Whether it’s Microsoft Excel, email, iPads, or cloud-based software, technology has evolved over the years to become a game-changer for the construction industry.
If you were to list out the benefits that technology has brought to construction, it would most likely include creating efficiencies, improving communication, and saving money. But, what might not make the list is technology’s ability to help companies win new business.
Construction software can give company leaders a 3,000-foot view of all of their projects. It puts real time data at their fingertips, including project budgets, timelines, and employee accountability. It allows for tracking project histories, creating accurate bids, and scheduling.
The team at Andres Construction got iPads the first month they came out in 2010 to eliminate paper costs, says company project engineer John Andres. The Dallas-based boutique firm, which focuses on multi-family and adaptive reuse projects, uses the tablets for making digital plans and to streamline their processes overall.
Along with efficiency, construction software solutions allow for greater accuracy in job costing and bidding processes, as well as throughout the full lifecycle of a project.
Over the years, the company has added a host of software systems for accounting, creating takeoffs, sending out drawings, communicating with team members, and more. In the past, they did things the “old school way,” Andres says—that is, with Excel and a slew of emails.
“Excel was clunky,” he explains. “And, when someone would get an email, it wouldn’t always go to the whole team. So that person would be responsible for getting the email distributed to the team and getting that bid uploaded to our centralized server. Now, it’s kind of done by itself.”
Plus, he says, anyone can log in at any time and keep an eye on the project. This allows for the company to take a team-focused approach with each build, and “you can’t build something without a team.”
“It’s really important for everyone to have the information in real time, and there’s not something sitting in someone’s email inbox or not getting communicated,” Andres says.
Embracing technology sets construction companies apart in the marketplace, allowing them to build a reputation for being innovators. Potential clients want to hire companies that are technologically focused because it sends the message that they have streamlined processes, are detail oriented, and care about accuracy. This helps win new and repeat business.
“Our clients are repeat clients, and they have seen that we’re getting into the 21st century, and we’re ahead of the curve,” Andres says. “That separates us from other people when we’re able to provide those services.”
Accuracy and Efficiency Gains
Technology also enhances a construction company’s ability to hire top talent. As many construction companies nationwide struggle to fill vacancies and attract millennials into the industry, technology is seen as a possible solution.
Millennials are expected to make up 75 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2025, but only 7 percent report being interested in a career in construction. Technology has long played a role in millennials’ daily lives, and so it’s no surprise that they look for careers where they get to use cutting-edge innovations.
Andres says he visits career fairs and college campuses and always touts technology’s importance in the industry as a way to promote construction jobs.
“It’s an interesting thing to talk about with people,” he says. “Students are always more apt to talk to us when we talk about the technology that we use and that we integrate iPhones and iPads.”
The efficiencies that using technology creates has also allowed Andres Construction, a family-owned company with three generations currently working, to scale the size of its business, he explains. The firm has about 135 employees.
This level of efficiency is amazing for business. Having all of a project’s details available to anyone on the team and updated in real time also enhances productivity by keeping projects on time and on budget. And, if a change occurs, team members can be easily notified so no one is left out of the loop.
“Things happen very quickly in construction,” Andres says. “Everyone needs the same information and as fast as you can get it out to them.”
Andres admits that when the company first implemented their systems, it was a struggle for some who were invested in the old ways of doing things. So, he urges companies to ease into the transition.
“Baby steps, not giant leaps,” he says.
Along with efficiency, construction software solutions allow for greater accuracy in job costing and bidding processes, as well as throughout the full lifecycle of a project. Having all the data in one place and available to everyone ensures that things run smoothly.
“Technology helps with accuracy,” Andres says. “It’s being able to come back to it at any point and know exactly what’s going on.”