Contractors know they need to be on top of technology trends to stay competitive in the industry. Leveraging the latest tech is a necessity for increasing efficiency, streamlining workflows, driving growth, and mitigating risks. Yes, you should digitize, but in today’s tech landscape, it’s important to do so strategically. What the savviest in the industry are coming to understand is that, instead of just choosing a few tech platforms at random, you need to integrate your digital systems to be efficient and successful.
Your business goal should be to leverage integration across phases of construction to enable a new way of operating. A robust API allows you to provide services to stakeholders without locking them into a specific network. STACK guides you through predictions for the rest of 2022, the latest trends in connectivity and integration, and cloud-based enterprise-level system solutions.
Forecasting with Phil
STACK’s CEO and Co-Founder, Phil Ogilby, is an industry leader in construction technology and contracting, with roots as a roofing contractor. His predictions for the rest of 2022 entail some highs and lows, but the focus for contractors will be bidding the right projects to maintain success and efficiency.
A Slowdown Is on the Horizon
Expect bid volume to remain high for another year or so. We are on the doorstep of a slowdown in construction, driven by economic uncertainty paired with a steady, planned increase in interest rates. Commercial construction will start to slow as higher interest rates take hold and continue to rise nationally. This will take 12-18 months to find its way into the construction market due to the “long tail” of construction projects. “Long tail” refers to the amount of time it takes from the time a project is conceived, financed, and designed to when it’s built and completed.
Macro Affects Will Cause Lower Margins and Greater Competition
By 2023 will see a shift in the business climate for subcontractors that will no doubt result in lower margins and greater competition for projects. These are the big macro factors that will affect the whole market, and when you add in the currently unpredictable supply chain plus the rapidly increasing costs of fuel, contractors, especially those who are unprepared, could be facing a difficult few years.
Bid for Business Survival
Because of increased competition and low margins, it is vital for subcontractors to have proper bid management processes. Pick the right projects and bid to GCs who give the best chance of succeeding, as well as those who pay on time.
Unfortunately, when margins tighten for subcontractors they also tighten for GCs, who are chasing a diminishing number of projects. This ultimately will lead to a place where cash flow becomes even more critical and some GCs will begin to slow pay. Now more than ever, it will be important to bid the right projects, to the right buyers, at the right prices. Slowing construction markets lead to business failures, especially for unprepared companies.
That’s where your tech stack can truly make the difference between success and struggle.
Your physical tools are integrated. Whether you use DeWalt, Milwaukee, or RYOBI, an impact driver can drill any screws, lag bolts, or impact-rated sockets with the use of adapters. So, in the 2020s, shouldn’t your software be flexible too?
Why Desktop Is a Flop
Desktop software was a big innovation when it was created in the 1980s and 1990s, but today, rather than improving processes, it actually creates data silos and disconnected workflows, as well as a slew of problems.
1. Software limitations with single functions and no integrations to your current systems
2. Rework due to file corruption
3. Risk of data loss
4. Security vulnerabilities
5. Excessive IT requirements with upgrades and installs
6. Mistakes made from working off old versions
7. Data storage space issues and expenses
8. Lengthy onboarding and training processes
Cloud-Based for the Win
Cloud computing began its rise to popularity in the 2000s as early adopters recognized the impact of moving away from on-premise tools. While construction has been slower to modernize in the office, the benefits of cloud computing are tremendous and should be a no-brainer for improving your business’s profitability and efficiency. As companies continue to shift to more hybrid work environments, the trend toward cloud-powered platforms will only grow. Cloud-based construction technology provides:
– Flexibility – work anytime, anywhere with cloud-based software solutions that work on and offline.
– Centralized data – single source of truth for your data.
– Improved safety – real-time updates for emergency alerts and safety procedures.
– Quick issue resolution – in the field access to punch lists and current versions of plans to resolve issues fast.
– Business efficiency – significantly reduce the manual administrative burdens of the job by automating them with software, freeing your time to be more productive.
– Collaboration – leave markups and notes for your team, see when your team is working in a project, or have multiple people working on the same plan during takeoffs.
– Data and cybersecurity – consolidating your data in one place streamlines your workflows as well as keeps your data safer from cybercriminals.
– Higher confidence – with a cloud-based bid management solution, you can be confident you’re not missing any of the right jobs for you as well as have confidence in your numbers (not over or underbidding).
– Updates and support – With the cloud, you get instant updates both for bug fixes and new features and functionality to help you do your job better – no workflow disruptions. STACK is one of the only platforms for subcontractors investing in improving our product.
Connect Best-In-Class Systems Together
One outcome of the connectivity and integration trend we’ve seen in the construction industry is that larger construction technology companies are often acquiring tools but not integrating them in a way that works well for user needs. While the intent is good, the result is that systems stay siloed and disconnected. Your options are to select a single behemoth system that’s littered with B- capabilities or pick best-in-class solutions that provide robust development toolkits and APIs for integrating them together. Instead of picking a behemoth platform, research systems that actually do what you need and are comprehensive.
At STACK, we’re approaching integration more strategically for a unified workflow and still connecting with other best-in-class tools. By using a platform that seamlessly connects your processes, you are guaranteeing people work off the latest documents, collaborating in real-time, and connecting the office to the field with cloud-based software solutions. Avoid risk, rework, and error by using systems that “talk” to each other with open API capabilities. Whether it’s bid management, takeoffs and estimates, or field collaboration software, their connectivity will accelerate decision-making and progress.
A perfect example of how an open API benefits workflow is CentiMark. As the world’s largest commercial roofing contractor, smooth transfer of data across all departments is crucial for their success. Greg Wilson, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at CentiMark says, “At an organization of our size, STACK is not a standalone software, but a part of the business process. STACK’s application programming interfaces, which allow us to integrate other systems into STACK, are unique. One of the really exciting things about STACK is that we go from being rigid and inflexible to being able to quickly respond to customers.”
Reporting and Analytics
The flow of data is important not only for a smoothly functioning business, but also for conducting analysis. Business Intelligence (BI) is quickly becoming essential technology in smart construction. Using data analytics and forecasting, BI tools like Power BI can turn project data into actionable insights. It’s essentially ‘data mining,’ helping contractors identify areas where productivity can be increased. Additionally, it can help identify potential problems before they become full-blown emergencies.
Through project management platforms, BI can identify consistent problems on projects, factor in material costs into project planning, and streamline labor needs to maximize overhead costs.
These powerful tools – and your data – are only useful if your team can make use of them, however. Elaborate tech stacks can be difficult to manage, leading to higher costs, manual work, and a lack of control over valuable information. But by choosing the tools that work best for your business, and making the connections between them seamless, you can open a new world of data analysis to take your company to the next level.