The implementation of construction-management best practices is critical to good leadership. While the construction industry is replete with academic best practices, the sad reality is that the prevailing best practices in the industry are reactive and responsive to case law. That reality is reflective of the dispute-laden and litigious nature of the business. All stakeholders and parties involved in a construction project view project success only from their respective perspectives, which can only lead to disagreements, disputes, and litigation.
The industry arrived here as a result of decades of eroding trust between the various parties, increasing bureaucracy, and defective contracting models. The consequence is that many of the best practices for the contractor on a project are mutually exclusive with those of the project’s owner.
With rapidly changing regulatory, environmental, and workforce constraints, and with the morphing project execution modes, the construction industry is under a lot of pressure to perform in unusual and difficult settings. While other sectors have enjoyed solid sector-specific management practices and tools for decades, the construction industry has only recently begun to experience such. The lag has resulted, at least in part, in widespread failures, delays, and cost overruns.
There are two primary areas of deficiency. The first is the scope and perspective of construction management best practices and the second is construction-specific management tools such as adequate software. While the more comprehensive demand for project leadership requires a foundational paradigm change in order to achieve team-based leadership, technology can speed up and facilitate the process.
For project leadership to be team-based, the leadership requires solid tools for transparently implementing, monitoring, and reporting a myriad of metrics. Such tools need to be scalable, reasonably usable, and readily adaptable to the individual needs of the various participating organizations. They also need to provide accurate realtime information. Additionally, they need to seamlessly interact with the various participating organizations’ tools.
Today, the level of integration between the various tools necessary for strong leadership is lacking, at best. For unknown reasons, software heavy weights with the necessary resources to develop the needed construction industry tools have been reluctant to commit the resources to develop the type of ground-up integration enjoyed by other sectors. The gap was filled with individual limited efforts at accounting, ERP (enterprise-resource planning), scheduling, design, field tracking, estimating, equipment, and other necessary components. Even with that, the critical true project controls components were largely ignored and all but forgotten until the relatively recent developments of Acumen Fuse, Built on Vision, and SmartPM. Oracle’s Prime is a step in the right direction, but appears to rely heavily on various levels of integration of existing components and not a tightly architected ground-up application.
The technology sector is presented with a tremendous opportunity to participate in shaping the future of leadership in the construction industry. With that comes a huge responsibility to society. I hope we, in the construction technology sector, rise up to the challenge.
Michael Saddik serves as Built On Vision’s chief executive officer.