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What tech trends do you expect to become standard in a post-COVID world for construction?

Yves Frinault
Co-Founder & CEO
Fieldwire


Like most industries, construction technology has moved to a mobile-first approach in recent years, and this has been a game-changer for companies that aim to improve efficiencies and productivity in a sector challenged to keep pace in both areas. During the global COVID-19 pandemic, a mobile-first approach has become even more vital, enabling a disparate workforce to maintain productivity and stay safely connected with teams and subcontractors across jobsites and offices worldwide. This has allowed everyone involved in a construction project, from the back office to all the subcontractors on-site, to access and share information in real time.

Why is it important to have interoperability in the construction industry?

Slater Latour
Chief Marketing and Product Officer
Newforma


Interoperability will continue to be a key trend for the industry. There's enough structure, and the application programming interface (API) technology exists so that regardless of what the official system of record is, data can pass seamlessly back and forth. In a case where it takes five minutes to locate, compile and upload data for one submittal, that might mean  thousands of submittals and document exchanges over the course of a project. The immediate sync between systems is going to end up saving a tremendous amount of hours per project. Plus, companies also have to rely on manual work to upload the documentation in two systems. 

Progress has certainly been made, and the infrastructure that enables data from one system to another grows almost exponentially. It's important to set expectations around how much interoperability is possible, given that each project is unique. But the type of connectivity that exists in other industries will be in place for the construction industry in the next 5 to 10 years, given how quickly technology is advancing.

What is the best approach construction firms should take when adopting new technology?

Meirav Oren
CEO and Co-Founder
Versatile


Adopting solutions fast and scaling them even faster is critical. If you see something good, scale in three months, not three years. Adopting across the organization will give you much better insight into ROI than a single project ever will. The mindset needs to shift from lengthy technology pilots where both parties invest so much, yet never gain the true benefits that come from scaling. Scale will only lead to ROIs that are considered impossible in our industry. A year from now, there will be the ones that have the data and those that don't. But data will only take you so far; it's all about your people's skills with using that data. The key is to scale fast, collect the data now and make sure teams get more proficient at analyzing and applying it.

What are the most important KPIs for construction firms to monitor and why?

Neil Ashizawa 
Chief Product Officer
Jonas Construction Software


Construction businesses must continually analyze the most up-to-date financial key performance indicators. Tracking and analyzing financial KPIs is typically performed by reviewing reports, such as:

  • Costs: Estimate vs. Actual – may indicate under-bidding
  • Under/Over Billing – may indicate under-billing
  • Project Cash Flow – may indicate capital for further investment into the project

These reports enable the analysis of financial KPIs, which ensures two critical outcomes:

  1. Projects remain on track to produce desired profit margins.
  2. Businesses have the time to make operational and order changes to “course correct” during a project.

Here is the most important thing to remember: financial KPIs must be up-to-date. The KPIs must include every cost incurred and all revenue recognized up to that exact moment the analysis is performed. Businesses cannot wait for financial reports to be generated, which may require days to produce. In doing so, they risk missing additional incurred costs or recognized revenue, which may result in inaccurate analysis and wrong conclusions. So, businesses must use technology to ensure the financial KPIs are up to date.

Matt Daly 
CEO, Co-Founder
StructionSite


Cost, revenue and profit have long been the essential KPIs used to measure the success of a construction project, but these are long-term lagging indicators that only tell you about the past. After decades of effort to digitize workflows the industry is  finally ready to start looking at more leading indicators of project success. 

Routinely measuring productivity across trades can provide a more proactive assessment of a project and give key stakeholders the visibility to take action and reallocate resources to avoid delays or cost overruns. But with common practice today, there is a lot of guesswork and manual entry that goes into measuring productivity in the field, and it’s often seen as an impossible task or not worth attempting unless a project is extremely high risk. For a jobsite to run efficiently, knowing exactly what work has been completed day to day and week to week is critical to keep your project on track. Today people wouldn’t drive a car without a GPS, so why manage projects without a clear understanding of how much work has been put in place? 

Luckily, standardizing construction measurements and tracking productivity is easier than ever due to the digital transformation of the industry and new AI-powered technologies that automatically collect, analyze and generate a wealth of unbiased project data that can be used to make budget-saving decisions on the current project, as well as more accurately predict costs and schedules for future projects.

How can contractors leverage technology to most efficiently manage their workforce?

John Herr
CEO
Arcoro


The pandemic accelerated the adoption of technology in construction, and it’s changed the business model for contractors, helping improve collaboration and productivity.

Companies are really embracing the digital workplace, cloud technology and automating processes for both their back office and in the field.

Organizational agility is key, as technology can help address issues from recruiting to training to skill development. Workforce issues create a drag on contractors’ ability to take advantage of emerging business opportunities. And as infrastructure spending increases, agility will be vital to success.

HR construction technology can help, with 97% of agile companies saying these solutions help them prepare for the future. (Source: Lighthouse Research)

End-to-end, employee-focused tech gives companies the edge, starting with hiring. Contractors can’t afford to lose out on talent because their recruiting system doesn’t provide an easy, accessible candidate experience.

Most construction applicants are looking and applying for jobs on a mobile device. Contractors without mobile-enabled applicant systems risk missing out on potential hires. They also need to be able to onboard them quickly in the field to increase speed to productivity.

When it comes to managing the workforce, it’s not only vital that employees get trained, companies also need documentation in case they are audited. An online learning management system addresses both needs.

Those are just a few of many possible examples. The good news is that HR technology enables efficiencies across the business and can help companies position themselves for future growth.

Paul McKeon
Founder and CEO
B2W Software


One of the most effective steps contractors can take to gain efficiency is to connect employees across workflows in real time through a cohesive, platform approach to the software they deploy.

Construction has lagged other industries in adopting software technology. As contractors catch up, a big challenge is getting disparate applications used to manage various aspects of the business to talk to each other. Intermediary steps necessary to integrate applications often cancel out the benefits, resulting in redundant data entry, errors, lag time and frustration among employees.

When applications for estimating and operations are connected, or unified, contractors gain tremendous efficiencies. Data from the estimating software can be used to create field logs, so jobs are built the way they were bid and actual costs from the field can inform future bids. Repair requests or resource needs created in a field tracking application can be seen instantly and automatically in the equipment maintenance and scheduling applications respectively. Likewise, real-time visibility into equipment location, schedule and status in the maintenance and scheduling applications allows dispatchers to optimize utilization and maintenance teams to do planned work at the most opportune times. These are just a few examples.

Retaining and motivating employees are additional advantages of a strong technology platform. Increasingly, construction employees expect to work with technology. Providing tools and information that make it easier for them to work more efficiently, collaborate across workflows and see how their efforts impact the overall success of the company can result in a more motivated and higher performing team.

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