For a couple decades, we have been throwing technology at the construction industry’s issues with minimal effect on profitability or schedule compression. It seems there needs to be a fallback plan. There are practical things companies can do to create the change that is needed for everyone in the industry to emerge stronger together. Following are a few of those practical suggestions:
Internal systems, leadership and workflows.
- There needs to be a willingness to take on the right kind of work, while saying no to projects that don’t fit your company’s expertise. Set performance measurements. In order to get stronger, companies need a willingness to be vulnerable about their capabilities. Once you acknowledge what you don’t know, you can move forward to address it.
External efforts like prefabrication and standardization.
- No one wants to have things imposed on them, but most agree that companies and the industry as a whole need to build standards. See where things are not working. Maturity matrix. The result will be faster processes. Unfortunately, many companies are of the opinion, “Standards are good . . . as long as you standardize on what I do.” The most helpful situation is what will make sense for most companies.
Grassroots excitement, innovative spirit and a growth mindset.
- Technology is no longer a barrier to success. Depending on the application, technology is increasingly being adopted across the industry, and companies are learning the best way to implement tech into their workflows. The willingness to try something new needs to be fostered and encouraged in companies. Standardizing documentation might be a good place to start. Gathering and putting project data to use is another.
Make changes where change makes sense.
- One example of a workflow that needs to change: by the time subcontractors move in to do their part of a project, it may already be off schedule. If your company has not seen improvements in efficiency, productivity and profit from the tech you’ve implemented, it’s time to move upstream and address your workflows.
Be willing to take input and learn from it.
- As Nathan Wood, Executive Director of the Construction Progress Coalition, has said, “Everyone is an expert at something; no one is an expert at everything.” Competitive cooperation – coopetition – can work in the real-world. The collective MEP trade industry is facing a backlog of work. Why not work together on standards that enable everyone to get more work done faster.
Take time to plan things out.
- Planning gives your company the flexibility to adapt on the fly. You should work on the business, not just in the business. Slow down and map out your plans. While it may seem like you are too busy to pause for planning, the reality is you are too busy to not pause for planning. Working from a plan naturally makes things go better.
Tune in to episode 167 of Bridging the Gap Podcast for the double treat of Travis Voss and Nathan Wood. In the episode, the three of us discuss our take on leadership, workflows, standardization, and technology in the MEP industry.