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What tech are you using to further your business? Do you have an overarching strategy in place to govern tech purchasing and decisions, or are you doing things on a case-by-case or ad-hoc basis?
By Daniel Clark, Information Systems Manager: Construction & Mining industries
Let’s talk about technology in the construction industry. And we’re not talking about the latest CAD tool or piece of equipment you’re using onsite that’s internet-enabled. What tech are you using to further your business? Do you have an overarching strategy in place to govern tech purchasing and decisions, or are you doing things on a case-by-case or ad-hoc basis?
Technology strategy is exactly that – strategic use of technology to conduct business better.
If you look at technology from the same point of view as your construction tools and equipment, you’ll be able to see the forest for the trees. Would you be using hand tools if you had access to an excavator and the funds to do so? Of course not. And how can you manage your equipment without a ledger and maintenance scheduling? You can’t.
Without similar procedures, processes, systems and upgrades to your business’s IT it becomes impossible to keep up with the competition.
A technology strategy for a construction business needs to be documented and deliberate, taking in consideration your business needs now, where the competition stands, and what is going to be needed in the near future. There is an abundance of tech available for the construction industry, so we’re going to break down some essential elements that should be included in your technology strategy as a starting point.
Business Process Automation
One of the core elements of your technology strategy should be business process automation (BPA). Business process automation is the automation of traditionally complex manual processes into something that’s done by machines.
You probably already have some BPA in your systems already.
Do you have an automatic invoicing and follow up system in place? That’s BPA in action. However, there are many processes in the construction industry that can be automated that you may not already have implemented.
- Logistical tracking of company assets
- Stocktake and reordering
- Maintenance scheduling
- Project management and updates to stakeholders
- Vendor management
There are already ready-built solutions for the construction industry for various different business processes – all you need to do is pick the best one for your purposes and budget. There are also all-in-one options to choose from, for instance, the Procore platform offers a range of products including budgeting, inspections, and more.
Utilise cloud tools for smooth onsite workflow
Document management is typically complex in construction. On any one job you’ll have permits, checklists, safety documents, CAD designs, site photos and more to manage. Having all these resources available in the cloud, with careful access control in place, is essential in 2018.
You need to be able to bring up all your digital assets not only from your desk at the office, but while on the go, too. You may need clients to be able to access some of these documents without having to shoot you across an email. Cloud storage should play a part in any construction company’s technology strategy.
Not only do you want to be able to view these digital assets, you may want to change them, too. You might be surprised at the range of apps that are available for the construction industry, such as BIM 360, for project plans and models management.
Enhanced project and business intelligence and estimation
Imagine having a clear overview of how various projects are tracking, your financials, or human resource management – and even predictions for one month, three months, or a years’ time.
Business intelligence products work with your company’s data to produce a clear picture of where you are at currently, where you’ve been, and what’s ahead. Having this visual insight into projects and your business as a whole can help you better plan time and allocate resources, instead of running into trouble down the track.
Tools such as Microsoft’s Power BI transform your business data into visualisations and future estimations, instead of you trying to make sense of another Excel spreadsheet.
These are just 3 of the cornerstones that your technology strategy needs to address. You will also need to think about data and systems security, potential technology risks to business, which IT changes to prioritise, and how to encourage IT culture within your company for the changes to be implemented successfully.
If you would like assistance in drawing up and implementing a successful technology strategy for your construction company, then get in touch with us at Bremmar. We have experience in helping companies just like yours to streamline processes, save on resources, and outpace the competition, through designing and implementing a strategic technology roadmap.
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