When you hear the word construction, you probably think of concrete, wood and stone, but not so much of bytes and software. Nevertheless, builders nowadays work more and more digitally. The phase of writing everything on scrap paper and keeping all data in books is now well and truly over. However, this does not mean that there is no more work to be done. The digital information landscape at many construction companies is still fragmented and not very structured.
This causes problems for project managers. They want to have a grip on their projects, so that their teams can quickly get to work with the right files and the most important tasks. A chaotic proliferation of digital tools does not, of course, make the work of a project manager any easier. Moreover, quality assurance is becoming an even more important requirement for construction companies than it already was.
The good news? With the right software and a good adoption project, you will create order in your digital landscape, get all the people in your construction company on board, and create a uniform documentation standard that everyone adheres to.
Apps, e-mails and loose photos
Although many construction companies already make extensive use of digital tools, they do not always do so efficiently. Employees use WhatsApp and loose e-mails to communicate with each other. Quality assurance involves taking individual photos that people then save and file away in separate folders.
The result of this fragmented documentation is obvious. Important documents and data get lost, while communication between employees, departments and external partners is sluggish and messy. People spend a lot of (extra) time searching for e-mails and documents, while it is not always clear whether they have the correct and most up-to-date version of a construction drawing in front of them on the screen.
The lack of streamlined communication and efficient workflows means that project managers are mainly busy putting out fires. Moreover, they spend an enormous amount of time coordinating internal teams and external parties (suppliers of building materials, contractors and subcontractors), which makes it more difficult to deliver construction projects within the agreed planning and budget. Surely there must be a better and easier way…
Software adoption is a challenge
Fortunately, there are good solutions within reach. With the right software, such as a good and modern document management system (DMS), you can create order out of the digital chaos. But this step comes with its own set of challenges.
Many construction companies, for example, find it difficult to involve the entire workforce in a digital improvement process. They often have to deal with old hands in the trade. Real professionals who have done their work in a certain way for years, but who are not always digitally trained. Is it difficult to log in sometimes? Or are certain functions and steps within the software not completely clear? Soon you find yourself up against long faces and people who think of workarounds, because they cannot work with the new software. And that while it often goes so smoothly, once everyone is on board.
Everyone participates and documents work and information in the same way.
How to get everyone in the construction organisation on board with the software
No matter how good a software solution is, its added value is nil if you do not pay sufficient attention to training and adoption. The steps and strategies below will get you started and ensure that you get the most out of good communication and DMS solutions for the construction industry.
Develop a vision and protocol
First of all, it is important that you draw up a good protocol for your document management and the use of digital tools. Check the expectations and needs of your employees, but also of your external partners such as suppliers and (sub)contractors. What roles and rights do the various users have? What fixed steps must people go through when sharing, editing and approving documents?
By drawing up such a protocol, you achieve a high degree of standardisation. Everyone participates and documents work and information in the same way. Many hours of searching to find the right document are now a thing of the past, especially since you organise all documentation in a uniform manner.
Practising and learning together
Adoption is the next step. How do you ensure that everyone can work quickly and comfortably with the (new) software? Practice has shown that organising workshops and joint practice and training sessions usually yields quick results. If you let your employees discover the software themselves by means of practical training sessions, they usually quickly become familiar with the new technology.
The early adopters are extremely valuable in creating support for digitisation in the construction industry.
Make use of the early adopters
In most organisations, there are people who quickly embrace digital innovations (the so-called ‘early adopters’), but there are also employees who take longer to do so. The early adopters are extremely valuable in creating support for digitisation in the construction industry. They can explain and demonstrate to other team members the advantages of automation software and a DMS and show how these solutions contribute to more efficient cooperation and better streamlined processes. The other colleagues will often follow suit.
Ensure user-friendliness and a low entry threshold
A DMS or other software solution must be user-friendly and have a low entry threshold. Not a system that only the whizzkids within your organisation can dream of, but a solution that is quickly ‘up and working’, centralises your information management and guides the user through all the functionalities in a natural and understandable way.