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Smart Construction: Going digital in a manual industry

Updated: Jun 3

Three simple steps to get started.

Over 40 per cent of construction-based companies have plans to establish a digital transformation roadmap in the next 12 months - if you aren’t one of them you will be left behind.


In the past two years we have seen nothing short of a construction boom. Increasing demand has placed immense pressure on materials and skills, which has initiated urgent change within the sector. And understandably so - with much of the work still undertaken manually, this was an industry ripe for disruption.


According to a McKinsey Global Institute report; Reinventing Construction: A route to higher productivity, undergoing a digital transformation and utilizing advanced automation technologies can result in productivity gains of up to 50 per cent. While this is certainly compelling, it’s not just productivity that will get a lift from digital technologies. Planning, accuracy, efficiency and a reduction in impact on the environment can also be significantly enhanced, which makes digital transformation not only an obvious step, but a necessary one.


Working smarter – finding the right mix of technology One critical aspect of successful digital transformation is finding the right mix of technologies. A place to start is with data and how technology can enable data collection, storage, access, and analysis to inform decision-making and enhance performance. For example, if you take the estimating, planning and scheduling components of construction projects, AI and ML are already proving to bring significant gains in speed and accuracy, which means less time required for project preparation, and better budget utilization.


Getting started, one step at a time While technology is at the heart of digital transformation, it’s a process that also requires shifts in skills and processes. Typically, this is not a small undertaking, but there are steps you can take to be ready and equipped to tackle this very necessary challenge:


Create a digital strategy This starts by identifying what you want to achieve with digital tools. Things to consider include the purpose of any solutions you invest in, how these fit into your overall business plan and what your goals are.


A good strategy will:

  1. Outline a clear pathway to increased revenue

  2. Bring cost savings to your bottom line

  3. Create an enriched and enhanced experience for your customers

  4. Improve processes and workflows and introduce greater efficiencies to your operations

  5. Help establish a strong company culture that is forward-looking and nimble to evolve in the future

Digital strategy is an important first step. It’s very easy to get side tracked or want to pivot during times of intense change, and the strategy will provide your team with a north star to inform decisions and ensure your digital transformation stays on track.


Seek support from the right partners You’re in business because you have a specialized skillset. This may not be digital technology or data, which is why even the most advanced companies have partners to support them on their journeys. Partnering with people who bridge any skillset gaps you may have, can provide advice on how to navigate a digital transformation and bring the digital tools you need will be necessary, and well worth the investment.


What to look for in an ideal partner:

  • Seeks to understand your business, processes, technology, people and customers so they can add value and solve your specific challenges

  • Looks to enhance and evolve your existing business rather than turn it upside down

  • Low or simple barrier(s) to entry - time and cost

  • Can clearly demonstrate how digital technologies and your people will worth together

Risk management When considering digital solutions, look at how easily they integrate into your existing business systems and platforms and whether they can identify and highlight issues as or before they occur. Technology is here to enable better ways of working, but it should also predict and flag any challenges along the way. This will help insulate your organisation from delays and potential budget overruns.


Questions to ask your technology partners:

  • How will you learn the nuances of my business and be trusted with this information?

  • What is the value I’ll get from a partnership with you?

  • Can you deliver speed, quality and accuracy that meet my customers’ high expectations?

  • What safeguards and security do you have in place?

Digital is today If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that businesses with the right foundations and technologies in place are in a strong position to navigate any events that may come in the future. Digital solutions play an important role in helping any industry manage the types of challenges that come with massive interruptions to supply chain and shortages of skilled workers, but will also help create an industry that is efficient, productive, accurate, and resilient. Digital is at the heart of the construction industry’s future, and we can’t wait to see what that looks like.


Buildingestimates.com is part of the digital revolution. Find out how our technology has helped Dahlsens Building Centres save hours in their estimation process and why they think it’s the ‘perfect tool for quoting’.