One Size Does NOT Fit All: A Subcontractor’s Guide to Navigating Construction Technology

The construction industry is worth close to $1.2 trillion; however, many subcontractors aren’t seeing their share of that money. With close to $15 billion in rework ordered every year, new processes need to take place to ensure that people are paid fairly for the work that they’re doing. The good news is that there is an intense focus on construction technology and ways to make that better, the bad news is that much of it is in point solutions or it is geared towards General Contractors and owners. Navigating construction technology is difficult especially with all the software on the market.

navigating construction technology

How to Navigate Construction Technology

There are close to 2400 construction solutions available on the market. These range from mobile applications to full computer solutions, and they cover a wide range of challenges that subcontractors use technology to ease. Every month there are large venture capital firms throwing money at some of these solutions to see which one will win. But that doesn’t mean that it will be the winning solution for subcontractors. As it was said before, many of these solutions were created with the general contractor or owner in mind and not by people that have ever seen a subcontractor workflow. This makes weeding through the software even more difficult for subcontractors.

navigating construction technology

Silos in Software

Besides much of the software available being built for General Contractors, a lot of it collects valuable data that can’t go anywhere. Many systems hold on to information but don’t have a good or easy way to distribute it. So accounting information might be stuck within the accounting system, and time cards might be exporting only as a PDF. This causes a lot of rework for the back office since they have to enter data multiple times. The information collected in these systems is siloed.

Gabe Rubin said it best when he said, “When a project is moving from one silo to the next there is usually a simple handoff, usually paper. But there wasn’t much feedback, and getting any information about the data typically took two weeks. Getting information back could take a month.”

Construction projects get off track easily when they have tight schedules. If an RFI or Change Order takes a month to process that could seriously set a project behind. Or worse, the subcontractor is already doing work on a verbal promise, but the actual paperwork doesn’t get approved.

navigating construction technology

Paper vs Software

It isn’t a fair comparison for subcontractors to be making, paper vs software. Paper is a big impediment to a smooth and efficient process. When timecards or drawings are only ever submitted in paper, someone has to type up all of the information on them. If a subcontractor receives a paper drawing and makes notes on it, those notes will be retyped into the designers’ system before those notes are sent off with the drawing, or the pdf is sent off and ignored. The switch from paper drawings to drawing platforms has already happened for architects, engineers, and general contractors. Subcontractors that aren’t a part of that process are missing out on valuable information. And the project is missing out of valuable information.

This extends to labor as Gabe said, “The number one risk to a subcontractor is labor. You know about what you’ll spend on equipment and materials, but at the end of the day you’ll know you’ll have issues.”


An integrated solution is the only way for a subcontractor to be able to effectively and efficiently manage their projects. It provides subcontractors with more protection and helps speed up preexisting processes. The project manager doesn’t need to edit information in the accounting software, but they do need to see it. And same for the accounting department. Integration is about getting the right information to the right people at the right time.

For more information on how to navigate construction technology, check out our ON-DEMAND Webinar here.