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IT Strategy Considerations for Construction Companies

As with many industries, the construction industry is beginning to see a change in how technology can enable aspects of many processes.  However, with an average spend of approximately 1.5% of revenue on information technology (the lowest among any industry), construction companies must ask themselves, “are we deploying our IT resources in the most effective and enabling manner possible?”  Many construction companies find themselves simply trying to keep the “IT lights on” as opposed to investing in enabling technologies.  Some of those technologies that forward-looking companies are investing in to realize benefits include:

Project Management Software

This has been improved significantly over the last few years, and now there are specialized programs to suit different jobs; from designing a building to running a construction site.

Construction Software and Data Ecosystems

Real-time collaboration software is expected to function and be the digital backbone for the construction process from start to finish.  These systems help maintain a significant amount of data that by and large, is discarded today.  (See Business Intelligence below)

Wearables, Mobility, and Cloud-Based Collaboration Tools

One of the biggest drags on construction firms today is paper-based reporting. Connectivity is the efficiency driver in the market today. The latest platforms for reporting are digital, mobile, saleable, and streamlined.  To achieve this, construction companies can deploy their own data centers, however, this requires large amounts of capital and ongoing support from an IT staff.  Cloud solutions grant access to IT infrastructure and technical knowledge as a service, where users can pay a subscription instead of spending on their own data centers.

Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence (BI) describes the knowledge gained by data, governance, processes, and reporting. Used by many in the business world, it is taking on new meaning in construction. Construction projects are huge physical undertakings. But before that, they’re monumental ideas. Mastering information is the first step towards better safety and success.

Other Benefits

While benefits can be derived from these enabling technologies or processes, most small and medium-sized construction companies find themselves spending instead on updating old servers or network equipment, inefficient and costly software license agreements, and/or IT personnel without the skill set to look strategically at the objectives of the business and the delivery model of IT.

Organizations who find themselves in this position often benefit from a strategic assessment of their IT capabilities evaluated against the critical objectives of the business.  For example, things to consider in such an assessment include issues such as:

  • Costs in IT vs. customer satisfaction: Your IT costs continue to increase while confidence and satisfaction in IT service decrease within the company.
  • Reactive vs. proactive: IT is frequently in “fire-drill mode” and either reacting to un-prioritized requests (squeaky wheel getting the oil) or simply trying to keep the lights on.
  • Frequent outages and “IT emergencies:” Your IT infrastructure (network, servers/computer capability) should really be looked at with the same expectation as your utilities (electricity, phone).  It’s always on and it simply works.  However, if your IT resources are spending significantly more time fixing problems versus enabling the business, your IT operating model is not adequately serving the business.  Have they operationalized routine processes so they are easily repeatable by anyone?
  • Data: The right data is not getting to the right people at the right time.  Being able to identify the data needs of the business and then enabling those needs is one of the most important and effective contributions IT can make to the business.  Is this happening in your business?
  • Your technology resources: Do you have the right number of IT employees, and do those employees have the right skill sets based on the needs of the business?
  • Unknown risks: Have you been hacked or are your systems potentially compromised? If you’re not confident in your cybersecurity, you’re putting your company’s future at risk.
  • Scattered vs. strategic: If a business lacks a comprehensive technology strategy – a well-defined roadmap to get from “current-state” to “goal-state” – it will have disparate technology that is scattered across the organization. The result: spiraling costs and unnecessary complexity.
  • Is IT keeping up with the pace of change? While your business is growing, it will slow if your technology can’t keep up.  If you’re frequently hearing “no” from IT when you have new requests, it’s time for a change. Agility is the name of the game in today’s construction industry.

Our Cybersecurity and Data Management team at Blue & Co. has helped a number of small and medium-sized companies objectively assess the current state of their IT people, processes, and technologies against the strategic objectives of the business.  This has resulted in IT strategies and roadmaps that are tightly aligned with the business goals, that allow for business-focused (instead of IT-focused) strategies, and that help prioritize IT spending and decisions to provide increased value.  If you feel you would benefit from a discussion regarding the current state of your IT function, we would be happy to schedule a time to discuss your concerns.  You can contact your Blue & Co. advisor or our Cybersecurity and Data Management practice leader, Tom Skoog, at tskoog@blueandco.com.

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