Key takeaways on successful construction technology implementation.
An overview of the key factors for successful construction technology implementations arising from the panel discussion:
- Implement the right technology to solve the problem at hand.
- The right people are on board for the process.
- Spend money on training for the process change.
- Follow one consistent implementation process across the board.
- Engage leadership at all levels with the new way of doing things.
Who was speaking?
This panel discussion, moderated by MC Hugh Johnstone, focused on the best practice approaches to implementing construction technology and the practical impact of technology implementation on construction projects.
The panelists were:
Derek Bilby, General Manager of Technology Construction at Fletchers. Derek is leading the strategy for the standardisation and digitisation of Fletcher’s construction technology platforms.
Andre McConnell, Technology Implementation Manager at Downers. Andre was previously at Fletchers and prior to that was at Onsite bringing one of New Zealand’s first disruptive construction technologies to market.
James Reed, Project Manager at Dominion Constructors. James is a big advocate for bringing technology to construction sites. He is very experienced at bringing construction technology onto projects at the coalface and the many opportunities and challenges this presents.
Construction technology implementations must be business led to be successful.
The discussion started with a review of how the business case is made for bringing construction technology solutions onto projects. The panelists agreed that every job is different and require different levels of technology but that it was most important to make sure the solution fits the problem.
The panelists felt that the trend for going paperless and using tablets for managing projects is unstoppable as it saves time and money on construction projects. Effective implementation of applications on site means they must be easy and intuitive to use. Buying technology to innovate is of no benefit if not implemented well and people trained to use it effectively.
Usability is the first thing to look at when reviewing construction technology solutions.
Now everyone has a smartphone their expectations of what construction technology can do are sky high. This can be a challenge when implementing applications on site. Therefore usability is at the top of the list for a successful implementation when looking at solutions.
Highlighting this, one panelist shared an amusing anecdote about a Project Manager who took advantage of a form of technology to make their work easier – by using a dictaphone to walk around site and list defects. This was a great example of how a system’s usability can be perfect for an individual but terrible for the wider team. The lesson being always enhance a process through digitisation – or a digital mess will simply be made from the analog mess.
Engaged people are the best indicator of a successful implementation.
“Engaged people” came up consistently from the panel as being key to the success of onboarding new technologies. Avoid the appearance of change for change sake by showing users ‘why’ the technology is being implemented.
A good way to engage people is by piloting new construction technology processes at a small scale. Get champions on board with the new way of doing things, then show the wider team a successful working outcome that will make their life easier.
Construction has a unique advantage for technology implementation over other industries. Because every construction project is like a mini-business, companies can try something and see if it works, before deploying at an enterprise level.
Don’t deploy a new technology if you aren’t willing to spend the money on training.
A most noteworthy takeaway about successful technology implementation was that if a company is not going to spend the time and money to train people properly to use a system they shouldn’t put the technology in place to start with.
Excite leaders at every level about the new technology to promote buy-in.
The panelists agreed that implementation of construction technology should be both bottom up and top down. However, there must be one process for using information. Otherwise there can be an inherent conflict of interest between what users and managers want out of a technology implementation. Manage this by creating a positive attitude towards dealing with issues as they arise to get buy-in to the change.
Since there can be an inherent conflict of interest between what users and managers want out of a technology implementation, address this by creating a positive attitude towards dealing with issues as they arise to get buy-in to the change.
Spend money on change management and training to get everyone on board with the new way of doing things. This should start at the top with the CEO and filter down through the business. Excite people about the new technology by showing them how it will make their job easier. The more people know about it, understand it and see it successfully in action, the more excited they will be about using it.
Concluding gems of advice for the audience from the speakers…
Derek reminded everyone it is never too late to stop an IT project if it isn’t working. Stopping a project and restarting with something more appropriate is more cost efficient in the long run.
Andre gave an IT vendor secret away warning attendees to beware of salespeople with powerpoint presentations. Potential clients need to see the actual technology and understand what it does and doesn’t do.
James finished the event on a high note saying the one key piece of advice he would give his past self was; “Take out a mortgage and invest in Acuite Construction Intelligence.”
More insights from the event.
Find out more about what the panelists had to say from the first panel ‘Construction Excellence and Business Intelligence‘.
Learn more about global trends in construction technology from Acuite’s co-founders keynote presentation.