The common data environment, where project data is readable by multiple platforms, is our path forward in the construction industry. Unfortunately, even today, the huge amount of data that comes out of a project as it is constructed isn’t being leveraged to its full potential. There are immense possibilities when we are able to truly connect the field to the office, rather than having the fieldwork be an afterthought of the planning and design processes.

When you want to involve the field in technology implementation, then you need to make their participation make sense to them and not be frustrating or require duplication of their efforts. The right software tool will benefit both the office and the field.

Generally, field workers need to see the value in making an extra effort to capture and report/upload data. Because they often have more insight and a different perspective into certain aspects of a project than the designers do, their participation in gathering data is invaluable.

For the sake of everyone who has invested time and energy into an implementation of a technology tool, it’s significant to make the commitment to stick with it, not jump around from one impressive application to another and another. Be realistic in your expectations: no software tool can solve every single problem a company has.

Software tools aren’t the only thing to consider either. Having a vision is key. When companies can start a project with the end in mind, they can work backwards on setting up the processes and systems that will get them to the big win – a successful construction project. It’s difficult to travel a road successfully if you don’t know where you’re going.

In addition, it’s helpful to use a pilot team and a feedback loop to gage progress and success. First you can ponder the kinds of data you want to collect and how you’re going to leverage that data. Basically, you need to decide what’s important to your company and what’s not important. Then your team can develop an execution plan, while getting feedback along the way. The plan can be adjusted if necessary as you proceed.

Innovation emerges out of curiosity, sometimes addressing needs we didn’t even realize we had. When you take time to look at things through different lenses, you can end up with better results. For example, when teams look to others to join them in brainstorming ideas and solutions, they can end up pleasantly surprised with some eye- opening concepts and higher quality results.

Sharing data, being transparent – these are good for the construction industry. The industry is constantly changing, and the people working in it are resilient and adaptable.

Construction folks are good at getting to the root of a problem and figuring out ways to solve it. There’s tremendous opportunity right now for growth and change.

Tune in to episode 85 of Bridging the Gap podcast, where I talk with Lillian Magallanes of Construction Progress Coalition about her thoughts on the path forward in the construction industry.

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