It’s amazing how much we rely on technology these days, isn’t it? It’s often difficult to recall a time we went without. But in order to keep up to date with other companies and at the forefront of this industry, technology is an incredibly smart investment.
The adoption of technology has been a little slow in the past among United States construction firms. However, in order to collaborate with more IT-savvy colleagues, builders and contractors are gradually being dragged into the 21st century. Laptops, for example, are now more common on the job site.
A huge factor behind this adoption of technological aid is that it has become increasingly difficult to maintain profit margins on building projects. Oftentimes, profits are diminished by more practical issues, such as delays in receiving drawings, the use of outdated data, and even inaccuracies caused by human error. Firms are looking for ways to reduce these issues and maintain a bottom line. On the day-to-day level, firms are also experiencing a struggle with the need to communicate and review project drawings, and sharing documents that are too large to send through e-mail. Proper technology can change this, and therefore, aid job deadlines.
Project management tools are becoming more commonplace. Here at George Nice & Sons, for example, we use BRICS, an accounting and equipment maintenance tool, and HCSS HeavyJob, which is shared with our project managers, estimators, and even human resources. These tools help us in our daily functions, and every single office member and foreman benefit from them.
These technological tools help keep projects on schedule. They help us budget, and they help us share job site drawings and documents with everyone involved. Not only has communication become easier, but many firms have gone paperless because of it, which also helps the environment.
Perhaps the most widespread technology in use today on U.S. jobsites is smartphones and tablets. Most firms are using these mobile devices for managing projects outside of their traditional market area. According to the Associated General Contractors of America’s 2016 Construction Industry Outlook, 76 percent plan to use their smartphones and tablets for daily field reports. 68 percent say they’ll use them to access customer and job information in the field. And 67 percent will use them to share drawings, photos, and documents. The AGC identifies collaboration as the primary application for all technology in construction.
Ironically, fleet management software is still pretty low on the list. And although ours may not be the best, I can’t imagine where we’d be without the ability to enter work reports or schedule preventative maintenance based on meter readings and mileage. With our fleet management software, we are able to keep track of ongoing repairs, part costs, and even hours put in by our shop staff. It’s an extremely useful tool for us personally.
Compared to others, the construction industry specifically continues to underspend on technology. There is a lack of budget for IT staff and products, which shies most companies away from investing in such things. And while not setting – or even knowing – the budget can make sense, not understanding the company’s general IT strategy can frustrate and even limit employees. If these employees don’t understand the range of their roles in using and adopting technology, they won’t think proactively about technology, which creates room for expensive software that doesn’t get used, and outdated software that doesn’t get replaced.
It’s possible that technology providers need to provide more transparency and pricing options by usage or project. It’s also possible that builders need to better track their usage for projects. But it’s important that companies explore how to make technology work for them and generate revenue rather than simply increasing expenses. The lack of research and development among these companies highlights the industry’s reactive approach to technology. There’s a minimal budget and an allocated staff, which doesn’t leave much room for tinkering with potential technology solutions. As a result, the construction industry is notoriously behind on implementing innovative solutions.
Despite slow movement, construction companies have spent 13.7 percent more over the last 12 months on technology. Although business is good, extra technology could make it better.
The construction industry is waking up to the benefits of IT – ComputerWeekly.com
As smartphones, tablets become more necessary on jobsites, more contractors plan to increase IT spending – EquipmentWorld.com
The 4th Annual Construction Technology Report – JBKnowledge, Inc.