Rob McKinney, Strategic Sales Engineer, Revolution
It has become more important than ever for you to begin to integrate modern technology into your traditional and strategic workflow. Many of the conventional methods have been rendered outright obsolete or so inefficient that it becomes almost impossible for your business to function properly. The one silver lining with these high stakes is that there are quite a few steps that you can take in order to bring your workflow into the digital era. Here’s a roadmap that you can follow moving forward.
1. Form a Technology Committee
Naturally, implementing new technology is the mechanism that allows you to digitize your workflow. However, how do you decide what technology is best for your business? How will you test things out and create an implementation plan? The first step towards digitization is creating a Technology Committee to oversee your efforts. You need to build a diverse group for this committee, as their decisions will impact the whole company, not just one department.
This means you want a combination of those who are in the office and those who mainly work in the field. Seasoned veterans and dynamic new talent should also be included. In addition, some who are reticent about the idea of technology may make a useful check against the rest of the group. Finally, make sure you pick an odd number. A tiebreaker may be needed every now and again.
2. Develop a Written Program
The Technology Committee will discuss and decide different things like testing, research, and implementation of any digitization initiatives. However, whenever any of those decisions are made, it is important for them to have formal, written, documentation.
"There’s always going to be a learning curve when it comes to new technology, and it is important that your software partners are there to support you"
This is essential because it provides the entire company with key information on what software, apps, and hardware your company will approve and utilize. Make sure this document is ready to be shared and reviewed by all technology users at the start of a new program.
3. Create Your Requirements Matrix
The first two steps are the framework to make technological decisions. Now, we can talk about the steps that go towards those actual decisions, and that begins with a requirements matrix. The easiest way to explain this is as a wish list of features. If you were to invest in a magical piece of software that could handle any functions, what would those functions be? Of course, you may not be able to get every single thing you want, so a priority tiering system is necessary. With this matrix, it will be easier for you to evaluate different pieces of technology as they come your way.
4. Set Aside An R&D Budget
Of course, one can’t ignore the bottom line in these conversations. It’s essential to have a plan to set aside funds from your corporate or project budgets to purchase new technology items to test out. Your budget is going to determine the scale and type of software that you end up using. However, it’s important to have a healthy mindset. Each purchase you make isn’t guaranteed to be the ideal match. They should be considered experiments on what may be the right fit for your team.
5. Set up a Test Project
At this point, you have a plan to buy the tech you want and the budget to actually do so. In order to see how well it works, you need to set up a test project. This will be a simulation of a common issue that requires the features you laid out in your requirements matrix to solve. The test project will involve your team using the software in question and seeing how well it performs. Were the issues reduced or the problem solved? What challenges did you encounter in the process?
6. Get Help with Implementation
Piggybacking off of that last point, in some cases, it is not a flaw with the technology, but user error. There’s always going to be a learning curve when it comes to new technology, and it is important that your software partners are there to support you. Make sure that any vendor you work with has a robust plan for implementation support and product training. Better that you find out what’s available now rather than after you start having major problems.
7. Training Employees
If you were to buy a new piece of equipment, like a crane or mixer, you would never let an employee with no training operate it. The same mentality applies to new technology. In order to get the best results with the least amount of pain in changing old habits, you need to take time to train your employees on any new app, software, or digital tool. This can mean using information from the vendor or simply staging classes on your own or with the help of a third party.
8. Annual Review of Technology Stack
As we have learned from the year 2020, things will change, when you least expect them to. What’s cutting edge tech now isn’t always going to be, so each year, you want to take a look at the software/tech you’ve implemented and how well it’s meeting the requirements you have. You also want to see if those requirements have changed due to shifts in the industry. If you see issues, your Technology Committee needs to decide if an upgrade or change is needed.
Making the move to modernize your construction company can seem daunting, especially if a lot of your team and leadership are ingrained in the old ways. To save money initially and smooth out the onboarding process, it’s not a bad idea to begin by working on one workflow area at a time. See where things are least efficient and focus on that area. Afterward, you can move on to another area, then another, until your workflow is finally taken to that new level.