If you’re a busy walls and ceilings contractor, winning the next bid or hiring an extra set of hands may be keeping you up at night. But would it surprise you to learn your cost estimator or project manager is tossing and turning over how to make a case for new tech tools? Or wondering how to budget for training?
Whether it’s your ERP or estimating software, outdated systems can impact any contractor’s ability to make good business decisions. Furthermore, once a contractor is ready to upgrade or replace tech tools, they should never rely on new technology without training. This could just be a recipe for doing bad work faster.
How to Choose the Right Tech Tools
For starters, you should create a list of software requirements once your team has been given the green light to streamline and modernize systems or workflows. A 2017 McKinsey & Company report noted the importance of checking out more than just the software when researching new construction technology. They suggest it is critical to have a clear understanding of how new tools are supported and integrate with other tools.
Once management provides buy-in, it’s equally important to test out possible solutions by requesting demos and free trials. This allows a team to weigh which features and functionality are most needed today, and which ones could sustain them into the future. Once the pros and cons are considered, it’s time to make a recommendation and move toward implementation.
For example, estimators who still do takeoffs by hand will be excited to think how new digital estimating tools could drastically cut takeoff and estimating time. They may think that long nights and weekends spent in the office will finally be a thing of the past. Meanwhile, leadership will likely be eager to see a quick ROI on their investment.
Don’t Rely on Technology Without Training
Yes, powerful software tools can make a huge difference for your construction business. But a contractor shouldn’t expect their team to go from novice to pro overnight when adding new tech tools. You should never forget about training and the learning curve that comes with all new technology.
Even with the smoothest implementation, technology alone cannot save your construction business or account for a weak estimator or project manager. If your team is not trained adequately, they are more likely to make errors and have a lower level of productivity.
For some walls and ceilings contractors, having the resources to manage and update software and train employees can be a struggle. There may also be bumps in the road when it comes down to whether new tech and legacy systems play well together.
Invest in Training for Success
It’s easy to see why busy contractors may be tempted to lean too heavily on technology. Even easy-to-learn, intuitive software will require training for all involved.
For example, nobody wants to end up with a weak estimator who does bad work faster. Without the proper training and experience, an estimator could introduce risk by failing to calculate costs correctly. Think of forgetting to calculate indirect or direct cost accurately. Your construction business could be in big trouble if your bid doesn’t include office overhead and rent or the accurate cost of portable toilet rentals, trailers, and fencing.
More than just an increase in errors, there is also the issue of lost productivity and dissatisfied employees. An HR Magazine report noted that companies who invest at least $1,500 in annual training have a 24 percent higher profit margin than companies who spend less on training.
Lock in Top-Down Support for Training
Balancing technology with training is vital, especially for employees who are new to the construction industry. Support from leadership can make all the difference for a successful implementation. Many contractors invest in a mix of online and in-person training to ensure they are getting the most out of their new tech tools.
Consider the case of a construction firm hiring a young college grad to fill a more junior estimating position. This situation will require a more serious commitment to ongoing training and mentoring by more senior employees.
For your more experienced staff, management should set a high bar — don’t be satisfied with training that only covers the basics. Your construction business will no doubt reap the rewards of more in-depth training that provides shortcuts, tips, and tricks so you can more quickly deliver ROI.
Training for Productivity and Profitability
Remember, your construction business will always benefit when it invests the time and resources to train and certify all employees. Experts also note it’s important to identify key individuals who can take a leadership role if you’re rolling out new technology.
Having your go-to people in place can increase everyone’s commitment to using new technology. If leaders and mentors can demonstrate how much easier life is with new software and systems, your business will see a faster, smoother implementation and adoption of new technology.
Knowing which estimating tools are right for your construction business isn’t easy. Check out our easy-to-follow, step-by-step eBook now. You’ll learn how to pick the right tools to increase bid volume and improve accuracy.