1. Lots and Lots of Apps
There's an app for almost every facet of managing a project. Need to do an RFI? There's an app for that. Need to organize your project photos? There's an app for that. Want to do timecards on your phone? There are many apps for that. There are apps to help you get to the jobsite, be safe on the jobsite, manage issues on the jobsite and even use your phone as a level because, you guessed it, there's an app for that, too. As with anything, some of the apps are good and some are half baked, but there is no doubt that in every state of the union, someone has published an app and in hopes of gaining Mark Zuckerberg like fortunes. Subscriptions costs for using various apps add up and without a plan contractors can be spending more than they realize.
2. Security? Fah git about it!
It amazes me to no end that the topic of security means very little to construction software users today. I suppose we've grown accustomed to sharing our lives on social media, taking selfies at any moment of the day and having our privacy hacked when we go Home Depot. Trade contractors give relatively little thought about putting their project data into systems the general contractor or owner provides with little thought about who owns the data and how they could be exposed to risk should the project run into problems during construction or after their work is complete. Reducing risk is a major reason to consider when and how to implement technology.
3. The BlueGridPlanFieldBeam360Point Solution
A decade ago, conversations with clients focused on standardizing processes and getting everyone working in the same direction through a centralized database of project information. Using products like Excel, Word and Outlook was inefficient and caused as many problems as they helped solve. Fast forward to today, the conversations are the same but new players have been added. Contractors continue to struggle with standardization and collaboration using email and a variety of apps and legacy products that don't connect to each other in a centralized database. I call this the BlueGridPlanFieldBeam360Point solution. A variety of applications that do some things well but don't provide a complete solution for managing and standardizing project management across the board. Developing a strategy for what technology to implement will help collaboration efforts and maintain the integrity of project data.
4. Out with the Old, In with the Gamers?
It isn't uncommon to see the general contractors putting tech tools into the hands of those that have a better understanding of how to play “Call of Duty” than they do of real world construction processes. Arming a junior level employee with an iPad and directing them to oversee subcontractors and track QA/QC issues can inundate subcontractors with issues that could otherwise be handled in a more efficient, common-sense manner. This results in increased costs for the subcontractors who spend more time acknowledging and responding to issues. Unfortunately, these unrecoverable costs can’t be determined before the project is well underway. Be proactive instead of reactive and consider collecting and managing incoming issues in a central location.
5. Hold on to Your Wallet
Yes, there’s great technology available and no doubt, BIM is changing the industry. But nothing in this world is free and there’s a monetary cost to this revolution that many subcontractors continue to bear because they're not accurately including those costs when bidding the project. A general contractor may use BIM as a selling tool to the owner in order to secure a contract but those costs are often passed down to the trade contractors to absorb. There's an old saying that goes something like this: "Fool Me Once, Shame on You...Fool Me Twice, Shame on the Trade Contractors who continue to go out of pocket for BIM costs not included in their bid."...or something like that.
As we develop the RADAR Construction Management System we look at how Specialty Trade Contractors work today and build technology for how they'll work in the future. The days of explaining what the cloud is are gone and trade contractors are eager to improve how they do business. With that in mind, and before you download the next construction app, I encourage all trade contractors to take the time to develop a technology roadmap. Use this roadmap when considering technology investments aimed to improve communication and collaboration for the projects you build today and the ones you build years from now.