There has certainly been a technology transformation occurring in the construction industry in recent years with many leading contractors digitizing their operations and moving to cloud-based versions of their software solutions. However, industry reports and surveys note that anywhere from half to two-thirds of contractors have yet to make the move. Among the key reasons: the initial expenses of technology transitions, lingering concerns over security of data, fear of change among software programs’ end users and a general lack of understanding of the significant benefits cloud computing can bring.
Those concerns have largely been addressed as leading-edge technology providers have made cloud security a priority, delivering secure operating environments that in most cases offer more protections than on-premise technology stacks. And construction software continues to move to more integrated platforms, combining multiple functionalities with a common set of real-time data. When implemented correctly, the benefits in productivity, profitability, mitigated risks, overhead cost savings and deeper understanding of projects are proving significantly higher than the costs of these new technologies, and contractors who make the move are seeing their technology investments scaled for future changes and growth.
Most contractors that want to remain competitive know they’ll have to make the move to the cloud, but how do you ensure you do so in a way that is best for your organization? The answer lies with having a sound plan.
Know What You’re Looking For
When considering which software platform is the right fit for your organization, start by researching and understanding the technology landscape. Many contractors don’t realize the functionalities and automation that modern technologies can provide. Or, they may not be aware of the differences between different vendors’ software solutions. This eBook, A Practical Guide to Selecting Construction Software, is a great resource to help you formulate a technology plan.
Here are four key takeaways from the guide:
- You should look for software that has been specifically designed for construction
- Cloud-based and integrated software solutions are best for providing accessibility across entire project teams, automating processes, adapting to new functionality and scaling your company’s technology for the future
- The software should be easy to navigate and use to ensure the most buy-in among your end users
- Make sure you pick the right software vendor — you want one that shows a commitment to technology research and development, consistently reinvest in its products and partners with clients for success
Sell the Benefits and Elicit Feedback from Your Team
One of the biggest reasons why technology implementations fail is that leadership fails to involve the end uses in the process. Most people don’t like change and when it’s forced on them with little to no warning, many folks tend to revolt.
Andrea Wright, who led the technology transformation for Viewpoint client Sachse Construction, now runs her own construction technology consultancy, CTP Solutions, LLC. In a recent blog for Viewpoint, 5 Keys to Successfully Launching Technology Change Initiatives, she noted the steps critical to achieving user buy-in:
- As soon as you decide on a new technology, let impacted end users know that their process(es) will change. There’s no need to wait until you have all the answers. Tell them what you know, and that more information is coming. Most importantly, if you know the date it will or may launch, tell them.
- Explain the benefits of the new technology — for each job role it affects, be sure to explain and show how it will simplify their job and help them be more productive.
- Arrange product demonstrations. Let the end users try it out. Sometimes seeing software in action cannot just answer questions and reduce fears, it can spur excitement! And, your end users might uncover new features and benefits you weren’t initially thinking about.
- Offer the opportunity to poke holes in your plan. Some are born with an innate ability to simplify processes. You will know who they are when they ask questions like “Do we need to do it in that many steps?” Capitalize on it. Use their skepticism to solidify and create a better plan.
- Let others know what parts of the process (if any) will stay the same. You will be amazed at the calming effect this has on some people.
Plan Ahead for Implementation
Implementing new software, especially in a large organization, takes planning. If you don’t plan well, you end up with disgruntled employees who don’t understand why things are changing. Talking to the software provider, developing a strategic plan that builds in contingencies and clearly communicating processes and schedules with team members well ahead of time will help deployment go much more smoothly.
Some things to plan for as you prepare for a full deployment:
- Potential system downtime while software is installed
- How the changeover will affect current and future projects
- How you’ll communicate with employees about the process
- What training to provide ahead of time and during the rollout
- What documentation you should have on hand for employees
If possible, beginning with the software in a pilot program or test environment can go a long way to ensuring better overall implementations. Pick a project to work with in the test environment — one large enough to give you a full picture of how the software will function in different areas. Then educate and involve all of those in the project about the test environment and the goals you want to achieve, soliciting feedback from users along the way. This allows you to identify challenges, tweak processes and know where changes or customizations are needed. This will help the full rollout be much more effective and increase adoption among all end users.
Learn why Viewpoint is a Trusted Technology Partner that works closely with clients throughout their implementation processes and beyond.
Be Consistent with Training and Education
Once the software is up and running throughout your organization, it’s important to maintain regular training and education programs. This helps new users learn the software quickly, as well as existing users that simply need refreshers. It’s also good to have more training available to provide redundancy among users should someone leave or be unavailable.
The education doesn’t just fall to the end users. Management, IT directors and other leaders should keep up with recent software enhancements, learn and share new functionality and more to ensure their company is getting the most out of the software and maximizing technology investments.
Want to learn more about how the right construction software solution and implementation can dramatically improve your organization? Contact Viewpoint today!