Getting Construction Professionals to Embrace New Technology

A couple of weeks ago, I was waiting in the check-out line at one of my favorite retailers here in Seattle when the lady in front of me asked a question of the clerk that caught me slightly off guard. She did not want to use the electronic card scanner and pin pad, but still wanted to pay by credit card—the old way. The clerk, not sure how to address this, called over his manager. Ever helpful, he rummaged around for a bit behind the counter and came up with the manual credit card imprinter and eventually was able to complete the lady’s purchase for her.

Now, while going the extra mile to accommodate the customer was a nice touch, I was more taken aback that the manual card imprinters were still around and being used. To me, this was enabling the continued use of a far-outdated method of payment transaction. Despite the time it took to complete the transaction manually and the creation of carbon copy imprints of her credit card number, the customer was adamant that she did not trust the modern payment methods.

This, of course, got me thinking about the construction industry. Construction work itself is largely done in a manual environment in the physical world. For a long time, the business processes behind construction companies and their projects were also handled manually, or with minimal technology backing them. When technology became more commonplace among all types of businesses, many forward-thinking professionals in the construction verticals were equally quick to adapt. Yet, there were still a large number of folks that were wary, adopting the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality toward software designed to streamline both construction work and back-of-house management.

While that mindset has largely changed over the past 10 years—more companies are adopting leading-edge technologies, and staying ahead of the curve when new technologies come out—those pockets of resistance remain. Many of today’s construction-specific technologies are not being used to their fullest capacities by the end users. In fact, many professionals we’ve spoken with over just the past few years have indicated getting complete buy-in from all of their employees on the advantages of using new technologies has been a challenge.

For the past 34 years here at Dexter + Chaney, we’ve been designing our software to be as easy to use as possible for the end user. We have found that ease of use is one of the biggest selling points when construction professionals consider new technology and software. At the end of the day, though even the most impactful, simple technologies won’t make a difference if the workforce it was designed for is resistant to using it or only utilizing the bare minimum of features and capabilities.

With that in mind, here are five short tips to readying the workforce for technology changes and making the end-users comfortable with, and ultimately embracing of, new technology:

  1. Identify all needs and desires – Purchasing new software or technology solutions should never be a snap decision. Survey the entire organization to find out what needs are not met with current systems or practices. Learn what everyone who would ultimately be using the new technologies would like to see.

  2. Involve end-users in the process – Most of the time, the end users who will work most with a new solution are not the ones ultimately deciding which solution to use. In some cases, the end user does not know of the potential for change until a new solution is selected. Involve the end users (or a strong sampling of end users) by asking their input on technology or software they’ve heard about or used before, show them the demos of solutions and invite their honest feedback.

  3. Show the benefits – Once a technology or software solution is selected, hold a meeting (or series of meetings) with every user and potential user in your organization. At this, demo the solution and discuss the reasons it was selected. Show the benefits first hand. Provide plenty of training opportunities and have administrators and advocates on hand to answer questions as they arise.

  4. Prepare for disruptions, work through resistance – When the solution is being implemented, there are bound to be some disruptions while the change from old to new is taking place. Plan ahead for these disruptions and provide fallback options to get work done in the interim. This also includes phasing in professionals who have never used similar solutions or have been doing their work by other means. Make time for them, work with them and help them adjust.

  5. Commit across the board – One of the biggest benefits of modern technology is it usually helps improve collaboration by getting everyone to use the same solution or process throughout an organization. Ensure this happens by eliminating alternate methods for work to be done on a daily basis. Enabling one, or a handful of employees by allowing them to continue working as they always have renders the collaborative benefits of new systems and solutions moot. It also does a disservice to those who resist change, leaving them unprepared to adapt and grow.

Adapting to new technology and software in the workplace is rarely done without questions and resistance. Yet, with the right approach, your organization can embrace change and create a culture of continuing innovation throughout your organization.

What is your organization’s approach to implementing new systems or software?

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