Today, the need for technology in construction has become more tangible than ever: at just 1 percent, productivity growth in construction lags significantly behind the economic average of 2.8 percent. That means that though construction is one of the world’s largest industries, it’s also one of the least efficient. By some accounts, projects often lose up to a third of their value to waste.
Thankfully, construction industry professionals understand it’s high time for a change. We sat down with general contractors and subcontractors across the U.S. to learn about their experience with technology, barriers to adoption they’ve encountered, and strategies they’ve used to win over teams that are hesitant to embrace change.
The construction industry’s relationship with technology is evolving
According to Stephen Fontana, Estimator at Holt Construction, inadequate technology is something the industry has been dealing with for a long time. However, over the past few years, he’s noticed a shift.
“Yes, the industry has been underserved by technology — I’ve heard horror stories from people who’ve been doing this for 30-plus years. But that’s changing, and it’s changing rapidly. These days, you see more people on the field with iPads than notepads. So while it took a long time to get the ball rolling, it’s companies like BuildingConnected that are showing people it’s time to evolve,” said Stephen.
Anthony Fleshman, Senior Estimator at Plaza Construction, emphasized the importance of technology adoption in developing strong relationships with clients.
“Construction is a client-driven industry, and clients want to work with companies that are using the latest and greatest technology. If you don’t adapt, you’ll fall behind,” he said.
Make technology adoption a team effort and consider a pilot program
Often, leaders find it difficult to sell technology internally in an industry where people are hesitant to embrace change. However, there are a few strategies to make the transition less intimidating.
“When we first started integrating technology into our process, we experienced some kickback,” said Scott Bradley, Co-founder and Director of Estimating at Bradley Concrete. “So we had to make it a team decision. We had to get everyone to agree, ‘This is where the future is going, and we’re committing to it as a group.’ Once everyone understood we were in this together, it became easier to show them how it could make us more efficient.”
Alan Droutsas, Estimator at Innovative Mechanical, recommended a pilot program to help get teams on board.
“For those who are resistant to using technology, I always encourage them to just give it a chance,” he said. “Have your team try it for three to six months, and if it’s still not working for them individually, figure out a solution.”
Pilot programs can be a great way to change hesitant minds because seeing often means believing. Many companies find that within a short period, their teams save time, become significantly more efficient, and improve the accuracy of their data. Those types of results are enough to sway even the most skeptical team members.
Emphasize benefits over features and consider your users
Don Tiefenbrunn, Vice President at BCCI, found it easy to get support for BuildingConnected internally because when he introduced the platform to the team, he focused primarily on the time it would save them.
“For us, BuildingConnected was extremely easy to roll out. All we had to was let our team know it would reduce outreach time from three to four hours to 10 to 15 minutes,” he said.
With different ages and technical skill levels across teams, it’s also crucial to remember that any technology you choose should be as user-friendly as possible.
“There aren’t a ton of young people getting into construction,” said Katherine D., Estimator at Plaza Construction. “It’s a problem in and of itself, but it’s also why our industry has been so slow to progress. Because of the age range of our team, we’ve found the most success with platforms like BuildingConnected that are clean, organized, and that anyone can comfortably use.”