Gina Sloan, PlanGrid’s Customer Adoption Specialist, shares her top construction technology implementation best practices.
If you’ve ever pitched a new tool to your executive team then you know how roadblocks and bureaucratic red tape can get in the way when debating anything new, much less a new construction technology solution. Who hasn’t felt like they’ve run up against this sort of Office Space pushback?
For some, the risk of adopting new technologies outweighs the perceived benefits. Others may be reluctant to move out of their comfort zone. But if they want to drive project performance, continuous improvement, and productivity, executives should discuss how to introduce transformational technologies that provide insight into your project’s performance.
I’ve assisted with countless PlanGrid rollouts at construction businesses of all sizes, and one thing is clear: The success of a project or company-wide implementation is dramatically increased with visible, well-defined standards of use put in place before the project starts. With a strategy, it’s easy to see how companies can evaluate, adapt and integrate new technology.
And so, I’m sharing my top 4 tips here so that you can make sure your next construction technology rollout goes smoothly—and you finish your project under budget and ahead of schedule as a result.
1. Address the Human Factor
Your coworkers aren’t going to waste precious work hours in a training session and change their workflow just because you ask them to. They need to understand why new technology is an improvement, the benefits of using it, and how it will impact their specific work. Helping them understand the why will help them see the benefits. Some people are more averse to change than others, and technology can sometimes seem a particularly intimidating change.
According to a study by MIT Sloan Management Review, the majority of managers believe the pace of technological change in their workplaces is too slow, often due to poor communication. When there’s no communicated change management or internal marketing, how can they get excited about it, and adopt it?
The most important part of user adoption is the users themselves. Start by identifying the way main user groups will interact with the system in their daily work. Find out how your staff uses their system, and how the new solution can improve the way they work. Consider the new system capabilities, and develop use cases to help define areas of difficulty, and identify methods for managing those areas.
2. Embrace Data Standardization
Your superintendents and foremen rely on your systems to have up-to-date drawings as soon as they’re available. However, even the best construction technology is only as strong as its weakest link. Firms need to root out and reform any sub-standard controls.
This should help to ensure that underlying controls are soundly and consistently administered, and that project information systems and tools provide management with the information they need. If management is aware of project issues until they become catastrophic, the chances of rescuing a project and avoiding failure are slim-to-zero.
Luckily, PlanGrid’s automatic version control, slip-sheeting, and automatic tagging, document control is a breeze. However, I still advise teams to implement a well-defined and reliable system for document control. Setting up lists and training your team to behave the same in every situation is key to getting the most out of your software. On PlanGrid, for example, you can create template projects and import them so you only have to do this step once.
3. Ensure Accessibility
All of the organization and construction technology in the world can’t help your company boost productivity if your employees can’t access the data they need to do their job. In fact, implementing construction technology that doesn’t have a mobile component could actually hurt your company’s productivity as workers have to trek out to the trailer every time they need something.
Data and analytics can provide a real-time picture of how projects are running, enabling swift action to resolve problems. Furthermore, management needs to be aware of project issues on a real-time—or as close to real-time—basis as possible.
One of the most innovative ways our customers use PlanGrid is to create a central dashboard or bulletin board with mission-critical information as the first “sheet” in their PlanGrid projects. The jobsite crew is trained to start their day with a fully synced tablet and reading any project announcements on a bulletin board. You can also hyperlink company docs, permits, safety manuals, or other frequently-visited documents in this centralized location. Say goodbye to those bulky binders forever!
4. Integrate Your Systems
Integrated, real-time project reporting is still a dream rather than a reality. According to KPMG, most executives say their organizations are held back by manual processes and multiple systems.
The majority of engineering and construction firms—as well as owners —use multiple software platforms. This multiple-system approach adds complexity to advanced data analytics, making it difficult to process information and generate insights. It is also highly cumbersome, consuming large amounts of employee time that could be better spent analyzing data to help detect project issues and discrepancies.
If there’s one thing I can promise you, it’s that the data in the PlanGrid system is the highest quality because of the viral field adoption and ease-of-use aspect of our software. This data can be invaluable in other 3rd party systems like ERP or BI tools, and PlanGrid API makes it easy to extract. Our technical documentation is world-class and there are so many use-cases for integrations.
Get Started Now
As I mentioned above, successful construction technology implementation requires preparation. Even if you haven’t picked which system you want to use, consider taking the following steps today:
- Identify key stakeholders or users
- List what types of information are of most value to your stakeholders
- Decide which communication vehicles you’ll use to share updates about your implementation
After you’ve considered the preparation steps above, you’ll not only be ready to present to your executives but ready for an efficient and successful construction technology system launch.