Bewildered by the enormous range of technological solutions on offer to the construction industry? Unable to choose which platform is best for your operation? Maria Coulter, founder of mentoring service Construction Coach, proposes the six steps to clear the confusion and make an informed choice.
A few years ago, I walked into a construction tech and innovation show to get some ideas on solutions for my clients. I immediately felt like a rabbit caught in the headlights. People were there on the stands ready to sell me something, but what did I actually want?
That’s how the mind works when presented with too many options: it does nothing. And that could help explain why a lot of SME and micro-business owners aren’t engaging with tech and innovation to be more productive – they don’t know what to do.
Six steps to making the right choices
- Processes should come before the systems. Consider doing a process mapping exercise, which is something I do with my clients. Use sticky notes and map out processes for the various parts of your business and stages of a contract. Who does what? What processes are involved? You will likely find some duplications and really time-consuming, clunky ways of doing things that can definitely be improved by adopting new technology.
- Before investing in a product, think about the outcomes you want to achieve and the problem it is solving. Think about the day-to-day experiences of your workforce and clients. What do you want it to be like in future?
- Think about the concept of how you make a cheese sandwich. If you asked a few people in your business to make one, each one would likely be different. Use of technology needs to be consistent. You could find that some people have their own systems and ways of working that results in lack of consistency in service delivery and impacts client experience.
- Finding solutions can be overwhelming. Software companies often just want you to use their solutions rather than what is right for your business. Websites can help you compare, depending on what you’re looking for. Here are some to look at: www.getapp.com; www.capterra.com; www.g2crowd.com.
- Do a full options appraisal. Go through a process to identify different solutions and risks including cost, timescales to implement, resources and impact on business continuity. Test the market, get providers to show you how their solutions will help you deliver the processes and steps you need to successfully run your business.
- Finally, lay it all out to your team before you implement it and get their buy-in first. There will be thousands of failed tech rollouts in businesses that have paid a lot of money for new systems before doing any of the above: the technology is not being used either at all or to full capacity. If this is you, start with step 1.
Time to share experiences
There is a risk that hundreds of thousands of businesses will be left behind on this tech journey because they don’t have the headspace to find the right technology.
One client of mine took a whole year of trial and error to find the right fit for his business. This is where community is really valuable, talking to fellow business owners who have implemented new technology and innovation can save headspace, time and money.
Let’s collaborate and solve this problem because digital transformation has to be inclusive and right now, it isn’t.
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