While the march of technology advancement is unstoppable, construction has tended to lag in its take up of technology. But there are ways in which the industry can increase its adoption rate and reap the benefits of increased efficiencies and productivity.
Overcoming the challenges
Let’s face it, it’s human nature to be resistant to change. While IT leaders and line managers acknowledge the need to update or transform work processes, a lot of end-users are worried about disrupting their established way of doing things.
A lack of understanding is often behind this fear. But once this is overcome, people will soon wonder how they managed without modern technology processes. Inadequate training can also be the culprit. A new system may look appealing but without the right guidance and instruction then the investment will be wasted.
In our experience working with construction companies, Correct Solutions has also observed these common scenarios:
- Paper documents are in common usage rather than computers: ‘Paper just works’
- There is a senior, experienced age group of workers, particularly at the Project Manager level, who are not necessarily tech savvy
- Work sites are often not tech friendly. For example, slow internet speeds coupled with large drawing file sizes means a mismatch between practices and the technology capacity
- Entrenched attitudes around technology: ‘Paper drawings require pencils not high powered computers’
Correct Solutions recently held a Lunch and Learn event within the construction industry and when discussing technology adoption rates in construction, one of the attendees Rob Doust, MD at Mainbrace Construction stated,
“If it has benefits straight away and it’s easy to use it will get adopted, if the benefits aren’t immediate and the technology is hard to use, it will be ignored.”
Making it work
While each organisation has different obstacles to face, there are some common strategies we’ve found that construction companies can employ to increase their technology adoption rate:
- Proper training is key. In Correct Solution’s experience, where there is a good level of technical training, the end users are always much better at using and adopting the new processes.
- Timing plays a huge role. It’s important to fit into people’s schedules and arrange the training so the whole staff doesn’t need to be present at the same time – and allow plenty of time for questions and follow up.
- Business culture. Companies should allow their employees to attend training within business hours rather than them having to take time out of their non-work time.
- Documentation is useful. If they need further support, employees can refer to guides or manuals rather than having to call someone. Always provide extra material that can reinforce what they have learnt or improve their skills.
- Have a ‘super user’ strategy. This is where a few select people are trained up in-house, to a more advanced level. Then other employees can go to them when there’s a problem because the super user understands the business as well as the application of the technology. The problem with engaging external people is that the training tends to be product-focused.
- Consider live webinars to complement face-to-face training. Having everyone on a call together can work well while the trainer is also physically there. On a recent project, Correct Solutions held a live demo onsite and explained how they could use a new tool. Participants were able to use it live and ask questions at the same time.
What can the business do to help?
We’ve seen a number of instances where the business decides on the system and then the first employees know about it is at the implementation stage. It’s far better that companies consult with their end-users before purchasing the technology to make sure it is going to help them with their job. One way to do this is to do a trial of the system so users can give their feedback.
Also training is more effective when it’s formalised upfront. We recommend that companies run a structured training program rather than saying to users “just try it”. It’s also important that the training can demonstrate the relevance of the system to different teams.
Technology adoption often goes more smoothly with younger employees such as Gen Y. Companies can use this to their advantage by ensuring employees with different levels of tech experience get to interact with the new systems.
Rob Doust, Managing Director at Mainbrace has more to say about new technology solutions:
“If it fulfills a specific purpose such as making something easier or faster, then most people will adopt it fairly easily. But if it takes a long time to be operational or its benefits are unclear, then you may have some success, but it is hard work.”
Getting up to speed
If you’re embarking on adopting new technologies, think about the roadblocks that are likely to arise and how you might overcome them. Work through our suggestions above, and be sure to work with a great supplier like Correct Solutions.
Correct Solutions can provide the necessary tools to support construction companies to better use technology and increase their adoption rate of IT solutions. Our full scope of services includes enabling high speed internet access – as slow speeds are often a road block to adoption. We can also provide ongoing training to staff as part of a larger adoption project.