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By Missy England
June 12, 2016
According to IDC, as reported by the New York Times, “A third of the top 20 companies in every industry will be disrupted over the next three years.” That means their revenue, profits, and market shares will deteriorate. Small to medium sized construction businesses have managed to stay in the shadows of this digital transformation. But that’s changing...
It’s actually not surprising. While 88% of executives and digital strategists said their companies were going through digital transformations in 2014, only 25% had taken the time to map out their customers’ digital journeys, according to Altimeter Group’s Digital Transformation Survey.
For construction businesses, pulling off a digital transformation is no easy feat. The industry is fixated on paper, and has widely accepted business practices that keep paper firmly entrenched. But, if you’ve felt the push from project owners to move more toward digital processes, you’re getting a taste of things to come. Many owners are now requiring building information modeling, and all-digital document processes on their projects.
These construction customers aren’t doing anything different from what consumers are doing in the consumer markets. They are demanding greater value and better results. Construction companies must respond to this strategically because business processes are no longer bound to departments.
Cloud computing, mobile devices, and mobile applications are causing old software and hardware to recede into the background. These earlier tech solutions were often simply tactical responses to improving individual business processes. But today, business processes are coming out of the silos where companies can manage them as a whole, in dynamic ways that truly represent the way the world works. To meet customer demands in this new environment, you need a plan, and it better be strategic, instead of tactical. Here are three important aspects to successfully execute a strategic digital transformation.
The technical name for this is information governance, but it’s really nothing more than knowing your information’s value, and using it. Every document stores information, and within that information there is more knowledge than simply what’s needed for the document to fulfill its purposes. A submittal by itself, for example, describes what you propose to do to satisfy terms of a contract. But, all the submittals on a particular project, when viewed in aggregate, tell many more stories.
Their total number tells how much time your business spent handling submittals. Some activities took many more submittals than the average. And, when you step back even further and study the information in submittals from multiple projects, you see trends you can use to improve efficiencies, or improve quality. But, you have to encourage a culture within your business that identifies and leverages your information.
Behind everything you do lurks some form of document. Whether it’s a drawing, submittal, or contract, it has little to no impact if it doesn’t support what your customer expects. Without an efficient and flexible document management system, you’ll never accommodate all your stakeholders’ and customers’ needs.
If there’s one mantra heard loud and clear these days it’s, “make it easy.” As the world has gotten more complex, technologies have stepped in to simplify. Buying any software used to require major time and effort, with installation and technical support. But now, much of it is in the cloud, and you use it on a subscription basis. Or, it’s an application you download. Simplification has led to wider use and raised expectations for processes.
So stop managing your projects with paper documents and Excel. There’s no better way to ensure losses than using outdated and inefficient project management methods. Invest in a cloud-based construction platform that handles all aspects of your project from document and drawing management to quality control and financing.
Tools that allow you to interact with building information models will increasingly improve your chances to get a seat at the bidding table. These models are already bridging the divide between design and project management. GPS tracking of materials and equipment will not only provide new information insights, but will fundamentally transform your business and project operations. Virtual reality, augmented reality, and a host of other innovations are beginning to separate the leaders from the followers.
Modular construction is set for expansive growth as owners and stakeholders continue exploring better ways of building. Even small companies can take advantage of modular construction by doing their own prefabrication in controlled environments. Partnering with modular builders to have portions of structures built off sight is another way small and medium sized contractors can gain the advantages of modular building.
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