Digital Transformation Can Improve Safety, Boost Productivity

by | Mar 7, 2022

Digital transformation is changing construction. In a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and Safe Site Check In, 71% of construction companies today have made digital transformation a priority.

One of the primary reasons why, according to the survey, is that 77% of employees in the construction industry believe digital transformation will make their jobs easier and 95% report being more productive due to the latest in construction tech. From a management perspective, digital transformation streamlines and often eliminates time-consuming processes and administrative tasks. It also provides a way to identify potential safety risks on a jobsite. While safety is always a critical part of every action and reaction on a jobsite, digital technology can improve upon existing protocols.

For example, by replacing the paper-based check in process with a digital smartphone app, crews can save hours of time each day and always know who is or was on a jobsite. Project managers and supervisors can easily check on the status of jobs while workers can upload pictures of the job in process. This data is important for managing staff, instilling confidence in clients, and digital record keeping in the event of an emergency or incident.

Overcoming Common Challenges to a Successful Digital Transformation 

The construction industry is among the last to adopt digital transformation. That’s not to say the industry isn’t aware of the proliferation of new technology on jobsites. In the recent survey by NAWIC and Safe Site Check In, 72% of respondents report that smartphone apps are the predominant construction technology tool that enables them to be more productive.

While an overwhelming percentage of construction firms are embracing digital transformation, many have not made it a priority. Still others may have met some unexpected bumps on the road. If this sounds familiar, here are three of the most common obstacles.

Lack of strategy. Any investment in technology must map to the company’s larger goals. However, many contractors have acquired software to solve particular, narrow, point-wise problems. The result is a large portfolio of technology solutions that don’t talk to each other, don’t share data, or duplicate each other. This makes more work, increases costs and is counter to achieving the benefits of digital transformation. Some frustrated GCs are even exploring scrapping their entire IT portfolio and starting from scratch. Contractors need a plan that builds to a digital platform and eliminates duplication. Don’t purchase any technology that doesn’t support the plan or obfuscates your view into the business.

Misunderstanding the Real Cost: Along with the upfront cost of the technology, you also need to factor in hidden costs including employee training and ongoing maintenance. Before you buy, find out if you’ll have to hire additional staff or add more work to your IT resource. When determining the actual cost, you also need to analyze the savings gained through more efficient processes, greater productivity, and fewer risks, all resulting in more profitable construction projects.

Not building digital transformation into the culture. A successful digital transformation hinges upon a cultural shift in the company, led by the CEO or construction business owner, and embraced by the entire organization, including subcontractors.

Digital transformation holds a lot of promise and opportunity for GCs to boost safety and drive more profitable projects. When each function of the organization has insight into what’s happening on the jobsite, they can improve the performance of their team and make more strategic decisions. The transparency also makes for a stronger organization and creates better relationships with clients and other critical third parties such as insurance brokers, property managers, compliance officers, attorneys, and local municipalities.