We have all come to depend upon our construction resident IT staff. After all, they are our heroes when it comes to getting our computers back up and running after an unexpected crash and resetting our account passwords when we forget for the nth time. Our current modern workforce couldn’t do their jobs efficiently without help from IT personnel.
As dependent as most employees is on this critical department, many companies may be maxing out the potential of the role. According to the one construction report, the vast majority of companies involved in construction only employ between 1 and 5 IT staff in their team. Most likely, this means that your dependable IT staff are at their capacity managing construction concerns with regards to technology on a day-to-day basis. Yet, IT teams are further tasked with researching, implementing, and handling the right construction technology to boost productivity both in the office and on-site at several companies.
Due to this, construction businesses find it increasingly more challenging to incorporate new technology in their operations. This is because lack of staff support is commonly one of the most limiting factors in adopting fresh technology in any industry, especially in the traditional construction setting.
Ultimately, it is known that IT departments have a significant role to play in the construction industry. However, some companies could be over-relying on this department for all things technology and hinder their efficiency. Construction companies should not depend entirely upon the IT department to make necessary decisions about new technology. Instead, construction companies should further explore innovative and new approaches to IT’s role.
In this blog, we’ll expound on why your construction company cannot afford to leave all technology decisions on the shoulders of your IT department. Instead, new job roles and functions can help fill the techie void and improve technological usage overall.
The Advancing Technology Needs of IT in Construction
Globally speaking, construction companies now realize the importance of investing in more innovative tools and technology. An IT department in today’s typical construction company usually handles the company’s day-to-day software and hardware administration. While you might think it’s an upfront part of the job description and deliberately intentional, many companies toss IT, workers, the job of critical decision making almost as an afterthought. Due to this, it leaves overtasked and overwhelmed IT professionals vulnerable to making urgent and important decisions with limited resources and information.
Given the ever-growing dependency construction companies place on cloud-supported technologies and construction scheduling software and platforms, it is valid to reason that the people making these vital decisions should also be its core users or connected to them.
We are trying to say that construction companies need to re-evaluate their IT teams’ structures and functions. In fact, IT’s lack of collaboration and communication with those using the software could be the bottleneck to a company’s productivity.
Overworked and Overwhelmed: The State of ITs in Construction
Because of this, IT staff can’t effectively make technology decisions for a construction company. They are spread too thin. They don’t have enough time and resources to be in the field, and most construction companies don’t make an effort to solve this problem.
Additionally, most implementations and changes usually come from the top-down company hierarchy rather than being informed by field professionals and IT in construction. In most cases, technology is minimal and restricted in the field altogether, let alone managed by a strong IT team.
Which leads us to this question: what happens when an IT staff makes the wrong decision? What could be the consequences of an ineffective technology team? Among others, you can expect the following:
- Technology usage and presence will suffer in the field
- Valuable resources such as money and time will both get wasted
- Critical information and data will be soiled
- Processes and systems will fail to connect intelligently
- Security and safety will both suffer
In a nutshell, IT departments in a construction company are overworked and overwhelmed if they exist at all. They lack the needed support and resources to make highly critical technology decisions for the field and the office. Since there is too little communication and collaboration between the office and on-site staff, they are further compromised in their innovative efforts to make informed choices.
Incorporation of Construction Technologist and Tech Taskforce
If your construction company hasn’t already, it’s about time to consider hiring a new role to handle critical technology decisions: A construction technologist.
To help your IT staff and put more highlight on getting the right technology and tools in the hands of staff, construction companies should consider hiring for this new position or establishing a full-on task force, and could sometimes involve restructuring the construction crew management altogether. Below, we’ll dive deeper into these roles and expound more about what this integrative structure can look like in the construction business.
As referred to by JB Knowledge, a Construction Technologist is a specialist. They can manage and centralize the processes and priorities to drive innovation for the employees and return investment for the company.
The following are the job responsibilities of a construction technologist:
- Someone who is deeply interested in construction technology
- A person who is passionate about finding the right technology on board to improve the overall productivity of the company
- Not an IT professional, but someone who comes from the construction industry, is well versed with the processes, can find possible solutions, and can effectively put them to the test to see if they can work or not
- An employee who understand the needs and the struggles of the construction field
Ideally, you can appoint this individual to spearhead a construction technology task force.
Construction Technology Task Force
While it may sound easy to transition all the IT field technology decisions to a single construction technologist, you may consider taking a more collaborative method. As previously mentioned, technology often falls short due to being a “poor fit” for the construction company. Hence, to reduce the chances of making a poor decision, it’s beneficial to garner feedback from different roles and departments.
Basically, a construction tech task force is a combination of people spanning a variety of roles. This can include project managers, supervisors, foremen, and other project stakeholders as long as they are interested in technology and are driven to find the best long-term solutions rather than settle on band-aid solutions that are just “good enough.”
To help your IT in the company goals, these team players should use technology on construction job sites. Their deep understanding of combined tools, construction processes, technology, and business goals uniquely direct them for overall company success.
Putting the Gears Together: IT, Construction Technologist and Construction Tech Task Force
The construction technologist should be the key stakeholder when it comes to researching innovative ideas and proposing potential technological solutions. While they can also rely on the task force, they should be in charge of the initial coordination with potential vendors and the primary contact person for broader inquiries.
The construction technologist should be the one to spearhead the tech task force. This team of employees should be the assigned field testers of the new ideas to determine whether they could integrate efficiently with the existing company processes. Working in their respective departments or areas to focus on, they should be evaluated if the proposed technology is a good addition for your company and present detailed feedback on why or why not it would.
When it comes to enforcing change, construction technologists should be the key stakeholders who would act as the active catalysts for change on the frontline. A considerable part of this involves education and gentle guiding to gain buy-in, as transitions and modifications can be scary, especially to employees who have been accustomed to the old processes for years.
Construction technologists need to be the acting leaders in the face of change to ensure and facilitate a smooth transition from start to finish as changes take place.
Lastly, the IT department should be part of the deciding body for the financial aspect and administration of the new technology once it’s ready to be incorporated into the company. In addition to general tech support, the IT department should also supervise mobile device management, which is critical if you want your solutions to infuse the field and lead to the best possible IT department in the construction industry.
Manage Construction Projects with The Power of Technology
IT in the construction industry is an essential role that needs to grow and further expand. While it might seem sensible to give every technological activity to this team, it does not benefit a company overall in the long term. Rather, consider a new approach to hiring, on-boarding, and structuring employees who are relied on for the critical technology decisions, especially for on-site workers. While it might take a while to find the right professionals for the job and add them to their new roles, it’s worth the time.
Construction is without question dependent on technology, and at this point, it’s safe to assume that it’s never going to change. Don’t wait for years to find out the hard way how critical these roles are in project management for construction; start today.