Congratulations, your construction company has decided to take steps into the world of technology. It is an exciting time that will make your team more productive. Purchasing construction technology is the first step. The next step, and albeit the biggest challenge, is implementation. According to an IDC report, 25% of IT projects fail, and another 20-25% does not produce any ROI. In fact, you have probably been a part of these previous failed IT implementations. Below are a few tips to ensure that your next implementation of construction technologies is set up for success.
1. Define Objectives / Goals for Construction Technologies
How will your team define the implementation project a success? Without clearly stating the desired objectives or goals of the technology implementation, the team will have no direction. Goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, ambitious, reachable, and time-bound. Examples of a goal for a daily report solution may be to increase field productivity by 25% within six months. For a project management or document control solution, the team may define his or her metric for success to ensure that correspondence or documentation does not stay open for more than 7-10 days. A clearly defined goal or objective will provide the team with a threshold to determine success.
2. Start with a Pilot Project
Similar to the construction projects we work on day in and day out, implementation of construction technology should revolve around a similar project plan. A project manager to drive implementation schedule and ensure that team is hitting the milestones is critical. The beauty of a construction technology is that it a pilot team can implement the software on a smaller scale through a phased approach. Because technology implementations can be overwhelming, a “quick start” program will make the implementation more digestible. The pilot team will try, test, and tweak, the technology and process before wide-scale rollout.
3. Executive and Employee Buy-In
The members in the pilot program play the important role of project champions. They will serve as the product experts and champion the benefits of the new solution to other employees. To get widespread adoption at the user level, employees must thoroughly understand the benefits that it provides directly to them. While everyone wants to see the larger company successful, they do not want it to be at the expense of their own autonomy or increase their workload. Everyone wants to know “What’s in it for me.” With those benefits clearly defined, it will be smooth sailing towards receiving employee buy in. Most of all, the support of leadership is instrumental to success. They serve as important cheerleaders who can deliver incentives to ensure proper usage. Their ability to be sympathetic to employees of this change as well as receptive to its feedback will ensure long-term adoption.
4. Thorough Training and Ongoing Customer Support
Regardless of how intuitive or how easy a system is to use, comprehensive training by all team members is mandatory. The vendor and evaluation team need to work closely together to ensure that training is adequately covered within the implementation plan. Additionally, once the team is fully trained, it is important to determine the level of support that you will continue to receive from your vendor. Will your team be accountable for training new users or is this something your vendor can do? Some vendors provide unlimited training and support while some sell their training and support as packages. This is something to keep in mind when implementing a phased approach or when onboarding new employees.
5. Use Carrots or Sticks
As the implementation period goes on, some of your team members may need some extra nudging to get on board. Similar to the mule that is having a hard time moving forward, do you provide a carrot as an incentive or spank with a stick as punishment? Some owners will dock the pay of the foreman if they do not utilize the new software, while others will provide an extra half hour of pay. The awards must be meaningful to your team, or they will not provide the right incentive for adoption. Even the simple act of recognizing and acknowledging those who are going above and beyond in their usage or those that are helping others during the transition process will go a long way as a reward.
The key to all adoption success is communication. Ensuring that the lines of communication are open for positive and negative feedback is critical throughout implementation and beyond. Why are those individuals just not using the new system? Learning more about the specific reasons will help to make any adjustments whether it is providing additional training or tweaks to the software. Employees are the key to a successful company, so a company must do all it can to take care of their employees. It is important that every person’s needs and their feedback be addressed for long-term adoption.
Nothing worth having comes easy. And while construction technologies for the job site should be easy to use and implement, change is not easy. At the core of all the adoption tips is communication. Actively listening and communicating with your employees during this time of transition will be the most important thing one can do to ensure adoption.