After reading a recent article in ConstrucTech magazine, a few thoughts came to my mind that have been brewing for quite some time. The article focuses on how construction firms are being forced to look more towards technology solutions to help improve efficiencies in their organizations. It talks about how technology can really help contractors to be better at estimating and project management efforts if they would just use the tools they already have better, and start taking things like BIM (Building Information Modeling) seriously.
While I agree that technology can really help any organization who is serious about improving, I have a little bit of a different approach than most. Just as the article says that builders are on average using only 20-30% of the capabilities of their current software systems, I think there is a reason for that. Software and technology is only good to a company if it is easy to use and manage. You can have all the features in the world but if the system isn’t easy to use, it is for nothing.
My suggestion to the construction industry is this:
Start focusing on ease of use, and improving communications. This doesn’t mean having more meetings or sending out more articulated addendums (althought that couldn’t hurt). It means taking a fresh approach to how builders communicate internally and externally on projects. Why not start using new (and sometimes free) communications tools such as Blogs, Twitter & LinkedIn groups? Instead of sending out individual emails to every sub contractor on your project, setup a blog and give subcontractors access to that blog. All new status updates can be posted here such as RFP’s, RFI’s, addendums, project drawings, etc….
Why not setup a private Twitter group for your internal project teams and use if for sending out frequent, up to the minute updates to your team? Everyone has cell phones right? By communicating things in real time, you can save precious money & resources.
Something very cool to look in to is a product called BaseCamp created by a company called 37Signals. This product is an EXTREMELY easy to use Project Management tool that focuses on the communication aspect of projects. By using a Blog type format for organization, a new project can be setup online where files can be stored & shared, all communications can be centralized, and things like project calendars and the like can all be centralized. Finally all communications with all team members can be kept in one place. It plays very nice with email as well.
In closing, I really just want to drive the point home that technology shouldn’t be about more and more features. Technology should help enable. Enable better communcations. Enable better efficiencies. Enable people to do their job and only their job.
How does your organization rate when it comes to this simple concept? Does the technology you use empower or slow down your employees? Take a really close look and answer honestly…..