The construction industry is more complex than it might seem at first glance. The many disciplines involved depend on the successful completion of the others, and, like an onion, there exists layer upon layer of complexity. Focusing on the basics can make a big impact on a company and on the opportunities that it can take advantage of.
One of the more important layers involves people. It takes skill, knowledge and foresight to be successful in the construction industry. A characteristic of an effective construction company is being able to attract and keep the right employees – people who understand both the industry and the customers, whether those are the project owners or the job subcontractors. Skills can be learned, but a good work ethic and good character are two traits that can’t be taught or bought. Successful recruiting includes clarifying the things your company stands for and bringing in talent that fits into your company’s mission and goals. Investors, too, need to be knowledgeable about the industry they are involved in.
A second layer involves the potential for greater productivity in the industry. There are processes that could be enhanced to increase productivity, and more and more companies are looking into adopting them. There are new workflows that can revolutionize the way business gets done. The industry is ripe for new ideas, tools and disruptive technologies. Fortunately, the industry is also full of resourceful problem solvers who can come up with solutions to unexpected issues and problems – and often need to do so on-the-spot. A construction job involves a fluid alliance of small and medium-sized businesses all working in partnership toward a common end. Even on the largest jobs involving the largest companies, many decisions are by necessity made on the project level by the project manager.
Another layer of complexity involves technology. Although there has been a dialog around the perception that companies within the industry are afraid of or resistant to technology, that is not necessarily the case. There are specific rational and logical reasons why the industry has been slow in adopting technology. But, again by necessity, the dynamics have changed and continue to change. In the past, companies kept their software tools and workflows as closely held secrets in order to gain a competitive edge. These days, for the betterment of the industry and to propel it forward, companies are more willing to share information about their software, tools, successes, and processes, elaborating on what works and brings value and, conversely, what doesn’t. Everyone benefits from this exchange of lessons learned.
The perception gap is narrowing, and the industry is changing. On episode 98 of the Bridging the Gap podcast, I talked with guest Scott Ellison about the intricacies, the ups and downs of construction, and the transformation taking place in the industry. Listen today!