6 Traits of a Great Construction Technology Partnership
We take it for granted that we live in the future.
Physicians can now insert brain implants to control the symptoms of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s. With the swipe of a finger, our phones give us access to the combined knowledge of humankind. Facial receptors turn Zoe Saldana into Neytiri or Benedict Cumberbatch into Smaug. Such technologies seem nothing short of magic.
Yet they have a downside as well. Implants and phones and CGI work wonders, but they remove a certain component still sorely needed in our civilization. They distance us from one another, removing the human touch of the doctor, reducing the need to speak to learned elders, eliminating the necessity of imagination that existed in the Greek amphitheater.
That’s okay, of course; none of us would choose to move backward. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to forget about the human element.
Technology Investments: One and Done?
In construction, it’s easy to look at a software investment as a one and done transaction. After all, technology is about limiting human interactions, right?
Wrong. In construction, it’s still all about people. It’s people who fund projects, design buildings, source materials, work together to construct habitable dwellings and operate and maintain them later. Construction without humans is impossible. Therefore, the most useful technology bridges people together, creating better, unique partnerships that you’re unable to achieve through traditional mediums or efforts.
It’s true that creating collaboration and improving communication internally is the goal of any good software in the building industry. But it is also critical to establish a partnership with the technology you are using, too, to get the most value from your investment.
That means first getting the right software, of course–which is easier said than done. Today, the construction technology landscape can feel a bit like the Wild West. There are so many options, serving so many different niches, but it’s essential you choose one with whom you can build a long-term partnership. This is incredibly valuable to your growth and success as a business, so look for software companies that are already actively seeking technology partnership in construction.
Still not convinced? Then there’s a question you need to ask yourself.
Ask Yourself: Do You Want a Vendor or a Partner?
Many people confuse signing on with a vendor as forging a true construction technology partnership. But vendors and partners are not always the same, as smart service providers already know. You need to make sure you’re forging relationships with the right service providers, the ones that understand that being a vendor is not enough.
Why is that? Consider vendors as more strictly transactional businesses, whereas a partner is a company you’re invested in and can plan strategically with long-term–and vice versa. There’s a much stronger emphasis on your satisfaction, which helps you leverage the product increasingly effectively rather than just dusting off your hands and calling it good.
So the question is: Do you want a pure vendor? Or do you really want a partner? If it’s the latter, seek out the software companies that are looking for collaboration, because they’re the ones who will provide you with the highest ROI in the end.
The Benefits of Building a Relationship with Your Software Vendor
When you build a construction technology partnership, you do more than forge a relationship to strengthen your career network. You also:
- Improve employee adoption, with more of your workers using and leveraging the benefits of the software
- Increase your ROI from using the software
- Affect product changes in the future with a direct line to your partner
- Get first access to innovations, even in Beta, and insight into the company’s roadmap
- Impress current and future customers by leveraging promotional opportunities such as increased press coverage
- Solve fundamental business problems with your partner together
6 Characteristics of a Good Technology Partner
So what makes for a good construction technology partnership? These following six characteristics are an excellent place to start.
1. Creates a Sense of Trust
Like any good relationship, your partnership should be built on mutual trust. Of course, who you are working with plays a significant role in this, but you must also trust that the product is going to help achieve your business goals.
In today’s digital world, it is also essential to consider security as part of that circle of trust.Do you know if your tech partner is securely storing your data? Do they value cybersecurity practices and certifications? If you can’t confidently answer yes, it’s time to get answers or start searching for other options.
2. Builds Love Internally
The second hallmark of an excellent construction technology partnership is how your employees feel. Your workers should love the tech you are using, or at least like it a lot. You can build this buy-in by choosing a solution that meets your team’s criteria and is easy and intuitive. It shouldn’t burden them to use it; ultimately it should make their lives easier.
How well implementation goes is a big part of building that love internally. If it’s not easy to onboard your employees, then you won’t generate buy-in. Good software offers hands-on, customized training opportunities for your team to become power users.
And while it should be possible for your team to get up and running using the technology with very little training, it’s important that your tech partner offers opportunities for your team to get more out of it. This further builds your bond with real humans at the company.
3. Scales With You
Any construction technology partnership must be able to grow with you. That’s why when you choose software, you should think about being in it for the long term. Never look at software as a short term fix, but as a scalable platform that offers different solutions for your different needs and projects.
For instance, if you are starting with a pilot project, it should be able to offer limited licenses for your needs. Alternatively, as you grow, there should be ways you can easily loop in larger teams and even external stakeholders if needed.
Finally, as you expand to a mature, enterprise business, a solid technology partner will be able to help you standardize software workflows across the organization, various locations and more.
4. Partners with Your Partners
There’s no construction technology partnership if your software partner can’t make nice with your other partners. This means open APIs (or application programming interfaces), access and integrations.
A good partner shouldn’t try to pressure you to move 100 percent of your tech systems to their “all-in-one-solution.” Rather, savvy partners know that companies have different needs and need multiple solutions to help their businesses thrive. They should unlock and integrate data and information, rather than bottleneck it, creating a software ecosystem tailored to a firm’s unique business needs.
5. Always There for You
Customer support and relationships are essential to any good partnership. Your partner wants you to be successful, and you should be able to have candid conversations about how you find more success. Look for partners who have an excellent reputation in providing customer support and service. After all, in construction, you need answers fast and a support channel can make all the difference in meeting deadlines and making important decisions.
Proactive communication is also essential for this partnership to work. Does your technology partner in construction tell you about important updates before you see them online? If issues do occur, are you confident your partner will be first to let you know before you discover them yourself? You need to answer a resounding “yes” to these questions, or you can’t feel confident about the future. Once again, without trust, there’s no partnership.
6. Values and Asks for Your Feedback
Lastly, partnerships are a two-way street. A construction technology partnership requires that your software company to do more than fulfill requests. They should also ask for and listen to your feedback on products, services or the relationship in general. You must feel comfortable reaching out with ideas, or you will find yourself hamstrung at some point in the future, guaranteed.
Another bonus of a fruitful partnership is additional opportunities for spotlights on official channels for you to share your experience with others and connect to industry insiders. For instance, PlanGrid’s Champion program allows product users to forge deeper relationships with the company and build a better industry in general.
A Future of Construction Technology: Building Lasting Partnerships
Finally, a good construction technology partnership is one in which you’re both committed for long-term. There’s no reason to sign a 10-year contract, but you do want to find a partner that shows every indication of sticking around for good. Forget upstarts or companies that have a spotty record. If you wish to create a partnership for life, take the time to consider your choices, interview them, review their websites and speak to their delighted clients. Good people and good partners. Period.