The promise that technology will boost productivity and competitiveness for construction organizations relies entirely on deployment success…and not all deployment recipes are created equal. Deployment winners pay special attention to the specific circumstances that define the construction industry, the unique role of the deployment champions, and their deployment plan.

My experience has been that successful organizations generally focus both on strategy development as well as strategy execution regarding construction technology. Good strategy typically includes a common definition of success, clear scope, and well-designed timelines and progress indicators. Failure in execution is often avoided by strong leadership and accountability, excellent communication including training, incentives, and feedback as well as reasonable expectations on timelines and resources.

Overseeing deployment is often one “more thing on your plate”

A recent study revealed 70% of construction companies do not adapt their organizational structure to accommodate for digitization projects and initiatives. Most deployment champions still have a “day job” with limited time and experience for this additional challenge. Despite the different starting points, every fruitful initiative often includes the following ingredients.

  • Choosing the right technologies
  • Defining and executing the deployment plan
  • Choosing the right partner

 

  1. Choosing the right technologies – compatibility is the key.

There are many aspects to this topic, but one deserving to be highlighted is compatibility. When adopting new technology, it needs to be considered how it will fit into an existing set of hardware, software, networks, data formats, interfaces, and devices. Thorough decision-makers will always have a list of compatibility requirements. The same principle applies when deciding on technologies being compatible in the future. Various proprietary elements can “lock you in” for years to come. The flexibility, to stop and swap, is an important factor considering future obsolescence as well. 

  1. Defining and executing the deployment plan

Users will accept or reject change for a variety of reasons, some of which need to be anticipated in a carefully drafted plan. Luckily, my experience has been that successful incremental deployments will exponentially improve an organization’s adaptability. Once I asked a successful contractor which technology choice had most impacted his competitiveness: “It’s not a specific technology that makes us competitive in the long run,” he said. “It’s our ability to test and adopt any technology. We implement in three weeks what others need months to deploy.”

Good deployment typically includes the following ingredients:

  • Clear communication from where and to where the company wants to move.
  • Celebrating and cultivating a culture of learning and continuous improvement.
  • Training, enabling, and recognition.
  • User involvement is desired, and feedback is a gift.
  • Walk the talk.

A clear communication on where the company wants to move to and where it wants to move from.

Especially the latter often neglected but learning a new thing often means to “un-learn” the existing. Or as one contractor put it “if we don’t embed it into our ecosystem then it ends up in the closet.”

Celebrating and cultivating a culture of learning and continuous improvement.

Technology adoption can and often should be accompanied by other changes signalling the desired “renewal.” This can be achieved by combining more or less desirable changes in one go such as upgrading computers along with the software, phones together with apps, adding an off-site meeting to the training. One of our customers decided to develop a culture of continuous improvement. They used their expertise to develop Management Systems to continually improve performance through training programmes, investing in skills, and career development. The D Morgan Way is about mentoring people, passing on knowledge and experience in a safe, happy, and healthy workplace.

Training, enabling, and recognition

Training is not a cost but an investment in success. Training events can be combined with other communication priorities, town hall meetings, or the recognition of early adaptors. Mark Jordan from Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, for example, set-up a bespoke training academy on site because operators were new to GPS (global positioning system). He trained and engaged with 60 operators before the project launched. This is because his operators requested that machine control certification to say that they’ve got that competency.

 

User involvement is desired, and feedback is a gift

A good deployment plan is a plan conceived, owned, and executed by the team not the boss. Successful adoption starts by asking your audience how they would like to adopt, considering their suggestions and then accommodating frequent feedback. This can be frustrating at times, but the trust and commitment will pay out over time. According to Conlon Contractors, transparency of information across the project team is key, because everyone has access to the same data. “You no longer have different groups referring to different sets of drawings,” says Rob Hacker, senior engineer at Conlon Contractors. “If gangers and drivers can see what they’re working towards rather than just being told, it makes it far easier to understand. The more knowledge people have, the better they work.” (Explore more: http://bit.ly/empowering-machine-operators)

Walk the talk

The entire management group must hold themselves to the same high standards as they expect from the team. Positivity, empathy, and consistency are essential traits to be lived by the whole leadership group.

  1. Choosing the right partner

Having a partner allows you to take more risks (Arianna Huffington)

Technology adoption will usually result in a long-term relationship with the provider. It is in their interest to make their success tied to your success. As you discuss the pros, cons, and values of their various solutions, it is always good to have an eye on the less quantifiable aspects. Domain expertise, quality of training, support, and their general business philosophy on customers are important characteristics of a partner whom you want to be by your side on this exciting journey. 

Choosing the right technology compatible with the existing and future software and hardware infrastructure is the key to sharpen flexibility and maximize return on investments in the long run. Besides effectively defining and executing a deployment plan, including workforce acceptance and training, choosing the right provider, who supports flexibility is crucial to adding value and staying competitive in the market.

Join Hexagon at CONEXPO 2020 and discover our latest technology advancements disrupting the heavy construction industry. Product development and subject matter experts will be on hand to answer any of your questions. Register with us and retrieve your reduction code on your admission ticket here: https://leica-geosystems.com/about-us/events/events-overview/2019/11/conexpo-2020

Holger (HoPi) Pietzsch focuses on profitably digitizing business models in the capital equipment industry including technologies, aftermarket solutions, financial services, rental businesses, performance contracts, and smart goods and services.