Technology has been lauded as one of the key ways to reduce inefficiencies across construction projects. Whilst it is essential to realising this journey, when it comes to utilising technology, it pays to select a solution which reflects your business’s specific needs, as Amodal’s Dan Kilford explains.
The first aspect to consider when utilising technology is to make sure you have the right digital tools at your disposal. Here at Amodal the main tool we provide and manage is a common data environment (CDE) which is, as most of us know, a core platform where construction project and asset information is housed. Now, there are many different types of CDEs that work well for developers or contractors, and there are small variations between these repositories which cater to one or the other.
There are multitudes of software, tools and applications on the market. Yet, it is crucial to take time to select a tool which works for you. It can be super easy to get caught up in the tide of innovative digital tools. The danger here is that if you aren’t advised in the best way, you are riddled with a software that is too complicated for its purpose.
The added inconvenience is that if you select the wrong tool you can end up being burdened with an additional process that doesn’t actually add any value. In these cases, technology is used for technology’s sake.
On the flipside of course, there are tools which make you super-efficient – the main thing here is to take time to choose the right ones for you, as having too many or not the right one won’t add any benefit.
Once you have the tools, you need to look at the processes that underpin the creation and storage of information. Having the right data management processes in place does prevent the amount of time used looking for information. Equally, having a central repository such as a CDE ensures all information is stored in the correct place. There have been cases where companies have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds on data which has gone walkabout or become a relic in an old team member’s email inbox.
When it comes to harnessing technology, it is essential to have the appropriate information management processes to underpin the tools. To help define a method, the ISO 19650 standard for information management puts a standard process in place, generally speaking.
When it comes to improving construction projects’ efficiency, the technology is definitely ready for the taking. An aspect which is often left behind and not as centralised as it should be, is people. The industry’s reticence to change is no secret. This scepticism exists mostly because humans are very averse to change. It can be unsettling, which is why people need to be involved from the beginning whenever a new technology is being introduced. Doing so will empower them to feel part of the change and not cast to the side of the road like a diffident bystander.
As well as being inclusive, to make people feel fully involved, the right training needs to be implemented. Staff have to be educated properly and understand the processes in order to maximise technology’s utilisation. Creating a transparent and supportive environment where people can learn and ask questions is vital. You can’t just give something to someone in the hope they will work it out; there has to be a coherent, ongoing training plan so people adjust accordingly. Maintaining this kind of culture will be more appealing for senior management and the rest of the team to come with you on this journey of innovation and improvement.
The top three considerations when harnessing efficiency in construction are tools (tech), people and process. Consideration must be paid to all three elements at one time; lose balance and things may quickly become unclear. Whilst digital tools and processes are two aspects which streamline efficiency, us human beings are the ones in the driving seat. Whichever course you choose to take, be sure to make staff part of the change.