Innovating A/E/C practices with new technology requires team commitment. This commitment begins with collaborative and strategic discussions within a company, and more specifically, among cross-functioning departments and stakeholders. Discussion about A/E/C practices across functional areas should include insight from operational subject matter experts, information systems personnel, training and development personnel, executive sponsors and insight from key stakeholder groups. The intent of these discussions is to identify transition activities, eliminate duplicative activities and create operational efficiencies.
When construction executives invest in new and exciting A/E/C technologies, they should consider developing a technology integration plan to ensure overall operational efficiency gains and maximize return-on-investment (ROI). When faced with an exciting technology solution, the firm’s management must understand that gains may not be realized upon implementation – these gains occur over time as operational practices are re-engineered to successfully accommodate a new technology. Executives must exercise patience, monitor feedback and metrics on the integration process and its impact on firm operations, and provide direction as needed to ensure optimal results.
Integrating technology with operational practices is the first step. The next critical step is changing professional staff behaviors to adopt newly developed operational practices enabled by the new technology in their daily work activities. Companywide collaboration, strategic discussions, and ongoing feedback are all essential elements for realizing the firm’s desired goals for efficiency.
Achieving goals for efficiency requires a collaborative effort within a well-defined technology process implementation team. The team should include executive sponsors as well as cross-functioning department managers and stakeholders. Each representative plays an important role in the firm’s transformation.
- Executive Sponsors: Executives provide leadership, commitment, visibility, and direction to the project ensuring that it remains aligned with firm strategies and objectives. Their involvement establishes a sense of urgency crucial in motivating project teams and the organization as a whole.
- Department Process Owners: Department process owners provide visibility into the effectiveness and impact of operational process changes. These individuals play a key role in identifying points for activity hand-off.
- Operational Owners: Operational owners are the subject matter experts that will use the new technology. They provide the expertise in understanding how construction practices can be enhanced with the new technology. Operational owners also assist with identifying redundant technologies or practices that may already exist in the company.
- Training Owners: Training and development activities are important to successfully managing organizational change. Training owners are responsible for ensuring that the materials and method of delivery are designed with the end user in mind, defining communication requirements, and optimizing the effectiveness of the training.
- Stakeholder Insight: Stakeholders include architects, engineers, and key subcontractors. These stakeholders provide insight as to whether the technology works well at the various points of “hand-off.”
As the team goes through the process of engineering practices that will incorporate the new technology, discussions will become more detailed. Ongoing discussions are critical for ensuring points for department/stakeholder hand-off are discovered along with any duplicative processes or technologies already in place.
There is a direct correlation between the number of discussions and size of the company. If you are rolling out new technology in a large company, expect a larger number of conversations. Be sure to build sufficient time into your integration plan to account for these conversations.
Team commitment in the form of collaboration, strategic discussions and feedback provides the foundation for successful construction business transformation. For professional staff to adopt new practices and technology effectively, they must change their daily work habits. Modifying these habits requires understanding and accepting the need for change to bring about an overall feeling of confidence and control in the midst of such a significant transformation.