Digital Transformation in Construction Businesses: Common Challenges and Solutions

by | Aug 23, 2020

by Lisa Michaels, guest columnist

The construction industry is slowly embracing digital transformation and using it in its design, project estimation, and safety perspectives.

However, some of the players are still hesitant about the new technological changes, making it hard to develop strategies aimed at streamlining the whole process.

Digital transformation is vital in construction. It helps to simplify complex processes such as resource traceability, communication, on-time project completion, productivity, and employee safety. These are all major hindrances to profitability and customer satisfaction.

Introducing digital solutions is a good move that allows construction experts to face and tackle the challenges faced during project management.

What Digital Transformation Means in Construction

Transforming the construction industry is not just about bringing in the latest technologies and incorporating them into the processes. It means addressing all old challenges using new technology.

This includes assessing the business and project needs, strategizing, and mapping the journey to ensure all future work is based on improved interrelated processes.

Digitization is a fundamental shift in business operations to ensure growth, efficiency, and profitability.

By adopting data-enabled field software and hardware and other vital digital tools, you’ll be able to sustain growth for your firm.

For instance, if you use drones or other UAVs for aerial photography, you’ll expedite the land survey using the best imaging techniques, data analytics, and topographic mapping software for informing the building strategy.

These tools can also help inspect sites for structural issues or safety hazards, helping to secure the sites. When used alongside 3D printing, progress reporting, and automated equipment tracking, these techniques can reduce the time, cost, and effort exerted in the entire construction process.

Common Challenges Related to Digital Transformation in Construction

Many new technologies are available to help construction businesses become more efficient and productive. While you may be enthusiastic and ready to embrace change, you also have to ensure that all stakeholders are on board as well.

Here are some of the challenges faced by construction businesses and how they impact their ROI:

Employee Resistance

Employee resistance to change is very common in business, more so in the construction sector. Your grand vision about your business can come crumbling down if you don’t make your managerial team and other staff on the ground embrace digital transformation.

Remember, these people are used to paper-based, hands-on processes, which they’ve been comfortable with for the past 10 to 20 years. Introducing new technology can be a daunting task since the team can’t really see its benefits—at least not immediately.

Some even think that digital changes are a threat to their careers. However, you’ll need to make them understand the benefits and how adopting these digital solutions can fully streamline otherwise cumbersome tasks in your business.

Decentralized Management

The construction industry is often fragmented, with projects containing different processes handled by multiple subcontractors. Most projects are decentralized, making it challenging to bring teams together and train them on novel ways to use digital technology.

The problem becomes more prominent when contractors have a high workforce turnover, making it hard to create working models to continuously build and transition from one project to another.

Poor Management and Utilization of Resources

Due to decentralization, the flow of project information across multiple fields or stakeholders can be fragmented and delayed.

When there’s no proper asset management and resource utilization, the project’s progress will lack real-time visibility, causing a huge impact on the cash flow. The business is bound to lose a lot of money in the process.

Miscommunication can lead to challenges, such as lack of well-organized site management, which in turn, may diminish the employees’ morale. Only when project contributors share data by streamlining communication will they be able to deliver accurate information, track it in real-time, and inform each other of subsequent plans that will allow the project to prosper.

How to Solve Digital Transformation Challenges in Construction Businesses

The major challenge affecting digital transformation in the construction sector is adopting digital solutions and collaboration. A project can have many stakeholders who’ll need to work together by streamlining their operations.

Considering that every project comes with its own unique needs, a widely adaptable and customization solution is what your teams need to push the project through.

An important point to note is that introducing digital transformation to your firm does not mean completely overhauling your processes.

All you need is to identify the unproductive areas and find solutions to improve these areas.

For example, project management and asset distribution are two areas that often suffer from low levels of efficacy, especially in largely decentralized businesses. Modern digital solutions aim to streamline the exchange of information on assets or project requirements, saving the business time and money.

Here are some tips to implement new technologies in your construction business:

Focus on Collaborative Digital Solutions

When implementing digital change, direct your focus to processes that involve multiple groups of people and disciplines. Design digital solutions that’ll help smoothen the interactions between them.

For example, you can implement real-time progress reporting to help the construction site provide accurate reports that subcontractors will use to raise accurate invoices on time.

Digital solutions that promote collaboration can help your firm share feedback from different sections, provide solutions on time, and avoid additional costs and unnecessary delays.

Reskill Your Workforce

Digital technologies come with complex changes to engineering and architectural design. For instance, having design equipment may require an operator who is skilled in using them.

To apply new techniques, your designers . You can decide to hire new developers to build your design elements and automate design processes, but you’ll still need to make sure that the workforce can adopt the digital ways of working.

To successfully bring your workforce on board, engage them in every aspect of your digital transformation. Let them understand the enormous benefits of digitizing processes and how they can fit in.

Carry out workshops and training sessions for your team on how technology will benefit the organization. Find someone knowledgeable and experienced on the use of tech in the construction industry to train your team.

Concluding Thoughts

Many construction firms have already embraced digital transformation, while others are still contemplating how to best approach the adoption of new technologies.

Digital changes expose construction businesses to excellent resources that streamline operations, save time and cost, and increase productivity.

The first step towards a successful digital transformation is to identify and understand the major challenges of a construction business. Then, armed with the data on problematic areas, can you begin to look for tools and tech that solve those problems.

And as a marketer, you can use this angle for marketing your disruptive solutions to constructors.

Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor, and a thriving content marketing consultant from Portland. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.



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