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Is Your Construction Business Fit for Digital Transformation

The pandemic was a wake-up call for all organizations. Across industries, companies sought to increase their resilience and identify pathways to close opportunities, fuel growth, and deliver elevated customer experiences.

The construction industry also had to jump on the digital construction transformation bandwagon. While some companies are still using traditional methods, the benefits of a transformation are clear for many.

Here’s a look at challenges in construction digitalization and why its time to make the shift happen now.

5 Reasons Why Construction Business Still Operates on Traditional Methods

While the construction industry is doing through an unprecedented cultural shift, many businesses still operate on traditional methods because they’ve been around for decades. And, let’s face it — no one likes change. Everyone is resistant to change. These are indelible facts that place every industry, construction included.

So, you still see many companies relying on the use of paper plans, tape measures, bulky timesheets and paper daily logs, which can often result in costly errors.

Here are five reasons why:

  1. Digital transformation is often looked at as an ‘all or nothing’ Unless one goes through a complete overhaul, it is assumed, one cannot reap the rewards that transformation brings.
  2. For many, a construction transformation is seen as a risky juggling act that could comprise the project delivery and drastically impact the bottom line.
  3. There is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty in handling projects in a new way.
  4. Construction has traditionally been seen as a traditional ‘muck and boots’ industry and with an aging workforce.
  5. Construction transformation is often viewed as a long, costly process that takes years to see value.

These mindsets presents a formidable entry barrier and is possibly why the construction industry remains the world’s most under-digitized sector.

Challenges of using Conventional Approach in the Construction Business

Despite the traditional mindsets that plague the construction industry, there are various challenges to using conventional approaches in construction.

Among them, conventional approaches have construction companies using outdated information, instructions, plans and drawings. Progress from the site is not updated in real-time, which can cause projects delays and overruns. When stakeholders are waiting on documents to be mailed or faxed, there also is a lack of communication and collaboration.

Digital Transformation in Construction: Challenges & Opportunities

There are both challenges in construction digitalization & digital opportunity in construction.

Starting with the challenges in construction digitalization, organizations often struggle to develop tools and methods that can be applied repeatedly. The slow pace of digital transformation in construction is owing to several factors. Rolling out cutting-edge technology solutions across geographically disparate sites in multiple sectors isn’t easy – compare constructing a building to laying an oil pipeline or constructing an airport. Construction companies and construction workers also have varying technology sophistication levels. The shortage of skilled staff and supervisory labor contribute to the challenges in construction digitalization.

Yet, there is also the digital opportunity in construction. Construction projects are getting more complicated and compliance and regulatory demands are increasing. There is also a growing demand to make construction environmentally sensitive. There is increased pressure to implement proactive safety, and finish projects faster and cheaper and improve productivity. All these factors demand a shift from traditional processes. They call for systems that provide deeper and more granular visibility, improve workflows, streamline scheduling, build greater accuracy, automate tasks, maintain speed and efficiency while eliminating bottlenecks, and collect error-free information.

Reports show that investment in construction technology and digital solutions have doubled in the past decade. There is increasing implementation of technologies such as building information modeling (BIM), augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), laser scanning, robotics, 3D printing, digital twins, etc. Other reports also show the top players in this industry believe digital technologies to be critical for sustenance.

How New Cutting Edge Technology Can Help To Transform Complex Construction Processes

With a plethora of technology solutions, all promising to deliver gold out there, which one is the right one for you? Most often, organizations find digital construction transformation an ambitious affair primarily because they focus on using the latest, shiniest, ‘It’ technology and hope it delivers them to the land of opportunities and better business outcomes.

Digital construction transformation is not about installing IT solutions for your projects. It is about generating ‘value’ from your projects. Organizations thus have to use the digital maturity in construction model to identify where they need to generate value first and build a business case for the digital transformation of that area.

Setting clear targets that align with business objectives and goals becomes a critical contributor to digital transformation success. Identifying the low-hanging fruit and setting targets also prevent backsliding if things get tough and can be used to identify the new capabilities required.

Thus, organizations first need to identify the source of value creation – whether it is improving productivity, costs saving, automating processes to optimize operations, improving customer experience, reducing time-to-market, etc. Then they need to prioritize these and then proceed to identify solutions to enable these capabilities.

Given the complexities at work, technology implementations can see resistance as well in this sector. To change perspective and build acceptance and advocacy, construction companies should focus on those technology implementations first that offer significant and tangible rewards and minimal risk.

For example, redesigning project management processes and optimizing them with digital project management tools can significantly improve outcomes. Improving reporting and forecasting capabilities can provide real-time visibility and transparency and thereby improve control over finances and resource management.

Using technology solutions to enable change and deal with dynamic needs by automating processes to optimize approval processes can make it easier to get new estimates. You could also realign resource allocation, and raw material provisioning faster. These eliminate delays and build greater agility in the construction management process.

Improving asset management significantly improves productivity. On-site and back-end process automation, such as automated daily logs and payroll, project tracking, time management, etc. bring about significant productivity improvement.

Starting with such lighthouse projects brings in greater confidence in digital technologies. It helps win early support that makes it easier to implement technology solutions at scale.

How CEM Business Solutions Can Help?

Organizations today face a bewildering array of digital opportunities waiting to be leveraged. However, it is imperative to combine digital intensity, the need to invest in digital technologies, with construction transformation management to enable digital transformation. Focusing first on identifying where the organization stands on the digital maturity in construction model and then identifying opportunities of growth and the low-hanging fruit make sure digital transformation doesn’t become an unruly beast or too ambitious an initiative.

Given the variables at play, the scale at which operations occur, and the dexterity of the workforce, implementing complete digital transformation and ensuring a complete revamping of all processes and structures starts to look daunting, and complex.

So, what should construction companies do to leverage digital opportunity in construction to transform the organization?

Digital construction transformation journeys become complex when businesses try to encompass all aspects of their business and redefine how they work all at once. The starting point of construction transformation must be the current assessment of digital capabilities and where the organization stands on the digital maturity model.

CEM Business Solutions have help with the starting point and develop a digital maturity in construction model that helps your organization understand how digitally adept they are and helps them build a roadmap for digital transformation. Early or nascent level digital maturity in construction, for example, is when construction organizations are not data-driven and are hesitant to use data. The organization mostly operates in silos. The Emerging level is one where the organization is more connected and places emphasis on implementing tech-driven processes to improve experiences and outcomes. A Connected or Mature organization is one with data-driven business process and technology implementations directly translate to higher productivity and improved business outcomes. Multi-moment is the last stage in the digital maturity model. In this stage, the organization has a connected digital infrastructure that allows them to deliver personalized experiences at scale and is focused on incremental efficiencies on both the technology and organizational efforts.

Only when we identify where we stand, we can chalk out a plan to move ahead with clarity and certainty.