Digital transformation is on the mind of every leadership team across all industries, not just construction. But what is digital transformation? A search online will return mountains of articles, research, opinion pieces and many more all describing wildly different descriptions.
You’ll hear about the customer journey, digital first interactions, reducing friction etc. A lot of what you read about will be from the retail industry or finance, disruptive business models and so on.
From a construction perspective how do you make sense of this all?
Digital transformation in construction
Today digital transformation is relative and depend on your industry as a whole and where it sits in relation to digital. It is about where you are today, your starting point, where you are trying to get to and how you can use digital technology to get there. In essence it’s about improving productivity, profitability, experience, automation and, perhaps most importantly, innovation.
In that sense it’s no different from any sort of industrial improvement technique that has come before. Except now the pace of change in digital technologies is so high that you need a new capability in your business that can keep on top of it and continuously implement the latest innovations.
Back to basics
For construction it will come as little surprise to most in the industry that things still tend to happen largely on spreadsheets. Even basic task automation found in other industries will be completed on spreadsheets and shared via email in construction. Files are still stored on shared drives and approvals are made with wet signatures.
Given this starting point I’d urge anyone considering digital transformation in the construction industry to not get carried away and take advantage of the enormous opportunities for improvement right in front of them.
Tools for creating simple workflows, with approvals, controlled document storage and mobile friendly are readily available and easy to use. More traditional Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools are easier to use and easier to configure than ever before. Most tools nowadays include some sort of Application Programming Interface (API) that allows it to connect to a variety of other tools so you can reduce data entry and emails.
However, given how easy to use and accessible these tools are it’s very easy to implement the wrong thing in the wrong way. And that’s where this new capability comes in.
Digital Discovery for digital transformation
Creating, or configuring, automated workflows may seem easy, but to do so in a scalable and future proof way requires a bit more skill. It’s important to consider the wider business to understand how this new workflow fits in. What are the inputs required, what outputs are expected, who will do it, what is the escalation path when something goes wrong, what is the data model required, who else needs to know?
Using a digital discovery tool such as Skore will make this much easier. It will allow you to rapidly build a model that describes how your business works, where the gaps are and answer the questions above. You can use this model to build and test your new automated workflows before you roll them out to your team.
Infact digital discovery is best started before you’ve even selected a technology for your transformation. The model produced will form the requirements for that system and can be used in the vendor selection process. Simply take the model to the different vendors and ask them to show you how they would deliver it.
Successful digital transformation
In construction, successful digital transformation is all about being aware of your starting point. Don’t try to over think things, or build something that no one would recognise. Keep it simple, identify the things that can be easily automated today that will have the largest impact on the business.
There is a lot you can do right now to reduce risk and increase productivity, simply by getting rid of those spreadsheets.
If you would like to learn more about how we can help you on your digital transformation journey please get in touch.