Features and capabilities are not the only factors that determine successful adoption of new technology at construction companies. Having helped contractors implement new software for three decades, these are four steps we recommend for achieving expectations, getting buy-in across the organization and avoiding common mistakes that slow down or derail technology initiatives.
Establish a management mandate and communicate
As a supplier, we sometimes run into situations when people working directly with us for the customer company are not fully aware of or on board with the vision and expectations of the owner or executives that invested in the technology. This is when we see a greater likelihood of confusion, pushback and delays or threats to successful adoption. Similarly, companies struggle when one department or faction is pushing a technology adoption that is not understood or supported by senior management or the rest of the company.
Employees will almost always reject or resent being asked to do something additional or different when they don’t understand the reason or how their role is part of the bigger picture. That makes communicating clearly about the impact of both the implementation and the ongoing use of the new technology vital.
Keeping individuals directly involved with the implementation, along with anyone impacted, informed about the strategy, expectations and overall benefits to the company is a key to getting buy-in that will move the project forward.
Include the right people in the implementation
The titles and roles of the people a contractor taps to lead a technology project will vary according to that company’s specific needs and capabilities. This team, however, needs the authority to make decisions and access to the data to populate the new systems. Establishing a leader or a team that has the respect of the end users also goes a long way toward ensuring a successful rollout.
Delegating an implementation project exclusively to an IT expert or team is a mistake we see frequently. IT considerations are important but, in many cases, they are relatively minimal and straightforward. Employees with operational responsibilities within the areas of the business impacted by the technology should always be included. They are the ones with the knowledge of business processes and challenges that the technology will address. They are also in the best position to tackle implementation issues like database design and software configuration that will ultimately determine how the technology meets their requirements.
Finally, assigning one person to lead the project and be the main point of contact with the technology supplier is a good idea. This may not work in every situation, but it has proven to be a great way to keep projects on track and ensure communication and coordination during the implementation.
Define expectations and refine processes
Before working together with a technology supplier on the actual implementation process, it’s critical to align expectations across the organization. Everyone should know and agree on why the investment in technology was made, what problems the company is trying to solve, and the time and resource commitments required.
An internal review of processes impacted by the new technology should also be part of this pre-implementation step. A lot of contractors fall into the trap of believing that new technology will fix broken processes. Similarly, many try to make new technology simply support the way they always did things. A better approach is to review and refine processes to take full advantage of the new technology.
Another common pitfall is to overreach at the beginning. Contractors can be overwhelmed by all the things a new technology could do and lose sight of what they actually need it to do. Setting and achieving realistic goals early on and then gradually adding features and capabilities over time is generally a better approach.
Follow a structured process
Every technology deployment is different. Still, we have found it beneficial to start with a proven, standardized implementation process that can then be customized to accommodate unique requirements.
We like to start with a project initiation, when the supplier and contractor jointly define requirements and expectations as well as the roles, methodology and timeline for the project. We then define and design the implementation, build databases and configure the software accordingly. Training, validation of the solution and any necessary modifications are then followed by a go-live date when contractors operate the technology in a production environment.
Finally, we establish a plan and a relationship for ongoing support and success. This last step is important, as contractors will almost always make adjustments once they actually use the software.