Why digital transformation has never been more important for the construction industry?

Published: 1 October 2020

We are all facing an undeniably extraordinary time both on a personal and business level. So, why is it more important than ever to digitally transform your Construction business?

Before exploring, you may wonder what Digital Transformation is? We define digital transformation as the strategic adoption of digital technologies. Essentially, it is about creating a roadmap for technology adoption that aligns with your business strategy which could range from cloud to ERP to CRM through to automated intelligence. The advantage of digital transformation is that it doesn’t need to be an all-encompassing, all-consuming project. It can be undertaken in stages as long as you have a solid plan and roadmap behind it.

Here, we look at what many construction companies who have not digitally transformed are facing today such as, the economy, office life being less prevalent whilst being met with dis-jointed internal systems.

The Economy

In July 2020, the UK economy grew by 6.6% and although Construction did experience growth in the month of July it was still down on February levels by 11.6%. As ONS note ‘While it has continued steadily on the path towards recovery, the UK economy still has to make up nearly half of the GDP lost since the start of the pandemic’. Signifying, that whilst there has been some improvement for both the economy and within the Construction industry itself, there is still a long road ahead.

With the above being said, why would now be the right time for a construction business to start looking at undergoing a digital transformation?

Here are 3 reasons why you should start the digital transformation process:

Keep up with the competition

The new digital world is here and accelerating. This means that today it is not just Amazon, Facebook and Google who advance from digitalisation and smart technology. It is becoming increasingly clear that even the most traditional construction company may soon have to venture into the world of true digital transformation – in the construction sector, margins are tight. Digital transformation will help construction businesses drive efficiencies into manual and redundant processes, remove siloed working across departments, put technology in the hands of remote workers and help them keep up with the market and meet demand.

This leads us to consider competition. Construction companies have fierce competition which will only have increased during the pandemic due to the reduction in new contracts being issued .It has never been more important to keep up with those competitors. Having key information at the fingertips of Project and Quality Managers, QS’, Credit Controllers, Commercial, Financial and Managing Directors is where many construction companies have recognised, they should be moving toward to keep up with market demand but now with the current climate, this is becoming a more urgent requirement.

There is no doubt that construction companies that had undertaken or had started the process of digitally transforming their business prior to the pandemic will have had a competitive edge. These companies are more streamlined, have faster response times and are more efficient than their ‘non-digital’ counterparts.

In these times, winning a new contract over the competition has never been more important to succeed and stay ahead of the competition. Therefore, digital transformation is becoming a necessity.

Connecting your employees

With more workers working from home, we are having fewer face to face interactions with our normal day to day peers. Face to face previously being the main method for office collaboration, the construction industry is now experiencing a sharp shift toward the importance of communicating online whether that is through Teams, Skype or Zoom.

Research from engagement specialist Achievers has found that one-third of British workers are feeling disconnected from colleagues and company culture during the pandemic. Added to this, those with disparate and dis-jointed internal systems means that internal departments from finance to sales to HR and operations within construction may be working in silos and be less connected than ever before. Collaboration is the key to the success of any business.

As much as Zoom and Teams can of course bring about a form of digital connection amongst colleagues, what has become a business essential for employees today within a construction company is to digitise and automate processes. The ‘old’ days where a construction company has disparate systems and manual processes are no longer feasible. The ‘new’ is to have one single solution to manage all processes digitally.

There has never been a more important time to build confidence and control amongst employees and for departments to feel connected. Digitally transforming with a clear road map for your technology adoption and one where that technology is future-proofed, can integrate easily with other systems, connects your departments and employees is a great starting point for your business.

With the lack of office interaction and the ‘new norm’ of social distancing, for office workers it is not as easy to access the information we require from others quickly as it was before the pandemic.  Gaining access to business information today has never been more important. and data such as (add here what costs construction companies would be monitoring now and what would be important), is paramount to staying on top of the business. There is a lot of data and information in every corner of any construction business and people need to be able to request or access this in just a few clicks.

Access to key business information and fast!

Having one solution means that this is the hub of all key business information, meaning processes such as agreeing variations can now be processed whilst onsite, sent immediately to the client to be agreed, and all data automatically stored for accounting purposes. This is instead of the very time-consuming process of scrolling through emails to see who has agreed to what and when. As management and directors requiring essential business information on a regular basis, one solution that stores all data ensures that you can access this information at your fingertips. For the team this means that they will always have a steady handle on the business the status of projects to  a summarised or detailed CVR on a contract.

With information at the fingertips of employees across the business, everyone remains well-informed meaning that they can work proactively. This is crucial to any construction business that wants to work efficiently and effectively, particularly under today’s climate. There are many reasons why Construction companies should review their processes and look at accelerating their digital transformation programme in today’s climate. Strong leadership will play a key role in making the decision to reforming and adopting digital transformation as part of its strategy to succeed and compete successfully.

Amid today’s climate, it is clear the need for digital transformation for Construction companies has never been so urgent.  It’s likely that construction businesses that do not start this journey will be woefully underprepared for the future and could be left behind and risk losing their place in the market. What shape a construction company is on the other side of this pandemic and beyond will only be a telling sign as to what decision was taken today.

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