The largest obstacle for construction companies trying to innovate through technology is getting their people to use it. Too often companies realize the need to change and don’t.
While every business is different, contractors are prone to making five mistakes when it comes to adopting technology. Here’s how to tackle each one.
1. Lack of Involvement
The first mistake companies make is not involving their team in the decision-making process. Nobody wants to make their work harder. Teams want a seat at the table, and they want managers to invest in technology to help.
Yet, too often owners and project leaders identify problems and research solutions in isolation. When technology hails from an ivory tower, it can be met with resentment. Instead of seeing the new app as a way to make their day easier, workers see it as another to-do on an already full list.
The solution is trite, but effective: Ask good questions. Finding out what issues field workers face is fertile ground for discovering inefficiencies. It provides the basis for where to begin looking for solutions and allows the company to frame new technologies in language they understand and, more importantly, desire.
For example, project management software will change how salespeople assess a site, how project managers order materials and how foremen execute the job. Each position has a different line of sight on the challenges, and all are beneficial.
2. Forgoing Procedures
When a company is small, it is possible to succeed without standard operating procedures. But as construction firms grow beyond one crew, it becomes imperative to enumerate exactly how routine tasks are accomplished.
Technology features can be rendered useless without clear instructions on how to employ them. For example, imagine an app that instantly sorts through documents by tagging them with various meta-data, such as type of jobsite or location. However, this feature can become muddled if everyone is using different tags to describe the same thing.
3. Failure to Enforce New Procedures
Unfortunately, creating new procedures is just the beachhead. The challenge of adoption lies in enforcement. If leaders allow various parties to continue with past procedures or workflows, technology adoption will fail.
But, if leaders only accept work in the correct format through the new technology, adoption will be swift and full. Having the resolution to guide everyone comes from a complete understanding of how the technology will help the organization as a whole and every person the solution touches.
4. Not Assigning Responsibility
Tasks must be owned. Adopting technology is no different. Without a point person to explore best practices, chart implementation, codify new processes and enforce those procedures, any attempt to adopt technology will fail.
Further, having a single individual responsible to supervise actual implementation, oversee administrative duties, such as setting up permissions, and answer questions as they arise pays incredible dividends in easing adoption.
The last mistake companies make is having a lack of urgency. It is too easy to ignore inefficiencies. The pain associated with researching the right technology solution and establishing and enforcing a new procedure takes significantly more time and effort than the short-term cost of plowing through an imperfect process.
What isn’t evident is the compounding effect of these inefficiencies. Often the worst culprits are the simplest workflows. Outdated ways of doing things that have been in place since the business opened, such as processing payroll or sending out invoices, are dangerous because of their high frequency.
As construction companies look to adopt new technology, they ought to keep the human factor in mind. Involving the team, setting and enforcing expectations, and doing so swiftly and fully are what will allow a company to succeed.
Luke Hansen is founder and CEO of CompanyCam, a photo management business. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.