More so than ever, we are hearing about how companies in the construction industry need to start engaging in the digital shift. For business owners, it’s important to understand that this shift is not a passing trend – it will soon become a business condition sought by major clients.
Nowadays, governments, architects, and engineers are widely using BIM (Building Information Modeling) within their infrastructures. This concept is aptly described in the article BIM: définition et objectif du building information modeling which suggests that the entire industry should work on buildings from the design stage all the way up to the end of useful life and recycling of these buildings.
The BIM concept first appeared in 1975 when Charles Eastman published a document describing a prototype he called the “Building Description System (BDS).” In 1986, Robert Aish was the first to explain the term “Building Modelling” in an article he published. In the United States, Europe, and Japan, the BIM concept is used to create a number of projects. You can also learn more about the history and evolution of BIM in this blog post by Batimat: Qu’est-ce que le BIM?
Certain public work tenders and large-scale projects are imposing the concept of BIM management on their clients. New jobs have been created to take BIM management into account and new software has been rolled out to integrate as well as to manage the BIM process in terms of relaying information. The goal is to make sure that everyone involved with a worksite is using the right data at all times.
The problem for contractors is that the government and major clients often impose the software to be used in order to apply BIM to projects. However, these software solutions have different user experiences, not to mention a hefty price tag each. As a result, contractors need to acquire and learn how to use several different programs when working on large worksites.
Who Is the Digital Shift for in the Construction Industry?
It’s important to keep in sight that the digital shift in the construction industry is not just a matter of the BIM concept and the programs used to apply it.
The digital shift is for all construction companies, including general and specialized contractors. These include masons, roofers, excavators, and the 22 skilled trades in the industry.
However, the companies in these fields don’t all have the same needs! Yet, still today, most companies in construction only use accounting software—and often, even that isn’t up to date!
SME managers in the construction industry are under significant pressure to implement digital solutions and modernize their ways of doing things. What is more, this transformation is taking place in the midst of a labour shortage in which the lack of skilled in-house staff can raise barriers to integrating such software solutions.
According to a global study done by the International Data Corporation (IDC), 72% of construction companies worldwide say that the digital transformation is a priority of theirs, in order to drive much-needed change in the current collaboration process, business model, and information ecosystem.
Companies developing software solutions to support construction enterprises need to adapt to the reality of these contractors and subcontractors, in order to ensure an effective digital transformation.
What About Subcontractors in the Construction Industry?
For subcontractors, it becomes important to determine the priorities that will help businesses become more profitable, enjoyable to manage, and productive.
The digital transformation must essentially:
- Facilitate data entry and cut down on the time spent handling repetitive tasks.
- Efficiently deliver up-to-date information to the right people, at the right time.
- Automate processes that enable the company to carry out its day-to-day operations more effectively.
The digital transformation is not a miracle cure. However, if undertaken properly, it can quite rapidly grow your profits.
Technology brings us useful solutions. A few examples include easy to fill out forms (yes, no, checkboxes, etc.), voice recognition, photos, alerts for tasks to be completed, real-time online discussion with multiple onsite workers, automatic calculations to avoid errors, etc.
Why not take the opportunity to change the vision from top-down (upper management placing demands) to bottom-up (employees sending information upwards)? What management wishes for, above all, is key data sharing, so that decisions can be taken rapidly and effectively. The quicker reliable information is available, the more effectively managers can help their onsite teams.
The digital shift is for everyone. This being said, implementing a digital solution requires some adaptability. Building a new process with a valued, experienced employee who isn’t at first on board with the digital shift may be difficult… but it is possible.
Today’s software solutions are geared towards relieving users of repetitive administrative work. The user experience is central to software design. The best solutions are often to be found in specialized software. The advantage of today’s technologies is that these specialized software products can easily integrate with one another. So, a construction company will be able to find a site management software compatible with its accounting software which will be of great help to the employee responsible for planning and assigning workers. To each their own software.
However, Don’t Look For a Construction Software Solution That Does It All!
All software products have their own specialties. They each grow out of a primary purpose and develop over time. Beware of companies that think they have a magical solution that does it all.
Today, construction businesses have more choices than ever and they have access to specialized solutions that work well together. The important thing, when starting out, is to resolve your challenges with the right solutions that boost your efficiency and profitability. Don’t fall into the trap of looking for a single cure-all solution. The key is to find a worker-friendly solution that integrates well with your other software.
The challenges of software updates and improvements are enormous. A company wishing to be at the cutting edge in its field cannot wage wars on multiple fronts at the same time. For a user-focused software company, requests for changes, customizations, and improvements from industry, customers, and users are everyday challenges.
Accounting software will always remain accounting software. Production software will always remain production software. Today, IT consulting firms play a much more important role in software integration than in programming a single solution. To each their own specialty!
Determine your construction company’s priorities
Quebec has directories of companies that are ready to advise you. One good tool recently released for the construction industry is the Coffre numérique or Digital Toolbox.
If you are primarily looking to identify and prioritize your needs, BIM Québec definitely has the financial assistance you are looking for to make a business diagnosis with a view to your transformation. You can also consult the article Initiative Québécoise pour la Construction 4.0 : Accroître la performance de l’industrie québécoise de la construction par le virage numérique.
ACQ and the ACRGTQ also make available a Boussole numérique or Digital Compass, which serves as an initial springboard for reflection in the form of a brief survey/self-diagnosis that gives you the results online.
Interested in learning more about the savings you could enjoy with a field solution like Cactusoft? Book a free consultation with one of our advisors.
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