Hammers, screwdrivers and drills don’t paint a picture of high-tech, and to many, the construction industry can appear to be a low-tech industry – one that is especially slow to adopt technology. Yet with 3-D printing, CAD design and construction (VDC), robots, Building Information Modeling (BIM), and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), construction is squarely ensconced in 21st Century technology and moving at Mach speed.
Beyond blueprints, construction management, financiers, and developers want to know the status of a project in real-time to enhance and speed return on investment, mitigate risk, improve productivity, and build collaboration across project teams. Enterprise Resource Planning is disrupting the construction industry enabling developers to plan projects, trades to field report status of the job, managers to consolidate and navigate data for workflow productivity, lenders to disburse funds based on actual performance, and owners to have a clear and full picture of the project. As system platforms integrate features and software providers consolidate programs, the need for multiple systems will disappear. The single greatest challenge will not be in the technology, but in the capability and adoption by the people who will use it.
The speed at which technology is disrupting industries will force the adoption issue. Successful inclusion of technology into any company’s business model relies on utility by its personnel. The more utility, the more streamlining and workflow improvement, the faster the return on technology investment. The key will be to train the people involved at each level of a project that using technology will not create more work or add more complexity to their job. As with any new program, benefits must be immediate and they must be easily demonstrated not only at the management level, but to the trades. When proof of job completion translates to faster payment, workers are more likely to adopt a system. When using the data from these integrated platforms translates to less risk and better return on investment, all stakeholders will take notice.
Having access to project management data in real-time highlights not only the status of the job, but the performance of the trades, potential delays and cost over-runs. Real data gets all the members of the team on the same version of the truth, reducing personnel issues and delays. With instantly visible dashboard reports and photos from the field, there is no margin for embellishment or over-optimism. Data storage and access is no longer a limitation with Cloud-computing and with any smart-phone, everyone can participate.
A fully integrated construction management platform is fast becoming the most critical part of the project. With data and communications from jobsite phones and tablets connecting with the computers of the developer, lender, architect, engineer, etc., users can have real-time visibility to critical project information, schedules, budgets and payment details. This visibility protects assets while improving workflow, communications, and collaboration between stakeholders.
The future of building is going to become far more efficient as developers and the stakeholders tied to the construction industry jump onboard the technology train.