The labor shortage plaguing the construction industry isn’t exclusive to those working in the field. As companies manage with fewer workers in the office, part of survival and success is using new technology and tools that allow them to do more with less. There is a sea of estimators, supervisors, and project managers stuck in traditional methods of an older generation – using paper or desktop software, each outdated and riddled with inefficiencies (time and money).
The good news is old dogs can learn new tricks. There are better tools on the market, particularly cloud-based preconstruction software, that are easy to learn and will provide not only benefits of speed, accuracy and profit growth, but will leave old school thinkers with confidence that technology can help them professionally (and personally). With the technology adoption lifecycle, do you want to be an early innovator or a laggard?
Traditionalists Take Note: Literally, on Paper
The tried-and-true method of doing takeoffs and estimates on paper has kept companies afloat for many years. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is the mentality often shared when introducing new methods to these old school thinkers.
Unfortunately, using the manual technique of pen and paper leaves your business exposed to costly risk. Human error, lost documents, and mathematical mistakes can all lead to huge time and profit losses. We are now in the internet age, and the younger workforce expects quick, efficient technology.
Why Desktop Software Is a Thing of the Past
Desktop software was revolutionary for its time, in 1990. Decades later, we are seeing issues arise time and again relying on one person or computer as the single gatekeeper of data. Only one person can use the system at a time, which puts a pause on workflow in both the office and the field. Not being able to access documents while on a job site can mean hours of workers standing around waiting for their next move. This can cost you a lot of money and frustrates laborers who want to complete the job and move onto their next project.
Desktop software can also cause issues with losing documents. If a file is saved onto a PC and not a shared drive, the version being shared with colleagues and project managers in the field could be outdated. Here’s an example of how this can be detrimental to a job: A drywall subcontractor is installing walls to build four offices. The final screw is in place, and they find out the plans they were referencing were three days old. They must now demolish that work, clean the job site and start from scratch. If this was your business, that labor time and lost materials would come out of your pocket.
Is Your Head in the Cloud? It Should Be!
Cloud-based construction software offers the benefits of flexibility, efficiency, mobility, and collaboration. Choosing the right technology is important for the future growth of your company. It should adapt to your business processes and help achieve goals.
Cloud-based technology can help track and analyze performance. Being able to review past bids, reference statistics, and analyze estimates vs actuals will increase efficiency and profit on future jobs.
Why It's So Important to Use Cloud-Based Technology
Accuracy and Efficiency Will Help You Stand Out
Cloud-based software significantly reduces the likelihood of errors since it is a single source of all your company’s data. Traditional methods of estimating like pen and paper leave you exposed to losing documents and even trouble reading handwriting. Using a calculator can mean missing a simple zero, which becomes not so simple thousands of dollars lost for your company. New cloud technology eliminates human error – no missed decimals, forgotten takeoffs, or accidents working off of old versions.
With everything in a single platform in the cloud you improve accuracy by allowing all users access to the features and files on a shared system, anywhere in the world. With the rise in remote work, your employees in the field, the office, or at home can access vital information simultaneously. It’s not just convenient, it allows for better work-life balance.
According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), there is a ransomware attack every 11 seconds, with 43% of those attacks targeting small businesses. It is essential to safeguard your company’s data and networks, and the software you choose should have an iron-clad plan in place to make sure of that.
Make sure you choose a cloud-based platform that provides reliability and security as well as backups and watchdog protocols that protects your company from cyberattacks. Ask where your data is hosted, who has access to it, and how many backups are in the storage system to avoid any data loss.
Find Your Competitive Edge
When there are challenging business climates or labor shortages, the most common reaction is for companies to reduce spending, halting investments in technology and employee training. This is actually a counterintuitive and shortsighted approach. Upgrading the technology your company uses gives you a competitive edge in general and will leave you better prepared for when the economy regains strength and companies are clamoring to win bids again.
Differentiate your company from the competition by adopting new cloud-based tech that will position you for future growth. You’ll also begin to attract a younger workforce who are tech savvy and tech reliant. They expect impactful and efficient technology.
Integration and Streamlining Data
As your business grows, so too do your needs for smooth, efficient processes throughout the company. Cloud-based tools are a way to connect all business operations to one another so each department has access to the data and insights they need at any time. A tool that offers existing integrations with other platforms, such as a CRM, can help you to automate tasks and evaluate team performance.
Additionally, if you choose software with an open API, your tech team can make connections between systems your company already uses – easily transfer data to and from finance and accounting, field teams, and other stakeholders. With your data at your fingertips, you can be ready to take your business to the next level.
There’s No Reason You Can’t Learn New Tricks (Skills)
Choose a cloud-based option that:
– Offers extensive training: Look for companies that offer great customer service, live chats, webinars, onboarding and support.
– Is user-friendly and intuitive: The software you use should save you time, not take it all away by trying to learn the ropes. The interface and design should be easy to navigate.
– Provides top notch security: Find a platform that safeguards your data, provides continual backups, and has internal safety procedures in place to play watchdog for any suspicious activity.
– Is collaborative: Cloud-based software should allow multiple users to access information at the same time. Keep an eye out for user permissions as well, so you can assign appropriate team members to their tasks without inundating them with too much (or sensitive) information. Great software will allow share and invite options to extend the project to external stakeholders.
– Does frequent software updates: The product your company uses should be constantly improving itself, the same way you are trying to improve your business with new technology. Look for consistent software updates and companies that take your opinion or suggestions into account as they develop new features in the platform.
How to Learn and Adopt New Technology, the Easy Way
The Buddy System
- Nominate junior staffers to translate “tech talk” into easy-to-understand language. This empowers the younger generation to educate a high-level estimator or project manager and share knowledge that will help them and the company’s growth.
2. Create a work culture that is open-minded and collaborative with use of the buddy system.
3. Have the teams do consistent check-ins to track progress, answer any questions and encourage further learning. It also connects your employees in an era of remote work, which helps boost morale and can even spark friendships!
Find Software with Free Trials
– Make sure the software is the right option for your business before you make a big investment by utilizing free trials.
– Use all the features of the software, not just “freemium” plans where you must upgrade to use the entire platform.
– Interact with the technology and figure out if it is intuitive or confusing for you.
Ease Into Change, and Make It Fun!
Change can be hard. Resisting a formed habit is challenging. Changing too many things at once can be overwhelming and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be scary if it is managed properly. Most people are unwilling to change because they are comfortable in their ways, fear the unknown, and think something new means something difficult. Easing into change gradually and with a clear implementation plan will help encourage growth with your employees.
Everyone learns at a different pace. Remind your team that expectations are realistic, communicate the positive impacts of tech on their work life, and tell them there is support available (especially when you choose a software that offers in-depth training).
What to Look for in a Platform When Your Team Is Resistant to Change
The most important thing to look for when choosing a new platform for your business is a tool that has a lot of resources. You don’t want the challenge of change to feel impossible. Having the support you and your employees need is vital to succeed in adopting new technology.
– Access to a rich knowledge base
– Online live chat support
– Honest timelines for training plans
– Offers webinars, demos, and written resources for help
– Dedicated customer support team
Remember fun? Who doesn’t like to have fun?! Try hosting a virtual or in-person breakfast club, lunch and learn, or happy hour to make learning new tech feel like entertainment. Or entice your employees to commit to learning by offering prizes at each level of completion, either individually or assigning teams. Celebrate the accomplishments. It will encourage employee bonding, improve morale, and increase productivity. Cheers to boosting your profit!