Stay tuned for next week’s article that looks in-depth at three easy digital tools to help win more work and kick off projects efficiently. 

And if you didn’t yet, download our free checklist below to help you start preparing for a digital transformation. 


Do you need a plan for how to digitize your operations?

CLICK BELOW TO DOWNLOAD SPARK'S FREE CHECKLIST

Construction Digitization Preparation Checklost

We developed these steps after helping hundreds of others go through their own digital revolution.

Robert Armbrister is the President and CEO of SPARK Business Works. SPARK builds mobile apps, dashboards, websites, and workflow tools that are just right for the way construction companies work. Robert has helped create everyday digital revolutions for more than 50 trade contractors in Michigan. SparkBusinessWorks.com/Construction

Topics: Construction Technology

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