I’ve often said that when it comes down to the bare bones of running a business, many industries cross over with each other. When it comes to getting lean, the construction industry can tighten their processes with construction software in much the same way as the manufacturing industry has.
This topic came up during the midday keynote speech during the virtual ENR FutureTech conference on Oct. 14, according to a wrap-up article in the Engineering News-Record. “It turns out that technologies, among other things, are pretty significant levers to improve productivity in construction, said Joshua Johnson, an industry expert with McKinsey & Co.
According to the article, Johnson said there’s a potential for a 14 to 15 percent rise in productivity for construction firms by implementing more technology into its processes. It only makes sense, as the more processes are automated, the less chance there is for errors to enter into the system.
We use this example a lot: Every time a person has to key in data anywhere along a digital process, it can lead to errors being entered into the system. This can waste money and time, which both hurt productivity. But if a construction software system is fully integrated, there is less chance for productivity to suffer.
Interestingly, Johnson said because there is a relatively low level of technology adoption among small- to mid-size construction firms, this gives them a chance to experiment with a clean slate for implementation. However, we’d like to suggest taking stock of your surrounding before going in headlong to a new construction software solution.
Look before you leap into a new construction software implementation
Much like in other industries like horticulture, we’ve seen many construction companies slowly react to adopting technology in their businesses. The No. 1 reason we’ve seen for this is a slow transition process to technology from a small family-run business to where they are now. For businesses that started that way and stayed in the family, it’s hard for some people to detach from “the way that Grandpa used to do it.”
And there’s nothing wrong with the way that Grandpa used to do it. However, when a company grows beyond a single person using spreadsheets to manage their business, it’s time to move on to a more professional solution. But moving headlong into a new software solution isn’t the answer either.
During the conference, the speakers touched on something I mentioned way back in my third blog post here in 2013: “… you have to know what it is your are after before deploying new technologies,” as was said by the authors of the article.
The worst thing a growing construction company can do is to try to keep up with the Jones Construction Company and their shiny new software system. A complete accounting and construction system like Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate is perfect for an established commercial construction company but would crush an emerging family-run spec-house builder that’s just growing beyond a home office. A product like Sage 100 Contractor would be perfect for their company.
We always recommend construction companies looking to invest in a software system first to take inventory of how your business is operating now and where you want it go in the future. Think of it like buying a shoe for a child: It needs to be roomy enough to grow into but fits well enough that it works for today.
And make sure you find a software vendor who deals specifically in construction software systems, like Sage 100 Contractor or Sage 300 CRE. A single-issue construction software solution bolted onto QuickBooks or an Excel spreadsheet won’t give you nearly the amount of productivity as an entire integrated suite.
Above all, make sure you work well with your construction software partner. This should be a long-term relationship based on providing you with the best solution now and in the future. If you are looking for a construction software partner, please feel free to reach out to Practical Software Solutions or visit our Construction Resources page.