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The construction industry has a reputation for resisting technology adoption, but decision makers are quickly realizing that it is inevitable. As construction requires so many moving parts and partners, more and more companies are embracing digital transformation to coordinate their people and streamline business operations, which means pushing analog systems to the side for good. 

Digital transformation is defined as the process of integrating digital technology into all facets of a business’s operations. For construction, that means implementing digital tools and technology that harness the power of data to make operations more efficient, productive and safe. Digital tools and solutions are often placed right in the hands of field employees, foremen and project supervisors with smartphone apps to manage everyday tasks such as time tracking, job costing and equipment management to filing purchase orders, safety and hazard incidenst and field report forms. 

There is a downside. Digital transformation isn’t an immediate, one-size-fits-all solution. Rather, it’s an ongoing process of shifting to digital technologies. And while implementing and launching new technologies might cause some in the construction industry to pump the brakes, there’s one big reason digital transformation is the only way forward: ROI. 

Digital transformation is a smart, cost-saving investment. It’s also ushering in a new era of construction with optimized productivity and communications across the industry. 

The Big Picture Benefits of Digital Transformation

Forward-thinking construction executives are selecting technology partners with solutions that utilize automation, enable real-time communication and improve collaboration, efficiency and safety to keep projects on track and on budget. These digital tools, however, are just one piece of the digital transformation puzzle and among the process’ many benefits. 

 Here are five ways digital transformation is optimizing the construction industry: 

1. Employee Productivity

 Traditional, analog methods are often rife with human error. They slow down processes, providing no decent way of collecting and/or analyzing data, and are costly to store. These systems also tend to overwork management and put unnecessary administrative burdens on employees in both the field and office. Construction forms and processes that remain in the physical world also increase the likelihood of miscommunication.

In the end, many companies end up being unable to truly scale their operations because they are bogged down in paperwork and are managing disorganized, ineffective processes that no longer work for their businesses. By adopting digital tools, companies can yield gains by decreasing human error and streamlining their business processes. The right tech solutions can boost productivity by eliminating unnecessary work and enhancing a company’s communication and reporting. 

2. Increased Agility

 While the world came to a screeching halt last spring, the construction industry pivoted in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to protect workers and keep essential projects moving forward. This was made possible through digital transformation. Digital tools in the hands of field workers, project management and administrative staff meant companies could take certain operations online and collect data right from the field. Workers could clock in via their smartphones and answer digital safety surveys, stream safety videos, report safety and hazard issues as well as track their day’s work without ever coming into contact with another worker.

Digital tools that both collect and produce live field data will remain essential to driving decisions. With this information at the ready thanks to digital tools, companies can make critical decisions on the go. If data shows one project is falling behind, staff and equipment can be moved from one project to another to keep all projects on schedule. 

3. Long-Term Cost Reductions

 Some contractors remain leery of the costs associated with digitally transforming businesses. Not implementing technology remains far more costly, however. One Texas-based commercial specialty contractor implemented a digital transformation strategy after a tripling the number of employees, leaving the contractor's paper time card and data collection systems unmanageable. The company adopted a mobile workforce management solution that synced its time tracking, field reports and job costing. The company saved more than $1 million in the first 12 months from regular hours and overtime hours alone.

A Texas-located concrete company integrated a mobile workforce platform into its digital transformation mix to eliminate paper forms for material requests for purchase orders. By using digital forms, the company’s office staff received purchase orders faster and negotiated better pricing with more accurate information, saving the company $154,000 on materials. The company also switched to an advanced real-time digital time tracking solution with GPS and face recognition to save $729,00 in the first 12 months of utilizing these additional verification tools. Without embracing technology and digital transformation, the companies wouldn’t have seen these savings in one year’s time. As each company expands their digital transformation, they will continue to see further cost reductions. 

4. Consolidated Data

 Construction teams often work in silos. By embracing digital transformation and effectively utilizing the digital tools available to them, construction companies can connect their independent teams and consolidate labor, safety, purchase, change orders, progress and equipment management in one place. This means actionable data can be placed in the hands of those who affect change. With data consolidated and synced across departments and teams, companies can align their operations and make better decisions. 

5. Marketplace Competitiveness

Developers and owners are now looking to a contractor’s tech stack when evaluating bids. Clients want to work with companies that will complete a project on time and within budget. They are increasingly selecting contractors who leverage technology to ensure that happens, even if said contractor’s proposal isn’t the lowest quote received.

For clients, technology translates to better visibility into projects. Reporting and billing delays are no longer acceptable. And they shouldn’t be. Today’s technology allows companies to collect time, job costs and track project progress in one place. This data often collected right in the field and integrated with an ERP system means project managers, and therefore clients, get accurate pictures of labor and production costs in real-time.

Digital transformation is a continual process that allows companies to streamline operations, cut costs and achieve goals. Realizing digital transformation is achieved by taking steps. They don’t have to be big. Any steps toward making business operations more digital is a step toward digital transformation and capitalizing on savings in time, and costs, for years to come. 


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