Did you know that over the past 20 years, global construction productivity has only grown 1% a year? Though construction is one of the largest industries in the world, the sector’s productivity continues to lag far behind similar industries like manufacturing (3.6%) and the economic average (2.8%).

If construction-sector productivity were to catch up with even the economic average, it would boost the industry’s value by an estimated $1.6 trillion, adding about 2% to the global economy. With such high stakes, we all have a vested interest in determining ways to become more productive. But what’s actually causing the construction industry’s productivity problem?

A lack of collaboration

Construction is one of the most collaborative industries in the world, often requiring the cooperation of hundreds of companies to successfully complete a project. But during preconstruction, information often remains siloed (trapped in binders, spreadsheets, whiteboards, or email), which means information sharing gets delayed or doesn’t happen at all.

This disconnect means project partners operate based on different versions of reality, using whatever data they happen to have access to—regardless of whether it’s incomplete, inaccurate, or both. It also primes teams for missing deadlines and making errors, decreasing overall productivity.

Construction is one of the most collaborative, yet fragmented industries.

A lack of digitization

The construction sector is one of the largest in the world, with about $10 trillion spent on construction-related goods and services every year. It accounts for 13% of the world’s global domestic product and is expected to grow to 15% by 2020. Yet somehow, construction remains one of the least digitized industry in the world.

According to a survey by AGC/FMI, 58% of respondents expect to see more change in the built environment within the next five years than there has been in the last 50 years. Understanding that digital transformation can result in productivity gains of 14 to 15 percent and cost reductions of 4 to 6 percent, the top construction companies are now realizing the need to fully digitize their operations.

McKinsey Digital Index

Improving productivity begins with preconstruction

Amidst these problems, construction often suffers from poor preconstruction planning. Think about the pitfalls that can happen during a preconstruction phase gone rogue or neglected. Preconstruction makes or breaks a project, and a fragmented, paper-pushing process steals money from your bottom line. On the other hand, a digitized and collaborative preconstruction process has a cascading effect that sets the rest of a project up for success.

With digitized workflows in preconstruction, you can more easily gather critical project data, allowing every partner on a project to work together to more successfully predict outcomes and automate workflows. This offers construction professionals the benefits of improving the bid management process, saving construction costs with accurate quantification, and improving how information is leveraged between preconstruction and the construction site.

Embracing the industry's digital future

Construction methods like design-build and lean construction — practices that require a high level of communication and collaboration among project partners — have already been proven to increase efficiency and productivity. Companies also rely on technology like building information modeling (BIM) and project management software to bolster productivity on the job site.

The only question remains: is your team ready to invest in preconstruction’s digital, collaborative future?