Do you know what your project status is? The question is straightforward, but unfortunately, across the construction industry, the answer is not simple to find. In fact, a recent Foundry survey in partnership with Quickbase found that 70% of construction professionals are dealing with lack of visibility into materials availability and delivery status, and 55% are facing communication gaps between project management teams and job sites. This is not a result of a lack of technology, though. Construction businesses, who have historically lagged behind in the adoption of new technology, are focusing on promoting the digital transformation of their core processes. Unfortunately, this has created a sprawling web of disconnected systems that reduce visibility, lead to miscommunication, and hamper project efficiency.
The most effective way to overcome the biggest challenges facing your construction tech stack is to take a holistic approach to digital transformation. The process is easier than you may think.
There are a ton of different, exciting tools that teams are using to solve their problems While these tools will have an outsize impact on construction projects today and beyond, they can also compound the underlying problems. But throwing point solutions at the problem, without a cohesive approach, will not work. That same Foundry survey discovered, somewhat counterintuitively, that the more that organizations manage their workflows manually, the more applications they use. Those who manage more than half their workflows manually are using 12.4 applications on average, while those who manage half or less of their workflows manually use 8.6.
On top of the exciting, innovative tools that teams are using, solving this challenge is about creating the right connections that unite the data and processes across your organization. While teams across departments have tools and data catered to their processes, builders have found that Quickbase allows entire organizations to take a united approach to overcoming project hurdles. Here are the ways that you can solve your team’s biggest hurdles.
Modern challenges need modern solutions
The old playbook doesn’t seem to work anymore for construction companies. Projects are becoming more complex and have more stakeholders and resources, and these teams have outgrown the ability to manage projects manually. In addition, turning the process over to an IT team to try and solve the solution on its own is no longer the way to do business. The combination of a shortage of technical talent and IT’s lack of familiarity with specific team needs make this too difficult.
This is particularly salient for construction and engineering users. The unique nature of every project, with its differing tracking requirements, mean that a one-size-fits-all point solution is not really up to the task. Further, a lack of a single source of truth for information leads to bad predictions on costs and materials, and communication gaps.
With challenges like staffing shortages, finding more people to solve the problems is no longer sustainable – it is about getting power and information into the hands of your team to attack the issue from all possible sides. And with low-code technology, you can get this power into your teams’ hands.
Without relying on the right tools to empower those in the field, making these changes can be too technically involved. “The coding got a little too complicated, where I was not comfortable saying anyone can help us, said Anthony Chiaradona, CIO at Consigli Construction, on the ConTech Podcast. “If I lose half my staff, could someone else come in and make this work?”
Connecting critical information
The organizations who are best solving their construction challenges are adopting connected solutions that prevent information silos. The best-in-market solutions not only ensure data integrity, but they allow for bi-directional flow of data between core systems of record. Platforms like Quickbase give project teams the ability to eliminate duplicate work and reduce friction by connecting data captured in existing project management systems to automatically integrate into other systems of record, like ERPs or CRMs. These integrations centralize data and provide project leaders with the ability to mine their data for more robust, holistic insights and support predictive analytics. Managing data more effectively saves project executives' time and can drive significant cost savings.
Leading organizations finding ways to connect the information across their company to alleviate the issues caused by out-of-date, siloed information. Bob Salaj, Senior Director at SRF (a subsidiary of Lighthouse Electric), sees this as a challenge that is not solved by technology alone. It is about the right technology, connecting the right information, and empowering the right people.
“There are a lot of nuances outside of the technology world, such as people – and people can be the hurdle when implementing these solutions,” he said at Quickbase’s recent Empower user conference.
For Lighthouse Electric, this meant putting a major focus on process-mapping, and building out the right technology capabilities to connect their information. After previously using out-of-date spreadsheets to manage their prefabrication process, they were able to incorporate the right technology – not just another siloed point solution – to automatically update users with key information on order status, design, and manufacturing status.
“[Our] Prefabrication work has been truly enabled through the tracking of this process within Quickbase,” Salaj said. “With the baseline data and tremendous process efficiency gained here, Lighthouse continues to build the case for Planning and Prefabrication on every project and has garnered the attention of mega projects nationwide.”
Custom-fit for your unique processes
A custom-fit solution, like Quickbase, grants construction organizations with an unparalleled ability to leverage data and insight. This customization means that project leaders can dive into data from their existing systems with as much granularity and specificity as they'd like in a singular dashboard. Project managers are able to extend the use of data from systems of record, like Sage and Procore, and make critical information accessible to the right "boots on the ground" on job sites. Key insight including safety management, supplier management, and project tracking become part of a united, cohesive, custom solution without simultaneously being buried within another siloed system.
“Low code provides the right multitool that construction engineers can use themselves,” said Jacob MacIntyre, Director, Customer Acceleration Group of Quickbase, in Acceleration Economy.
Anthony Chiaradonna and Consigli have found that an approach focused on integration and security has made a huge difference.
“We were trying to find something that could bring it all together - but really secure it in a better way, down to that row level security,” he said. “[It should] also be able to deliver it in a web portal with an easy to use and configured user interface.
Specifically, a tool like Quickbase with a long track record of success is going to enable organizations to truly empower their teams and unite the processes and information across the business. With the challenges across the construction industry only getting more prevalent, the time is right to solve the scattered approach of point solutions and find the right tools to power a united approach to solving construction’s greatest hurdles.