In terms of technology adoption, civil construction lags a long way behind other industries in terms of technology adoption – over the last 2 decades the construction industry has invested just â…“ of the average across all industries in technology.

This has resulted in a vicious cycle that has left civil construction as one of the worst performing industries over this period…low investment in technology results in low to no improvements in productivity, leading to low margins, leading to less money to invest in technology.

There are several understandable reasons for not investing in technology, the top two being the low levels of technology literacy among the general construction workforce and a track record of poor performance from legacy providers of construction software solutions.

Why is it important to invest in technology?

The tide is shifting with technology adoption, and it’s inevitable that the laggards will be left behind…as technology adopters improve their productivity they can operate from a lower cost base and maintain acceptable profit margins with lower prices. As many other industries have shown, this will force the late adopters to operate with lower margins or possibly not be profitable at all.

As important as productivity is insight into the actual financial performance of your civil construction business…if you are unable to see how your costs are tracking against your budget, you cannot respond early to issues and you will have a low level of confidence when bidding on new work. With low margins it is very easy to get it wrong and lose money on civil construction projects.

What to do about it?

Fortunately there are some simple steps that you can take to ensure that you get the right solution and implement it effectively.

1. First, understand exactly what problems in your business you are trying to address. For example, if you are trying to improve your cost management, understand what is inefficient today, where you lack visibility and what risks your business faces. If you are clear on the problem to be solved you can ensure you’re not just going for the “next shiny thing”.

2. Second, ensure that the solution will be usable for your team. If your team are “fat fingered” construction folk like many of our customers, either you need to hire additional staff with high technical competence or choose a solution that keeps things simple so that they can easily use it.

3. Third, work with people who understand your industry. One of the most critical components of a successful technology implementation is understanding the people who need to operate the system. The best people to help with this are people with a deep understanding of your industry.

4. Fourth, don’t try to do everything at once. The most effective implementations are done at a pace that will not overwhelm your people. Start with simple processes that can be automated easily and provide significant time savings. Build a habit around these new processes, then move on to the next step. In a relatively short time you will find that your people are embracing a new way of working, saving time and giving you the information you need.

5. Fifth, don’t be the last one to change. Some civil contractors think that change is risky, but the truth is that the most risky thing you can do is stay the same if it means you’re falling behind. Follow steps 1 to 4 to ensure you pick the right technologies for your team and you will set yourself up to remain competitive.

Where to from here?

Varicon’s founder James Baker came from the civil construction industry, and struggled with the same issues around construction cost management that all civil contractors face – information disconnects between the job site and the office, cost overruns, lack of visibility into actual costs and inefficient data capture processes based on paper forms and Excel sheets.

Varicon is designed specifically for small to medium sized civil contractors to save you time, simplify your processes on the job site and in the office, enable you to identify and address cost overruns and reduce financial risk to ensure a good night’s sleep knowing that your civil construction business is future-proofed.

To learn more, arrange a time for a no-obligation consultation session with one of our expert team.

Author: James Baker

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